The Yule Logs deliver fun holiday performance at Laxson Auditorium


Joe Hilsee

The Yule Logs’ performance at Laxson Auditorium premiered on December 4. Photo credit: Joe Hilsee.

The Yule Logs aren’t letting the COVID-19 pandemic stop them from spreading holiday cheer. They recently performed a concert at Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium and the video premiered on Dec. 4.

Since there was no in-person audience for the concert, the band performed with their backs to the theater, which was lit up in blue. This created a visually appealing backlight, in combination with the string lights over the stage.

The lack of a live audience didn’t deter them from delivering an energetic and enthusiastic performance, however. Guitarist Maurice Spencer and bassist Kirt Lind bounced around during faster songs and lead singer Marty Parker sprinted all over the stage — and the backstage area, too.

Their performance was quirky and fun. They have a British invasion sort of sound mixed with some surf rock vibes, and their guitarist doesn’t shy away from screaming, distorted guitar riffs.

“Spencer sometimes writes songs in the vein of The Who,” said drummer Jake Sprecher. “And if he’s writing in the vein of The Who, that means that I can copy some (The Who drummer) Keith Moon stuff.”

“A largely unknown drummer that influenced the way I specifically play in The Yule Logs is a guy named Mickey Jones,” Sprecher said. “He was the touring drummer for Trini Lopez in the early ’60s, and had a masterful feel for pop grooves. He eventually went on to be a member of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, but it’s those Trini Lopez Live At PJ’s records that left their mark on me.”

Parker bears a striking resemblance to Elton John in appearance, and when asked how much his aesthetic is influenced by Elton John and David Bowie, he had this to say:

“The dismal truth is that I only look like Elton John — specifically 90’s Elton John — not coke-addicted Captain Fantastic, but the easy-listening guy from the Lion King Soundtrack,” Parker said. 

“My luscious blond hair is just like his wig, and we both like blingy suits,” Parker continued. “It’s my slight chubbiness, though, that clinches the deal. My onstage presentation is appropriated from stylish guys like Bowie.”

“My goal, always, is to engage the audience, so I try to sing from the heart and look them in the eye,” Parker said. “Above all, I obey the first Yule Log commandment, which is carved in granite: ‘Never, ever wear cargo shorts onstage.’”

The Yule Logs played original songs like “Thought That Counts,” a comedic song about terrible gifts; and “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” a more serious — but still light-hearted and a bit comical — song about someone whose girlfriend is dealing with seasonal depression.

They also put a non-traditional spin on traditional holiday songs like “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” Rather than demanding figgy pudding, they insisted, “Play us some ‘Ziggy Stardust,’ oh, play us some ‘Ziggy Stardust’ right in my ear.”

The Yule Logs also made sure to include Hanukkah songs too, like “Oh Dreidel” and “The Story of Hanukkah.” They have a new song called “Hanukkah Snuck Up On Me” that they played during a performance at the Chico Women’s Club.

“Although I specifically wrote this song about Hanukkah, I think most people can relate to when life gets busy and you get distracted and all of a sudden the holidays are here,” Spencer said. “I started writing ‘Hanukkah Snuck Up On Me’ last year but didn’t finish it in time. I guess Yule Logs season snuck up on me.”

This was The Yule Logs’ first performance at Laxson and Sprecher had only good things to say about their experience performing and working with the staff there.

“We know a few of those folks just from being around town and they were really, really good to us,” Sprecher said. “They treat you like they would their national headliners they would have under a normal circumstance. So they’re really, really professional people over there.”

The Yule Logs have been together since 2004 and have released five albums.

Although they only get to play shows one month out of the year, they do get to tour around the North State. They’ve played the Balboa Theatre in San Francisco in the past and they play every year at a winery in Lodi.

In addition to their Laxson performance, the band also played two sets in one day at the Women’s Club. The first set will be released this weekend on The Yule Logs’ YouTube channel and the second set will likely be released the weekend after that. 

Sprecher is in several other bands, as well. He plays guitar for a Chico-based band called Beehive and he’s the drummer of the Los Angeles-based band Smokescreens, who released a new album in October. He has a new Ramones-influenced band called The Windups, and they will release their first album sometime after the pandemic. Sprecher also used to be the guitarist in a Bay Area punk band called Terry Malts.

The stream of the performance at Laxson Auditorium premiered on the Chico Performances website on Dec. 4 and is available for 48-hour rentals until Dec. 31. Access the concert here.

Kelsey Ogle can be reached at [email protected]