Songs for the Season
Tidings of comfort and joy are abundant this time of year.
New Orleans is no stranger to over-the-top holiday celebrations, and we’re a mecca for live music. That means that if you’re in search of a holiday concert to get you into the spirit of the season, you’re definitely in luck, whether you like traditional holiday music, tunes with a little humor thrown in or something to throw some funk in your stride.
No holiday season is complete without a visit to Celebration in the Oaks at City Park (1 Palm Drive, 483-9415, CelebrationInTheOaks.com). This month-long festival is a must-see for all ages, and it boasts dozens of attractions, ranging from amusement park rides to awe-inspiring light displays and trees decorated to the nines. Another major highlight of this community-wide celebration is the variety of local performers, including bell choirs, clog dancers and local school choirs whose voices carry high above the enchanting oak trees.
If you’re going for traditional songs, the St. Louis Cathedral Concert Choir (615 Pere Antoine Alley, 525-9585, CathedralConcerts.org) will perform its annual Christmas concert under the direction of Dreux Montegut on Dec. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the cathedral. This year the Cathedral Choir will be joined by Rabbi Edward Cohn, Cantor Joel Colman and the Temple Sinai Choir in a multicultural celebration of Hanukkah and Christmas for the “Festivals of Light” concert. Excerpts from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus and all of Vivaldi’s Gloria will be performed by the combined choirs, soloists and the St. Louis Cathedral Orchestra. This concert is free and open to the public.
It might just inspire you to sing, so stick around for Caroling in Jackson Square (PatioPlanters.org), a holiday tradition that dates back to 1946 and occurs just after the concerts in the Cathedral are over. The Patio Planters of the Vieux Carré are dedicated to the preservation and beautification of the French Quarter, and befittingly with their charitable nature they’ll be handing out candles and song sheets for anyone who would like to participate.
Not too far away from the Square is Preservation Hall (726 St. Peter St., 522-2841, PreservationHall.com), which hosts its seventh annual Creole Christmas celebration with performances by Lars Edegran’s St. Peter Street All-Stars, along with special guest vocalist Big Al Carson. Shows take place at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and again at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
Meanwhile, Tipitina’s Uptown will host the rollicking Anders Osborne Holiday Spectacular (501 Napoleon Ave., 895-8477, Tipitinas.com), a star-studded two-day fete put on by the Swedish-born, New Orleans-based versatile singer, songwriter and local rock star. On Dec. 7, Osborne will be joined by Luther Dickinson from the North Mississippi Allstars, John Gros from Papa Grows Funk and other surprise guests. The following night, Dickinson and Osborne will perform with the Bonerama Horns. Tickets start at $20, but for a little more dough, you can get the full “Eat n’ Greet Experience,” which includes a concert ticket, a limited-edition autographed poster and soul food by Shaggy. The self-proclaimed Crawfish King will serve up dishes including jambalaya, boiled shrimp and cochon de lait.
North of the Lake, Historic Old Mandeville pays homage to St. Nick on Dec. 7. Concert jazz pianist and Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee Ronnie Kole will perform on the amphitheater stage at the Mandeville Trailhead Cultural Center. Following the concert, song sheets and candles will be handed out for audience caroling, led by area church choirs and ending with a rousing piano finale by Kole.
If you like your holiday festivity served with a big helping of satire, check out humorist Harry Shearer (of “The Simpsons” and Spinal Tap fame) and his songstress wife, Judith Owen. The duo performs their Holiday Sing-Along at the Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp St., 528-3805, cacno.org) on Dec. 18 and 19. Owen and Shearer both sing and play music (piano and bass, respectively) and welcome a group of guests to join in the fun. It is a bit like being invited to your wacky, brilliant, lovable aunt and uncle’s house – the show is interactive and full of fun. Another lighthearted favorite holiday performance comes courtesy of Benny Grunch and the Bunch (BennyGrunch.com). Grunch has become a household name for his signature songs, “The 12 Yats of Christmas” and “Ain’t Dere No More,” and the group will perform at various venues throughout the month. Dec. 2 is the annual “Faw-berg Maranee Sunday 12 Yats of Christmas Pawty When Dere Ain’t No Sunday Saints Game” at The Maison on Frenchmen Street. It is free and open to the public. Other performance dates are scheduled throughout the month including a celebration on Christmas Day at Mid-City Lanes Rock ’n’ Bowl with a 90-cent admission in honor of the Christmas song’s 1990 release.
December is clearly a month to get out and sing for the season, and no matter what you choose, you’ll be sure to hit the right note!
The city’s music scene during the holiday season presents a variety of options, whether you’re looking for traditional yuletide carols, music with local flavor or something that will give you a good belly laugh.
Anders Osborne hosts a holiday party with a rock ‘n’ roll edge
Multi-talented funnyman Harry Shearer and his equally dynamic wife, Judith Owen, present a comical holiday sing-along at the Contemporary Arts Center
Preservation Hall will host a Creole Christmas concert.