Arts Desk

Tonight: Hugh McElroy Does A Capella!

Hugh McElroy performs with Cephalopods. Tonight he'll be axe-less.

The holidays can be unbearable for a whole host of reasons, but the most grating has to be that wintry form of a capella—caroling. This won't be like that.

D.C. music fixture Hugh McElroy—formerly of Black EyesHorses, and Hand-Fed Babies, and these days of Cephalopods and Ruffian Records—will perform a special, mostly a capella solo set tonight at Everlasting Life Cafe.

For the most part, it'll just be McElroy and his voice, though he'll toss in a spare amount of samples and tape effects for some songs. If you're skeptical, fear not: McElroy has a whole history of  a capella solo shows. .

"I started doing a capella sets a few years ago when a band called A Day in Black and White asked me if one of my bands could play a record release show," McElroy writes in an e-mail. "I had recorded some of the tracks and they wanted people involved in the record to perform. For whatever reason, none of my bands was available so I offered to do a solo set. I took some inspiration from a woman in New York called Jane Hohenberger—now Jane LeCroy—and decided to do it a capella. I also sang a couple of her songs, some songs by friends, some songs I wrote, some other songs."

Others took to McElroy's solo stuff, including Chris Grier of Demon Fling, who asked McElroy to open for his band. Soon after, McElroy did a couple more sets with Mass Movement of the Moth and was involved in a Taffety Punk production. Things have remained quiet on the solo front for McElroy the past couple years, but tonight's show came about similarly to McElroy's first solo set. "Ryan Little from Tereu Tereu was setting up the show and asked if I knew of anyone who might be free for it. I told him if no one else was that I'd do it, and it turned out he was into the idea enough to just ask me to play," McElroy writes.

Fans should come to the show prepared for a wide array of songs and performances pieces in McElroy's set, including some poems, a couple Hohenberger tunes, and some Cephalopods jams. "I don't have the full set totally ironed out yet, and there's a song I just heard on Sunday I might want to add to the show," he writes. "I also have some medieval secular and religious music on the shortlist and a Diamanda Galas cover. Some of it will be folky and some of it will be punky. Some of the songs are written to be sung a capella and others are songs that I feel can stand alone without accompaniment."

Hugh McElroy performs with Tereu Tereu, Conductive Alliance, and Listen Listen tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Everlasting Life, 2928 Georgia Ave. NW.

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