This week’s Compass

Beyond

Worth driving out of town

What: Little Feat

Where: Colonial Theatre, 95 Main Street, Keene

When: Friday, Jan. 15, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $45/$41/$29

More: 357-1233

Distance: 40 Miles

Frank Zappa fired Lowell George from the Mothers of Invention in 1969 and told him to form a band. Well, perhaps “fired” is too strong a word, but the end result was Little Feat, formed with former Mothers Roy Estrada and Richie Hayward, and George’s pal Bill Payne.

Their first album contained “Willin’,” a song Zappa could have probably used if he’d given it a chance. The band made some great records and earned a reputation as one of the most energetic live bands around until George’s untimely death in 1979.

Bill Payne reformed Little Feat nine years later and they haven’t let up since, adding a few more standards like “Let it Roll” to a repertoire that includes “Dixie Chicken,” “Sailin’ Shoes” and many others. One of the most rhythmic live bands around, seats become superfluous by about the fourth of fifth song, as everybody gets up to dance – even in a staid place like the Colonial.

Donna the Buffalo will open the show with a set of their quirky Americana, which gained recognition with 2008’s “Silverlined.”

Horizon

Mark your calendar

What: Connecticut River Valley Orchestra: Stories in Music

Where: Claremont Opera House, Opera House Square, Claremont

When: Sunday, February 7 at 1 p.m.

Tickets: $35/$25/$20(Seniors)/$10 (Students)

More: 542-4433 or go to www.claremontoperahouse.com

Rescheduled to accommodate the Super Bowl later in the evening, the latest installment of the wonderful community orchestra’s 2009-2010 series is geared to the younger set – both in age and heart. Max Culpepper again conducts, with guest tuba player Harry Critchley assuming the musical role of Tubby the Tuba for one of the pieces.

The orchestra also performs “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” well-known from Disney’s Fantasia, and Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” the latter popular a half-century ago with fans of the Lone Ranger radio program.

Stephen Langley, well known for his work with the Dartmouth Wind Symphony, narrates each piece’s accompanying story – Tubby searching for his own song, William Tell meeting the challenge of shooting an arrow through an apple on his son’s head in order to save them from a wicked emperor, and the sorcerer’s apprentice’s battle with a magic broom.

The final performance of the both educational and entertaining program is the timeless “Peter and the Wolf,” the story of a clever child enlisting the help of an animal friend to overcome a wolf in the forest.

Players

Local Music Spotlight

Who:  Higher Ground Band

What:  Top-notch country band

Sounds Like: Sugarland, Trisha Yearwood, Eagles

More: www.highgroundband.com

Led by former Rattlesnake Ridge singer/guitarist Mike Olivier and NH Country Music Association award winner Corina Ouellette on vocals and keyboards, High Ground emphasizes the harmony in country music.  They’re popular for playing covers in places like Shenanigans and Imperial Lounge, but the five piece band, which also includes Ed Leavitt on guitar and vocals, drummer Rick Leavitt and Ken Mello (Dog Days, NH Rock Bottom Band) on bass, also has an impressive catalog of original songs.

High Ground is working on an album for release later this year, and samples of the songs in progress can be heard on their web site.  The band is also very civic minded, working tirelessly for Dartmouth charity David’s House – they even wrote a song about it, along with the tear-jerker “Praying for an Angel,” penned by Ed Leavitt.

For a taste of High Ground’s energetic side, check out the video of “Another Notch” from a television appearance in Burlington last year.

Upcoming gigs:

Friday, Jan. 22 – Imperial Lounge in Claremont

Friday, Feb. 5 – Shenanigans in White River Junction “KIXX and Chicks Night”

Saturday, Feb. 13 – Lake Morey Inn, Fairlee, Vermont

Local Rhythms – Resolutions

Like any self-respecting citizen, I’ve begun 2010 by making a bunch of promises to myself that may or may not survive the year.

Mine’s a pretty typical list, but I’ve added a twist to heighten the chances of success. Each resolution leverages a habit I already have, which I’m unlikely to break.

