Dec. 21 2011 10:42 AM

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

You only have to know how to push play on a boombox to be able to participate in Unsilent Night
Photo courtesy of Unsilent Night San Diego

Community composition

Twenty years ago, composer Phil Kline wrote “Unsilent Night,” four different tracks of electronica music to be played simultaneously on cassettes by people walking down the street armed with boomboxes. It was Kline’s modern take on caroling and his way of easing the pressure that comes with Christmas.

About 50 people participated in the first Unsilent Night event in New York. These days, thousands of folks in dozens of cities around the world can be seen carrying boomboxes over their heads as the atmospheric sounds of Kline’s composition fill the air.

“It’s tempting to say I’m not surprised anymore,” Kline said about the success of his piece. “But this year, I was especially surprised…. There was a mini-explosion or something.”

The resurgence in the piece’s popularity is partially due to the brand-new Unsilent Night iPhone app. When Kline originally wrote the piece, cassettes were on their way out. It was an easy transition to CDs, but Kline says the move had an effect on the sound.

“It lost a little of its wobbly charm,” he said. The iPhone app, though, randomly downloads one of the tracks and changes the speed slightly, which Kline says sounds more like a cassette.

“The app’s going to bring a lot of life back in Unsilent Night,” Kline said. “At one point, I thought either the piece is going to end or I’m just going to say ‘Enough.’ But the way things have picked up, I thought, Why stop it?” Kline said San Diego was the second city outside New York to pick up on the Unsilent Night tradition. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Unsilent Night San Diego, and it’s happening at 7:45 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23, at the Gaslamp Quarter Trolley Station, 105 Sixth Ave., Downtown. Bring a CD, tape or MP3 player.

Exiled on Dec. 24

Every Christmas Eve, a group of longtime San Diego musicians gets together to tear through three hours’ worth of songs by The Rolling Stones. The show’s called Exile on Kettner Blvd., an homage to the Stones’ 1972 classic double album, Exile on Main St., and it’s become a holiday tradition, now in its 19th year. Rumor has it that Mick and Keith might make an appearance this year. OK, that’s not even close to being true, but the local rockers who play their tunes ain’t no slouches—Mario Escovedo, Brian Cantrell, Rick Wilkins, Joe Camacho, Romy Kaye, George Veudarri, Jonny Viau and Joey Guevara, plus guests Steve Poltz, El Vez, Al Howard and Hector Penalosa and more. The music starts after 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 24, at The Casbah (2501 Kettner Blvd. in Middletown). Free.

Try, try again 

In September, CityBeat inte Andrea Aliseda co-organized a very cool fundraiser for orphanages in Tijuana—and then San Diego Gas & Electric had to screw up and knock out the power across the region. On Thursday, Dec. 22, Project: Donate will give it a second go, and Aliseda’s crossing her fingers that the lights stay on. The all-ages show will feature five musical acts, including the Dexter Riley Xperiment, Amber Lion Blues and River Bottom Rockers, plus sets from DJ Guywhomakesbeatz. Proceeds will buy hygiene products and underwear for Alcanse Vision, which houses 43 children, and Eunami, which provides care to 12 kids under the age of 13 who are  diagnosed with AIDS. The event costs $7 and starts at 7 p.m. at Queen Bee’s Art & Cultural Center (3925 Ohio St. in North Park).