Welcome to A&E

Remember the Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka? That was the album designed to be played on four CDs simultaneously—creating the full harmonic experience of the music.

It helps to have quick-draw friends who know when to push play, else it throws things off. But what a startling effect.

Now imagine dozens of boom boxes and stereos playing a piece composed with many parts. People carrying the music down the street, parading about town. That’s what will happen on Friday, when Jim Julien and friends stage “Unsilent Night.”

Julien calls it Christmas caroling for the avant-garde. Show up with your cassette (yep, they’ll have cassettes), CD or MP3 player (with speakers) at 7 p.m. at the Vance Monument. The sidewalk parade will roll down the sidewalks to Lexington, then up Hiawassee to Flint, then to Haywood and Pritchard Park and back to Pack Square.

Composer Phil Kline created the music, and Unsilent Night has been an event in cities from Los Angeles to Sydney. Julien describes the piece as “shimmery,” “choral” and “ambient.” (And the sonic logistics are “John Cage-ian” in that the parts can be played out of sequence, he says).

The piece isn’t tied to any faith or tradition. It’s about the creative human community and the wonder and weirdness we can create for ourselves, Julien says.

“If Christmas is not your thing but you still feel some pull to celebrate something unique in the season, I would recommend this,” he says. “It’s very enchanting and very magical.

Whether Christmas is or isn’t your thing, get your scarf-wearing self down to N.C. Stage (behind Mobilia, in front of the Rankin Ave. parking deck) for the Bernstein Brothers Christmas Spectacular. We caught the dress rehearsal last week. The show is literally fall-out-of-your-chair funny (if you have a somewhat dark sense of humor)—I put my arm out to catch myself (dangers of the aisle seat). It’s a variety show with live commercials and almost unbearably funny skits, along with a parody of Dickens’ Christmas Carol that Mondy Carter (who performs as one of the brothers, among other characters) said he wrote after performing the Dickens classic some 60 times in one season.

Be their friend on Facebook and nab a $3-off coupon for the $15 ticket price.

And, from the calendar file: Two big shows to mark down. Morrissey’s coming to the Orange Peel on March 9, and John Prine’s scheduled the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium on March 28.


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