As we make our way to the starting line of 2017, let us not forget that 2016 isn’t quite done with us yet, at least not musically.
I’m going to tell you about a show where you’ll want to invite all of your friends, throw on your favorite ugly Christmas sweater or old Santa hat and have the time of your life. And you’ll be doing this all while listening to spectacular 19-piece big band The Fogcutters, along with a sparkling list of special guests.
The Fogcutters Super Fantastic Christmas Extravaganza was conceived by band leader John Maclaine who has had the idea for several years and is finally getting the chance to make it happen.
Some of you may remember The Fogcutters’ Big Band Syndrome shows, which had a memorable five-year run at the State Theatre from 2011 through 2015. These shows were legendary and featured local singers performing their original tunes arranged big band-style. The first two shows were released as live albums and Vol. 1 is home to a crazy-great, all-star rendition of Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher,” featuring, among other luminaries, Darien Brahms knocking the stuffing right out of the song.
Watch “Minne the Moocher” in all its glory
The Big Band Syndrome moniker has been retired, at least for now, but the magic is still very much alive, and this year’s Extravaganza will feature guest singers including the legendary Al Hawkes, Anna Lombard, Anthony Maurice (who may or not be Tony McNaboe’s alter ego), Dilly Dilly, Dominic LaVoie, Gina Alibrio, Dave Gutter, Spencer Albee, Matthew Robbins, Phil Divinsky and Sean Mencher. They also have a few other special guests lined up but aren’t saying who until the day before the show, so as to maintain the element of surprise. I know, I know, it’s brutal, but you gotta hand it to them for being clever.
As for the music, you’ll hear dazzling Christmas and holiday classics done Fogcutters-style. Speaking of which, if you don’t have a copy of their Christmas EP, “Jingle These Bells,” you should pick one up pronto. There will also be some “comedic-schtick,” and what’s more, one dollar from every ticket sold will go directly to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. All the more reason to bring a bunch of friends and help do your part to sell this show out.
Take a listen to “Jingle Bells” by The Fogcutters
The Fogcutters formed in 2010, and the band is composed of 19 members: vocalists Megan Jo Wilson and Chas Lester (who also plays percussion and beat boxes), four trumpet players, four trombonists, five saxophonists, a drummer, guitarist, bassist and pianist.
They released their debut studio album “Flotsam” last year, and it’s a blend of instrumentals and vocal tracks that are modern big-band gems. My favorite is the Zach Jones-penned “Back Home,” powered by Wilson’s electrifying vocals and featuring the line “I know I’ll be back again and I’ll see you then/Wait til winter’s put back on the shelf til I find myself/Nothing will have changed, Portland always stays the same/But there’s nothing more beautiful than the summer in Maine and the people I miss back home.”
The gorgeous “Back Home” by The Fogcutters
Hey Fogcutters, maybe you’ll play that one for old Aim? Because you had better believe I’m going to be at this show. The Fogcutters Super Fantastic Christmas Extravaganza is going to be a marvelous and memorable holiday celebration, and if you see me there, let’s raise a glass together to the incredible local musicians here in Maine. I’ll be the one cheering the loudest.
8 p.m. Saturday. State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland, $15 in advance, $20 at the door. statetheatreportland.com