By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
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By Chris Joseph
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By Jesse Scheckner
By Michael E. Miller
Master Jeffrey Holmes has more fun than the rest of us on a regular basis, and the week before last was no different. First on Saturday, December 9, Holmes turned his Sailboat Bend apartment building into Gallery Noir, showcasing a collection of edgy art from various area quirksters, including Holmes' scary collection of voodoo artifacts, many of them collected during frequent trips to New Orleans.
The high point of that rain-drenched gathering was Holmes' midnight torching of a life-size self-portrait in which he is all naked and crucified. "I just dragged it out back, doused it with lamp oil, took a swig of 151, and blew a big fireball and set the thing ablaze," he explains. Among those entertained was Ximena Page, wife of ex-Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who's been sighted around Fort Lauderdale all winter long. Seems he's holed up in some swank maxi-villa in Las Olas Isles, nursing a back injury incurred while trying to keep up with the Black Crowes. On the afternoon of Friday, December 15, Holmes' cozy apartment was visited by Mr. Zoso himself.
"I had a very special guest!" says Holmes excitedly. "Mrs. Page loved the place so much she had to bring her husband back to check it out."
Holmes describes the guitarist as "a very nice English gentleman," before adding, "a little worn. But just a really nice guy."
The two returned to snag a print of a piece that wasn't for sale: a black-and-white line drawing of a witch.
Our friend Eric Alexandrakis, last mentioned in this column back in June, is still hard at work creating some of the most interesting one-man-band stuff from this area. The Miami resident just released a very snarky and cool Christmas EP on the Y&T Music label, and he wrote, arranged, produced, engineered, performed, and mixed all four tracks on his own. "Christmas Shopping Can Be Stressful" demonstrates Alexandrakis' tape-loop sound-collage skills without sounding the least bit musical. I may use it for ushering lingering relatives out the door this season. But the gorgeous melody of "All I Want for Christmas is You" sticks around like a Minnesota winter. It's couched in vintage '80s synth-pop reminiscent of OMD. "Christmas on the Moon" laces a tinkling piano line behind Alexandrakis' voice. "Be sure to tie down the tree," he advises, "because it'll float away in zero gravity." He gets even goofier on "Santa Claus is Dead," which narrates the crime scene with details like sirens and uncharacteristically silly toss-offs such as "Santa Claus is not dead/He's in Mexico with his girlfriend."
"That just came out of nowhere," says Alexandrakis. "Christmas on the Moon," though, had been sitting around since last December, so he decided to throw that on. "I wanted one more track, but I was kind of dry for a Christmas song," he adds, which led to the inclusion of "Christmas Shopping Can Be Stressful," which is almost as much fun as waiting for a price check on Pampers at Target on Christmas Eve with three screaming toddlers. It indulges Alexandrakis' difficult, experimental bent, which he documented extensively on his first full-length, I.V. Catatonia, which he released last summer .
But "All I Want for Christmas" epitomizes that all-too-rare occurrence: a Yuletide tune that not only doesn't suck, but warrants repeated listenings, with or without the influence of egg nog. With sleigh bells, tambourines, and Alexandrakis' chiming arrangement, it's by far the most commercially viable song this mad scientist has yet recorded. He says to expect more "happy, peppy, and poppy" songs from him in the future, even if this one was basically a fluke.
"I was listening to Sgt. Pepper's that whole week," he says, "so it just came out as a pop tune -- it didn't come out at all the way I set out to do it. It was a whole new twist on a sound I really hadn't done yet. A lot of just poppy tunes have been springing from me -- and positive things have influenced it. You meet a girl and then you want to write a song about it." He reports that this new direction will carry over to his upcoming album, which he says will "not [sound] as dark as I.V. Catatonia, more catchy and more fun."
He explains that he's always wanted to put together some type of Christmas-song package. "I like to send those out instead of Christmas cards -- they're more fun," he says. Visit www.ericalexandrakis.com, where the songs are available as free MP3 downloads. (The CD is a limited edition of 200 copies, and may be sold out by the time you read this.)
Since Alexandrakis rarely performs (a November date in West Palm Beach was scrapped when he was laid up with a nasty cold), his Website is the best introduction to his holiday wares for now. But by mid-January, he reports, he'll be spreading cheer throughout the land.