When I interviewed Kelly Brown for last week’s Artist Q&A, I had never seen her perform. We’d taken a class together in grad school a few years ago, and she was quiet and studious. Our professor, Dean Terry, told us to read The Long Tail by Chris Anderson (also a great blog), editor of Wired. Dean has a way of assigning books then never mentioning them again, so even though his students know they don’t have to read the book for class, a handful of truly geeky ones do it anyway. I had that in common with Kelly Brown – an academic hunger for new media theory, a geekdom beyond gaming, if you will.
Therefore, I was not prepared for what I saw and heard Friday night at the Lakewood Theater. During our interview, Kelly expressed a frustration with corporate types trying to pigeonhole her as a blend of other people (“You’re Sheryl Crow meets Doris Day!”). Watching her onstage during Local Honey‘s 3rd Annual Holiday Mix, I wanted to scream “Quincy Jones as played by Ann-Margret!” or something equally inane, because 1) I can’t believe someone this charismatic went to my school; and 2) I can’t believe someone this talented still seems like a secret in this town.
I feel so lucky to have been in that audience. Paul Slavens read the mean, hostile, delicious beginning of How the Grinch Stole Christmas to introduce the mean, hostile, delicious theme song sung by Kelly and her sister Kim with high theatricality and mean, delicious vocals.
Freddie Jones played “What Child Is This?” as a trumpet solo, and I think I found religion in that moment. My friend Wendi screamed wildly, “I love you Freddie!” and I momentarily thought she might throw clothing at him (which would have been an interesting contrast to my own religious epiphany, but her outburst was restricted to words).
The true Christmas miracle happened when I stopped holiday-hating for the five minutes it took the band to play Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” That stupid song has been shoved down my throat for nearly four decades, yet my heart grew two sizes too big when Slavens’ keyboard, Ricki Derek’s horn section and Bryan Wakeland’s drums transformed into an anthem, late-eighties Deep Ellum style.
I have discovered the spirit of Christmastide, my friends; it is the sound of Bryan Wakeland’s drums. I can’t find that one on YouTube, so we’ll have to wait until next year.