This Sunday night, (Le) Poisson Rouge will host holiday cheer with The 2nd Annual Dave Harrington & Friends Holiday Spectacular. The concert will bring together musicians from bands like Yeasayer and ARMS, and musicals like “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” for a night of pan-denominational festivity.
The idea sprung out of an honest wish to get together with friends over the holiday season.
“Last year, I just got it in my head that it … would be a great excuse to get a bunch of friends together and play some music. It’s like my community’s equivalent of the company party,” show founder Dave Harrington said. Harrington and his friends teamed up with Brooklyn-based promotion group PopGun to put on the show.
The Holiday Spectacular features a house band that includes Harrington on bass, along with more than 20 musical guests like Peter Silberman of The Antlers, Jon Natchez of The War on Drugs, and Olga Bell of Dirty Projectors.
“It’s got the whole indie flavor, so I think it’ll be cool,” Bell said.
Not only is the show a celebration of close friends and holiday cheer, but it’s also a charity show for the Harlem School of the Arts.
“I put the show together for the sake of all the reasons I explained before, and then I realized, ‘What you’re doing, Dave, is a charity show,’” Harrington said. “It just seemed like the obvious thing to do.”
From its inception in 1964, the Harlem School of the Arts has endeavored to provide the community with world-class training in the four disciplines of theater, music, art, and dance. As a former student of the HSA, Harrington decided to give the proceeds of the show to his alma mater as a way of giving back.
“Last year [Dave] actually reached out to donate the proceeds to Harlem School of the Arts because he believed that it strongly impacted and influenced his creative journey. We were very honored to receive such donations,” Eva Woolridge, development and communications assistant at the HSA, said.
In an effort to continue the good will, this year’s event will also benefit HSA.
“Without being overly sentimental, it was definitely a community that was important to me, that I felt connected to,” Harrington said.
Whereas this year’s show will take place at (Le) Poisson Rouge, last year’s event was staged at the now-closed DIY venue Glasslands.
“Everyone who stepped on stage that night, all of the band members and all of the guests, had played there at one time or another at various stages in their careers, or if they hadn’t played there, they’d seen a billion shows there,” Harrington said. “So, to get all these people together in a place that was special, made it all feel that much homier, in that sentimental, holiday way.”
This year promises another unforgettable Holiday Spectacular.
“The show has grown, not because (Le) Poisson Rouge is a bigger venue, but because there’s new friends,” Harrington said. “It’ll be a whole new experience because of that.”
The show is set up to give each musician a chance to play a song that is meaningful to them.
“The bulk of the music is ostensibly Christmas music, but the point is the spirit of the thing,” Harrington said. “Last year my good friend Alex Bleeker, who’s the bassist for Real Estate, decided that he wanted to play ‘Thunder Road’ by Bruce Springsteen. And at first I was like, ‘Well … Alex, that is not a Christmas song.’ He was like, ‘It has tinkly piano. It’ll be fine, don’t worry about it!’ And it totally brought the house down. It was one of my favorite moments.”
In light of recent events, this time of year serves as a reminder to celebrate the small things in life, to appreciate good company, and to indulge in the merry and bright. In this regard, the Holiday Spectacular has managed to get at the heart of the purpose of the holidays.
“The holidays at their best are about getting together with people you care about,” Harrington said. “And so, ultimately, that’s what the show is about.”
The 2nd Annual Dave Harrington & Friends Holiday Spectacular is an 18+ show at (Le) Poisson Rouge starting at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.).Tickets are $12 in advance, or $15 day of. Donations to the Harlem School of the Arts can be made here.