ORLEANS – One cold December night at the Jailhouse Tavern, a reporter named Scrooge attended a musician’s company party called the Cape Cod Christmas Cavalcade to Benefit the Homeless, and discovered that, against all odds, wherever you are, Santa will find you.
(See the slide show below)
“This is a musician’s Christmas party,” said Sarah Swain, after her performance at the Christmas Cavalcade. “I feel like I just went to my company party.” (Please donate to the NOAH Shelter here.)
So follow along. This story is just like Dickens, only Involves a Great Christmas Tick, Peking duck for dinner, and a smiling troubadour wearing pajamas and holding a guitar.
The 10th Cavalcade, organized by the pajama-clad Eastham musician, Chandler Travis, was attended by about 300 people and raised approximately $7,000 for the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, said Travis, who is formally in approximately four bands, including the Chandler Travis Philharmonic.
“It’s one of the biggest community support events that I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Betty Suydam, of South Yarmouth. Standing on the dance floor wearing an angel’s halo, she said, “We like to support the NOAH Shelter, and we love the people here. They are our people, our friends, people in our community.”
It’s not hard to find a broken heart at Christmas time. They are everywhere. That’s why such a benefit is necessary.
“I’m a minister’s son.” said Fred Boak, who goes by the title, “The Valet” and sings with a two of Chandler Travis’ bands. “Christmas was always a big day to me, he said. He used to help his father at the church, but when his father passed away, Boak didn’t have an outlet to help out any more. “Now I’m doing this. I love this,” he said. “This is the best time in the world to me.”
For a decade, every December, Travis has been gathering musicians together and raising money for charity. He also does it in Boston. The money goes to Noah Shelter. “I’ve seen in my community, directly, the great work the NOAH Shelter does,” said Emma Dubner, bass player for the band, The Ticks.
And musicians call the event the highlight of the year.
“This is a huge thing that Chandler arranges,” said Zoe Lewis of Provincetown. “He takes us all under his wings.”
Rikki Bates, a drummer who plays in at least two of Travis’s bands, said, “This is the most fun thing I do all year. It’s very joyous. A really Christmas thing to do.” Bates got out from behind the drum set and did a highlight solo as Elvis singing, “Blue Christmas.”
It was quite joyous. There was a quiet first half of the show, and a raucous second half. It was emceed by a couple of fictional characters named Danny and Ding, played by Travis and Stephen Russell. The show was done as improv, said Travis. It appeared more organized than he let on.
“Chandler Travis has got a lasso and he lassoed us all in here for a really good cause,” said Joey Spampinato of Harwich. Spampinato plays bass with the Spampinato Brothers, and is the bass player with the nationally know act, NRBQ.
Kami Lyle, a singer and trumpet player of Harwich, said, “I get to see everyone I love in one room at once. Musicians, bandmates, family, band family, in one night at once.”
Musicians all said they loved the idea of getting to see each other play all in the same night. “There’s so much talent on Cape Cod. We don’t get to go see each others’ gigs,” said Spampinato.
As Suydam said, “There is a sense of camaraderie and fellowship here that you don’t see in other places.”
Bruce Maclean of East Orleans, who often performs under the name, Link Montana, said of the event, “It’s a little bit out of the usual comfort zone. You get up and play two songs. It’s very challenging. All the other musicians are here. You are part terrified and horrified, and psyched at the same time.”
The energy came through in every performance, even the quietest ones. “This is the best time of the whole year,” said singer/songwriter Monica Rizzio of the band Old King’s Highway. “It’s just a party.” Rizzio is formerly of the band Tripping Lily, and she reunited with them to perform an astonishing, spine-chilling rendition of Mindy Smith’s song, “Santa Will Find You.”
Travis explained the quiet drama of the song. “Sometimes you can play below an audience and get them to really listen.” Even a reporter named Scrooge couldn’t help but be moved.
And then there was Zoe Lewis, singing her bouncy new “I’m-in-love” original, “Peking Duck at Christmas,” which brought a laugh, a grin and a joyous heart. But it was the instant classic story of the Great Christmas Tick that, as the plot goes, turned the heart of this particular Scrooge.
Emma Dubner, bass player for The Ticks explained how it happened. “Everyone knows that Christmas on Cape Cod is not a white Christmas,” she said. “It’s just mud. On those Christmases, the Great Christmas Tick brings the spirit of Christmas in its blood meal.”
This is a true story. Thank you Chandler Travis, and all of your friends. You do good things for the soul.
And please check out these videos from the Christmas Cavalcade.
Rikki Bates sings, “Blue Christmas”
The Rip-It-Ups perform, “Walking In A Winter Wonderland”
Zoe Lewis sings, “Peking Duck For Christmas”
Playwright Gip Hoppe’s humorous version of The Christmas Story, much of which takes place at a Wal-Mart.
And if you are interested in the Cape Cod music scene, please see Cape Cod Music And The Joy Of Being Originally Alive, a Cape Cod Wave story from earlier this year.
— Brian Tarcy