The Girls celebrate the holidays

The local all-girl sextet will perform a holiday show with new and old seasonal songs.

Photo courtesy of Patty Peterson

“The Girls” will put on their holiday concert Friday, Dec. 4. The group is made up of Judi Vinar, Lori Dokken, Patty Peterson, Erin Schwab, Debbie Duncan and Rachel Holder-Hennig.

Grace Kramer

Many years ago the Minneapolis-based musical group the Girls planned on retiring. The group consisted of six women who performed interchangeably in smaller groups.
Before retirement, the Girls decided to stage one final show. 
“Our final show we chose to use all six of the Girls,” group member Judi Vinar said. “That started a trend. We laughingly call ourselves ‘The Turbo Girls’ now.”
Since what was supposed to be their final show, Vinar along with Lori Dokken, Patty Peterson, Erin Schwab, Debbie Duncan and Rachel Holder-Hennig started gigging as a sextet. The group performs in clubs, theaters and venues around the Twin Cities area.
The group holds their holiday concert this December. While it is not the first time they have done a holiday concert, the Girls tries to keep their material fresh and exciting every year. 
The concert features a mix of traditional jazz and modern Christmas songs, such as Sara Bareilles’ “Winter Song.”
“Over the course of time, we’ve accumulated a lot of material,” Dokken said. “But I’m really big on continually reinventing the wheel because that creates an attraction for folks to come and see what’s new.”
Dokken started the Girls in the late ’90s when she performed in a trio with Vinar and Duncan. The group has grown since then, with each of its members having different styles, specialties and sounds. 
“This is such a combination of talents with unique abilities that touch on all kinds of music,” Peterson said. “We come together as a wonderfully cohesive unit without our uniqueness being homogenized.”
Even with so many voices and personalities, the process of putting on and creating a show is very natural for the group.
Often the Girls sings arrangements that they hear and like. Other times they stand around a table and create music that they don’t need to write down. A large part of the group’s music is improvisation. 
Dokken attributes the group’s improvisational skills to their combined years in the industry and life experiences. 
“There’s something that happens when you get folks together that have a little more seasoning,” Dokken said. “When you improve, we all have so much to draw from. When we tell stories, there’s so much to draw from.” 
A few years ago, the Girls puts on a diva tribute concert. Each member chose a diva such as Annie Lennox, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and Christina Aguilera and performed songs of theirs. 
Intermixed with the solo performances are the six-part harmony pieces the Girls is known for. 
With the six voices working together in an often-competitive industry, there’s no competition or tension between group members.
“It’s glorious,” Vinar said. “We’re all friends, and we all have our own gigs outside of the Girls. The sense of competition doesn’t really exist inside this group.”
While singing is always the main focus, the group is known for its conversation while on stage.
“We’re famous for talking almost as much as we sing. We’ve gotten better at singing more,” Vinar said. 
For the most part, the Girls plans to keep on their current route — performing occasionally as a group while continuing their solo careers. They hope to release a new album in the future.
“The next thing to accomplish would be a fresh recording with all six voices,” Peterson said. “To be a cohesive unit in the studio would be a cool thing to do. I think people want to take the Girls home with them.”
The Girls Holiday Show
Where Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant
When 7 p.m. Friday
Cost $25