Get in shape –Joining a gym is problematic for any number of reasons, but you can become a no-carb couch potato with Wii Fit. With virtual snowboards, tennis rackets and golf clubs, video game addicts now have a purposeful excuse for never leaving the living room.

Stay in touch – Use the Internet to connect with long-lost friends. 2009 will go down in history as the year of Facebook – everyone has an account. Resolve to update your status every day and friends will follow, guaranteed.

Manage money – Go see a local band playing a no-cover show. Many if not most area venues eschew charging patrons for live music. Grab a beer, and don’t be shy about getting on the dance floor.

Dump credit cards – Boycott Ticketmaster, and pay cash for everything else. Concert tickets cost too much anyway, and whether or not the Live Nation merger happens, the evil empire will always be a closed ecosystem.

Save the planet – Go green with music. Stop buying CDs, and resolve to purchase music online. Buy a Roku or an Xbox 360, sign up for Netflix, and watch high definition movies without leaving the house. Or buy them from iTunes – either way, physical media is irrelevant.

Read more – With an e-reader, you can buy more books for less money. Amazon Kindle owners buy and finish more books than regular readers. Here’s a bonus – it’s also environmentally responsible.

Manage time – Watch television on a Tivo (or any DVR). Turn on the set, hit the pause button and return 30 minutes later to start viewing. Fewer annoying ads means more quality time (I know, leaving it off completely means even more).

Do charitable deeds – How about volunteering to be a street team member for your favorite band? At a minimum, support local independent music by buying a t-shirt at a shows or songs from iTunes, Rhapsody or Amie Street (a little slice of indie heaven). Or buy a CD – there are those for whom the disc is a sort of talisman, proof of studio time. Cut them some slack.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, Jan 7: Grupo de Rua, Moore Theatre – This fascinating hip-hop dance troupe is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, with choreography that’s a cross between ballet and bumper cars. Led by Brazilian visionary Bruno Beltrão, they employ tripped-out electronica music and inventive lighting motifs for a groundbreaking, taboo-smashing program. Tonight marks the U.S. premiere of Grupo de Rua’s latest performance piece, H3.

Friday, Jan. 8: Without Paris, Salt hill Pub – A Manchester cover band making its first area appearance, with a decades-spanning set list. They apparently spend a great deal of time making up stories to explain their curious name. The best involves a dog, named Paris, who ate too much cheese at a battle of the bands. The four members met outside as they fled the canine gas attack. Without Paris, there would be no band.

Saturday, Jan. 9: Exit Only, Shenanigans – When he’s not singing and playing lead guitar for ace country band High Ground or helping run SRH Soundworks, the great music gear store on Washington Street in Claremont, Mike Oliver sits in with a few other bands. I don’t know a lot about Exit Only; I’m told they stick mostly to a rock groove. What I do know is Mike’s a good guy who deserves a plug.

Sunday, Jan. 10: Nathan Brady Lane, Canoe Club – This is my hunch pick. Lane’s music is described as a mix of original Americana and covers – acoustic blues, folk, country, bluegrass, and rockabilly. He employs looping stations to live layer percussion, bass, guitar, lead, vocals and harmonies – a true one-man band. Historically, Sunday is the most interesting day of the week at Canoe Club, so this could be good.

Tuesday, Jan. 12: David Cain, Jax (Killington) – Fans of Matt Nathanson and John Mayer will enjoy this Connecticut-based singer-songwriter. Tonight he sits in with Jamie Livesey of Jamie’s Junk Show for the weekly Tuesday Night Music Club. Cain generated a lot of buzz with the Neighborhood Band, and this is his only area appearance before heading out west for a show at Hollywood’s Genghis Cohen club.

Wednesday, Jan. 13: Rare Degree, Dartmouth College – This adventurous performance (free, 12:30 p.m. start) features Michael Straus on saxophones, recyclable objects and electronics, with Dana Jessen playing bassoon, squeaky toys, Tibetan bowls and bamboo. Intrigued? The program features original works by Peter VZ Lane, Alex Kotch, Cory Kasprzyk, Matthew Burtner and Jessen.