Local Rhythms – All Hail All Hallows

TimCurryRHPSIt falls on a Saturday; at the end of daylight savings time no less. So this column is all Hallows, all the time.

In my neighborhood, I have a reputation for serenading the trick or treat crowd. Here are a few tunes you’re likely to hear – thanks to my Facebook pals for their suggestions.

Let’s start with the Top Five:

Without a doubt, number one is Bobby Boris Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” with “Werewolves of London” from Warren Zevon and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” right behind. CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” makes the cut for all those werewolf/vampire movies. “Spooky” from Classics IV is in for being sweet and creepy.

Then there are songs that deserve the top, like the wonderfully ghoulish “Welcome to My Nightmare” by Alice Cooper, or “Dead Man’s Party” – merely the best Oingo Boingo song of many. No Halloween is complete without one hit wonder Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell on You.” For hip-hop fans, Will Smith as Fresh Prince on “Nightmare on My Street” is perfect. Bowie’s ‘Scary Monsters” always helps me feel the spirit.

Want freakishly weird? Try the cannibalism-themed “Timothy,” made by Rupert Holmes before his Piña Colada days.  A couple of my more esoteric friends chimed in with “D.O.A.,” a Bloodrock song about a car crash and its macabre aftermath. Then there’s the Ramones’ “Pet Sematary” which I heard on a recent trip to Salem, Massachusetts, or the Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck,” which would be banned if folks knew what it was really about. Oh, and “It’s Halloween” by the Shaggs. They’re from New Hampshire, and the song is so awful it’s charming.

Without Facebook or my electronic music maven Rhapsody, I might have forgotten the Squirrel Nut Zippers’ “Hell,” which urges everyone to “get ready for a suit of flame,” or Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold,” the perfect background music for doing unspeakable thing to small animals. A couple of others sure to help the mood are “Zombie” from the Cranberries and John Entwistle’s grisly baritone on the Who’s “Boris the Spider.”

For some, only Rocky Horror Picture Show will do. So here’s a tip of the witch’s hat to Tim Curry’s “Time Warp.”

Finally, the left field award goes to Richard Shindell’s “Are You Happy Now,” a song about getting dumped, followed by the ex toilet papering the house, smashing pumpkins on the lawn and stealing the trick or treat candy.

And with that, here’s my all-Hallows list of possibilities:

Newport Opera House: Last Kid Picked – This band is synonymous with Halloween in Newport since their first All Hallows gig as Werewolves of London in 1996.  There’s a full bar for this full-on masquerade ball, so pick a designated driver. 21+ $16/8pm http://www.newportoperahouse.com

Claremont Moose: Shredstock 2009 – The Agonist, a female-fronted metal band from Canada, top a bill that includes Hexerei, TranScenT, Hung, and Last Chance to Reason. A costume contest will undoubtedly include more than a few studs and chains. $15/5pm http://www.myspace.com/hexerei

Forester’s: Kelleyville Killer – Another metal show, this time in Newport, starring the Summoned, Kelleyville Killer, Wake the Sleeping, Your Chariot Awaits and We Met Aliens. There’s a 50/50 raffle, costume contests and other fun. $10/6pm 863-9824

Silver Fern: 360 – The downtown Claremont sports bar hosts its first annual costume ball with a band that plays the hits. Cash prize for best costume, food and drink specials 21+ $5/8pm 542-5747

East Buffet: Spectris – A trio with a strong repertoire of progressive rock, their recently released Industry is one of the best local CDs of the year. They also do a rave-up cover of “Ring of Fire.” 21+ No Cover/9pm 542-8880

Salt hill Pub Newport: Saylyn – Reggae music highlights the party upstairs in downtown Newport. This is the Claremont band’s first ShP appearance. Costumes strongly encouraged. 21+ No cover/9pm 863-7774

White River Junction: Gorey Daze – Pariah Beat perform amidst the Main Street Museum’s esoterica at 6pm, a DJ spins at Tip Top Café starting at 9. In between, costumed revelers march in the street, along with psychics and a monster petting zoo. Check gorydaze.blogspot.com for prices.

