This is the big one – an evening of performances by all the musicians I’ ve been writing about for the past 6 years:
Lebanon Opera House and Yellow House Media present the First Annual LOCAL LEGENDS MUSIC AWARDS.
Come celebrate a night of original music with local songwriters and bands including Dr. Burma, Carlos Ocasio, Pariah Beat, Avi & Celia, Sensible Shoes, Pete Merrigan, Kurtis Kinger, Pete Meijer, Bill Temple, Dave Clark and Lisa Piccirillo.
Admission includes a Free local music CD and 2010 Desk Calendar for every ticketholder.
Pricing: General Admission: $22.50 ( includes cd & 2010 calendar)
In some establishments, music stands front and center most every night of the week; for others it’s just one element among many that make up the room’s personality. From pleasant piano to mind-numbing metal, there’s something for every musical taste throughout the region. You just need to know where to look.
Also piece on a great benefit show tomorrow night at Milly’s Tavern (home of the best microbrewed beer in the Queen City) and an interesting collective effort to inspire musicians and artists to new creative heights. Plus, Nite Roundup talks about Irish and country Christmas parties, the return of junk rockers Recycled Percussion to the area, upcoming shows from Dead alumni Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, and a funky horn band’s next local show.
My favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard, and I like holiday music that’s similarly offbeat – sometimes a little subversive.
Every year, I mark the season with a list of the best.
There few entries of recent vintage, proving the genre didn’t begin and end with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Little Saint Nick.”
Here are my 12 songs of Christmas:
Run Rudolph Run (Chuck Berry) – The tame “Jingle Bell Rock” was probably the first rock and roll Christmas song, but this one better captured the music’s rebellious spirit.
River (Joni Mitchell) – Until this song, most Christmas music was about the holiday experience. Mitchell captured the mood and left the trappings to other songwriters.
Christmas Wrapping (The Waitresses) – A song about two alienated artistes meeting in the checkout line on Christmas Eve, it’s full of jangling angst with a frothy pop coating.
Christmas in Hollis (Run D.M.C.) – From wrapping to rapping, this is an urbanized, hip-hop rendition of the Night Before Christmas story, with fried chicken and collard greens.
Last Christmas (Wham!) – One of those holiday songs that gets stuck in your head and won’t go away, it’s been finding a new audience with fans of the television show Glee.
All I Want For Christmas Is You (Olivia Olsen) – Featured prominently in my other favorite Christmas movie, Love, Actually; I prefer 10-year old Olsen’s version to the Mariah Carey original.
Christmas in Washington (Steve Earle) – The unrepentant leftist name-checks Emma Goldman and Woody Guthrie, with a sense of dread that seemed out of place when the song came out in 1997, but not today.
The Rebel Jesus (Jackson Browne) – It’s impossible to listen to this song, which paints Jesus as a rabble rouser whose actual deeds would likely appall the pious, and not be affected.
Raise the Tree (Trent Dabbs) – From Ten Out of Tenn., a holiday collection released last year by a group of Nashville musicians, it’s sentimental modern, both edgy and happy.
Santa’s Lost His Mojo (Jeremy Lister) – Goofy and infectious, another standout Ten Out of Tenn. track about the Big Man in a funk. Buy this record!
O Holy Night (Trombone Shorty) – The most beautiful Christmas instrumental ever can be heard at http://www.localrhythms.com, where it’s a free download (with an optional charity link).
Carol of the Bells/Jingle Bells (Barry Manilow) – Back off, Barry-haters, this is great jazz. Manilow’s backed by the MaD Fusion band, with Matt Herskowitz supplying jaw-dropping piano runs.
On to the rest of the week:
Thursday, Dec. 17: Harvey Reid, Flying Goose Pub – “Master Minstrel” Harvey Reid brings his annual holiday concert tour to New London for a solo performance of seasonally inspired American contemporary and roots music, folk, blues, bluegrass, Celtic and ragtime. The show is annual tradition at the Pub, and though this year it’s without Reid’s wife Joyce Anderson, Reid still own Christmas in the Granite State.
Friday, Dec. 18: Recycled Percussion, Claremont Opera House – For my money (and a lot of America) these “junk rockers” won America’s Got Talent with their unique brand of can banging, scratch mixing and guitar pyrotechnics. In any case, they were the best band, finishing behind two vocalists. There may not be room to saw a car in half, but rest assured sparks will fly and the opera house will rock.
