Like the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story, the Ohio City Singers have become a local tradition over the last decade. The holiday band came together in 2003 when they wrote "Real Good Christmas Time," passed out lyrics at a party and sang with the crowd. "That spirit that was born that night is really evident in our live shows," says founder Chris Allen, who writes the original songs alongside Doug McKean from the Irish-punk band Boys from the County Hell. Comprised of nine local musicians, the band has released three records with a greatest hits album expected out before next holiday season. See them this month at shows including House of Blues Dec. 19. Before the festivities commence, meet three of the carolers.
Austin "Candy Cane" Charanghat
How You Know Him ➪ With more than 10 albums, he's been performing blues music locally for 25 years. Real vs. Fake Christmas Tree ➪ "I've had fake Christmas trees all my life, and one day, five or six years ago, my oldest son wanted to have a real one, and that was it." Why Ohio City Singers ➪ "New Christmas songs? It doesn't happen! And a band that's solely just Christmas? I can't really think of too many bands in the world that are doing what we're doing." New Nickname ➪ "I had the 'Walkin' Cane' bit for so many years, and we figured when it was Christmas time it should be 'Candy Cane.' "
How You Know Him ➪ He's a singer-songwriter with 20 to 25 gigs a month as a solo artist, a member of Rolling Stones-esque the Jack Fords and as the lead in the New Soft Shoe, a Gram Parsons cover band. His Christmas Tradition ➪ "We always do stockings right away in the morning." Go-to Holiday Dessert ➪ "You take an orange, and you just smash it so it's nice and soft. Candy canes have little airholes through it, so you stick a candy cane in the orange and you suck out the orange juice through the candy cane." Favorite Ohio City Singers Song ➪ " 'Egg Nog.' It's kind of New Orleans inspired, and it has some cool rhythmic stuff going on."
How You Know Him ➪ When things get green in March, he plays guitar and mandolin in the Boys from the County Hell. Favorite Christmas Song ➪ "Nat King Cole's version of 'The Christmas Song' by Mel Torme. If I had to delete every other Christmas song and leave one, it would be that song." His Inspiration ➪ "I've had people come up to me and tell me this is their Christmas music growing up for them as a kid." Embracing Winter ➪ "I never want to go anywhere warm. Being a lifelong Clevelander, I love the snow. It's something about the way the snow and the cold kind of slows things down."