10th Annual Snowglobe Christmas Show with the Pirates
10 p.m. Tuesday at the Hi-Tone Café, 1913 Poplar. Cover: $10, advance tickets available online at hitonememphis.com. For more information, call 901-278-8663.
For a decade, the Memphis art-pop band Snowglobe has been spreading its quirky form of holiday cheer at its annual Christmas night show at the Hi-Tone Café.
One year, the band gave away dozens of actual snowglobes to fans during the show. On another, they debuted a new album, the "terribly titled" No Need To Light A Night Light On a Night Like Tonight.
And then there's the time, multi-instrumentalist Tim Regan recalls, when the band debuted a new song called "Mac & Cheese" as the group's producer, Kevin Cubbins, dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, walked through the club dishing out Regan's mom's mac and cheese to the audience.
"I'm not sure how we talked him into doing that, or how I talked my mom into making that much mac and cheese," Regan says.
But as the 10th anniversary of the Snowglobe Christmas show looms, the band's members are saying that Tuesday's event may be the last with the announcement earlier this month that the Hi-Tone will be closing its doors in February after 15 years in operation.
"I think everybody thinks 10 years is a great long time, and a lot of us have kids and stuff, and maybe it's time to pass the torch," says the band's drummer, Jeff Hulett. "It would almost be weird next year if we just did it somewhere else."
The band is preparing a proper send-off, however. They plan to outdo themselves on the colorful and glitter-strewn stage sets that have become a hallmark of the shows. And the band is bringing back its frequent Christmas guests, Snowglobe side project The Pirates, which features Regan, bassist Brandon Robertson, and guitarist Luke White from Snowglobe with guitarist Steve Selvidge, drummer Paul Taylor, and keyboardist Andy Grooms.
Snowglobe has its origins in the high school collaborations of Regan and co-founder Brad Postlethwaite. The group, which also includes Nashon Benford on trumpet and John Whittemore on pedal steel, released its debut album, Our Land Brains, in 2002. Inspired by Smile-era Beach Boys and such Elephant 6 collective bands as Neutral Milk Hotel and Apples In Stereo, the group dominated the local scene for several years, both through its own releases like Doing the Distance and through its associated label, Makeshift Music.
In 2005, the band retired from active touring though continued recording together as the members' increasingly busy schedules allowed. Their most recent release was 2010's Little More Lived In.
And if nothing else, the band always got back together for its annual Christmas show.
Not surprisingly, the end of the Christmas tradition does not mean the end of Snowglobe. The band has been working with Jake Vest (Tiger High) on a record that is tentatively scheduled to come out early next year.
Meanwhile, most of the group's members remain busy with side projects:
Hulett, who through his job at the Church Health Center is integral in planning the health care nonprofit's annual Rock For Love benefit, is finishing a one-man band recording and can be heard on next year's sophomore release from the instrumental band Glorie.
Robertson is involved in movie scoring.
White has been touring the country with Americana duo The Secret Sisters.
Benford plays with The Memphis Dawls.
Whittemore regularly performs with several bands around town.
And Regan, the only member of the group who currently lives outside Memphis, plays in the bands Oh No Oh My and Texas Never Weapons, both of whom are working on new albums, in his current home of Austin, Texas. He will also team with his wife, Memphis native Kelley Mickwee of Texas folk trio The Trishas, for the second Regan Family Christmas Show on Sunday night at Otherlands Coffeehouse.
For Regan, who found out about the Hi-Tone closing months ago when owner Jonathan Kiersky visited Austin, the end of the venue may not necessarily mean the end of Snowglobe Christmas shows.
"It'll definitely be the last at the Hi-Tone, but who knows. We'll see what happens," he says. "I can't tell you how many hours, shows I've played there over the years. That was the Mecca of Memphis music for my generation. … It sucks, but I'm sure something else will come of it. Memphis music ain't going to stop."
If Snowglobe does get shaken up for another Christmas, Hulett knows whose hand will be doing the shaking.
"Tim's going to be like, 'You guys down?' And we're all going to say, 'Yeah, let's do it,'" he says, already resigned to being drawn back in by the irrepressible Regan. "Let's just say this could be the last one."