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Everyone knows that a twirl of the FM knob this time of year can result in an aural-schmaltz assault of ghastly contemporary seasonal songs.
In 1997, Springfield, Va., resident Chris Moreau heard one particularly “deplorable” version of a Christmas classic while driving to a holiday party. The song so raised his dander that Moreauwho plays guitar for local bands Bang Crosby and Hip Checkwas inspired to produce a better seasonal rocker himself. When he proposed recording a theme album to his musician buddies at the party, “people were really hip to the idea,” Moreau says.
Out of that night grew The Santa Cause Volume 1, a 1998 CD collection of holiday songs recorded by local performers that managed to raise $6,800 for Children’s Hospital in D.C. Moreau, 37, a project manager at Capital One, eventually took steps to make the Santa Causewhich has produced fundraising CDs every year sincean official nonprofit organization, a process he characterizes as a “giant pain in the ass.” This year, with Volume 4, Moreau hopes to be able to donate $20,000 to the Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children.
Like all previous volumes, Volume 4 includes seasonally themed originals and twists on traditional holiday songsall by local musicians. The CD is an eclectic collection, including a Rat Pack-worthy lounge tune (“Cool Yule”) from 3 Martini Lunch, an a cappella paean to Mr. Grinch by the DC Accidentals, and, for those who appreciate the downer side of the holidays, a melancholy folk crooner called “Ending the Year” from Angel Fall. Some of the offerings are bluesy jams, such as those from the Nighthawks, Greg Smith, and venerable D.C. blues gurus Tommy Lepson and the Lazy Boys.
“It’s nice to have this as a fun thing to do, and you get to help the children,” says Wayne Hunt, who plays guitar and sings with Fairfax-based Santa Cause contributors the Boones Farmers. Hunt says that the best thing about the project is the dynamic at the promotional Santa Cause live showsVolume 4’s first CD-release concert of the season was held last week at downtown’s Hard Rock Cafewhere the usual ego problems that crop up in multiple-band collaborations have been nonexistent.
Moreauwho this summer was named one of WETA’s “Hometown Heroes” for his effortshas yet to achieve his dream of hearing a Santa Cause song on his car radio. But his tunes have appeared on DC 101’s “Local Licks” and the local cable network MHz2and he’s thinking big.
“My vision of this is to have a Santa Cause in every major music city,” Moreau says. Paul Fain
For more information, visit www.thesantacause.com.