A Family Holiday

I’m hoping it’s fairly apparent to you what I’ve been up to all weekend.

With the exception of a few good runs, a few bad movies (yes, we sat through “Hot Rod”), and a whole bunch of reading (Vanity Fair, New Yorker, New York Times, Rolling Stone and “The Looming Tower: Al-Queda And The Road To 9/11”), the bulk of my weekend was spent working on A Family Holiday benefit.

First, I built the MySpace page, adding five of the fourteen songs on the album, plus photos of all of the singer/songwriters and bands involved. Then I pimped it out in custom woodgrain and a big, honkin’ graphic promoting the big CD release show (December 5th at The Delancey!)

Next I corresponded with my pal Jen Snow from 826NYC about speaking on behalf of the organization at the show, and bringing an item or two for the big charity raffle.

Then I drafted a press release which underwent some eight revisions as…

Family Records head (and my pal) Wes Verhoeve and I emailed back and forth and back and forth. By my count, I sent him eighty-six emails in just seventy-two hours.

Meantime I was working with the good folks at CDBaby to get the album online and — cross your fingers! — onto iTunes in time.

And I emailed all eighteen performers, DJs and organizers about the gig, the raffle, who’s playin’ when, how to promote it, and all that good stuff.

Oh, and whenever I wasn’t doing anything else, I was obsessively adding friends to the MySpace page while constantly updating Abbi on the project’s progress.

“We just sold fifteen!”

“We’re up to 58 friends!”

“We just passed 500 views!”

Bottom line is that this whole Mister Rogers thing has led me back to what I think I’ve always known, which is that change begins with individual action, and grows through community contribution. I hope we’re doing something deep and simple here with the primary skills I have: recording and releasing records, and organizing and motivating people.

I hope you feel the same way, and will pre-order some copies or download some mp3s now, or wait ’til next week and come to the show, order from CDBaby, or download on iTunes. Whatever you can do.

But enough of my yackin’. Here’s the press release.

    Comprised of thirteen tracks from some of New York City’s finest emerging artists plus their collective cover of “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” “A Family Holiday” is a seasonal charity compilation spanning the sacred (Tarrah Reynolds’ “What Child Is This”) to the profane (Seth Kallen’s “Dreidel 2.0”).The CD’s Release is set for December 5, 2007, and will be marked by a party at The Delancey in New York City. In addition to performances from Wakey!Wakey!, Jeff Jacobson, Flying Machines, Wynn Walent, El Jezel, and others, the benefit will feature DJ sets from Hot Rocks’ Jenny Piston and Underrated Magazine’s Rachael Darmanin, plus a charity raffle, and copious drink specials.

    Liberated Matter & Hot Rocks Presents: A Family Holiday Benefit

    Wednesday December 5th 8-12pm @ The Delancey

    168 Delancey Street New York, NY (212) 254 – 9920

    All proceeds from “A Family Holiday” will be donated to 826NYC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

    “A Family Holiday” participants first gathered at Travis Harrison’s Serious Business Studios in Soho, spending a long, sweaty October weekend together recording their cover of the 1984 Band Aid classic. They were then tasked with covering a favorite holiday tune, or writing a new one. The results are decidedly different, and surprising.

    The Undisputed Heavyweights deliver a sparsely arranged, acoustic version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” featuring soulful chanteuse Jamie Leonhart, while Jeff Jacobson gives “Frosty The Snowman” a minor chord makeover.

    More surprising, though, is the breadth and depth of the brand-new songs. Flying Machines craft a mini-epic with their muscular, propulsive “Right Around Christmas Time.” And Queens indie rockers El Jezel capture the very real, very lame experience of “Working On Christmas.”

    The complete “A Family Holiday” track listing:

    1. Family Holiday Singers – Do They Know It’s Christmas

    2. Casey Shea – My Holiday Song

    3. Flying Machines – Right Around Christmas

    4. Misty Boyce – The River

    5. Jeff Jacobson – Frosty The Snowman

    6. Wakey!Wakey! – LGA (Live)

    7. Benjamin Wagner – Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)

    8. Tarrah Reynolds – What Child Is This

    9. The Undisputed Heavyweights (featuring Jamie Leonhart) – Baby, It’s Cold Outside

    10. Chris Abad – Feliz Navidad

    11. El Jezel – Working on Christmas

    12. Seth Kallen – Dreidel 2.0

    13. Wynn Walent – Little Drummer Boy

    14. Kailin Garrity – Silent Night

    The “Family Holiday” project was conceived by singer/songwriter Benjamin Wagner who enlisted the support of Family Records head Wes Verhoeve and Hot Rocks’ Jenny Piston. “A Family Holiday” endeavors to give back to the community from which the participating artists were born.

    Family Records, a division of Liberated Matter, is a New York City-based record label focusing on the long-term development of quality artists and the community around them. The label is home to The Undisputed Heavyweights, Jukebox The Ghost, Wakey!Wakey!, Casey Shea, Jeff Jacobson, and more.

    Hot Rocks is a dance party at The Delancey featuring live sets from New York City’s most kinetic, plus DJ sets featuring dance hits of the 1950/60s. The monthly event was founded and is hosted by Jenny Piston.

    For more information please visit www.myspace.com/afamilyholidaybenefit and www.thefamilyrecords.com.

So please pick up a few (they make great gifts!), and spread the word!

It’s a good thing.

And it’s for the kids.

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