Nostalgic adults and kids will dig Jeffrey Butzer and T.T. Mahony’s jazzy musical tribute to Vince Guaraldi’s A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. This year, the duo will be presenting their holiday treat at The Earl Fri. Dec. 14 and Sat. Dec. 15 and performing a more family-friendly reprise at Nine Street Kitchen in Roswell Mon. Dec. 10 and Thurs. Dec. 20. All shows will start with an instrumental set by Jeffrey’s band, The Bicycle Eaters and also feature surf favorites from THE VENTURES CHRISTMAS ALBUM rendered by Chad Shivers and the Silent Knights.
As noted last year, the seasonal sell-out shows of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS are a labor of love for Jeffrey, a musician/composer whose solo works tend towards the minimalism of the simple Christmas tree in the iconic Charles Schultz special. His band, the Bicycle Eaters, takes a different bend, inspired by Ennio Morricone spaghetti western scores, klezmer and gypsy. And he’s been collaborating with recent Kool Kat The Residents’ Molly Harvey lately, too. Frankly that’s just a small taste of the musical adventures of this diverse Atlanta performer and affirmed cineaste, who was our Kool Kat of the Week last March.
ATLRetro caught up with Jeffrey to find out more about this year’s A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, and what’s next for him with The Bicycle Eaters and as a solo composer/musician.
I don’t remember a time NOT knowing who Charlie Brown was. It is like Bruce Lee, Elvis or Grandma, something that seemed to always exist to me. Growing up, it was always my favorite special. I liked how blue it was. Both literally and figuratively. Cartoon music in general affects you strangely. Like Carl Stalling and Raymond Scott with the Looney Tunes, I wasn’t aware of them until I was older and started playing music. But again, it is hard to remember a time when I didn’t listen to that record every year.
How did you and TT Mahony get the idea of developing A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS holiday show, and for how many years have you been doing it?
This is year four. I approached TT after he played a Leonard Cohen/Tom Waits/Nick Cave tribute show I worked on. He is an amazing piano player, very witty , too. I had kicked around the idea of doing a holiday show in the past but never really knew a pianist that could handle Guaraldi. Robby Handley is the best upright bass player I know. Great hair, too. And here is an odd fact about TT. He can jump really, really high. I’ve told him he should find some way to compete. I once saw him jump from the ground onto the top of a Toyota.
I understand last year’s shows were packed. Are you surprised that so many adults are so enthusiastic about music from a 1960s kids TV show/Christmas LP? What kind of comments do you get after your performances?
Yes, we were hoping for the best, that our fans and friends would enjoy the show and hopefully some new faces would come out. But the response has been overwhelming. Last year we had to start doing two nights. As far as comments, the one we get the most is “Can you do an all-ages one too…for the babies?” The reason we haven’t is because. the mood we set in The Earl seems to really suit Snoopy and the gang. It is cozy, dark, and has energy almost like a rock show. We are really looking forward to playing Nine Street Kitchen, it sounds like it is going to turn into a great venue. And playing for children will be a blast. My 3-year-old son Francis is happy he can come out to “Dad’s Show.”
Cookies, dancing… It is basically a big Holiday Party with 300 of your closest, newest friends.
What are you doing at Nine Street Kitchen (in Roswell) to make it even more kid-friendly?
The show will not change much.
Why pair Peanuts with The Ventures?
Well, the albums were released around the same time for one thing. They are both classic ‘60s albums. They are both easy to dance to.
And what about that opening set from Jeffrey Butzer and the Bicycle Eaters?
My band (The Bicycle Eaters) play Frenchy-Jazzy-Spaghetti Western-inspired instrumentals. We are releasing a limited EP at the show
What else are you and the Bicycle Eaters up to? Any more collaborations with Molly Harvey or new 2013 recordings you’d like to tell readers about?
We have a vocal album on the way called collapsible with our new singer Cassi Costoulas and French singer Lionel Fondeville, as well as several other great guests: Brent Hinds, Don Chambers. Possibly Molly Harvey.