In the ’70s and ’80s, TV holiday specials were a thing. You didn’t even have to be a real person like Bing Crosby and David Bowie to get one.
It was airtime cheaply and easily filled with fun. A chance for our cultural icons to put on an ugly Christmas sweater and get sloshed on ‘nog. The stars really are just like us.
Thank goodness for Chaki—the underground’s one man band, self-proclaimed “funk wizard” and beloved master of the boogie down bass—keeping this holiday tradition alive in 2020 with a brand new live-streamed special, Chaki’s Christmas Clambake & Hanukkah Hoedown.
Recently Chaki previewed the festivities with the best Hanukkah song I’ve ever heard:
I feel like Chaki rolls all the mirth and mishigas from all the holiday specials of yesteryear into one cosmic slop of seasonal cheer.
Chaki, aka Cory Sklar, of course goes way back on the L.A. scene. In fact you may have seen him play with Monday Night legends Captain Ahab way back in the day (pre-2007).
Born and raised in the Valley, with a rocker dad and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of cool music, Chaki’s a gentle soul—and a good friend.
One of the only good things that happened in 2020 was Chaki’s return to Los Angeles after over a decade in the Bay Area, where he had a lot of successes.
Chaki’s a cultural icon and a broadcast natural.
In the meantime let’s check in with Chaki in his Hollywood holiday hideaway:
Chaki, tell us about your upcoming holiday special—what’s the show all about?
About two weeks ago I was struck with this bolt of inspiration. A voice inside my telling me to put on a holiday show. I’m really glad it did. I’ve always loved the old-timey Christmas specials by people like Perry Como, Lawrence Welk, and the Pee Wee Herman one of course.
When I started digging into these things I realized everyone had one of these things. There’s even a Cher Christmas special with Redd Foxx!
I figured, “Shit, Chaki, no one is going to ask you to do one of your own, so you better do it yourself.”
It’s a Muppet-like need inside me to put on a show. But I don’t think I’m a Kermit, I’m more a Scooter.
Will there be guests?
One thing I’ve learned from watching these holiday specials is that you need a lot of special guests. As you know, there’s something really special about admiring someone as a friend and also loving their art. It’s like a super bonus friendship.
One thing I love about being a performer is curating a show with people I love personally and artistically, pulling it all together, and delivering.
So I asked some of my favorite people to help out. El Vez and David Liebe Hart will be appearing. Bob Log III, Foxtails Brigade, and The Space Lady will be performing special holiday music. Plus other surprise guests!
You grew up in the San Fernando Valley. What were holidays like when you were a kid—what were the traditions?
I remember it being very multicultural. We celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas at my house. My Jewish dad would dress up as Santa and my Mexican mom would light the Hanukkah candles. I loved the Hollywood Christmas parade. I’ll miss it this year.
In “How to Hanukkah” you say you lit the house on fire—true?
HALF TRUE. That lyric is based on the time I lit a record store I worked at in Reseda on fire. I hope the statute of limitations is up on that one.
What artists have the funkiest holiday albums?
I really really love making Christmas mixes, There’s the James Brown stuff of course. Aloe Blacc put one out in 2018 literally called Christmas Funk and it’s underrated! Fishbone has a Christmas EP that is just out of this world.
The funkiest holiday song will always be “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses [originally from my old hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. -SC]. That song is hard as fuck.
You recorded the best lockdown covers LP, period.
Quarantine Covers—thank you.
Brilliant song choices. You’re obviously a man of musical taste and refinement. What should we seek out to listen to, new or old, in the New Year?
My favorite YouTuber, Gothic King Cobra, put out a Christmas album a few days ago.
Okay—speed round. Bret Berg helped me with these. Feel free to answer however you like, but let’s keep it spontaneous…
Why isn’t there more sci-fi in rock music nowadays?
It will come back. It goes in cycles. Remember Spacehog?
Are basses with more than 4 strings insulting?
5 strings are actually really utilitarian once you get into them but I’m a 4 stringer for life.
What are your favorite fretless performances?
David J all-day.
I’ve also been listening to a ton of 70s Eberhard Weber!! And he’s amazing at the fretless.
Does it matter at all that you can’t hear Jason Newsted’s playing on …And Justice For All?
Chopped liver, or gefilte fish?
Chopped liver!!!! My fave.
If Santa could bring you a magic bass pedal for Xmas, what would the pedal do and what would it sound like?
The purple Line 6 pedal is my magic box. It’s my fave pedal of all time and I break them often. They are getting more sparse so I’d ask for 33 of them.
When and where can we watch Chaki’s Christmas Clambake & Hanukkah Hoedown?
Christmas Eve 7:30 pm West Coast time on the Museum of Home Video‘s Twitch!
Any parting words?
I’m just thankful for everyone that helped me pull this thing together. Especially the Museum for giving it a home!
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