Paul Klemperer’s 3rd Annual Festivus Celebration


Paul Klemperer hosts a wild and fun variety show in celebration of a completely made up holiday (unlike all those other ones!)… The first year it was a modest undertaking held at Tom’s Tabooley, with a funky aluminum pole provided by owners Brigid and Tom.  The response was unexpectedly fervent, and a new tradition was born!

Last year Paul took his message of unrealistic hope and jaded sentimentality to the Paramount Stateside for a mix of song, dance, and airing of grievances.  This year the mayhem will go down at the Spider House Ballroom, where the audience can choose to sit, stand, or dance (or even wrestle each other to the ground if the moment seems right).

The theme this year is “It feels so real.”

When we were young, wintertime had a certain magic.  Christmas was everywhere, full of candy canes, reindeer, pine scent, treacly tunes played over and over.  In Boston, where I grew up, the possibility of snow meant that school might be canceled, or at the very least, thrown off schedule, which was magical in its own way.  Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, whatever, it was all magical!

Then we grew up, and the magic seemed to fade.  The maw of hypocrisy became visible under the veneer of the holiday spirit.  There was no peace on earth, goodwill toward men.  There never had been, and likely never would be.  The blanket of snow heralding the stillness of winter no longer meant sledding and snow angels, but only shoveling your car out of drifts made by uncaring snowplows.  Sidewalk Santas reeking of cheap whiskey, stores full of crap made by minimum wage elves, bills piling up while you run around trying to find gifts you can’t really afford, nerves getting frayed as the days dwindle down…

But even so, a little voice in your head, a little corner of your heart still hold out some small unrealistic hope for a feeling, a completely deluded belief that it all means something, that your childhood innocence and your deepest unvoiced dreams were part of some greater truth, some abiding connection that transcends our temporal frailties.  Are we deluded?  Yes.  Is it all a bunch of hooey? Yes.  But it still feels real, and that is reason enough to celebrate it!

That has been the underlying theme of my previous Festivus Celebrations, and it seems to resonate with folks.  It doesn’t matter what your background is, your religion, your traditions.  We are all equally delusional in our need to attach heartfelt emotions to a bunch of random words and images.  So let’s do it.  Whether it’s a cartoon reindeer, an angel-shaped lightbulb, red and green shrubbery, an eight-pronged candle holder, or a handful of yellow powder… Let ‘er rip!

This year’s Festivus Celebration will carry on our tradition of ecumenical smorgasbord, with some sweet soul and Latin music for dancing, jazz, Bollywood dancers, and much, much more.  Bring your dreams, tattered though they may be, and join us!


Paul Klemperer

Free Music Workshop: “Using Blues In Jazz” @ TX Historical Society

On June 15, noon-2:00pm, Paul Klemperer will lead a free workshop: “Using Blues In Jazz.”  The 2-hour workshop, sponsored by Diverse Arts Culture Works and the Austin Jazz Alliance, is aimed at beginning to intermediate players who want to learn jazz, but may be coming from other musical styles like rock, blues, folk and classical.  Some knowledge of basic major and minor chords, and the minor pentatonic scale, is helpful but not essential.

Paul will demonstrate melodic and rhythmic phrases that occur in many jazz tunes, and are helpful for playing solos over various jazz song forms.  Participants can bring their instruments and will have a chance to play.

This workshop is an introductory sample of other workshops and classes offered by Paul.  Handouts and links to helpful online PDF’s will be available.

Summer In Austin

May has given us a taste of summer with some  sweltering days, but we still get reprieves of cooler weather and spring rains.  As a sometime gardener I do appreciate the rain.  My big satisfaction this spring is a crop of artichokes which I’ve started sharing with friends.  My mom makes a delicious hollandaise sauce and I always associate that with artichokes.  But I’m too lazy and set in my ways to learn how to make it, so I make do with lemon & butter, or throw together some kind of remoulade with mayonnaise, hot sauce and whatever else falls into my hand.  Really, the artichokes are so deliciously fresh they taste magical just by themselves.

Musically it has been a productive spring as well.  I finished up a semester playing with the ACC big band under the direction of Tom Husak (I love his arrangements, always fun & challenging to play).  We closed the semester with a fun concert at the Clive Bar, with Redd Volkaert as the featured artist.

I’ll be playing a show in June with my old compadre Graham Reynolds and the Golden Arm Trio.  It will be a concert in the park in Houston, June 6.  I’ll have a few more shows in June and then it’s off to New England to play and teach for several weeks.  That will still leave plenty of Texas summer for me when I get back in August.  Gotta love it!