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14 Musicians Share Their Thanksgiving Traditions

November 22, 2012  |  11:20am
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7. Laura Burhenn from The Mynabirds

What is your Thanksgiving tradition?
For all my life, my mom and I spent Thanksgiving a ton of different ways—with friends at their homes, with some of our family at our own home. Eventually it turned into a feast for misfit toys, a celebration of “found family.” My favorite Thanksgiving was when I looked around the table and realized that the only person I was related by blood to was my mom, and that seemed perfect to me.

But probably the more interesting tradition is the one I’ve recently become a part of: casino buffet! My boyfriend’s grandmother likes to treat her whole family to dinner on Thanksgiving with her gambling points. It’s marvelous and depressing all at once: the endless line of carving stations, bottomless sodas the size of your head, a whole mountain of desserts. There’s nothing quite like the faint smell of cigarette smoke wafting across your mashed potatoes that makes you feel thankful. Ah, America.

How did it get started? How many years has this been going on?
I think casino buffet has been going strong for a very long time. Maybe a decade?

Give us a rundown of the food involved. What are the go-to dishes?
What it is with Thanksgiving and 1940s “salads” that have been allowed to endure?! Waldorf, or anything involving jello molds and/or marshmallows. It’s like people are thankful for the freedom to be able to still eat that shit, so those dishes get a free pass on holidays. Not that I eat them. But what the hell.

What are you washing it all down with?
A lot of red wine.

What’s your stance on gravy? On turkey? On everything? Abstaining?
Gravy’s good, so long as it’s vegetarian and ladled over tofurkey. Actually, I really hate tofurkey. I’d rather just eat all the delicious veggie sides and call it done. Though I’m guessing my friend, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, probably has some great tofu ideas for Thanksgiving. I’ll have to investigate this year.

Do all of the family members like this tradition?
Casino buffet is a simultaneously cherished and hated tradition, as far as I can tell. But I kinda love it. I mean, I’ve had plenty of traditional family Thanksgivings. Why not get weird?

And by the way, I’m a firm believer in the going-around-the-table-and-saying-what-you’re-thankful-for tradition. Should be done more often than just once a year.

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8. GWAR

This is from the view point of Dave Brockie, personal buttboy to Oderus Urungus. GWAR doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving.

What is your Thanksgiving tradition?
Being on the road with GWAR.

How did it get started? How many years has this been going on?
I can’t remember the last time I was home for Thanksgiving. It doesn’t really matter as most of my family is either dead or have disowned me or live in England. My band is my family and I am happy to spend it with them. I don’t know how happy they are about!

Give us a rundown of the food involved. What are the go-to dishes?
The first thing is just finding a place to eat. We travel by bus and usually end up at some hotel parked next to a mall. Then the search for a restaurant with a good spread begins. If we are lucky we are close to someone in the bands relatives, and we’ll get invited over. No mean task considering that we have 15+ people with us. Sometimes we luck out even harder and a devoted fan will have us over, though that takes a leap of faith on our part—you never know what you might end up getting into! I am happy to say every time we have gone to a fans house for Turkey Day, it’s been completely awesome. A couple of years back our hosts had not only us but all of the opening bands over. There were like 30 people eating at once. It was amazing.

Once we have figured out where we are eating, it’s pretty standard on the foods…the turkey as the centerpiece, stuffing, gravy…I love oyster stuffing but not in the bird, some people hate it! Green bean casserole is a plus. Just about any side dish will do, just skip the salad!

What are you washing it all down with?
Booze! I love drinking beer at dinner and a nice German Pils (like a Becks or Spaten) is perfect for washing down tons of food without intruding on the palate too much. I like to have some sparkling water at hand as well. For dessert, strong black coffee and maybe a Drambuie or some other sweet liqueur. That’s about perfect!

What’s your stance on gravy? On turkey? On everything? Abstaining?
Gravy everywhere! Gravy and cranberry are the glue that holds the meal together, and while you can too much cranberry, you can never have enough gravy. Put it on everything except dessert.

Do all of the family members like this tradition?
They don’t have much choice if they want to be in a professional rock and roll band. I know it sucks to be away from your family for any holiday, but it sucks even worse not to do what you love to do for a living. We make the most of it and usually end up having a great time. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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