Early on, nightly picks weren’t a part of this column. I tried to mention everything of note in the area entertainment scene, assuming that people would make up their own minds. Then a few readers complained.
“Tell me what to do, Mr. Critic,” they said. “That’s your job.”
Never one to shy away from offering an opinion, I eagerly complied. Most of the time, it’s easy enough to make five or six definitive choices.
But this Friday, it’s impossible. You’re on your own – I can’t even decide for myself.
Chris O’Brien amazed me the last time he was in the area. He combines guitar skills picked up from family friend Dar Williams with urbane wit and a voice that goes down like Southern Comfort, neat. He’s at Boccelli’s in Bellows Falls.
Though it’s certainly musician-friendly, I have a quibble with Canoe Club. Great performances often get buried in dinner conversation. Abbie Barrett, a honky-tonk Patty Griffin, deserves better; maybe they’ll pump up the volume for her late set.
If I do decide on Hanover, it will be a quick trip to Salt Hill Pub for Sirsy. They do the multiplication rock thing, making two musicians sound like four or five. While you’re there, buy a copy of “Revolution,” their recently released, fan-financed CD.
Reggae “mon” Nachilus Kezuck lights up Electra, which is fast becoming the multicultural hub of the Upper Valley. Kezuck’s pointedly political songs, touching on topics like urban gun violence and green consumerism, echo fellow countrymen Bob Marley and Burning Spear.
I tried to catch Iron Box in February, but an ice storm shut things down. The all-original band returns to Claremont’s Imperial Lounge, with better weather a certainty. Musically, they sound like Phish covering Black Sabbath’s “Master of Reality.”
The Sunapee Coffee House is back in business, with a nice mix of talent, including guitarist Gary Robinson, who plays classical, Latin, blues and Beatles. The Colby-Sawyer faculty member has shared the stage with many folk luminaries over the years, including Judy Collins.
Chris O’Brien’s roommate, Antje Duvekot, is one of my favorite up and coming folksingers, as is Anais Mitchell. The two ladies play a double bill at Brattleboro’s Hooker-Dunham performance space.
Finally, Memphis-based bluesman/folklorist Andy Cohen, who personifies Pete Townsend’s maxim, “you can dance while your knowledge is growing,” visits the Green Martini in Concord for his only area performance.
Good luck choosing – though it’ a nice problem to have, really.
Here’s the rest of the week:
Thursday: Chloe Brisson, Elixir – There’s a definite Manhattan vibe in this room, with glasses clinking, wait staff bustling about, and cool music wafting over it all. Tonight, it’s a CD release party for a 13-year old prodigy who’s been singing since she could talk. On “Red Door Sessions,” Brisson was joined by Matt Wilson and Fred Haas, who’s coached her at his Interplay Jazz Summer Camp in Woodstock for the last three years.
Saturday: Salsa Dancing, Gusanoz– With spring finally sprung, you’ve no doubt been thinking about getting in shape. For my money, dancing beats jogging by a country mile. This monthly event features DJ Spin Doctor, who also conducts a mid-evening salsa lesson for anyone with two left feet. Gusanoz features authentic Mexican food and readily available doses of top shelf tequila, always helpful for loosening up.
Sunday: Third Eye Blind, Southern New Hampshire University – This one hit wonder’s big song was called, fittingly, “Semi-Charmed Life.” It’s better to have one than none, and this band hasn’t slowed down. They have a new album, “The Hideous Strength,” due soon. Boston’s up and coming State Radio open the show with a set of bracingly topical music. Songs like “CIA,” “Guantanamo” and “Gang of Thieves” should play well with this college crowd.
Monday: Jessica Sonner, Colby-Sawyer College – I mentioned her college barnstorming tour last week. She gets a second shout-out for playing on a usually slow night. Sonner combined Natasha Bedingfield’s vivacious energy with Colbie Caillat’s cooing vocal style for “All We Need,” her tasty debut EP, with the help of a full band. The sound translates well in a stripped down solo setting, as her MySpace videos attest.
Tuesday: Scottish Country Dancing, Fairlee Town Hall – Your taxes are done for another year, what better way to unwind than a night of dancing that’s both orderly and exhilarating. Scottish country dancing trace its roots back to the Renaissance – it’s best described as a group waltz. Fairlee hosts these gatherings every Tuesday.
Wednesday: Jerry Douglas, Paradise – The world’s greatest, some would say only, dobro player has several area shows lined up in the coming months. There’s this Boston stop, NoHo next Saturday and Connecticut the following Sunday. Douglas also has summer shows booked – Lowell in July, plus the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in upstate New York and a free Freeport, Maine show in August.