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Karling Abbeygate brings her irrepressible sass, country and rockabilly sounds to Big's Grill in Fullerton, with her regular Karling's Rockabilly Review series. On Wednesday, she concludes a series of fund-raising holiday shows benefitting Save-A-Life Cat and Dog Adoptions. We caught up with Abbeygate—who recently released a Christmas With Karling CD, a mix of standards and originals done in her spirited and saucy way—between recording sessions in early November.
OC Weekly: Both your Christmas CD and the associated shows are dedicated as fund-raisers to Save-A-Life. Could you say more about what the organization does and what your own interest and involvement with it have been?
Karling Abbeygate: It's a no-kill, nonprofit organization run by volunteers. Earlier this year, I discovered a family of feral cats had made my shed into their home. Being a huge animal-lover, I fed the cats and let them stay in my shed. However, my band was getting ready to go on tour, so I knew I'd have to find another solution. I searched and searched, but because the mother cat had a cold, I was informed that the whole family would have to be euthanized. Finally, I came across Save-A-Life. To my great relief, [the people there] were willing to take them in. It was during this meeting with [co-founder/shelter director] Diana Daunert from Save-A-Life that I discovered post-holidays are a terrible time for animal abandonment. Well-intending folks give animals as gifts without thinking through the commitments entailed in looking after a pet. Save-A-Life will rescue animals from death row and get them adopted at places such as Petco and local farmers' markets. I was so grateful to Diana that I decided if the opportunity came about, I would like to do something to help.
323 N. State College Blvd.
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Was any earlier artist in particular an inspiration when it came to putting your own stamp on familiar songs?
I do love the way Frank Sinatra sings "Jingle Bells," but it's such a distinctive arrangement that we couldn't have done it that way. But I think that particular treatment of that song helped to keep me firm in the opinion that we can do whatever we like.
What's the biggest challenge you find in writing Christmas originals, given the strength of the classics?
I wasn't actually sure how it would work out, writing six original Christmas songs in a matter of a week. But as with the recording, it really seemed to flow. The first one was "Santa's Got a Crush On Me." It's quirky and a little naughty. I believe "Angel Tears" might be the song closest to a Christmas classic in a comparable way. I believe other artists could sing it just as easily as myself, so I have hopes this will eventually happen.
The first two fund-raisers featured James Intveld and Big Sandy, respectively. Any particular surprises for the final event on Dec. 21?
It's going to be good. We will be calling in a lot of favors, and many of the great artists who appear at Karling's Rockabilly Review will be there in full force to help this cause. We will also be having burlesque dancers entertain. We're putting a lot of effort into this, so it's sure to be an event to remember.
This column appeared in print as "Karling Sings and Swings for the Kitties."