Westminster Meeting House: Jatoba – Barnaby’s Backwoods Jamboree with groove kings Jatoba, and Pleasant Valley Brewing volunteer taxis shuttle to the party from downtown Saxtons River. Costume contest, haunted trail. $15/6pm 802-869-4602

Everyday Inn: Ninja Monkey – Dubbed the Harvest Moon Halloween Smash, this Bellows Falls party features raucous music from a beloved local band. Costume party with cash prizes, and free taxi service provided by Pleasant Valley Brewing. 802-463-4536

Carmella’s: Hell Night – DJ dancing tonight, and if you want two days of dress-up, the downtown Claremont Italian restaurant is having a costume contest on Friday the 30th. 542-5005

Springfield Chamber of Commerce: The Illusion – The exact location is a mystery, but this Springfield party, featuring a band that’s been around since the 1960s, is sure to be fun if you can find it. 8pm 802-885-2779

Local Rhythms – All Hallows’ Breaks Loose

Just because adults can’t trick or treat doesn’t mean they get over Halloween.  If anything, the costumes get better – and more expensive.

So it’s not surprising that so many area clubs are holding masquerade balls this year.

For starters, the big night’s on a Friday.

Plus, with the news of the world getting worse by the minute, anyone would welcome the chance to pretend they’re someone else?

Like, say, Batman, Madonna or Marx (Groucho, not Karl).

So, while you check the attic for your old axe-in-the-forehead rubber mask, I’ll run down the list of local parties.

The entire building is in costume for the Freakers Ball in Rutland, which brings back the heyday of Winterland and Fillmore East & West. The show features a psychedelic light shows and music from Duane Carleton, Jim Gilmour, the Bonafide Dregs and Crazyhearse.

Salt hill Pub in Lebanon tries a blue Halloween with the All-Star Voodoo Blues Band (a/k/a Blue Monday), while their Newport branch features Dog Dayz.

Two heavy metal galas compete for the painted and pierced crowd.  Hexerei headlines a six-band “Haunted Halloween” at the Claremont Moose Lodge (a busy venue of late).

Electra’s fete features  Anger Rising, Till We Die and three others (the West Lebanon club also hosts a costume ball Saturday, with DJ Eric G).

Country fans can get their fill at Shenanigans, where the New Hampshire Rock Bottom Band will perform.

The Foresters Club in Newport welcomes hard rockers Transcent, Shatter This World and Mother Virus.

There’s a pair of cool shows in Springfield, Vermont.  KJ’s Place has the Vibratones, while the VFW Club presents garage rock survivors the Illusion, in a show sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

Springfield favorite Jesse Peters heads over to J.D. Climents in Putney, where he fronts a new band called GMP (for Grieco, Morton, Peters).

Further up the road in Saxtons River, the newly opened Pleasant Valley Brewing joins with Harvest Moon and The Inn at Saxtons River for a pub-crawl, with Matt McGrail performing later.

Finally, for something interesting and new, head over to the Henniker Junction Restaurant, where the Ghost Dinner Band will host a costume party.

This band sounds like Pink Floyd meets Tom Waits on their way to an Electric Prunes concert.

For those with tamer instincts, here’s the rest of the week:

Thursday: The Adam McMahon Trio, Windsor Station – Formerly of the Larry Dougher Band, this blues guitarist has an interesting biography.  While serving in the Middle East, he started an open mike night.  Very cool, I’d like to know more about that.  Windsor Station recently changed owners and menus.  It’s nice that they’ve also added live music to the mix.  Tonight’s a Halloween buffet, with $10 off for costumed patrons, and scary HD movies on a 50 inch TV.

Friday: Who Are The Brain Police, Seven Barrel Brewery – This band has a great name (borrowed from a Frank Zappa song), they cover everyone from Spinal Tap to the Dead Milkmen, and their MySpace features this Hunter S. Thompson quote: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs… there’s also a negative side.” I love it.

Saturday: Fencing Club Benefit, Claremont JSL – Hexerei headlines this show, which includes Bad Reception, the Undecided and newcomers Dude Stew.  Hexerei leader Travis Pfenning posted a “future of music” item on the band’s MySpace blog recently, and I found the responses to his thoughts more than disturbing.  The local music scene, particularly the hardcore/metal portion, is fragile enough without infighting among area musicians.  That’s my view; I encourage other fans to weigh in.

