Parker Gibbs' Christmas Craptacular w/ Jonathan Richman, Mark Eitzel, Marc and the Casuals, Carletta Sue Kay, Los Cenzontles, and others
December 22, 2010
@ The Make-Out Room
Face down in Burl Ives'
This benefit for the San Francisco Food Bank was promised to be a merry and liquid affair, but the drunks slung along the bar at the Make-Out Room last night looked as if they'd already begun inhaling Xmas cheer sometime yesterday morning. This promised much in the way of anti-holiday camaraderie, as nothing says Fuck Xmas like an assortment of puce-faced muttering drunkards.
Parker Gibbs, ebullient master of ceremonies, had the place in his hands before stepping to the mic to congratulate us on showing up in this shitty economic weather. Marc and the Casuals were first up, lacing into some swampy R&B credible enough for the sudden intrusion of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" to send a nice shock of recognition chasing around the room.
The place was beginning to fill to capacity with hearty specimens of the city's drinking classes and they seemed to like what they were hearing, dancing and bellowing along with fervor. An ad-hoc clutch of hippies called Rainbow Tribe was next, with Gibbs promising something weirder than Burning Man and delivering on it. These poor blighters took their time setting up, while Gibbs indicated proximity of the nearest bar, taking care to note that alcohol was being served there.
The most that can be said of Rainbow Tribe's turn was that it was brief and the audience seemed well anesthetized to it. "We're taking the rainbow back!" hollered one; while the tipsy blonde on my left asked me "Does that mean they're straight?" I admitted the possibility as the three-man acoustical band mauled a Bob Wills tune before stepping off to a flurry of indifference. Paula Frazer led us in a group sing of "Christmastime is Here," the plaintive Vince Guaraldi ditty heavily featured in A Charlie Brown Christmas
. It seemed appropriate, and her soulful countrified vocals had a nicely mellowing effect on the room.
Next, Gibbs promised us awesome and we got it. Los Cenzontles set up next and their partytime weld of roots rock and traditional Mexican dance music cranked the room's mood back towards the antic.
Punk-rock pioneer Jonathan Richman meekly tiptoed on after a here's-some-guy-whatever intro to obliterate the now-packed room with a brief set, highlighted by his puckishly homicidal "David & Goliath." The room sent the much-loved performer off with loud and cheerful love and he was replaced by impish, heavily bearded Mark Eitzel, who owned the place the second he began to moan "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" over the crowd. He followed this glorious impertinence up with a lowing rendition of Tony Bennett's municipal wheeze "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," and the last remaining inhibitions seemed to melt away. Folks grappled in boozy embrace and the brunette behind me kept groping me and apologizing. The onetime American Music Club frontman stepped off to a fine blast of ethanol enthusiasm and the jollification continued as I stepped outside for a THC break. Suitably medicated, I returned to a diminished house in thrall to Carletta Sue Kay, singing winsomely of sloppy kisses and Xanax with occasional passes on the kazoo.
Marc and the Casuals returned for another, even better set, highlighted by a ferocious cover of The Kinks' "Father Christmas," with guest vocals from Chris von Sneidern, who gave it everything Ray Davies might've under similar slaphappy circs. By the time my girl and I tottered to her car, it was past one a.m. and those left were settling in at last for some serious drinking.
Overheard: "The keyboardist needs wine! Any wine! White box wine will do!"