Local Rhythms – Halloween’s Big Kids

gardgoldsmith.jpgHalloween is the last bastion of childhood. 

Teenagers, voices dropping like boulders, still knock on doors and demand candy. College students spend their textbook money making authentic Spiderman costumes.   

Fully grown men and women invest in lavish masquerade balls.

All Hallows Eve provides proof, if any were needed, that the kid in us never dies. 

Don’t fear, there’s still plenty of local fun for real children.  In Woodstock, Billings Farm hosts its 14th annual Family Halloween this Saturday.  

In Grantham, Eastman has a spooky tot party scheduled for the afternoon of October 28.  

There’s a Halloween Fun Fest October 31 in Lebanon’s Colburn Park.

Claremont’s popular Hallowesta features a parade and a marshmallow roast, starting at 4:00 on the big day. 

Those craving something more elaborate should take a ride to Nashua’s Fright Fest, which features two haunted houses.  Further south, Salem, Massachusetts turns Halloween into a macabre Mardi Gras – it’s a month-long bash.

I’ve been, and I gotta say – the adults get a lot more excited than the children. 

So it goes on the local scene, where the big fun is all geared to the young at heart, and lasts beyond Halloween night.

Christopher’s in Ludlow features two of the area’s best bands for their fourth annual costume party, with cash prizes for the best efforts.  Stonewall is a no-nonsense power trio reminiscent of Cream or Stone Temple Pilots.  Spectris, who’ve added a harder edge to their prog-rock sound, open the show.   

Electra in West Lebanon has a heavy metal bash with Hitchelfit on Friday, featuring mature themes like sexiest and scariest get-ups.  Saturday, it’s a costume dance party with DJ Eric G, who spins reggaeton and hip-hop tracks. 

Big money prizes, too – the club’s talking “hundreds of dollars.” 

Whaleback Ski area waits until November 3 to get in on the action, with the freaky and funky Alchemystics providing the music, and giving revelers an excuse to keep the Halloween buzz going into next month.

If you don’t want to dress up, you can head to Lebanon Opera House this Friday and let a band do it for you, as the Machine recreates Pink Floyd’s music and stage show.   

Next week in Lowell, the group Rain clones the Beatles, complete with Sgt. Pepper uniforms.  Some kids never grow up. 

Here’s what the rest of the week looks like: 

Thursday: Sharren Conner & Mo’ Jazz, Elixir – Vocalist Conner studied at the Boston Conservatory, and has performed in the area for over 25 years, beginning with Sensible Shoes.  With musical backing provided by Norm Wolfe on guitar and upright bass player Pete Concilio, Mo’ Jazz is a bit moodier than the jumping sounds of that band.  All in all, a perfect sound for this fast-growing food and music club

Friday: Ted Mortimer & Linda Boudreault, Sophie & Zeke’s – Jazzified soul from the ubiquitous pair who front Dr. Burma when they feel like rocking.  Glendon Ingalls, a stellar upright bassist, makes it a trio.  They can play it silky smooth on the timeless standards “Shadow of Your Smile,” or spicy with tunes like “Bye Bye Blackbird.”  Linda sings like a dream and Ted is one of the most versatile guitarists around.   

Saturday: Mystery Button, Salt Hill Pub – This Manchester band plays it a lot of different ways – funky grooves, jumping soul and jamming rhythms.  They cite everyone from Frank Zappa to Don Ho as influences (the list, which also includes Wile E. Coyote and Bea Arthur, took up half of their MySpace page).  They describe their sound as “a tornado of funky jams.” It’s all good playing and singing to these ears.

Sunday: Bob Weir & Ratdog, Lebanon Opera House – Several personnel changes have occurred since this band formed in the mid-90’s.  Bassist Rob Wasserman is gone, and what started as a narrowly focused trio is now a sextet.  It’s more cohesive and adventurous.  They’re unafraid to interpret Dead songs, like “Sugaree” or “Ramble on Rose,” once thought to be the sole property of Jerry Garcia.  

Monday: Tiff Jimber, New England College – She’s a spiritual descendant of Laura Nyro, pouring her heart out, alone at the piano.  But listen closely and you’ll detect a bit of Fiona Apple grrrl in the mix.  Jimber has a steady, sometimes deadly lyrical eye.  She can shift from wounded sparrow to angry hawk in a wink.  The equally talented Boston singer-songwriter Rebecca Loebe joins Tiff for this show.

Tuesday: Mary Gauthier, Iron Horse – Her stark, harrowing songs might have come out of Charles Bukowski – if he’d been a guitar-playing woman.  Gauthier was a teenage runaway, tumbling in and out of rehab and halfway houses, and didn’t write anything until she was 35.   Be grateful for her sunburned voice – you don’t need to read too hard between the lines to know that fate might have kept her from singing a note.

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