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Celebrate the holidays with silver, gold, food and ugly sweaters

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Since 1964, the holidays haven't been complete without a broadcast of the classic stop-motion animation special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, narrated by the late folk legend Burl Ives as Sam the Snowman. While "A Holly Jolly Christmas" gets all the attention, another memorable Ives performance is the somewhat ambiguous meditation on Christmas materialism, "Silver and Gold," where he asks, "How do you measure its worth? / Just by the pleasure it gives here on earth." Which I suspect is where WYEP got the name for its house band at this Thursday's Holiday Hootenanny.

Silver & Gold features members of local faves The Essex Green, Lohio, Good Night, States and Donora (who also tend to swing together at "Key Party" concerts), performing holiday music with a rotating cast of vocalists taking the lead. The free event starts at 7 p.m. Thu., Dec. 18, at the station's Community Broadcast Center in the South Side (it's open to the public, but reservations are requested at www.wyep.org).

The show's a benefit for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food donation. WYEP, in turn, will have snacks and beverages for you ... and of course Silver & Gold.

It's also time for another holiday musical tradition with a local angle: Local piano-rockers School of Athens' fourth annual Ugly Sweater Show, where audience members are encouraged to dress in their most repulsive seasonal knits. But there's one little catch -- didn't School of Athens call it quits a while back? Well, yes and no. Three of the School boys have retooled as the more danceable synth-driven outfit Retrofitter -- that would be Drew Fogle on synth, Neal Rosenblat on guitar and bassist Johnny Naples, now joined by Scott Balles on drums.

Curious? Catch their show Fri., Dec. 19 at Club Café, with accomplished local guests Triggers and Paul Luc. But don't out yourself as a noob by wearing normal attire -- Fogle estimates that "about 95 percent of the audience will come in with hideous holiday sweaters." He adds, "It's quite a sight to see."

I'm sure it is, but some things you can never un-see, and a reindeer sweater your grandma gave you is one of them. While there's sure to be plenty of holiday cheer, I'm predicting a zero percent hook-up rate at this show ... unless by the night's end, everyone's also sporting some egg-noggles.

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