by Josh Gross
There are a lot of things that happen on a national level that Boise has created parallel local versions of. That's why the best way to explain Curtis Stigers' annual Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza event at The Egyptian Theatre is to call it Boise's version of Farm Aid.
The show is a parade of who's who in Boise music and entertainment, hosted by the Fool Squad, curated by Stigers and lorded over by four, large brightly painted backdrops of elves that look plucked straight out of a bad acid trip.
The performance Dec. 17 began with Stigers playing a lively tune called "Lighten Up, It's Christmas."
Then local theater duo The Fool Squad told the audience that the next night would feature performances from James Taylor, Carole King, Bruce Springsteen and more, but that Monday's show would include "lots of really adequate things to see."
It was a bit more than adequate. Amuma Says No blasted out a Basque anthem, Eilen Jewell crooned a Loretta Lynn tune with a bright red bow on her guitar, and gospel singer and District 19 Sen. Cherie Buckner Webb sang an epic holiday carol accompanied only by a pianist.
"Let's hear Butch Otter sing like that," Stigers cracked.
And the hits just kept on rolling. AKA Belle wished those dancing in the aisles a rock 'n' roll Christmas. Bill Coffey did his best Jackson Browne impression. Possum Livin got a bit rowdy with a stomping hymn. And, in possibly the best moment of the evening, Stigers auctioned off a house show for $3,000. That's right, Stigers plays house shows.
Musician James Coberly Smith told Boise Weekly that he thought this year's event might be its best yet because, though it had many familiar faces, they were each performing new and different material.
Smith's song, a bluesy duet with LeAnne Town about being dumped on Christmas, went over especially well.
And the evening kept going and going. In fact, the most extreme part of it might actually have been the length.
But when it the show did come to an end, it did so with panache, as the dozens-deep cast all took the stage to sing "The Weight," by The Band, rewritten to include the lyrics: "Take a Load Off Santa."
"All good things ... must end strangely," said Stigers.
The last chance to see this year's Xtreme Holiday Extravaganza is tonight, Tuesday, Dec. 18, at The Egyptian. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and costs $30. All proceeds benefit Interfaith Sanctuary.