Once Somerville Hosts 12th Annual Boston Christmas Cavalcade

Support the Somerville Homeless Coalition at this rock and roll Christmas fundraiser.

Chandler Travis Boston Christmas Cavalcade

Photo by Mark Alston-Follansbee

December makes most people think of hot chocolate, snow-covered T tracks, and a comfortably dominant Patriots team. But it’s also the season of Rock and Roll fundraisers. On December 21, Once Somerville will host the 12th Annual Boston Christmas Cavalcade, inherited from Johnny D’s, which closed earlier this year. The Cavalcade, orchestrated by the pajama-clad Chandler Travis, will benefit the Somerville Homeless Coalition and feature bands like the Stompers, the Weisstronauts, and Alastair Moock.

This unconventional fundraiser is not an accident. Mark Alston-Follansbee, executive director at the Somerville Homeless Coalition, believes Somerville has a history of engaging with local artists. Using this ingrained appreciation for music helped bring the community together around an issue, with the Cavalcade blending a fun event with deliberate social consciousness. “People get to have fun at an event like this, but they’re also thinking ‘oh, this could happen to me,’ Alston-Follansbee explains. “Homelessness can happen to anyone.”

J.J. Gonson, the owner of ONCE Somerville, reiterated Alston-Follansbee’s point about why a rock and roll fundraiser can be successful. “People like to feel like they’re a part of something bigger than just putting a check in the mail,” she says. Organizing a group around an issue generates an “emotional kickback” and the communal aspect of the Cavalcade is important for its success.  Alston-Follansbee says the event typically brings in more than $6,000 and he believes it speaks to the community recognizing the severity of homelessness. Gonson says of the event, “It’s not just moral, it’s emotional.”

Alston-Follansbee believes the passion of the musicians contributes to that feeling of community. “Most of the bands come back every year,” he says. “They love playing this show.” The bands, selected by Chandler Travis, play original music and, of course, get everyone in the mood for Christmas. The Cavalcade takes place during a very charitable time of year. Once Somerville has five fundraisers scheduled for December including an unwrapped toy drive and a karaoke benefit, in an effort to keep the charitable spirit alive throughout the month.

But Alston-Follansbee doesn’t want or expect the Cavalcade to be somber. He hopes people consider the importance of charitable giving, but he really enjoys the eclectic mix of rock, folk, and alternative music and the joy at the Cavalcade. He expects the funky music of the Chandler Travis Philharmonic or the bright, pop vocals of Ramona Silver to make the event a “celebration,” tapping into the energy of the community. And he doesn’t plan on stopping soon. “I look forward to it every year and definitely hope we can keep it up in the future!”

$20 suggested donation, Wednesday, December 21,  2016, 7:00 p.m., Once Somerville, 156 Highland Ave., Somerville, oncesomerville.com