Saturday, Dec. 19: Local Legends Music Awards, Lebanon Opera House – Over the years, I’ve written about most of the performers appearing at this celebration of the local music scene – Pariah Beat, Pete Merrigan, Sensible Shoes, Carlos Ocasio and major domo music maven Dave Clark of Yellow House, a leading force in organizing the event. Here’s a chance to see it all – in one night.
Sunday, Dec. 20: Christmas Revels, Hopkins Center – “A Scottish Christmas” is the theme of this year’s holiday production by Revels North, as members of the community join professional performers for a mix of Renaissance Faire pageantry and Celtic-flavored music. It’s the 35th year of Revels North, and by the end of the show everyone in the house should be singing along.
Monday, Dec. 21: Battle of the Bands, Kimball Union Academy – A group of high school musicians throws down for a variety of prizes including cash, and recording session in a real studio. Tuck’s Rock Dojo and the Meriden Congregational Church sponsor the competition. MCC youth leader Leslie Macgregor came up with the idea for the event, which benefits a pair of local charities.
Wednesday, Dec. 23: Reid Trevaskis & Friends, Andre’s – Tonight’s jam session is special; it’s Andre’s annual Christmas party. $17 admission includes a sumptuous buffet prepared by the restaurant’s well-regarded chef, along with entertainment from Trevaskis, Ben Butterworth, Jan Bear and whoever else happens by. Given the great eats, that could mean friends from Reid’s bands Manchuka or Lisa Marie and the All Shook Up.
When Jethro Tull took home a Grammy for, of all things, best hard rock/metal performance, it was already over for me. Ever since Taste of Honey beat out Elvis Costello in 1979 on the strength of their execrable disco hit “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” I’ve expected nothing less than irrelevance from the annual music awards.
But this year’s nominees are just plain lazy.
How else to explain Daryl Hall and John Oates’ pick for their performance of “Sara Smile”?
Don’t check your calendars, it’s not 1977.
Really, though, the ceremony should be called the Mulligans. Every Grammy is a do-over, the musical equivalent of a Lifetime Achievement Oscar.
You know – the consolation prize given for missing the best stuff in an artist’s career.
Hey, Neil Young – sorry we blew it on Harvest and Rust Never Sleeps – how about a Grammy for the packaging of your Archives box set? Young’s nominated for that – and his latest album, Fork in the Road, which I’m betting you’ve never heard.
What really fries my oysters are all the live recordings in contention this year. 19 nominations are nothing but re-makes of songs that came out years ago, including Hall & Oates, Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood, Jeff Beck and Judas Priest.
The tunes, in case you’re wondering, are as old and gray as the guys singing them.
There should be an inverse rule to the one qualifying artists for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – no song older than 25 years makes the cut.
Probably won’t happen, since a song only has to “come to prominence” during the nominating period (which is well over a year) to be eligible.
Oh, and the new stuff is so predictable. Beyoncé is nominated 10 times – I had to check the male categories to make sure she hadn’t slipped in there accidentally.
More injustice – there’s Madonna again, but no Tegan and Sara.
Another crime of omission – Ida Maria’s “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” is nowhere to be found on Grammy’s list.
Americana and bluegrass are my only respite, and I think those decisions are outsourced to West Virginia – or maybe England. There I find Maura O’Connell’s lovely, quirky a capella album, Naked With Friends, or the latest from Loudon Wainwright III – no doubt because they missed “Dead Skunk” in 1972.
But for the most part, Grammy just makes me grumpy.
On to the rest of the week:
Thursday, Dec. 10: Second Wind, Carmella’s – Terry Gould and Suzi Hastings’ nights in downtown Claremont have been turning into impromptu jam sessions of late, with guests dropping in for dinner and a song or two. A percussionist who missed last week due to a hand injury will probably be by tonight. “The smiles and laughter of friends is the music of life,” says Terry. ”A beautiful symphony of the world.” – wise words, indeed.
Friday, Dec. 11: Saylyn, Imperial Lounge – Tropical music is the best cure for the combination of cold weather funk and no cash for a southern vacation. Saylyn is the area’s homegrown reggae band, with a good vibe and an authentic rock steady sound, complete with horns and a deep groove bass line delivering an infectious backbeat. Fronted by two brothers born and raised in Jamaica, these guys are the genuine article.
Saturday, Dec. 12: Sirsy, Salt hill Pub – One of my favorite New York imports returns to the area. If you haven’t seen them, Sirsy is a two-person band that plays like five. Lead singer/drummer and flutist Melanie Krahmer belts it out like there’s an amp wired inside her chest, and guitarist Rich Libutti doesn’t just ride along – he drives the action, too. Sirsy packs the pub’s dance floor every time they’re in town – no mean feat for a duo.
