Originally created 12/21/06

12 Bands of Christmas - An Augusta tradition



Now in their fourth year, the 12 Bands of Christmas concert and CD are seasonal traditions that continue to evolve.

The project, which benefits Tamara's Fund at the Medical College of Georgia's Children's Medical Center, is a compilation of Christmas music recorded by a dozen Augusta bands and a pre-Christmas concert featuring each of the acts. The 12 Bands concert takes place Saturday at the Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.

Although the concert and CD remain fairly consistent, with only the lineup changing from year to year, 12 Bands steering committee member Ruskin Yeargain, who also produces the CD, said the moving parts are continuously being examined.

"Every year, we change the way we do this and it's still evolving," he said. "We're still looking for the perfect way to do the show, the merchandise, everything. It keeps us on our toes."

The evolution of the project is accomplished with one eye on preserving what has been built and one eye on what might be. Although it is still an Augusta-centric event, steering committee member Joe Stevenson said, the hope is that Augusta's 12 Bands can be the start of something larger.

"We want to find the right system so that other cities can do a 12 Bands of Christmas," he said. "We would like to be able to license this out, give them a handbook and raise a little money for Augusta."

A project with an increasing number of elements, 12 Bands requires organizers to be thinking Christmas for most of the year. Submissions are solicited in the spring, and carols recorded in the heat of summer.

"It takes all year," said steering committee member Coco Rubio. "It really does, and that's probably the way it has to be."

Still, Mr. Rubio, who runs the concert every year, said Christmas for him and his family revolves around 12 Bands and the community's year-end embrace of local music.

"That, for me, has always been the main thing," he said. "I've always seen this as a way for bands to get together, celebrate the music and, to be honest, have a great end-of-year party."

Mr. Yeargain said that spirit of community, of giving back, strips much of the rock-star baggage from participants. He said every band that participates does so with real respect for the event and what he hopes it represents.

"They see it as an honor and they treat it as such," he said. "There's never any ego. All that stuff is left at the door."

After a short post-concert break, the 12 Bands machine will gear up again, preparing another musical gift for Augusta. Mr. Stevenson said he has no reason to believe that the project's success can't continue indefinitely.

"It always depends on the submissions we get," he said. "That's what shapes the year. It hasn't been a problem, because we do have good bands in Augusta, bands that should be able to continue to carry us through."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

THE CONCERT

WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday


WHERE: The Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.


COST: One free admission with the purchase of a 12 Bands of Christmas CD. CDs are $12. For sales locations, visit www.12bandsofchristmas.com.

STAGE SCHEDULE


6 p.m.: The Crowns

6:30 p.m.: Plug-In Reindeer

7 p.m.: Chip McDonald

7:30 p.m.: Julia Easterlin

8 p.m.: Pat Blanchard

8:30 p.m.: Tara Scheyer

9 p.m.: The Edison Project

9:30 p.m.: Impulse Ride

10 p.m.: Rag Love

10:30 p.m.: The Shaun Piazza Band

11 p.m.: JJ Maj and the Unpolished Brass

11:30 p.m.: Jemani