They are Calgary’s go-to a cappella goofballs, and so very good at what they do.
Which is why The Heebee-jeebees are also one of the most in-demand acts in town, especially at this time of year when the Christmas concerts are plentiful and good times are needed in abundance.
On Sunday, though, the quartet will take time out of brightening other folks’ festivities to celebrate with their own annual holiday party, Wrapping Up Christmas 2017, which takes place Sunday, Dec. 10 at the River Park Church (3818 14a St. S.W.).
Music, laughs and a whole lot more are in store for families looking for a bright night out.
Prior to the event, head songwriter and lead baritone Jonathan Love sat down with theYYSCENE to chat about this most wonderful and busiest time of the year for The Heebee-jeebees.
Q: This must be a crazy time of year for the band?
A: We’ve found a bit of a niche market of being a musical sorbet. A lot of community organizations will bring us on to be part of their show, where we either headlining or hosting their show, and if you need something between the Here Comes Santa Claus by your elementary school kids and the full Hallelujah chorus at the end of it, the Heebee-jeebees can fit that. So that’s been the majority of the shows we’ve been doing lately … We’re all around Alberta — we had gigs in Wainwright, Paradise Valley, we were in Red Deer, we played Strathmore. So that fills out your Christmas season, with a few shows at home as well.
Q: That brings us to the big one on Sunday, The Heebee-jeebees Wrapping Up Christmas 2017 concert. It’s the 24th annual — is that right?
A: Yeah, we’ve been around for 24 years, which is crazy. (Laughs) We can’t figure out how, but the math works. So it’s on Sunday, Dec. 10 at River Park Church — we’ve been there the last few years and it’s been a great venue for us. It’s nice to be relatively central … It’s a nice venue, a great family venue, too. It sounds good, we can fit a lot of people in it and it’s a festive place.
Q: Is it a different show every year or do you try to stick with the same program?
A: Well, we try to do it different ever year, but — here’s the beginning and end of me comparing us to U2 (laughs) — when you go to a U2 concert it’s great to see a couple of new things to know the band is doing something new, but you go for the hits. Artistically we’ve struggled with this a little bit, because if we bring in a whole bunch of new stuff there’s always someone at the end going, “You didn’t play this one,” or, “You didn’t play this one.” We have four Christmas albums — all available on iTunes — so with four albums worth of material, we’ve got a bunch. So, yeah, there’s always a few new things. And the nice thing is being satirical towards the season on occasion, we try to be current, we try to be contemporary with a lot of the jokes we have, so whatever’s going on in Calgary, in Canada, in the world at that time, we will probably comment on it and we’ll do it in a musical way. So it’s always a little new that way.
Q: Any other surprises?
A: Yeah, we’re really excited because we have a supporting act, we’ve got the The Bow Djangos opening for us. Our bass, Cédric (Blary), is the clarinet player in The Bow Djangos, so we’ve been looking for an opportunity to collaborate on something and it’s worked out that everyone’s available this time. So it’ll be good.
Q: And you’re accepting donations for the Calgary Food Bank?
A: Absolutely. You know, it’s kind of neat, when you’re a community group like we are, you can work full time for charitable organizations. Everyone wants entertainment at their functions, fundraisers, so you have to be selective with the organizations that you’re a part of. And the Food Bank was our very first charitable organization — we grew out of the U of C and our first gig was in support of the Campus Food Bank and that grew into a relationship with the Calgary Food Bank very quickly. So this is our 23rd or 24th year working with the Food Bank. They just do tremendous work in the community and we’re just happy to be musical ambassadors for them …
We’ll have bins, so you can bring your canned food and non-perishables. You can also bring money — we’ve got cash donation (boxes). And you know that with the Calgary Food Bank the way that they do the bulk spending the cash donations go so much further. So we’re encouraging people to donate what they can, of course, because we’re not out of a recession yet and our hometown needs it.
Q: You also have another Christmas show coming up after that one at Mount Royal University.
A: Yes, it’s Sounds of the Season, it’s on (Dec. 16) in the Bella Concert Hall. It’s neat because the university has been doing this show for about 12 years and Cédric came from the Calgary Youth Orchestra and I was in the Mount Royal Youth Choir growing up, so it’s a neat next chapter to our relationship with the Mount Royal Conservatory. There, we’re the hosts and the sorbet. They’ll have the Calgary Youth Orchestra, they’ve got all of their choral programs … from all of their kids’ choirs to these full adult choirs, and we just get to play around with the big sound in the beautiful Bella Concert Hall. That’s worth it right there.
The Heebee-jeebees Wrapping Up Christmas 2017 takes place Sunday, Dec. 10 at the River Park Church. For tickets please click here. Mount Royal University’s Sounds of the Season takes place Dec. 16. For tickets and more information please click here.