Local musicians band together to support Toys for Tots - Reverb

The Mile High Makeout: Local musicians band together to support Toys for Tots

Denver singer-songwriter Rob Drabkin will be one of the featured performers in tonight's Toys For Tots benefit at Casselman's. Photo by Lucia De Giovanni.

Denver singer-songwriter Rob Drabkin will be one of the featured performers in tonight's Toys For Tots benefit at Casselman's. Photo by Lucia De Giovanni.

At this time of year, there’s no shortage of non-profits and charities vying for your donation dollars. Every organization is trying to make up for its fundraising shortfalls by tugging on your holiday heart strings. It’s enough to make you (ok, me) feel downright cynical. On the other hand, when they do it by offering an incredible entertainment value, featuring remarkably talented local musicians — as Vinefield Agency is doing for Toys for Tots — it could just bring out the Tiny Tim in all of us.

“Immediately after our showcase in October, I started thinking ahead to the holidays,” says Evan Mellichampe, Denver-based musician and co-founder of the Vinefield Agency. For Mellichampe, the idea of a musical holiday extravaganza — occurring tonight at Casselman’s Bar and Venue — didn’t start with charity or the spirit of the season or any of that hokey nonsense. It started with the music.

“We have all of these great people on our roster,” he says, “and there are all these other people in Denver who are so good at what they do. When you bring names up with some people, they don’t know who other people are.” When the left-handed bassist and booker discovered there were musicians in town who hadn’t heard of Matt Morris or John Common, he wanted to rectify that by organizing some unique collaborations.

“It’s easiest to collaborate on stuff that already exists,” he says. “Getting people together to do their own renditions of classic holiday songs seemed like a really cool, collaborative measure to go chasing after.”

The resulting event, which Vinefield is calling “Something in a Pear Tree”, includes an embarrassingly dense roster of local talent, including Morris and Common, as well as Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Joel Van Horne of Carbon Choir, Jimmy Stofer, Rachel James, Rob Drabkin, Kal Cahoone, Jess DeNicola, Monroe Monroe, Julia LiBassi of the Raven and the Writing Desk and many more.

Given the wealth of talent at the the show — which costs just $5 if you bring an unwrapped toy along — Mellichampe has a hard time picking a favorite.

“Danielle Ate the Sandwich and Matt Morris is going to be a really good one,” he exclaims. “I think they’re going to do ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ and after hearing Norah Jones do that with Willie Nelson, I really want to hear a different version.”

Toys for Tots is excited about the event too. The official last day of their annual toy drive for underprivileged families was yesterday, but when they heard about Vinefield’s plan, they agreed to go one more day.

With a stacked lineup of some of Denver’s finest musicians — not to mention a ridiculously low ticket price and Jake Schroeder of 99.5 the Mountain hosting the event — the odds are that Mellichampe and Vinefield will make that extra day worth it.

“Whatever they’re short,” says Mellichampe, “we’re gonna try to make it up.”

Click here to listen to Jake Schroeder’s Dec 13 broadcast of the Mountain Homegrown show for interviews and in-studio performances from Matt Morris, John Common and Jess DeNicola.

Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track every Monday for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout every Friday. Against his mother’s advice, Eryc has also been known to tweet. You can also follow Steal This Track on Twitter. Sorry, Mom.

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