Sunday, Dec. 13: Willem Lange, Chandler Music Hall – Off topic, and bit out of town, but this man’s storytelling skills merit mention. I’m a fan of Lange’s “Favor Johnson” story, but tonight he’ll read Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” using the same condensed version of the story that Dickens himself employed for reading tours of the United States..
Monday, Dec. 14: Community Concert, Charlestown Congregational Church – Bill Von Gillern again assembles of program of holiday music performed by locals for locals, sponsored by Charlestown Women’s Club to benefit the Fall Mountain Food Shelf. Admission a dry good, and a silver collection will be taken for the area Christmas fund to help provide Christmas dinner to the needy and toys for kids.
Tuesday, Dec. 15: Natalie McMaster, Lebanon Opera House – Here’s an out of the ordinary holiday option – a special “Christmas in Cape Breton” program from that island’s official musical ambassador. McMaster is a whirling dervish of energy, bringing world-class step dancing and fiddling fireworks to Celtic melodies and Christmas carols.
Local Music Spotlight
Who: Reid Travaskis
What: Funk, Blues, Classic Rock, Oldies
Sounds like: Depends on the band
Reid is a Wednesday night fixture at Andre’s in Sunapee, where he’s led the open rehearsal since for many years. Most nights, singer Jan Bear and bassist Ben Butterworth join him for blues, oldies and whatever else he’s in the mood for.
Reid had a long career in New York City. Look hard enough, and you’ll find YouTube videos of him onstage at CBGB with his prog-pop band Positron. Billboard Magazine twice named his original band, The Funky Knights, as Best Unsigned Band. They are at work on a new CD.
Since moving to New Hampshire, Reid has played as a sideman in many blues bands including several led by the late George Gibson and also fronted his own band, The 5 Woodies (their piano player, Travis Colby now plays with Roomful Of Blues).
This singer, musician and songwriter plays with several other New Hampshire bands, including the funk horn combo Manchuka, classic rockers Hurricane Alley, and with Nashua blues singer Lisa Marie, as either a duo or part of her band All Shook Up.
Friday, Dec. 11, Shenanigans in White River Junction (with Hurricane Alley)
Wednesday, Dec.16, Cafe Andre, Sunapee (special Christmas party – dinner & show for $17)
Friday, Dec. 18, Chandler’s, Manchester (with Manchuka)
Wednesday, Dec.23, Cafe Andre, Sunapee
Worth driving out of town
Winterbloom: Holiday Traditions Rearranged
The IMA Big Barn
Rte 112/165 Cape St., Goshen, Mass.
Distance: 90 Miles
Winterbloom, the seasonal side project of Antje Duvekot, Meg Hutchinson, Anne Heaton and Natalia Zukerman, doesn’t stick to standard holiday fare. Their eponymous 8-song CD includes evergreens like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Silent Night” (the latter sung in Duvekot’s native German) alongside bittersweet, lovely originals. Hutchinson’s “Of the Magi” laments love gone by in the context of the timeless O. Henry story, while Duvekot’s wry “Thanks for the Roses” is undoubtedly the first Christmas song containing the word ‘thong’.
Their overall mood is more December than Christmas, though Hanukah gets a nod in “The Riddle (Tumbalalaika),” a Yiddish folk song re-imagined by Zukerman. Best evoking this melding of secular and mystical is their cover of Greg Brown’s “Rexroth’s Daughter,” a song about longing, coping and holding out hope.
The band grew out of an in-the-round show the four did in Cambridge, Mass., at the Club Passim Campfire Festival’s 10th anniversary in September 2008. The one-time performance led to a short run of shows a few months later, where the group had a sudden realization – they were on tour in December without any holiday songs. No such trouble now, though.
Mark your calendar
What: Cold River Ranters with Blackjack Crossing
Where: Mole Hill Theatre 789 Gilsum Mine Road, Alstead
When: Saturday, Dec. 19 7 p.m.
Admission: Donation at the door
More: http://www.myspace.com/coldriverranters or 352-0460
A little off the beaten path in Alstead sits a former industrial building that’s been transformed into a performance space. Metal Stamping was still using the space for manufacturing when occasional shows began in 2003. “It was a bit greasy then,” says owner/proprietor Dennis Molesky. Now it’s shined up, with the dormant machines painted bright primary colors, and hosting concerts in earnest.
The double bill on December 19 will features two of the area’s finest examples of American roots music – one a bit newfangled, the other so pure they could have been preserved in amber 60 years ago.
