Not your typical Christmas carols
> Makeshift crew celebrates collection of irreverent, original new songs for season
When it comes to making Santa’s naughty or nice list, Memphis musician and Makeshift collective mainstay J.D. Reager will surely be on the former.
Reager and Snowglobe drummer Jeff Hulett are the forces behind the release of the new O Holy Crap: A Very Makeshift Christmas, an irreverently titled 14-track compilation album that gathers together a group of local musicians offering their own spin on the holiday season.
The disc is available for free download at makeshiftchristmas .bandcamp.com.
In keeping with the seasonal spirit, Reager will be playing a set of holiday favorites tonight at Nocturnal, part of a concert bill dubbed “Christmas Day Fiasco” that will also feature local acts and compilation contributors Star & Micey, The Original Cyndi and Modern Convenience.
The genesis of A Very Makeshift Christmas came relatively late in the year. Conversations between Reager and Hullet about the disc began in late October. In short order, the pair was able to secure interest from numerous local acts including Jump Back Jake, Graham Burks and Jack Alberson.
“A fair amount of the songs were cut especially for this compilation,” Reager says. “A lot of it was thrown together pretty quickly — some of it wasn’t even recorded as of a few weeks ago.”
Reager and company didn’t set strict parameters for the material. “We just wanted original or public-domain Christmas songs,” he says. “That was the only condition for the project. We said, it can be about anything you want. It can be religious, nonreligious. It was anything goes.”
To that end, the disc features a wide array of tunes: Star & Micey offer some local love on “Memphis Christmas”; indie-pop outfit Vending Machine delivers the cheeky “Santa and the Mellow Double Guitar Solo”; while the dangerously heavy avant-rock outfit True Sons of Thunder chips in with the cheerful “Ding, Dong It’s Christmastime.”
Although a limited number of physical copies of the album were pressed for a Makeshift holiday show last week at the Hi-Tone Café, the disc itself remains largely a download-only affair. “So far, the response has been pretty amazing,” Reager says of the online reaction. “We’ve had thousands of visits, and several hundred downloads in just the first few days alone.”
Makeshift plans to leave the download site online at least through New Year’s, and “maybe indefinitely, if people are still downloading it,” Reager says.
In a sense, the Christmas compilation serves as a teaser to what looks to be a busy year for Makeshift, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2010.
Reager says Makeshift is planning a new various artists compilation CD — the label’s sixth — as well as a series of anniversary shows tied to the release of the disc.
Also slated is the annual Rock for Love show. The event, now in its fourth year, is a multinight charity event — spearheaded by Reager, Hulett and Pezz singer Marvin Stockwell — that benefits the Church Health Center. In addition, Makeshift band perennials Snowglobe and Two Way Radio are also expected to put out new records.
Despite all the organized activity, Reager is quick to point out that the Makeshift mandate hasn’t changed.
“I like to stress that we’re not a traditional label. We’re more of a loose collective. I think what we do is closer to what a music foundation does than the way a traditional label would approach things.”
“We try and support underground, grassroots music,” he adds. “We try to give a voice to anyone who wants that opportunity. That’s the way we’ve always approached all our projects.”
J.D. Reager (left) and his Makeshift group will play Nocturnal tonight in a “Christmas Day Fiasco” concert along with Star & Micey (top right), The Original Cyndi and Modern Convenience.