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Local favorites perform in concert benefiting school arts

Joe Craven will perform with the Joe Craven Trio and serve as master of ceremonies at Wednesday's "Home for the Holidays" concert. Courtesy photo

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From page A1 | December 15, 2011 | Leave Comment

Check it out

What: “Home for the Holidays” concert

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21

Where: Veterans’ Memorial Theater, 203 E. 14th St.

Tickets: $20 for adults, $8 for children under 18, available at Watermelon Music, 207 E St., and Armadillo Music, 205 F St., (530) 758-8058

The annual “Home for the Holidays” show — Wednesday’s concert benefiting the Davis School Arts Foundation — features Davis-based musicians who are looking forward to performing for a hometown audience.

“We started this eight years ago as ‘Home for the Holidays’ because the musicians were coming home from touring, and this is a way for them to give back to the local school arts programs,” said Bill Fairfield, the concert’s organizer.

“I enjoy seeing the community rally around its nationally recognized ‘home-grown’ talent and support the arts in the schools. We like the intimate setting of the Veterans’ Memorial Theater, and the small-town community vibe of the show.

“This year’s show has a great mix of styles.”

The master of ceremonies will be Joe Craven, who was in North Carolina when contacted by The Enterprise.

“This concert is very near and dear to my heart as a musician,” Craven said. “It puts a bow on the package for the year for the work I’ve been doing.”

Craven — who described himself as “a self-appointed arts activist” who advocates for “more artful living” — also will perform with the Joe Craven Trio.

“We are living in very strained times in terms of support for the arts,” he said. “Your ticket money will be put to good use locally by the Davis School Arts Foundation. This is a great cause.”

Another participant will be Rita Hosking, who will appear with Bill Dakin on upright bass and Sean Feder on dobro.

“We’ll play a couple of my original songs in the country/folk Americana vein, including some that are holiday-themed,” Hosking said.

Hosking was a history teacher at Emerson Junior High for 10 years, and her children went through the local schools. She believes it’s important to sustain school arts programs in times like these.

“One of the things that can be missing from schools without an arts curriculum is education of the spirit,” she said. “The arts do wonderful things for your mind, but they also nurture the spirit, and I really believe we need to give our kids more tools to do that.”

Vocalist Frank Fox will perform with his group The Fabletones, which also includes Chris Sanborn, Heidi Bekebrede and Dianna Craig.

“This is my first invitation to sing in ‘Home for the Holidays, and I feel very honored,” Fox said. “We primarily sing doo-wop harmony,” and the group’s performances draw on Fox’s experience.

“Decades ago, I was with a group in New York called Vito and Salutations; that group had a hit recording of ‘Unchained Melody’ in 1963, an up-tempo version that took it to a different stratosphere,” Fox said.

“That group also performed on Dick Clark’s ‘American Bandstand’ in Philadelphia, before the show went to Los Angeles.”

More recently, Fox has been teaching classes in “street-corner harmony” at the Davis Art Center. And he and his group have been working with several high school students who are guitarists and drummers.

“I also have a son, Moti Fox-Livet, who sings tenor with the Davis High Madrigals,” Fox said.

The Madrigals will sing at Wednesday’s concert, which likely will be their final public appearance before the holiday break.

And a former Madrigal from decades past — Chris Webster — will be part of “Home for the Holidays” as well.

“I was a Madrigal in the early 1980s, when Dick Brunelle was leading the group, and I was a member of the Jazz Band as well, under Bob Gonzales and Margaret Neu.

“And my sister and I both had Robert Willett” — for whom Willett Elementary is named — “as our teacher. He always had time for singing. So I feel a lot of gratitude for the Davis schools’ music program. I’ve been playing professionally ever since I graduated!”

For “Home for the Holidays,” Webster said she will play with Tracy Walton, her singing partner from Mumbo Gumbo, and guitar player Bill Edwards. “We are going to do some acoustic Christmas music,” she said.

Also on the bill will be Yolo Mambo.

“We kind of specialize in world music, with all kinds of languages, like you find on our new CD ‘World Wide,’ ” said Steve O’Neill, a member of the group. “We’re doing a Gypsy Kings tune, sung in Spanish. And we’ll do the song ‘Santa Baby’ as a canzón, a Cuban dance style. And we sometimes do songs in French, Portutuese and English.”

Other members of the group include guitarist Phil Summers, percussionist Carla Campbell and vocalist Catherine Le Blanc.

“Catherine still has kids in the schools,” O’Neill said.

Other performers include the Little Charlie Caravan (led by Charlie Baty), singers from the recent stage production of “Madeline’s Christmas” and special guests to be announced.

The concert will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Veterans’ Memorial Theater, 203 E. 14th St.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $8 for children under 18, available at Watermelon Music, 207 E St., and Armadillo Music, 205 F St., or by calling Armadillo at (530) 758-8058. Armadillo levies a service charge on all sales, including phone credit card sales.

Proceeds from the holiday favorite benefit the nonprofit Davis School Arts Foundation, which supports music and arts programs in the Davis public schools.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8055.

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