The Cold River Ranters call their music “hot gonzo primitive folk jive.” If Leon Redbone shared a moonshine-soaked night with Daisy Dukes, their love child would sound like this. With a repertoire that ranges from mountain music to sea chanteys, with the odd John Prine or Rolling Stones song, they’re a perfect fit for the era-spanning Mole Hill stage.
Joining them are old time pickers Blackjack Crossing. Watch them play, and you’ll swear you’re in Nebraska circa 1950, listening to a tabletop radio broadcast of Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys.
Worth driving out of town
Sweet, Hot and Sassy
316 Central Street, Franklin
Saturday, Dec. 12 7:30 PM
Distance: 45 Miles
Tilton-based Sweet, Hot and Sassy had their heyday in the 1990s; the trio’s modern Andrews Sisters sound won them a large regional following. In 1992, the trio released a holiday CD, “Swingin’ ‘Round the Christmas Tree,” which mixed “Forties-fied” versions of classics with jumping modern songs like “Santa Baby” and “Mr. Santa (Mr. Sandman),” making it required listening for those in the know at Christmas.
By the end of the decade, the group went separate ways, with Mary McGuire fronting her own band, Val Blachly playing with Tim Mowry and the Mink Hills Bluegrass Band, and Ellen Carlson fiddling with several folk and country bands, most prominently High Range.
Their performance at the former Franklin Opera House was to be a full reunion – until McGuire was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in September. The good news is that the singer/guitarist is recovering (“I’m suffering more from chemo than cancer,” she said the other day) and will be able to appear to sing a few songs with her former mates. It’s a Christmas miracle made even better by Blachly and Carlson’s announcement that proceeds from the show will be donated to McGuire to help ease the financial burdens of her recovery.
Local Music Spotlight
Who: Wise R Katubadrau
What: Island Rhythms
Sounds like: Bob Marley, Ben Harper and Michael Franti
This singer-songwriter, once known as Wise Rokobili (he dropped the name lest anyone confuse him with Carl Perkins) is an mainstay at Casa del Sol, Silver Fern, Brown’s Tavern, Bentley’s and other area clubs. He brings an “island twist” to familiar songs. A version of “Save the Last Dance For Me” that winds into “Margaritaville” is a particular standout.
The Fiji-born Katubadrau (the name means “100 Doors” in his native country) has a natural talent for reggae, whether it’s the master (Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”) or the Anglicized rhythms of UB40. Ever versatile, he also covers contemporary artists, including Jack Johnson, OAR and Wyclef Jean.
There are only a few more chances to see him before next summer. He’s off to Georgia and North Carolina at month’s end, and will head for Southern California in January, where he plans to record some original material.
Hear music from Wise R Katubadrau at http://www.reverbnation.com/wiserkatubadrau.
Upcoming gigs (solo):
Thursday Dec 3 8p.m. Bentley’s Restaurant, Main Street, Woodstock, VT
Thursday Dec 10 9p.m. Ri Ra Irish Pub, 22 Market Square, Portsmouth
Friday, Dec 11 6p.m. Jesse’s Restaurant, Lebanon Rd, Hanover
Mark your calendar
What: Holiday Concert
Where: Stevens High School
When: Thursday, Dec 17, 7p.m.
It’s as important a part of the December experience in Claremont as lighted houses in Nelmar Heights and the Broad Street Park display. The annual student performance features the Stevens concert band and choir; making their first appearance of the school year are the elite Jazz Band and Stevenaires singing group.
The program is a mixture of secular and traditional, with the first half including some songs – “Prelude and Dance,” “Love and Peace (The Father’s Wish)” and “Lord of the Dance” – originally scheduled for a fall concert that had to be postponed.
The second half features seasonal favorites. The choir will perform “Carol of the Bells” and an Amy Grant medley of “Emmanuel,” “Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Christmas Hymn.” They’ll also sing a Chanukah song called “Miracle of Lights.” The band’s portion includes “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Russian Christmas” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.”
According to Stevens band director Pat Granter, the latter title isn’t a punctuation error. The comma belongs after the word “Merry.” It’s an olde world expression that means “God keep you well.” Well, it is a school concert, after all.
I know life is full of ups and downs, but that doesn’t make the news of Sharon Boccelli’s plans to close her Bellows Falls café any easier to take.
Just around three years ago, the restaurant/auction house on the canal almost single-handedly brought the town back from a one-two punch – the end of concerts in the Windham Hotel lobby, and the loss of Oona’s Restaurant, a great music room, in a fire.
Now, coinciding with the wrecking ball claiming what remained of Oona’s, Boccelli’s on the Canal becomes a void in need of filling.
