This week’s Compass

Worth driving out of town

Sweet, Hot and Sassy
The Middle
316 Central Street, Franklin
Saturday, Dec. 12 7:30 PM
Tickets: $8-$16

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

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.
More: 543-4220

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.

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