Not your typ­i­cal Christ­mas car­ols

> Makeshift crew cel­e­brates col­lec­tion of ir­rev­er­ent, orig­i­nal new songs for sea­son

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music - By Bob Mehr

mehr@com­mer­i­calap­peal.com

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.

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