This Week’s Compass

Worth driving out of town

Rickie Lee Jones
Iron Horse Music Hall
Northampton, Mass.

Distance: 86 miles
When: Monday, October 26, 7PM
Tickets: $50/$55 door

30 years ago, Rickie Lee Jones arrived on the music scene with a flawless, eponymous debut album. She dated Tom Waits, Lowell George covered her songs, Rolling Stone put her on the cover, and a Saturday Night Live appearance in those heady pre-cable days vaulted her into public consciousness. On the strength of a Top 10 hit “Chuck E.’s In Love”), she won a Best New Artist Grammy, and Time magazine dubbed her the “Duchess of Coolsville.”

Jones’ early career happened when record labels let artists follow their muse (particularly quirky million-sellers). She touched down on many styles in the ensuing years, covering Tin Pan Alley, the Beatles and even Jimi Hendrix. She made synthesizer-driven jazz-rock; a duet with Dr. John of the ribald standard “Makin’ Whoopee” earned her another Grammy.

In short, Jones hasn’t lost her ability to surprise, so her upcoming “Balm in Gilead,” made with support from all-stars like Ben Harper, Vic Chestnutt, Bill Frisell, Victoria Williams and Alison Krauss, is one of the most anticipated albums of the year.  A chance to see her in an intimate setting like the Iron Horse, which seats just a few hundred, shouldn’t be missed.

Local Music Spotlight

Who: Hexerei
What: Claremont metal stalwarts
Sounds like: Pantera, Slayer

If passion were money, Hexerei would be millionaires.  The Claremont-based band personifies the D.I.Y. ethic required for success in today’s music business.  Through sheer determination as much as talent, they’ve created a solid following throughout New England with their hard-edged music – heavy metal with a beating heart.  Their latest, “Paid in Full,” has a darker mood than Hexerei’s first two CDs (“Book of Shadows” and “27”), but no less a sense of purpose.

Much of the band’s drive comes from their lyricist and lead singer who was, as the expression goes, born for this.  By the time he was 9 years old, Travis Pfenning had seen his first metal show, played in a band and met his first groupie.  His two older brothers regaled him with tales of backing GG Allin, the notorious rock monster famous for rolling in glass and committing unspeakable acts onstage.  How could a small town boy resist?

Over the years, Hexerei has helped a lot of area bands make their way through the music jungle.  Stonewall got an early boost opening shows and winning a Hexerei-sponsored battle of the bands. A new Claremont melodic hardcore band, Rumors of Betrayal, will open an upcoming West Lebanon show.

Upcoming gigs:

Oct 23 2009      8:00P    Imperial Lounge w/ Soul Octane Burner, TranScenT
Oct 31 2009     5:00P    Claremont Moose Lodge w/ The Agonist, Last Chance to Reason, TranScenT & Hung
Nov 13 2009     8:00P    Electra Night Club w/ TranScenT and Till We Die

Mark your calendar

Who: Spectris Halloween Bash
Where: East Buffet
When: Saturday, Oct. 31, 8 p.m.
Tickets: Free (21+ only)

Claremont, Chinese food and wall-rattling rock & roll go together well it seems. East Buffet, located across from Citizens Bank on Pleasant Street, began offering live music a few months ago. By most accounts, it’s doing pretty well with it. They just dropped the cover charge in their recently renovated lounge, so this is one of the few free admission Halloween parties in the area. There will be prizes for best costumes, decorations and an appearance by the Budweiser Girls.

Spectris recently released “Industry,” a powerful record that recalls the complex instrumental interplay and tempo changes of bands like Rush and Tool. Other album high points: the psychedelic blues of “Grey Area,” and “Crossing,” a sort of Cream meets Metallica boogie. While their originals deserve a listen, it’s covers that fill a dance floor, and Spectris has plenty, from AC/DC to a roiling version of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” They do an Aerosmith song or two, and plan to unleash a hell-bent redo of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” no doubt honoring the flaming rum center of the tasty East Buffet scorpion bowl.

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