Last month, Mayor David Roberts pledged a donation of $50,000 to the Jubilee Center to help fill some of the void that Gov. Jon Corzine's budget cuts left, eliminating the center's $250,000 funding.
Now, the annual holiday concert will have local musicians playing holiday favorites at Hoboken's legendary music venue for a suggested donation of $10 - all of the proceeds benefiting this sanctuary for many Hoboken kids.
Christmas classics for a good cause
Since the Jubilee Center is struggling to survive, Geri Fallo, director of Cultural Affairs, thought Holiday Banding could help.
"I read in the [Nov. 4 issue of The Hoboken Reporter ] that they were in trouble financially and might have to close. Every year the Holiday Banding gives the money to a charity, usually local but not always. I wanted to help them out because they do great work and are so important to our community."
Dave Post, co-owner and manager of Maxwell's, said he loves that they will be hosting the concert this year, explaining that this was the first time Maxwell's was asked to host it, and he happily said yes.
"You'll be able to get great food and drinks while watching and listening to great musicians," said Post.
Jim Testa, a Weehawken resident and editor of the Jersey Beat fanzine (www.jerseybeat.com), is one of those musicians. He will lend his alternative folk stylings to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and his musical sense of humor will deliver a "Festivus miracle."
Testa wrote a song about "Festivus," the holiday "for the rest of us" that was introduced into the pop culture lexicon by an episode of Seinfeld.
"Having this show at Maxwell's this year is great because it's the best rock club in America," Testa insisted, adding that he's been going to Maxwell's for 20 years, having covered the Hoboken independent rock scene since 1983 for Jersey Beat. "Even though I don't actually live in Hoboken, I've always felt like a part of that community ... Hoboken's a remarkable [music] community."
Dave Calamoneri, a Hoboken resident and a project manager for the Department of Environmental Services, plays acoustic guitar and the harmonica, and he will be performing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." "It's a fun night," said Calamoneri. "There are a lot of acts performing, so there's a good chance to see some friends you haven't seen in a while because they're local acts from all points in Hoboken's history. We've got some pretty big fish from this small pond of Hoboken."
Abbe Rivers, a Hoboken resident who also owns and manages Empire Coffee & Tea Co. at 338 Bloomfield St., was eight months pregnant last time she participated in Holiday Banding in 2005, and this year, she appreciates the concert from the perspective of a musician and a mother.
"It's just a very warm environment, and very festive," said Rivers. Her son Zachary will be 3 years old in February, and motherhood has inspired past donations from her store to the Jubilee Center. "Having a child changes your perspective. I couldn't imagine my kid being hungry or without toys or without fun, and I'm very blessed that I can take care of him."
Kellyn Johnson, Jubilee's manager of development and community relations, is grateful for all the contributions the Banding and those like Rivers can offer. "The Jubilee Center is the only safe haven for the children who live in Hoboken's public housing. We desperately need the support from the community," said Johnson. "It's in our ability to help these kids."
The concert will also feature performances by the Gefkens, the Nissen Brothers, the Gordys, John Keim & Souled Out, John Sonntag & the Tall Tones, Chris Butler, Glen Morrow, Matt Azzarto, Bianca Bob, Sputnik, Ted Lawrence, Art Desimine, Carolyn Alroy, Larry Cappoli, Ed Fogarty, and more. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Jubilee Center. For more information, call Geri Fallo at (201) 420-2207 or visit hobokennj.org.
On the same day, before the Holiday Banding Concert, Maxwell's will host a Family Holiday Sing-A-Long for the whole family.
The fun begins with a Nativity play with Christmas carols at 3:30 p.m., followed by the sing-a-long led by Kate Jacobs at 3:45 p.m. Then, kids will have the chance to meet Santa Claus.
There will also be a free raffle, and 20 winners will receive a copy of Jane Lovascio's book Casey & Bella Go to New York City. The book is the first in a series that follows the adventures of Casey, a Jack Russell Terrier and Bella, a Tea Cup Yorkie, in the Big Apple.
Like Holiday Banding, Lovascio is also about good causes. For every one of her books sold at www.CaseyandBella.com, a $2 donation will go to Loving Paws Assistance Dogs (www.lovingpaws.com), a charity founded in 1993 that trains dogs to assist physically disabled children.
Doors open at 3:15 p.m., and the suggested donation is $10, but children get in free.