WORTHINGTON -- A holiday concert will once again serve as a key fund-raiser for the Worthington area's Community Christmas Basket Program.
The Albs and Friends will present their annual concert at 3:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church, 408 11th St., Worthington. There are two primary reasons for the eighth annual show, founding Albs member Arlen Foss explained.
"This gives people a chance to begin the Christmas season together," Foss said. "It also raises money for the Christmas Basket program, and we've been averaging about $2,500 a year."
The Albs and Friends performance has evolved into a variety show of sorts, featuring numerous instruments and solos as well as comedy sketches.
"We've got a trumpet, we've got a clarinet, we've got a flute duet, we've got humor. ... We're doing the Albs version of the '12 Days of Christmas' with sound effects."
"We've got a lefse song being done by a duet with Chef Pierre," founding member Louise Wickstrom added, smiling.
"I'm wearing an apron, and I'll have a lefse stick," Foss chimed in.
The Albs' name comes from the first names of its founding members -- Foss, Wickstrom and Bill Blundell. Foss, a vocalist, and Wickstrom, who plays keyboards, have been joined by Galen Benton (bass) and Kris Pederson (vocals) to make up the current group. Ken Clark, who played drums for the 2003 concert, is back for this year's show.
"We've been around for 18 years. We've added a few and lost a few, but old Arlen and Louise, we're the charter members," Foss said.
Foss touted an accordion solo as one of the highlights of this year's concert, and noted a singing group comprised of members of the First United Methodist Church, American Lutheran Church and First Lutheran Church choirs will also perform. A young children's group is also scheduled to give a rousing rendition of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."
Foss is also looking forward to playing his clarinet during the concert, though he has a tongue-in-cheek attitude about how that might go.
"About every 13 months, I take out the clarinet," he said. "This will be the 13th month."
The Albs and Friends are cognizant of all the performers who have taken time from their normal schedules to participate in the concert.
"This weekend is so long and these people are volunteering their time to do this," Wickstrom said. "We all really appreciate it."
The Community Christmas Basket Program distributes a variety of items to needy people in the area during the holiday season. This year, items will be distributed between noon and 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 2.
Admission to the Albs and Friends concert is by free-will donation. Coffee and bars will be served by the Community Christmas Basket Program committee following the 7 p.m. show.