Their final day of business is December 30, with Cliff Eberhardt performing the final concert December 12, and the local Red Fox Band doing their regular Gallery Walk gig on the 18th.
PK’s Tavern will continue with open mic nights, hosted by Jesse Peters, every Tuesday.
Just out of town, Patrick LeBlanc, a longtime fixture at the Windham, now runs Pleasant Valley Brewing in Saxtons River, home to some great and innovative live music. Check out their Facebook fan page to learn more.
Of course, the world will descend in June for the annual Roots on the River Festival. Fredfest is still going strong.
Even with the planned closing, I’m told to expect a show or two at Boccelli’s between now and May, when their permit expires – with dinner specials.
Bellows Falls has a talent for revival, and here’s the most hopeful news of all.
Vermont Festivals Promoter Ray Massucco told me in an email that the old Windham space is again available for booking, adding, “I need to do some pro forma budgeting to see if it works for me.”
Still, it’s the end of an all-too-brief era, which began with the Josh Maiocco/Jesse Peters “Saxtons River Smackdown” in January 2007, and included many golden nights of music. Dave Alvin, Richard Shindell, Antje Duvekot, Meg Hutchinson, Mark Erelli and several shows from the inestimable Chris O’Brien were among the memorable ones.
The other night, I was in Nashua checking out the downtown, and I went into a restaurant that advertised itself as a home to “jazz and wine.” I asked the hostess for the live music lineup.
“We stopped that,” she told me. “The economy.”
Goodness, I’m tired of hard times.
I’ll miss the home cooking touch that emanated from every plate of food at Boccelli’s, the olive bar, funky local beers hearty coffee and decadent desserts.
But most of all, I’ll miss the music – hopefully, not for too long.
On to the rest of the week:
Thursday, Dec. 3: Ken Rokicki, Canoe Club – A new to the area guitarist who should fit easily into the Canoe Club vibe, where music is one of many ingredients in a scintillating dining experience. Rokicki puts a jazzy touch on American Songbook standards, along with ballads from the first half of the 20th Century – George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hart all figure prominently.
Friday, Dec. 4: DJ Mic-E-Luv, Silver Fern Grille – The Electra nightclub scene moves south for a night. Springfield-based Mike Brehme, a/k/a Mic-E-Luv, learned the ropes from the West Lebanon club’s top DJ, Eric G, and belongs to his so-called Drama Squad of MCs. He specializes in hip-hop, mixing in tricks of the trade – phasing, beat mixing and scratching – that make spinning an art form.
Saturday, Dec. 5: Rookie of the Year & Backseat Goodbye, 802 Music – The Springfield storefront, which rapidly has become a big player in the local music scene, presents of one its most intriguing shows yet. Each band features great harmonies, intricate playing and nuanced songs about the complexities of life – on record, anyway. The show is billed as all acoustic, so tonight may vary from the studio, but it’s promising regardless.
Sunday, Dec. 6: Area Choir, South Congregational Church (Newport) –�ne of my favorite holiday traditions, the Area Choir represents over 20 churches from 15 area communities. This year’s features an array of intelligent choices, including “O Lord, Where Now Is Bethlehem?” (“The Woodstock Hymn”), “The Star Carol” and “Some Children See Him.” Best of all, there’s a sing-along at night’s end.
Tuesday, Dec. 8: Putnam-Pirozzoli Guitar Duo, Windsor Station – This jazz guitar duo trade licks with elegance and poise. Their set includes everything from Gershwin to Hendrix. Gerry Putnam did a long run with popular band Night Kitchen, and Tom Pirozolli’s career has taken him all over the country. He’s made 6 albums in the process. It’s music that pairs nicely with a bowl of chowder and a mug of winter ale.
Wednesday, Dec 9: Acoustic Hot Tuna, Lebanon Opera House – Some of my earliest rock shows were witnessed through a hole in the ceiling of a bar in the Santa Cruz Mountains, watching this band. In those days they featured the late Papa John Creach on violin. Their early music set the tone for a lot of Americana bands that followed.
It’s opening night at Boynton’s Taproom, Manchester’s newest comedy club, and it seems the couple at the ringside table didn’t get the memo — the one that reads, “Sit close to a comic, and you may become the act.”
Right now, there’s a 26-year-old man who’s likely wishing he hadn’t worn a baseball cap to the show.
Winterbloom — the seasonal side project of Antje Duvekot, Meg Hutchinson, Anne Heaton and Natalia Zuckerman — doesn’t play standard holiday fare.
Music Roundup covers local shows for fans of hip-hop, acid jazz, singer-songwriter, aspiring arena rock and inspirational music with an edge.