Christmas is a holiday that brings to mind all that is solemn and holy--visions of snow-dusted creches and preschool nativity pageants.
Go-go, on the other hand, is Washington's indigenous, rump-shaking groove music--a genre that's two decades old.
So what are we to make of a go-go Christmas?
It is a pairing that could only be achieved by Chuck Brown, the godfather of go-go, and he does it with ease on his latest offering, "The Spirit of Christmas."
By phone from his suburban Maryland home last week, Brown chuckled at the unlikely nature of the combination.
"It has a variety of tunes on it," he says of the new CD. "There are just a couple of tunes on there that have a go-go flavor. But most of them are more bluesy than they are go-go."
Brown's rendering of "Merry Christmas Baby" causes toes to tap and heads to bop almost reflexively. Not exactly nightclub rhythms but imminently more movement-inspiring than your typical holiday music.
Aside from that track, and his funkified renditions of the classics "White Christmas" and "Silent Night"--both spliced with up-tempo drums, tambourines and Hammond organ phrasings--the album is only gently caressed by go-go's signature percussion.
The last two tracks on the album are its most luminous. Both are duets with Eva Cassidy, the crystal-voiced local singer who died of cancer three years ago.
To remaster the old recordings, Brown collaborated with Maryland producer Chris Biondo, Cassidy's former love interest, who first brought the two singers together in 1991.
Remastering the tracks "was hard to do since she passed away," Brown says. "When I met her, I was just so taken by that lady's voice. So I asked if I could record with her. It took a long time because she had other commitments. She was a very busy young lady."
Brown's early 1990s collaborations with Cassidy bolstered the Bowie songstress's reputation. But Brown says he got as much, if not more, out of the time they spent working together. He says releasing the songs on the new CD was highly emotional, but gratifying.
"I've gotten a lot of exposure from the Eva Cassidy project. It's been wonderful. My dreams have come true, even though I struggled with it. I'm just grateful that I had the chance to work with her. . . . She went and put down all these beautiful harmonies. If you listen to the chords this lady possessed!"
In the duo's readings of "The Christmas Song" and "That Spirit of Christmas," the chemistry that wowed audiences during their live performances crackles and pops--his grizzly bass anchoring her shimmering melodies.
It's an unusual combination, almost as unusual as Christmas and go-go. Thanks to Brown, the holidays just got funky.
Chuck Brown signs copies of "The Spirit of Christmas" at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Borders Books and Music, 4420 Mitchellville Rd., Bowie. Free. Call 301-352-5560.
CAPTION: Chuck Brown, the godfather of go-go, says the "Spirit of Christmas" CD "has a variety of tunes on it."