Cord & Pedal’s open-hearted spirit still rocks 

Plugged In Again

Cord and Pedal's 6th Annual Christmas Ball
w/ Candy Cane Hearst & The Specs of Light (featuring Emily Painter), Holy Trinity Family Band, The Nativity Scenesters, M/erry C/hristmas Pip, The Winterjets, Lasso, Michael Trent & The Misfit Toys, Harrison Ray & The Christmas Bonus, The Green and Bold, The Black Blizzard, special guests
Sat. Dec. 20
9 p.m.
$10 (proceeds benefit Charleston Animal Society)
Music Farm
32 Ann St.
(843) 853-3276

Cary Ann Hearst – "200 Miles" from the album Shovels & Rope
Audio File

"Last year was a milestone for Cord & Pedal," says musician and artist Kevin Hanley, the main man behind the loose assemblage of like-minded locals. "The organization celebrated its eighth year in existence and its fifth year hosting what has come to be known to many as the musical highlight of the holiday season. The event needed a new home this year and has found one in the Music Farm. The additional room will allow for more people, which, in turn, translates to more money raised for the SPCA."

Cord & Pedal's 6th Annual Christmas Ball kicks off around 9 p.m. at the Music Farm on Saturday. All of the proceeds collected at the door will benefit the Charleston Animal Society, located at 2455 Remount Road in North Charleston.

A hip, stumbly, rum-nosed Santa will be on hand, and there is a $100 cash prize for best holiday costume.

The collective lost its long-running web domain "" a few months ago. The site's message board and archive of photos, audio, links, and event listings served readers well over the years. The enthusiastic support of original rock music and modern art was evident. However, the local musical collective Cord & Pedal remains alive and full of kick under a slightly new moniker.

"The new spelling is correct," says organizer Kevin Hanley. "I plan on getting a web page back up to promote the show and some forthcoming albums, but some internet snakes grabbed my old domain name and won't sell it back to me. I figured I'd 'drop the h.'"

Hanley promises that Santa will be on hand at the Farm this Saturday for photo ops and last-minute wishes. Mistletoe might be hanging in key spots. A varied mix of local and regional performers will take to the stage to "perform traditional, non-traditional, and original holiday music."

"Technically, there might be some 'bands' playing this year who've played sometime before, but it's mostly new acts or combinations," says Hanley. "It's a good way to keep the egos in check. It keeps it from becoming a showcase which is not the whole point of it. It keeps it fresh. There's just a bunch of different people, many from bands who've split up.

"I've always reached across the aisles, as they say, to book bands I've never played with," he adds. "It'd be impossible to book it entirely with people I don't know; that would require calling up complete strangers over and over. But I do want to keep it mixed. There's definitely a lot of old friends on hand. I've tried to keep any kind of cliquishness or whatever from happening. Cary Ann Hearst has been in charge of the band gathering this year. It's definitely not going to be monotonous."

Hearst describes the bill as a mix of Charleston's musicians geared up for a night as "Christmas bands" that only exist once a year.

"No one thinks they are coming to see a Specs show or a Slowrunner show," Hearst says. "It's all the members of these bands mixed up in a blender, with lots of new faces, young faces, and puppy faces. Everyone only gets two songs and it's quick-quick-quick — just like old Saint Nick."

Featured "acts" include Candy Cane Hearst & The Specs of Light (featuring vocalist Emily Painter), Holy Trinity Family Band (featuring singer/guitarist Laura Jane Vincent), and The Nativity Scenesters. MC Pip is billed as "M/erry C/hristmas Pip." Members of teenage garage band The Whisperjets are called "The Winterjets," and are on the roster for their first time.

"Emily Painter is significant because she is like the mascot of all Cord & Pedal Christmas shows," says Hanley. "She has performed at every single one, and I'm superstitious about it to the point where I insist that she sings every year — and she usually just does one song."

Others on the bill are the LASSO choir, Michael Trent (Hearst's bandmate from Shovels & Rope) with a group called The Misfit Toys, Harrison Ray & The Christmas Bonus (Ray is recently of The Wagoners and The April Invention), The Green and Bold, and newly formed band The Black Blizzard. Other musical and artistic guests may perform as well.

How does Hanley define the Cord & Pedal thing these days? "That's a really good question," he laughs. "I wish I had a more solid business plan, or something. It goes into dormant periods. It's on a different time line than anything else. Creativity, originality artistic success ... these were the qualities of the first acts involved and they still are."

While web addresses, band names, and official spellings change, clearly the artistic core and camaraderie of the collective is still based on the idea of mutual support.


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