Jazz-bluegrass band will perform holiday tunes with S.C. Philharmonic
Like a slow-roasted turkey, the idea has been in the oven for awhile.
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones had to get it out of the oven and on the table before it was overcooked.
"It's something with the Flecktones, we play Christmas tunes at Christmas," Fleck said. "We play them at odd time signatures or change the key.
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"Do something twisted like that and people go crazy."
The Flecktones have cooked up a Christmas album, "Jingle All the Way." You'll get to hear the band's spicy versions of Christmas classics Tuesday at the Koger Center in a concert that will also feature the South Carolina Philharmonic.
It's the first stop of the Flecktones Holiday Tour, and it's the only date with an orchestra.
"I think it's really fun for a band that's been playing together to surround themselves with dozens of musicians playing their songs," Fleck said.
The Flecktones play a hybrid of jazz and bluegrass that doesn't acknowledge traditional rules of verse and meter. How will the Phil fit in?
"You have to come up with charts that reinforce the band's music and shows the orchestra off in a different way," Fleck said.
There's a few tricks to making it work. For instance, the orchestra won't simply be playing long notes. That's like adding sweetener to sweet tea.
There will be two rehearsals before the performance, and Fleck said the orchestra will have some ambitious playing to do.
"You want them intrigued and interested," he said. "They're not just at work, phoning it in. Not everybody writes for an orchestra that way."
The Flecktones - Victor Lemonte Wooten, Future Man and Jeff Coffin - have been playing holiday music for years. (This is the first time the band has played with Coffin, who has been touring with Dave Matthews Band, in awhile.) They've all played on goofy Christmas records of other musicians.
A record together was frequently discussed.
"I'm calling it an adult-alternative album as a joke because I'm providing more challenging versions of the songs," Fleck said.
"Jingle All the Way" is a different way to experience Christmas music. "Twelve Days of Christmas" is rendered in 12 different keys and time signatures. "Medley" is a collection of songs "stacked" on top of each other.
"At one time, there's six different tunes happening simultaneously," Fleck said. "And it works. They sound like counterpoint."
The Flecktones will perform a set by themselves and one with the orchestra. Even if you don't like bluegrass or jazz, you'll find some delight in the holiday tunes.
But don't expect a slow-burning version of "Silent Night" to sink your teeth into.
The music is too hot for that.
IF YOU GO
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Koger Center, 1051 Greene St.
TICKETS: $40 to $70
INFORMATION: (803) 251-2222 or www.scphilharmonic.com
AFTER PARTY: After the concert, there's a meet-and-greet with the band. Only 100 $50 tickets will be sold.