Published on December 18th, 2013 | by Jessica Mickey and Ballard Lesemann0
Gallery & Review: Cord and Pedal’s Weird, Wintery Telethon
While it was designed as a zany, possibly corrupt holiday telethon, local music collective Cord and Pedal’s Holiday Extravaganza on Dec. 17 at the Charleston Music Hall — a.k.a. “The Ball at the Hall” — actually resembled a festive family reunion and talent show. A dozen local bands and specialty ensembles performed brief sets of Christmas standards and original songs throughout the evening.
The event drew a strong crowd of friends, scene players, and a few curious locals and tourists who were totally unfamiliar with the C&P scene and backstory. Charleston-based comedians Jeremy McLellan and Tim Hoeckel shared duties as the event’s hosts, and local improvisor/actress Camille Lowman made a few special appearances during a few late-evening skits between performances. At times, the dapper, dueling characters played by McLellan and Hoeckel got a bit longwinded and sidetracked, but their weird, wacky schtick worked pretty well between most sets.
A rotation of “telethon operators” manned the telephones at a side table at stage right, supposedly pushing a mirthful pharmaceutical called “Joyalot.” A backline of drums, amps, and instruments were stacked at stage left.
This was the first time longtime organizer Kevin Hanley booked the semi-annual showcase at a large, seated venue. Usually, these musicians and artists get together at cozy local clubs with small stages. Fortunately, the Ball at the Hall was able to utilize many of the extravagant holiday decorations and set pieces on stage for the month-long “Charleston Christmas Special” show presented by Moranz Entertainment. But Hanley and his team brought plenty of original set pieces and innovative special effects of their own, too. Some worked better than others.
Unlike previous C&P holiday shows where attendees interacted, mingled, and got rowdy and tipsy, most of the audience members remained seated throughout most of the show, sipping wine and beer and cheering the more boisterous performances.
Some of the early-evening highlights included a brilliant three-song set of cuddly power-pop originals by the Silver Bells and a dirgy rendition of “I Am Santa Claus” (done to the tune of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”) by Rachel Kate Gillon and a crew of colleagues from the Early Bird Diner. Another bar/restaurant staff band from the Tin Roof heated things up with guest vocalist Lindsay Holler and a full horn section, performing a fun, lively rendition of Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road.” Garage-rock combo Dumb Doctors welcomed guest organist Stefan Rogenmoser and Happy Story Hour’s Jordan Igoe and Mackie Boles on stage for a bop-rockin’ mini set.
The full-band version of ukulele-driven combo the V-Tones killed with an amusing and cheerful mix of Hawaiian and swing tunes featuring tap dancing. Members of Run Dan Run, Elim Bolt, Mr. Jenkins, and Brave Baby assembled for the Hearts & Plugs Family Band set. Who knew label exec Dan McCurry could be equally as groovy on a muted jazz trumpet as he is on the keys? Their noisy, “free-jazz” reworking of “Little Drummer Boy” was an unexpected surprise. Newly-wed singer/pianist Vicki Matsis and guitarist Lee Barbour snuck a quick number in before members of the Shrimp Records Family Band took the stage for the final set.
Shovels & Rope’s Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent swapped instruments and lead vocal duties with multi-instrumentalist Shrimp-mates Jack Burg, Joel Hamilton, Andy Dixon, Bill Carson, and guests. Hearst seemed to take the reigns, guiding the group through raucous drinking songs, heartbreak anthems, and Christmas ditties. Their loud, enthusiastic set drew the biggest crowd of dancers, revelers, and snow-throwers of the evening down the aisles to the Music Hall’s stage.
Photos by Jessica Mickey and Ballard Lesemann.
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