The fifth annual Chord & Pedal holiday commences 

An Ugly Xmas

Chord & Pedal Holiday Celebration
w/ Slow Runner, Cabaret Kiki, The Specs, Charlie McAlister, Philip Estes, The Silver Bells, Malted Milk, Cullen & The Futures, Mount Saint Stereo, Sara Miller & Company, The Parkside Five, special guests
Sat. Dec. 15
8 p.m.
$10
Cumberland's
301 King St.
(843) 577-9469
www.cumberlands.net
www.chordandpedal.com

"Varsity Drag" from the album Shiv!
Audio File

Charleston-based music collective Chord & Pedal — a loose assemblage of like-minded locals, best known for their shruggy demeanor and genuinely enthusiastic support of original rock music and modern art — celebrate the holiday season with their fifth annual Christmas party and an official website relaunch. Founded and maintained by local musician/artist Kevin Hanley, the site's (www.chordandpedal.com) message board and archive of pictures, sounds, links, and event listings serves readers well.

"The theme this year is 'It's beginning to look a lot like ugly,'" says organizer Hanley, a jolly soul with a dry wit. "Ugly Christmas sweaters. Attendees should wear the ugliest possible Christmas get-up. It doesn't just have to be a sweater; just think of what your third grade teacher or creepy aunt would wear to a Christmas party, and go with that. And there's a fat cash prize!

"This is obviously the event's last year at Cumberland's, which has hosted all but one, including the first," adds Hanley. The venue's last day in business is New Year's Eve. "Owner Sinan Raouf will be on hand for high fives and good-byes. It's become a tradition, and it's fun. Santa will be there, as always, and probably drunk ... more toasty, perhaps, than plastered. You can get your picture taken with him, too."

This year's impressive lineup features a wide variety of underground guitar-rock, indie, pop, and acoustic acts — many of whom released their recordings and band info through Chord & Pedal's site. Slow Runner, led by Josh Kaler and Michael Flynn, are on a roll after the release of their melodic new studio album, Shiv!. Members of Cabaret Kiki have their hands in all sorts of dramatic, on-stage mischief. The Specs somehow survived a roller-coaster year, which strengthened their status as a top local indie-pop act. Celebrated musician and performance artist Philp Estes (of punk trio Genrevolta and various C&P collaboratons), is an annual treat on stage, as are the jangly/grouchy Mount Saint Stereo.

There are a few cool surprises as well. Lo-fi songwriter Charlie McAlister last visited town opening for the Mountain Goats at Redux. The Silver Bells, led by singer/songwriter Nicholas Doyle, plan to mix holiday tunes "with whatever recording options are available in order to deliver magical holiday goodness straight to your ears," according to Hanley. Malted Milk is a new collective comprised of members of Ponies and Flowers, Oicho Kabu, Castles Underground, and others. "If they were older and more jaded, they might be Chord & Pedal," says Hanley.

Cullen & The Future are made up of George Baerris (drummer of A Decent Animal), Cullen (of The Upper Deck), and Aaron Levy (of Library Fire). The Parkside Five are led by Eric Barfield (of Velvet Swells, Commander Cool). Sara Miller & Company? One hopes former City Paper scribe and radio personality Miller plays some sloppy drums all Keith Moon-style, as she did back in the day. Their set could be a festive sing-songy affair or something more wacky and noisy.

After a rather quiet year of low activity (save for the constructive and sometimes mean-spirited interaction on the message board), the Chord & Pedal website will re-launch on December 15 as a fully functioning, and mostly free, digital music label.

"There will be an archive of videos, and Mp3s," says Hanley. "It will run like an actual label, only, instead of charging people, they can have the music and media for free as ZIP files containing all tracks, artwork, and lyrics. All for nothing! There's no catch. People can also donate whatever they want to. Hopefully, they'll purchase the occasional T-shirt, sticker, limited-edition runs of actual CDs, and vinyl. We hope to have enough happening so that folks won't notice the infamous and dreaded message board is missing."


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