Arts & Events » Music

Deck the Loft

The second annual Deau Eyes Holiday Party, a Feed More benefit, takes place on Dec. 22 at the Hof loft.

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It’s the season of giving. So what if you could give a performance with some of Richmond’s finest musicians as your backing band?

A live karaoke afterparty is just one of many activities on tap for the second annual Deau Eyes Holiday Party, which takes place on Thursday, Dec. 22 in the Hofheimer Building’s loft space. There will be raffle prizes, caricatures, a photo booth and live screen printing — all complementing sets from three of Richmond’s standout vocal acts: Ms. Jaylin Brown, Erin and the Wildfire, and Deau Eyes. All aimed at raising funds for the Feed More food bank.

For the leader of Deau Eyes, Richmond-based singer-songwriter, Ali Thibodeau, it’s like seeing her band’s ethos made manifest. “It’s such a cool way to throw a party and celebrate the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of Deau Eyes,” Thibodeau says, “which is glittery, bursting, creative, visual energy that we want to bring to life.”

An image from last year's holiday party.
  • An image from last year's holiday party.

The event’s first iteration was lower-key, held last year with a capped attendance figure at the undisclosed and since abandoned location of Classified Moto, where Thibodeau performed streaming sets during the height of the pandemic. As those performances went on, the interior of Classified Moto began to resemble a canvas on which Ali and her younger brother, creative artist Michael Thibodeau, could paint. “When Michael and I see a space, we just want to fill it with our wildest dreams. That’s the way that we function.”

Together, they designed an immersive winter wonderland, and when that party was over, the decorations themselves seemed to be calling out for a sequel. “We can’t just throw this away,” Ali remembers thinking. “So I got a storage unit. We’ve been gearing up for this and collecting things all year.”

That’s not all the siblings have been up to in 2022. They’ve also collaborated on a series of music videos, including clips in support of the latest Deau Eyes LP, “Legacies,” which came out in June. Michael has launched a production company, The Sunroom, with twin brothers Alec and Ryan Gary. “Since the pandemic,” she says, “we really dialed into what matters to us, which is creating things together, and getting really inventive and excited about the visual process through the music, because that’s what we had to latch onto for those many months where we couldn’t tour.”

Ryan Gary also plays guitar in Deau Eyes. “We’re very into the sibling creations around here,” Ali jokes. The band has been brushing up on cover songs for the live karaoke afterparty, as has Erin & the Wildfire. The lineup started taking shape when that group’s namesake, singer Erin Lunsford, approached Ali Thibodeau about playing a Feed More benefit. Thibodeau then jumped at the opportunity to add Ms. Jaylin Brown to the bill. “She’s just such a powerhouse,” Thibodeau says of Brown. “It really fits the vibe of Erin being such a powerhouse, and the three of us are going to be performing a song together, which will be really cool.”

Thibodeau and Brown have both appeared on recordings by rapper McKinley Dixon, though the singers’ connection dates back even further, to when the two were teenagers in the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) program. Brown and Michael Thibodeau were even part of the same SPARC productions.

Michael isn’t the only family member of Ali’s pitching in. Their father will be the one drawing caricatures. “We’re all just a bunch of working artists that are constantly grinding away to get by,” Ali says of her family, “and it definitely feels like a great way to join forces and celebrate and put on something where we can give back to the community.”

Thibodeau is also giving back by donating vocal lessons to the raffle. Erin Lunsford will do the same, complementing merch bundles and contributions from local businesses. And Hannah Goad, who performs as Righter, is sharing her screen printing skills; attendees can bring a shirt with them and walk away with a souvenir that was printed on the spot.

As for the karaoke, aspiring lead singers can sign up ahead of time by choosing from a list of potential cover tunes — everything from “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” to “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Lyrics will be provided, and don’t sweat it if you don’t have a voice like Mariah Carey’s. As the signup sheet puts it: “It's about spunk, it's about community, it's about intense eye contact.”

Indeed, the Deau Eyes ethos made manifest.

The second annual Deau Eyes Holiday Party will take place at the Hofheimer Building loft on Thursday, Dec. 22. Doors open at 6 p.m. and music starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the show. Proceeds will benefit Feed More. To buy tickets and sign up to perform at the live karaoke afterparty, visit linktr.ee/xodeau.

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