The name “Decemberists” actually comes from my friend December Carson (who was married to Caleb Klauder) December was the publicist for Calobo and still has a music publicity company here in Portland, Siren Music. She befriended Colin Malloy when he first came to Portland, and helped him gig around town. When Colin decided that he wanted a bigger sound with a band, he asked December if she knew any musicians that might want to jam. Jenny and Nate from Calobo were on board, and Chris Funk (the Decemberists guitar player) worked for December at Siren Nation. When Malloy decided to name the band, he mentioned to December that the Decemberists school of ballet dancers in Russia were his favorites and that naming the band the Decemberists would be a tribute to Decembers work of getting them all together.
I remember talking to December Carson and Eric Myers of Doghouse and then Syren Management and publicity when Calobo (and Sweet Virginia) played Cubberley back in the day. Michelle Nelson of Santa Cruz via Palo Alto (and Barron Park, La Para Drive come to think of it) did a digital poster of a butterfly motif — PA Weekly did a preview — Sweet Virginia also featured Clint Baker of Palo Alto. And I remember it was the hottest day ever for a show and we struggled with noise issues versus being cooped up indoors with the doors shut, in Cubberley Auditorium the former high school cafeteria now actually a library. Laura Kemp played as well.
When I first started seeing the name Decemberists I thought it was December Carson’s band. When Terry and I saw them for the first time recently at Fox Theater in Oakland I was smitten, although pretty late on the bandwagon, for sure. But I was psyched to realize the keyboardist and bassist were both from Calobo. But not until just now reading this post by a former tour manager — “uncle funcle” — did I see anyone make the connect more overt — that December Carson introduced Colin Melloy to band members and is being honored by the naming of band.
From Jimmie Kimmel (above still, or derivative capture) playing “Why We Fight” April, 2011:
edit to add, Oct. 19, 2011: I clipped from the New York Times the piece about Colin Meloy collaborating with his wife Carson Ellis, the illustrator, on a teens book.