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‘Tom Waits for Christmas’: Sixth volume of tribute to singer will feature 30 virtual performances by local acts

“The Tom Waits for Christmas Vol. 6 – A Virtual Holiday Special” will feature about 30 performances by local artists. (Courtesy of Barney Lopez)

The deep, gravelly voice of Tom Waits is at the heart of a virtual show celebrating the singer and songwriter during the holidays.

“Tom Waits for Christmas Vol. 6 – A Virtual Holiday Special,” presented by Blackout Theatre Company and the Launchpad will feature 30 spots of performances by local solo artists, duos and bands. The virtual show will be begin at 8 p.m. Dec. 24.

“Basically, when I first started it we did some shows, Blackout (Theatre Company), and I made this character who was, like, this Tom Waits-esque character, and I sang Christmas songs and played, like, the ukulele at that show,” said Barney Lopez of Blackout Theatre Company, who’s also Launchpad promoter. “Then it went over really well, and those were kind of fun, and so a couple years later, I started reaching out to other musicians in town who are big Tom Waits fans to see if anyone else was interested in this kind of meld. So basically, what’s happened is all the artists are playing Tom Waits songs, Christmas songs, or Christmas songs in Tom Waits style.”

Participating performers will be submitting videos of their performances to Lopez, who will put together the virtual show.

“So what I’ll be doing is they’re sending me their videos ahead of time and I’m going to cue all those up and I’ll be hosting the show introducing the videos and all of that on Christmas Eve,” Lopez said. “Some bands that I know, some groups that I know that are for sure doing stuff, are the band Karen. There’s a band called Byland, Clementine Was Right, a band from Santa Fe, the Ordinary Things. There’s another band called Scorpio Szn, and I think that’s all the bands and then there’s a lot of other solo performers.”

It will be somewhat of a reunion for the members of the band Karen.

Barney Lopez will host “The Tom Waits for Christmas Vol. 6 – A Virtual Holiday Special” on Dec. 24. (Courtesy of Barney Lopez)

“One of the members recently moved to Louisville back in November of last year,” Lopez said. “So they’re doing kind of a reunion get together and putting a Christmas song together or a couple of songs together for the show, and they’re able to do that because we’re all used to collaborating on the internet now after the last nine months.”

Many of the musicians that are part of show are happy to be performing again.

“I was talking to several musicians with this project, and they told me that they’re really happy to working on it because they have something to look forward to,” Lopez said. “They have something to actually work on. Some output for their art. There’s so many of us used to performing several times a week, and now all the performance opportunities are kind of gone, so it’s kind of nice that we can get together virtually for a Christmas event and see each other.”

The idea for the show stemmed from a Blackout Theatre performance on Dec. 21, 2012, that was titled the “End of the World Show.”

“I think at the time there was rumor that the world was going to end that day, and so that was kind of the inspiration,” Lopez said. “I was supposed to host the show, and I was, like, you know what? Probably a guy who thinks the world is going to end is probably going to sound like Tom Waits. Kind of this really deep, gargle-y voice. … So that’s where it started out of … this idea of some guy waiting in his bunker while the world is ending and he’s just singing Christmas songs and now it’s kind of come full circle because we’ve all spent this entire year kind of waiting in our bunkers for this all to pass and now we’re all going to sing Christmas songs together and through the internet. It’s really been an interesting journey.”

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