Melancholy for the holidays

“Johnny and Molly of Communist Daughter sing Sad Christmas” is at the Southern.

by Danylo Loutchko

Johnny and Molly Solomon are best known for their work in the indie folk/rock band Communist Daughter. On the side, however, they have been touring extensively as an acoustic duo for the last few years, usually playing in small theaters or living rooms. 
“Johnny and Molly of Communist Daughter Sing Sad Christmas” will be at the Southern Theater on Sunday
It is one of the rare occasions to see the duo, based in St. Paul, perform in this setting. Half the show will be original music, and the other half will be covers of sad 
Christmas songs.
“I love Christmas,” says Molly Solomon, vocalist in Communist Daughter, as well as Johnny’s wife, “and I love Christmas songs. As soon as Thanksgiving is over I turn on the Christmas station, and then I’m the creepy lady singing in my car. It makes me happy. But Johnny hates Christmas music, and so he had this idea to do sad Christmas songs, which is kind of fun, just to stray away from the normal, cheerful holiday songs.”
Johnny Solomon said the kind of Christmas music he writes is what most people would call sad. 
“[There’s] always been something about Christmas to me,” Johnny Solomon said. “If you don’t have family or you’re away from your family, it can be pretty depressing. … And the Christmas music that I tend to really like is really depressing and kind of a bummer, so I thought it’d be kind of fun to play a whole show with that. … We’re going to be playing [a] murder ballad that we learned, and we’re doing a Joni Mitchell song and a Pogues song. It’s just as much depressing stuff as we could come up with.” 
The Southern Theater will host the concert, a performance space known more as a theater and dance venue than as a music venue. 
“We’re not a music venue traditionally,” said Damon Runnals, executive director of the Southern Theater. “But because it’s an all-brick building, because of the large wooden stage, only 160 seats in the house, and those are all cushioned, you get this nice, natural reverb to the space. It’s really warm; it’s very inviting. A lot of the bands that have come through here have done acoustic stuff.”
Johnny Solomon first reached out to the Southern to play the Christmas concert there. 
“[The Southern] is a pretty amazing space for an acoustic show,” Johnny said. “We played a show there at the beginning of the year, and the acoustics there are just amazing. It’s going to be a fun night.”
The Solomons also have a new album that’s waiting to be released, hopefully early next year. They sing as a duo on most of the songs, but the full Communist Daughter band
plays one of the songs, “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues. 
“People have been waiting for a bit,” Johnny Solomon said. “We’ve [been] touring and working and recording the whole time [since the last recording]. … It’s just we haven’t been able to release anything just yet.”
“Johnny and Molly of Communist Daughter Sing Sad Christmas”
Where The Southern Theater, 1420 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis
When 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Cost $15