There’s nothing standard about a New Standards Holiday Show. In fact, you can’t even count on hearing your favorite holiday tune.
“You can go see Lorie Line and other holiday shows to get all the classic holiday songs,” said Chan Poling, one-third of the New Standards. “Our show is a celebratory holiday party. ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ and “Winter Wonderland’ will be in there, but we’ll also do New Order, Sonny & Cher, Elvis — although not an Elvis Christmas song.”
There’ll be guest artists, dancers, jokes and, as Poling said, a party atmosphere. “It’s my favorite holiday part of the year,” Poling said. And it’s coming to Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center Saturday.
The New Standards include Poling, formerly of the Suburbs, on piano; John Munson, formerly of Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic, on bass; and Steve Roehm, formerly of Billygoat, on vibraphone. The band’s holiday shows have become annual happenings, both in Minnesota, and New York City.
“We do different things for Rochester, for New York City, for Up North, for Minneapolis,” Poling said. “The only tradition is you know you’re going to see the three of us.”
The idea of the concerts is to maintain the same atmosphere that existed when Poling, Munson and Roehm first got together to play music.
“We’re just three friends who want to play other people’s songs, whether it’s Neil Young, Bowie, Sinatra or Peggy Lee,” Poling said. “We’re covering our favorite tunes and just having fun with them. It’s not a joke, it’s not campy.”
But it is fun, so much so that the Minneapolis shows are now annual sellouts.
“It’s been a pleasant surprise,” Poling said. “Every year we have an on-sale date in Minneapolis,and they sell out 6,000 seats in 10 hours. That’s crazy. We’re always a nervous wreck, saying, ‘Is this the year people stop buying all these tickets?'”
Part of the secret, besides the quality of show itself, is that the New Standards have not over-scheduled themselves. Despite the popular reception the show has received in New York, with friends like Bill Murray dropping by, the New Standards do one performance only.
“We don’t want to wreck it,” Poling said. “I want to deliver the best thing we can do. For me, if it gets to be too much like work and it’s not fun, then the value goes down.”
Any additions to the concert schedule will take place gradually, he said. “It’s growing nicely,” Poling said. “It’s a good time of year for us, work-wise.
“But we’ll see,” he added. “If Rochester wants four shows next year, maybe we’ll do two.”
By the way, the Dec. 19 concert in Rochester is the final New Standards holiday show of the season.
“Maybe we’ll stay all night,” Poling said. “You won’t be able to get rid of us.”
That would, indeed, set a new standard for holiday shows.