Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Musical Hanukkah Celebration


Now, why aren’t other cities’ local scenes smart enough to do somethin’ like this? I’m talkin’ about what my favorite band’s got going on in the city of Riverview this time. Don’t be sad if you missed the news; they almost snuck this one past yours truly, herself. Almost.

Ready for this? It’s brilliant. It’s worth copying. They threw a musical Hanukkah party for the members of the local music scene. Anyone involved — roadies, musicians, promoters, journalists — could get in for a ten buck ticket that they had to get in advance and buy through KRVR, the radio station that’s so high on the Riverview scene that Bobby Bands, himself, is trying to horn in on their turf. (I hear they had the balls to turn his ten bucks away, too.)

For fifty bucks more, you could jam onstage. With the sponsors of the night: ShapeShifter. And since everything from the food to the club to the labor was donated, all the money went to one of those “keep music in our schools” charities that are so hot right now.

Took me two days, but I got hold of ShapeShifter’s Mitchell Voss. “It was Eric’s idea, really,” he said, and handed the phone over. For someone who usually lets his guitar talk for him, ShapeShifter’s Eric Wallace had a lot to say. Here’s some of it.

“Monday is the quietest day in the entertainment industry, so we picked it, figuring that no one would be committed elsewhere. And since Hanukkah runs for eight days, there’s always a Monday during Hanukkah. We can do this for years to come, and I hope we will.

“Why Hanukkah if no one in the band’s Jewish? Well, my dad and I were talking about this, wondering if the Jewish kids ever feel bad that Santa doesn’t come to their houses–“

He got interrupted here by my favorite blabbermouth. “Look, Chelle. We have Christmas parties out the wazoo. New Year’s Eve parties. You can’t turn on a fucking radio without hearing Christmas carols until you’re blue in the face and stuffing a CD in the player so fast, you break the fucking thing. It’s all about Christmas around here.”

“So we figured,” Eric said. “That we’d honor the religion that was around before Christianity but gets drowned out this time of year. We’d have a Hanukkah party and celebrate our music scene at the same time. After all, Hanukkah’s a holiday of rededication. It just seemed to fit with the idea of reminding everyone that we’re still into the local scene. It doesn’t matter how big we get; it all starts at the local level. Just like the rededication of the Jews’ temple.”

“And we managed to talk the cook into making potato pancakes for everyone, too,” Mitchell laughed in my ear. Ooh, baby. Laugh away.

Focus, Chelle. This was a good thing. Over three hundred people turned out, and they filled the fifty spaces for that big old jam with the superstars themselves. That was an extra fifty bucks for that honor, remember. Once you do the math, you get a pretty nice $5500 for charity.

And then those ShapeShifter boys topped that. They matched the take, making a cool $11,000.

Eric said his father’s church was also going to make a donation in the name of the Riverview Musician’s Hanukkah Celebration, and is going to work throughout the year toward getting more of the city’s religious folk of all denominations and faiths involved for next year. The funds won’t stay in Riverview, either, but are going to Music Lives, a foundation that spreads the wealth and the message across the country. This is important, Mitchell told me, “because without music in the schools, some of us won’t get to sing in the choir and find out that we can do more than croak. That’s what I got out of choir. That and the chance to be around all those girls in their concert best. Man, that alone made being in the choir worth it.”

So, c’mon. This is one bandwagon worth jumping on, and go figure that it’s ShapeShifter leading the way. Again. Y’all laugh at my face, tellin’ me I’m nothin’ but a ShapeShifter groupie, but if they’re doin’ stuff that’s this good, why aren’t you one, too?

You heard it first and you heard it here: Musical Hanukkah Celebrations are going to be sweeping the country. Get involved now.

(a note from Susan: While Chelle LaFleur, our slightly single-minded journalist, and ShapeShifter are as fake as the Musical Hanukkah Celebration, the Music Lives Foundation isn’t. Endorsed by Paul McCartney and Fidelity Investments, they’re helping keep music in our community’s schools. Check out their website; read the stats about how music helps our children. And if you’ve got an extra $50, for the price of a jam with ShapeShifter, you can make a positive impact on the world. If you can’t do fifty, do what you can; their minimum is five. Go on. Skip that latte and donate instead. And be sure to tell them you heard about them here.)

Another note from Susan: Music Lives seems to have folded. If you’d like to make a difference, check out the 2008 Musical Hanukkah recipient, the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. You’ll be glad you did.



  1. cheesygiraffe

    December 17, 2006 11:58 am

    Good going guys! Great charity gig. Does the band need a trumpet player? My 10 year old can play I Have a Little Dreidel.

  2. Susan Helene Gottfried

    December 17, 2006 11:59 am

    Hmmm. That does make one need to define “musician,” doesn’t it?br /br /Well, for fifty bucks, I suppose he can jam with ShapeShifter, too! Has he learned Still Life yet? *grin*

  3. cheesygiraffe

    December 17, 2006 1:44 pm

    Hey now we all have to start somewhere. br /We need the sheet music for Still Life. 😉 It may take him a while, he only started playing in Sept. lol

  4. Lauren

    December 17, 2006 2:42 pm

    Crazy rockers AND nice guys at heart. What else could you ask for?

  5. Susan Helene Gottfried

    December 17, 2006 3:07 pm

    A book deal so we can expose more people to them? *grin*

  6. musie

    December 17, 2006 7:25 pm

    i was there…i saw adam sandler there..and i think he even took the stage w/jon /br /wtg..what a great should be real..and in a published book.

  7. karen!

    December 17, 2006 10:34 pm

    Yeah, Chelle! (ya know she’s one of my favorites)br /br /Love the Hanukkah Celebration idea, love it.

  8. karen!

    December 18, 2006 11:32 am

    I forgot to say…br /Happy Hanukkah!!!

  9. Arachne Jericho

    December 21, 2007 1:52 am

    That was excellent. You had me thinking “is this real? It sounds real. I like this voice….” BR/BR/I’ve never been here before. I’ll have to come back. :)BR/BR/And off to donate to Musical Lives! It’s a great cause–music in schools ought to stay around, though it’s being slowly squeezed out from some.

  10. Kate Boddie

    December 31, 2007 12:05 am

    At first I was trying to figure out if this way a story is something like an op-ed piece but far enough into it I realized the former. An excellent take on the holiday theme! And en excellent cause, too!

  11. katfrass

    January 1, 2008 11:15 am

    Very nicely done. I argued with myself for the first paragraph or so about if I was at the right post for the Holiday Flash piece. You nailed the reporter voice perfectly. The idea is a pretty good one too. I always wonder why Hanukkah doesn’t get some big sound off each year. It seems to get drowned out by Christmas.BR/BR/I really enjoyed this piece. Thanks for sharing.

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