Waylan St Palan & the Magic Elves/Stu Stoinski Trio; December 16, 2011; High Noon Saloon
Talented multi-instrumentalist Nate Palan’s turn as Waylan St Palan is one of my favorite holiday traditions. There was a stretch of several years where I hadn’t missed a show, but then Palan moved to New York and the shows were no longer a sure thing. Last year he returned to the High Noon, but on Christmas Eve eve and I was already back at my parents’ house for the holidays. Despite having carpal tunnel release surgery the day before I was determined not to miss this show; I even stopped taking my pain medication so I could enjoy a few holiday beverages. And as usual it was a delightfully cheesy evening.
Unlike past years past years where it was the unstated goal, Palan seemed determined not to get really drunk. There was a reason for this, they were recording the show in the hopes of releasing a Christmas record. I heard him resist a shot during the break, but then give in claiming he’d already screwed up several times. It just wouldn’t be the same if he wasn’t balancing multiple martinis during a song, besides a drunken slur lends an air of authenticity to his loungey croon. There are many traditional songs here, but few are done the way you are used to, for example “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells” are double and triple time their usual cadence. Other songs I’ve only heard here, like the hilarious double entendre of “Santa Lost a Ho.” You know, as in “He used to go ho, ho, ho. Now it’s ho, ho, uh oh, where’d the other ho go?” Pretty hilarious. While Palan is quite definitely the star of the show, there were a couple of other memorable performances.
Fellow Kisser Ken Fitzsimmons steals the show every year with his dead-on, perfect rendition of “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.” Usually Palan’s wife Kari Bethke is one of his Elves and has her own turn at the mike for the silly “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” and as the other half of the anti-Christmas song the Pogues “Fairytale of New York.” The insult trading story is hardly in the Christmas spirit, but it a pretty terrific song. Tonight however we had a stand-in for Bethke who acquitted herself nicely. The only thing she couldn’t do was play violin like she does, and that was missed. I asked Palan where Bethke was during the break, and he said she was home since she had other shows coming up. “That’s good,” I laughed, “I was worried you guys had gotten divorced.” Before I even had a chance to ask another question he interjected, “I’m not doing Robert Goulet tonight.” Disappointing, since Goulet’s “This Christmas I Spend with You” is my mother’s favorite Christmas song and it remains a pleasant surprise that he plays it.
He actually didn’t have time since this year there was an opening band, so instead of three sets there was only time for two. Other than the fact that we didn’t get to hear Robert Goulet I really didn’t mind since the opening band was the terrific Stu Stoinski Trio, coming soon to a theater near you. No seriously, upright bassist Chris Boeger and drummer Scott Beardsley (who are also the rhythm section for Palan’s ridiculously entertaining cover band the Hometown Sweethearts) filmed a segment for Adam Sandler’s next movie. They appear as a classy jazz trio playing Stoinski’s songs at a wedding reception. There is even a possibility that they will have speaking parts in it, but we have to wait for the final cut to find out. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I may actually want to go to an Adam Sandler movie.
For tonight’s show they did jazzy versions of many Christmas standards. They were pretty great (unsurprisingly) and got extra points for the fact that Beardsley played the entire set in a full Santa suit. Yep, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
Stu Stoinski Trio
Waylan St Palan & the Magic Elves (and Marcus)