Here we come a-wassailing

December 18, 2008

‘Tis the season for caroling and I’ve had the good fortune to get my fill.

Monday night I went to Diane Kondrat‘s for her zillionth annual “sing loud and fast” caroling fest. The group included Busman’s Holiday, Nell Weatherwax, Janiece Jaffe, and a goodly group of others I’m too tired to enumerate. But we all sang loud and fast!

Diane’s lyric sheets were from the days when she used to carol outside bars, so she learned that slow, pretty songs tended to lose the audience pretty quickly. But she graciously acquiesced to such lovely classics as Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, O Come O Come Emmanuel (my fave), and Janiece’s sweet rendition of When You Wish Upon A Star.

We also collectively massacred My Favorite Things and a few others, but had a great time doing it. We got through my second-least-favorite carol, The 12 Days Of Christmas, in record time. (My least favorite carol is the insanity-producing Carol Of The Bells. I swear it was written to drive people out of their minds.)

After all this raucous holiday cheer at Diane’s (they went for almost four hours; I arrived late but ate my share of fudge), the next night’s excursion couldn’t have been more different. The fabulous Rachael Himsel had lined up a caroling gig at the grand opening of a business in Renwick’s Village Center. She had 6 singers and was trolling for a few more. Since I was attending the opening anyway (Renwick is a client of my alter ego), I was in!

The weather decided to turn icy, pelting people with sleet and making travel hazardous. Surprisingly, the event had a great turnout and people crammed into the little offices to see What Was What. All the other singers had skipped out for various reasons, so it was down to me and Rachael! 

We took our place near the front door (Rachael, bless her, put herself in the way of the icy draft so I wouldn’t freeze) and started in. We sang for over an hour as dressed-up businessfolk passed by on their way to see the sights and find the wine. The air was so dry it felt like my voice was actually being pulled from my lungs; it got painful by the end. (I’ve had that happen once before and fantasize of carrying a humidifier with me to all gigs.)

Luckily, Rachael’s voice and mine were a great match. She has a lovely voice and a very nice timbre that stays pretty constant throughout her range. I attempted some harmonies here and there but, between the giant sucking sound leaving my lungs and the din of too many people crowded into a small space, I’m afraid I wasn’t as deft as I would’ve liked.

Patty Pizzo turned up and helped us out on a few tunes, which was a delight. We scarfed a few treats down (we’d been pressed into catering service when we arrived early) and marveled at the harpists who were playing outstanding music in other rooms. 

I discovered that I’d had my fill of Christian carols a little too soon into the gig. I felt uneasy at singing the explicitly Christian messages at a business event. It wasn’t until afterwards that I was able to explore my feelings; I’m so used to being in charge of everything about a gig, I didn’t know how to respond when this one started feeling uncomfortable! Definitely something for me to work on. Rachael was a rock and would’ve done some secular songs if I’d asked, but I just kept thinking, “This isn’t my gig” and stopped myself from even considering to ask. What a moron. Sheesh.

So now that I’ve had my fill of caroling, I’m prepping for a trip to sunny California, where I can escape the Christmas hype and do some serious loafing with friends. I just hope the ice thaws by then….