Tom Campbell, Heather Thornton, Marlaina Cherluck, Ken Giorlando, Diana Moses and Tommy Giorlando, members of the Simply Dickens  caroling group, perform old-world Christmas carols each year in period-accurate costumes.

Tom Campbell, Heather Thornton, Marlaina Cherluck, Ken Giorlando, Diana Moses and Tommy Giorlando, members of the Simply Dickens caroling group, perform old-world Christmas carols each year in period-accurate costumes.

Photo provided by Ken Giorlando


Simply Dickens brings an old-fashioned Christmas to Eastpointe

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 11, 2018

 Marlaina Cherluck, Isaac Trevino, Tommy Giorlando, Tom Campbell and Diana Moses take to the streets of Birmingham last year to perform their Christmas carols as part of the Simply Dickens caroling group.

Marlaina Cherluck, Isaac Trevino, Tommy Giorlando, Tom Campbell and Diana Moses take to the streets of Birmingham last year to perform their Christmas carols as part of the Simply Dickens caroling group.

Photo provided by Ken Giorlando

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EASTPOINTE — For those looking for some old-time Christmas cheer, the Simply Dickens carolers may be the answer.

Formed in 2001, Simply Dickens performs old-world Christmas carols while dressed in  accurate period clothing from the mid-19th century.

“We are a period vocal group,” explained group founder Ken Giorlando. “The Christmas pieces we do are from the 19th century and before. This means songs such as ‘The Boar’s Head Carol,’ ‘The Wexford Carol,’ ‘The Gloucestershire Wassail’ and some more well-known ones, such as ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ and ‘Silent Night,’ which has its 200th anniversary this year.”

The group will be performing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the Erin–Warren Fractional District No. 2 Schoolhouse, located at 15500 Nine Mile Road in Eastpointe. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $5 for kids ages 5 and younger.

The performance will be hosted by the East Detroit Historical Society. Historical Society President and Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley said this is one of her favorite holiday season celebrations.

“Traditionally, they perform for the historical society at least once a year. They bring some great songs and some great stories behind the songs, and it’s a great night overall,” said Pixley. “I think people will learn so much and be very entertained. A lot of the music goes back decades, if not centuries, and will be such a good time.”

Giorlando helped found the group along with his son, Tommy. The idea of celebrating a classic Christmas drew him to pursue the idea of a caroling group.

“Due to my passion for Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ both the book and the movies, it made me want to have a Christmas like that,” Giorlando said. “Our group started out at Holly’s Dickens Festival in 2001. Plus, I have a love of history. Bringing Christmas and history and music together is so fun and festive.”

Giorlando said the group also shares some history of each song and provides context during its performances.

“I don’t sing, but I announce the group and manage them. I go up and give the history of each song,” he said. “This way, it’s not just listening to carols, but learning about songs you’ve been hearing for generations. … We also have some fun, comedic skits. We do one that imagines what it would be like to be the girl who received all the gifts during ‘The 12 Days of Christmas.’ It’s all great fun and it’s good for all ages.”

In the 17 years that the group has been performing, Simply Dickens has become a sort of Eastpointe-area tradition. Some in the community find it to be an essential part of their annual Christmas experience.

“I really like it because a couple of the performers in the group started out as kids in Kelly Middle School,” Pixley said. “Now Tommy Giorlando, one of the founding members with his dad, is married and has kids. In that time, the group has progressed and grown and they’ve performed all over the Detroit area.”

Giorlando said it is a fun and informative way to get into the holiday spirit.

“We bring Christmas home,” he said. “We give you the feeling of Christmas through music and history, and we dress the part. All of our clothing is period-accurate. It’s a great time to come and get that true old-time feeling. You’ll even learn a little more about Christmas in general.”

 

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