Local Indie Christmas Album? - Yup, It’s Good
Tampa Bay Musician & Crohn’s Sufferer Rallies Friends for Impressive Release to Benefit Charity
By Harold Valentine
Just ask any artist - sometimes, freedom is intimidating. Rather than riding on the wings of liberation with wild, fruitful experimentation, the proverbial empty canvass can prove more limiting than a few basic rules.
And, ask any Tampa Bay artist - getting people to care about something (let alone earn some dough from it) is quite the task.
Now, imagine having Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, which basically wreaks havoc on a person’s life, grinding all plans to a screeching halt, and opening a gateway to unfiltered pain.
Christopher Costabile, a Clearwater-based indie-rock musician and Crohn’s sufferer, has somehow made all of his circumstances work with a brilliant new album, “One Single Wish,” (www.onesinglewish.com). The album features several tracks, all following a Christmas theme, by Costabile and his friends. The result is a surprisingly unified-yet-diverse effort that turns a new leaf for … the local indie Christmas music scene?
Yes, that’s exactly what it does; rather, it should inspire the scene, and maybe go viral on the national level. The album features original Christmas songs by Tampa Bay area artists who drew their inspiration from old holiday standards by artists like Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and Joni Mitchell. All proceeds of the album go to benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).
“My own experience with Crohn’s began in the summer of 2000, when I mysteriously started to have all the symptoms: diarrhea, fever, stomach aches, nausea, malnutrition and loss of appetite and weight,” Costabile says. “It’s an incurable condition which causes chronic inflammation in the GI tract. Your immune system erroneously recognizes your intestine as a foreign object and tries to get rid of it. Awesome, right?”
Ten years later, the disorder returned and proved much, much worse for Costabile, ushering in hell: off-the-charts pain levels, weeks at the hospital, various surgeries, loads of expensive medication, drastic weight loss, rinse, repeat. For those who don’t have Crohn’s, imagine your worst bender times ten. Afterward, as your bloodshot eyes stare back at you from the mirror, your natural inclination may be to make some changes - maybe do something really, really good.
After his 2010 Crohn’s PainFest, Costabile followed through on something really good - “One Single Wish.” Here’s a brief cross section of what’s included:
- “At Christmastime,” written and performed by Costabile and his girlfriend Alissa Martinez, is a sober-yet-hopeful take on the season with the lyrics, “The New Year is here to stay.” The last season of the year is an inevitably reflective one; the slightly off-beat sleigh bells echo this sense, but an optimistic melody offers a sense of the future.
- “Be My Santa Claus,” is Jaclyn Hicks’ song and could be included on the next Jack White and Loretta Lynn release. This is that sassy, southern-rockin’ Christmas tune that is welcome on any holiday mix.
- “Something Closer,” offered by Andrew Craven, could be that pitchforkmedia.com song you heard once, liked it but lost track of it, and then airs a few years later on 97X as a new buzz-worthy song. It’s a deconstructed holiday piece that stays with the listener.
- “One Single Wish,” describes the Christmas landscape and the complex, often conflicting feelings involved in this celebratory time of year. Written by Costabile and handsomely sung by Mark Harman, the song describes love longed for, but not reciprocated.
- “The Best Gift to Give,” features a haunting, gypsy-like, bolero-like melody, perhaps reminiscent of a toned-down Gogol Bordello, sung by songwriter Jason Kushner, whose voice is more evocative of Elliott Smith. A beautiful number.
It’s unlikely that Costabile’s bouts with Crohn’s disease are over, he says. There are some complications from past operations, including portions of his digestive tract that are still diseased, and the disease can strike sufferers at any time.
“We’ll see how it all goes,” he says. “I’m just incredibly grateful to my friends and everyone who has helped me, including those who are visiting the site to download the album.”
Costabile and his friends will be performing the Christmas album at New World Brewery, 1313 East 8th Avenue in Ybor City, on Dec. 13.
About Christopher Costabile
Christopher Costabile is proactive in the Tampa Bay arts scene as a local musician and editor of the online publication Ubernothing Art Review & Literary Magazine. He was born and raised in Tampa Bay and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida.