Local Christmas concert gets a new sound

Frontman of local band Carver Commodore, Payton Pruitt, is taking the reins on a local Christmas concert, Rock the Wreath, after a two-year absence in hope of giving it a new style.

Rock the Wreath is a community wide Christmas concert benefiting Room at the Inn, a local organization which provides shelter for the homeless every winter. Timmy Ray, member of local band The Ray Brothers, has previously put on Rock the Wreath alongside local churches.

The show will be held at 116 E. Mobile on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.

“In the past, it’s been all local artists, kind of the same stuff every year, which is not a bad thing,” Pruitt said. “But this year I wanted to bring in bands that people already know, bands that already have fans around here that they can sing some Christmas music with. It’s still a family event, but we want to bring in more of that college crowd and more of the local community with art and music. We want a broad range of people.”

The lineup for the show includes, Carver Commodore, The Brook and the Bluff and Jordy Searcy. The audience can also expect a few songs from guest artists Ally Burgess and McKenzie Lockhart.

The $10 cover charge is not for the band’s benefit at the end of the night. Rock the Wreath has always been a benefit concert, and this year the organization that receives all of the proceeds is also changing.

“I want it to benefit something that’s very local,” Pruitt said. “All the proceeds used to go to Toys for Tots, which is a great charity, but with Room at the Inn we know the people who are doing it and we can see the direct effect it makes in our area. We see the growing population of homelessness in Florence, and I think that community is a very under served part of our town.”

Pruitt has been playing at Rock the Wreath since 2014 and attended the concert as a guest before that.

“It was always one of my favorite events to go to. Phillip, the other guitarist for Carver Commodore, played at it 4 or 5 years ago and he was my roommate at the time, so I just went to see him play. I saw how cool it was and that it was a really fun thing that got everybody in the Christmas spirit real quick. As I got more involved, it became something that I wanted to do every year, so the past couple years that it has not happened I have missed it.”

Pruitt and Ray have been friends for a while and the concert often came up in conversation.

“I called Timmy to ask if he was going to do it this year and he said he had not given it much thought," Pruitt said. "I just asked him if he would care if I put on a Christmas concert, and then that lead to me asking if he would let me take over Rock the Wreath and he said yes. I think he kind of wanted to pass it on to someone else, which is cool of him. Now maybe if I can do it every year, I can pass it on to someone else one day.”

Pruitt is the worship leader at The Well Church in Florence and Ray leads worship at his church, Woodward Baptist in Muscle Shoals. Pruitt said he still wants the church community involved but that it’s not only them.

“One big change I want to see is combining the two sides of the community,” Pruitt said. I think there’s definitely a church community here and a music/art community. I’m involved with both of those sides, so I see no reason why we shouldn’t combine them. Let’s get together and sing some Christmas songs.”

Rock the Wreath will be one of the last shows playing at the popular venue after the announcement that they would be closing at the end of the year.

“Rock the Wreath brings together the whole community to do exactly what they want to do around Christmas time,” Pruitt said. “Singing Christmas songs that they know with bands that they know, with friends that they know. I just want people to have night full of joy, a night full of warmth and fun times while benefiting a good cause.”

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