Don’t do same old thing this Groundhog Day: Go to Lizard Lounge and watch this band do it.
Though your day may already be caught in an endless loop – and, hey, try to learn something about yourself, okay? – see if you can make it over to Lizard Lounge from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, where the Chandler Travis Philharmonic is doing its third annual all-“Ivan” Groundhog Day show. That means at least 12 different versions of the song “Ivan in Paris” in widely varying arrangements and rewrites, including versions played upside-down and backward.
This Groundhog Day phenomenon is a years-old local tradition, even though it’s based around a song band founder Chandler Travis called “a total afterthought, buried at Track 14” (to be fair, the 1999 solo album in which the track was “buried” was named after that song: “Ivan in Paris”).
Though “Ivan in Paris” was a solo album, the song is actually a great showcase for horn players, making it a natural for when Travis’ act expanded into the nine-person Chandler Travis Philharmonic.
“In 2016, we booked a show at the Once Lounge for Groundhog Day, and our drummer, Jerome Deupree, made the mistake of suggesting we just play the same song all night, in keeping with the ‘Groundhog Day’ concept, and that’s when things got out of control,” Travis said. “We wrote two different sets of lyrics for it – and added a couple more last year; had our trombonists Bob Pilkington and Dave Harris and saxophonist Berke McKelvey write completely different arrangements of it; even transcribed and played it backwards, and we had a ball. The challenge, of course, being making such a concept entertaining for a full set for the audience, and not just the players.”
There will likely be more versions added this year, “all in an effort to see how many twists and turns we can get out of one innocent little song,” Travis said, recalling the first experiment: “We had no idea if we could pull it off – after all, wouldn’t an entire set based on one song be, uh, really boring? – but everyone loved it.”