Well, tonight Ron the Drummer and I became part of the problem. We had a gig at the VA hospital, and we were told that the audience would expect a few Christmas songs.
Hmm. We'd encountered this at a gig before, but got around it by playing part of "Linus and Lucy" (from A Charlie Brown Christmas) and "Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah." We couldn't get away with that this time. Hanukkah is long over by now, and we needed more than "Linus and Lucy."
So what songs to choose? I hate the Santa Claus/secular Christmas songs. The pretty ones are religious, and this isn't my religion.
In the end, I found a workaround. We'd throw in three Christmas carols (plus "Linus and "Lucy," natch), but we'd do them as instrumentals. The audience didn't seem to mind the lack of vocals for our shortened versions of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," or "Carol of the Bells." We had fun going from each carol instrumental straight into one of our originals.
Funny. The idea of singing about Jesus made me uneasy. No lyrics? No problem.
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On a slightly less bah-humbuggy note, we had a great time at this gig. We love entertaining veterans, hospital staff, and volunteers, and this batch of listeners was responsive and appreciative. We hope we can do it again soon.