Big Freedia, Curren$y, Harry Shearer and Judith Owen, Flow Tribe, Mannie Fresh, Debbie Davis and Matt Perrine, and more sing in the holiday season in the week before Christmas.
[Updated] According to singer Judith Owen, Christmas has two sides—“Bloody awful and wonderful,” and both are represented in Christmas songs. When sung together, they’re shared expressions of community, but “they're all about yearning,” she said in 2012. “They're about missing home. They're about missing people. Songs like 'White Christmas' and 'The Christmas Song' are about yearning. 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' is one of the saddest songs I've heard in my entire life."
Owen and husband Harry Shearer will host their annual Christmas party this year, as will Debbie Davis and Matt Perrine. The biggest addition to this year’s holiday music lineup is the Loose Cattle Christmas show. Loose Cattle is Kimberley Kaye and Tony Award-winner Michael Cerveris, who played a manager on Treme and this year had ongoing parts on Gotham and The Tick. Cerveris also sang on Paul Sanchez and Colman DeKay’s Nine Lives, and through it he connected with many of the New Orleans musicians who’ll be part of their show.
Although bounce isn't always thought of as a sing-a-long sound, Big Freedia got in the Christmas music game last year with A Very Big Freedia Christmazz, and that led to Big Freedia's Holiday Bounce Around the Block. The St. Claude Arts District block party returns Saturday night with performances at the Hi Ho Lounge, Siberia, and The Allways Lounge by Sweet Crude, Partners-N-Crime, Caddywhompus Ms. Tee, Delish Da Goddess and more. Freedia will headline with her version of holiday favorites at The Art Garage.
Not all holiday shows are big, multi-guest star blowouts. Here are a few ways you can get in the holiday spirit between now and Christmas:
Jet Life Christmas: Curren$y's Lighting of the Tree - House of Blues
I've found occasions when Curren$y talked about Christmas, so as badly as I want Christmas music from the Jet Life fam, I suspect Curren$y has something else in mind when he talks of lighting the tree.
Oh Crap, It’s Christmas - Cafe Istanbul
Singer Debbie Davis and sousaphone player Matt Perrine first recorded Christmas music to make gifts for their families in years when cash was tight. In 2014, they recorded Oh Crap, It’s Christmas, a full album of holiday music that ranged from the irreverent to the lovely, and it and their annual Christmas show are built around the spirit of community. “As music gets more divided along genre lines and chronological lines and race lines, Christmas music might be our last bastion of collective music,” Davis said in 2014. “We all share that.”
The band includes Alex McMurray, Andre Bohren, Tom Hook, Jack Craft, Harry Hardin and Richard Scott, and Davis and Perrine will be joined by special guests David Silverman, The Jingle Belles, Sarah Quintana, Darwin Davis, their son Ben Perrine, Susan Cowsill, and Loose Cattle.
Kelcy Mae’s Merry Songwriter Revue - Siberia
Singer/songwriter Kelcy Wilburn released “Christmas with You (Merry Me)” in 2015 to illuminate the holiday experience for gay couples. On Sunday night, Wilburn and musical friends Alexandra Scott, Jeremy Joyce, Alex Bosworth, Howe Pearson, Micah McKee, Dave DeCotiis, Lauren Oglesby will show off their own Christmas songs as well as Christmas songs they love.
Creole Christmas 2017 - Preservation Hall
Preservation Hall’s annual Christmas show features the Preservation Hall All-Stars with special guest singer Robin Barnes. They’ll play two shows Sunday afternoon, and again on December 24.
A Very Loose Cattle New Orleans Christmas - Chickie Wah Wah
Tony Award-winning actor Michael Cerveris and Kimberly Kaye are the alternative Americana band Loose Cattle, and their Seasonal Affective Disorder looks at Christmas from the downtrodden side as they cover Christmas songs by Tom Waits, BR-549, Merle Haggard, John Denver, and more. The album and their takes aren’t jokes though, and for Cerveris and Kaye, the fun of harmonizing on the songs is as important as the words themselves.
Their band will include pianist Tom McDermott, The Iguanas’ Rod Hodges, Bonerama’s Craig Klein and Lost Bayou Ramblers’ Louis Michot.
Save Sounds: A Holiday Sing-a-Long with New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic - Three Keys
Paul Sanchez will lead this sing-a-long party to benefit the Musicians’ Clinic’s “Save Sounds” initiative, which works to prevent noise-related hearing disorders. The show sponsored by Martin Guitar and the Ace Hotel New Orleans will also include Benny Grunch, Caleb Gillette, Alex McMurray, Chris Mule of Honey Island Swamp Band, Carlo Nuccio, Ray Ganacheau, John Rankin, and Debbie Davis.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Smoothie King Center
The biggest and least likely holiday music event. Only TSO's Paul O'Neill, who had the unlikely idea that what Christmas needs is prog metal. The show's for those who like to decks the halls with boughs of bombast. This year's holiday tour is the first since the death of O'Neill, who died this spring of a prescription drug overdose.
The Asylum Chorus: Holiday Show - Three Keys
The Asylum Chorus came together to sing the songs that brought people together, so it’s natural that they would do a Christmas show. With seven singers and a full band, the band won’t simply evoke community; it will be one.
December 22 and 23
Harry Shearer and Judith Owen’s Christmas Without Tears - Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré
Harry Shearer and Judith Owen’s annual Christmas extravaganza began as a house party, then it outgrew their house. Now, they have friends around the country who they visit every holiday season for a show that combines irreverent humor with the sincere pleasure of singing with others. “Any other time of the year, you might think, 'This is corny' or 'This is trite,' or they're so on the nose emotionally, but at this time of year, it's absolutely okay to be emotional and sentimental,” Owen said in 2012. “It's a time when you can be naughty and silly and rude and all the rest of it."
The guest lists for the shows are too long for this space, but if you don’t see Tom McDermott, Debbie Davis, Matt Perrine, and Loose Cattle this holiday season, it’s not because they were hiding.
Mannie Fresh’s Annual Ugly Sweater Party - Hi-Ho Lounge
C’mon—in what other city do you get a chance to go to an ugly sweater party hosted by a certified hip-hop legend?
Jingle Bounce - Republic NOLA
The Big Easy Bounce Band backs Partners-N-Crime and DJ Jubilee for a night of old school holiday bounce.
Flow Tribe’s Christmas Crunktacular - Tipitina’s
Flow Tribe has wardrobes for all seasons, and Christmas is no exception. The band’s “crunktacular” mixes its own songs with rock funk versions of holiday favorites.
A Natty Christmas Reggae Party - Bar Redux
There are far more Christmas reggae songs than you would know from the radio, so DJ Tuff Gong and DJ Kingston 12 will have a lot to choose from.
It’s a Rude Christmas Comedy Get Down - The Howlin’ Wolf
For those who’ve had enough of their families, The Howlin’ Wolf hosts an irreverent comedy night from the bounce community with Rude Jude, Shervey, Shaddy Feel Good, DJ Ram, 5th Ward Weebie, P.Town Moe, Big Choo, and Da Bounce Santa.
Updated 11:11 p.m.
The Curren$y and Trans-Siberian Orchestra shows were added after the story was initially posted.
Updated December 15, 10:33 p.m.
The Jingle Bounce show was added after the story was initially posted.