by April Foster
To kick off his Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza on Dec. 19, Curtis Stigers—in barn red pants and jet black shoes—took the stage and proclaimed, “It’s going to be a loose night.”
That statement aptly summed up the evening. A wide variety of local musicians performed holiday numbers—some better than others—but all in good fun and for a good cause.
Stigers, backed by The Giant Leprechauns, delivered the first performance of the evening, crooning a version of The Pogues' “Fairytale of New York.” Stigers' gruff baritone did Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan justice, and the backing band provided a lush and thorough rendition of the holiday favorite. Stigers' second song, a light acoustic number with a chorus of “hey hey, ho ho ho, lighten up it's Christmas,” was less engaging.
Andrew Coba, a 15-year-old ArtsWest School student, was a definite highlight of the evening. Coba crooned his way through a jazzy, slowed-down take on the classic, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”
After a disorganized performance from Amuma Says No, The Frim Fram 4 brought the show back up to speed with some very professional, light-hearted Christmas oldies. Frim Fram, decked out in fancy white suits and bow ties, played a couple throwbacks, ripe with barbershop harmonies and a splendidly warm guitar tone. Emily Braden came out for the quartet’s second song and added some silky, jazzy female vocals to the mix.
Next up, high school band Certified Rebellion added some swagger and punk rock to the old standard “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The classic back-and-forth, cat-and-mouse vocals were executed superbly by the band’s two young female singers.
The Moody Jews added some diversity to the holiday celebrations with a few Hanukkah songs. The tunes were fast and upbeat, celebratory and festive with lots of traditional Hebrew flavors blended with more contemporary rock sounds.
Hillfolk Noir was another highlight of the night. With a skillful saw player, standup bassist, drummer and bluesy vocalist, the quartet was all talent and no gimmicks. The group moved seamlessly back and forth between somber, lonely blue Christmas verses and fast, triumphant "Merry Christmas" choruses.
The evening's entertainment was not without greater purpose. In the spirit of the season, all proceeds from Xtreme's three-show run were donated to the Interfaith Sanctuary, a local homeless shelter.