Sunday: Great Big Sea, Lebanon Opera House – This Newfoundland-based band takes traditional music and reinvents it, with a nod to influences as diverse as Bob Marley, the Clash and Johnny Cash.  They’re positively huge in Canada, where they’ve been nominated for several Juno awards.  They wrote most of their new album, Fortune’s Favor, in the studio.  But it’s GBS’s on stage work drives the band’s popularity and keeps the  on the road much of the year.

Tuesday: Irish Sessions, Salt hill – Thursday night blues went out with a bang last week, so much so that ShP plans to move the party to Newport next month, with Arthur James hosting.  Meanwhile, the weekly Irish sessions are a mainstay, with a changing cast of musicians sharing a circle in the center of the room, playing whatever feels natural.  It’s a perfect after work destination, with an early (6:30) start.

Wednesday: Amy Ray, Higher Ground – The Indigo Girls are on hiatus until next February, when their new album is due.  Amy Ray did punk with the Butchies a while back, but this time around is heading out solo behind the recently released “Didn’t It Feel Kinder.”

Local Rhythms – Halloween’s Big Kids

gardgoldsmith.jpgHalloween is the last bastion of childhood. 

Teenagers, voices dropping like boulders, still knock on doors and demand candy. College students spend their textbook money making authentic Spiderman costumes.   

Fully grown men and women invest in lavish masquerade balls.

All Hallows Eve provides proof, if any were needed, that the kid in us never dies. 

Don’t fear, there’s still plenty of local fun for real children.  In Woodstock, Billings Farm hosts its 14th annual Family Halloween this Saturday.  

In Grantham, Eastman has a spooky tot party scheduled for the afternoon of October 28.  

There’s a Halloween Fun Fest October 31 in Lebanon’s Colburn Park.

Claremont’s popular Hallowesta features a parade and a marshmallow roast, starting at 4:00 on the big day. 

Those craving something more elaborate should take a ride to Nashua’s Fright Fest, which features two haunted houses.  Further south, Salem, Massachusetts turns Halloween into a macabre Mardi Gras – it’s a month-long bash.

I’ve been, and I gotta say – the adults get a lot more excited than the children. 

So it goes on the local scene, where the big fun is all geared to the young at heart, and lasts beyond Halloween night.

Christopher’s in Ludlow features two of the area’s best bands for their fourth annual costume party, with cash prizes for the best efforts.  Stonewall is a no-nonsense power trio reminiscent of Cream or Stone Temple Pilots.  Spectris, who’ve added a harder edge to their prog-rock sound, open the show.   

Electra in West Lebanon has a heavy metal bash with Hitchelfit on Friday, featuring mature themes like sexiest and scariest get-ups.  Saturday, it’s a costume dance party with DJ Eric G, who spins reggaeton and hip-hop tracks. 

Big money prizes, too – the club’s talking “hundreds of dollars.” 

Whaleback Ski area waits until November 3 to get in on the action, with the freaky and funky Alchemystics providing the music, and giving revelers an excuse to keep the Halloween buzz going into next month.

If you don’t want to dress up, you can head to Lebanon Opera House this Friday and let a band do it for you, as the Machine recreates Pink Floyd’s music and stage show.   

Next week in Lowell, the group Rain clones the Beatles, complete with Sgt. Pepper uniforms.  Some kids never grow up. 

Here’s what the rest of the week looks like: 

Thursday: Sharren Conner & Mo’ Jazz, Elixir – Vocalist Conner studied at the Boston Conservatory, and has performed in the area for over 25 years, beginning with Sensible Shoes.  With musical backing provided by Norm Wolfe on guitar and upright bass player Pete Concilio, Mo’ Jazz is a bit moodier than the jumping sounds of that band.  All in all, a perfect sound for this fast-growing food and music club

Friday: Ted Mortimer & Linda Boudreault, Sophie & Zeke’s – Jazzified soul from the ubiquitous pair who front Dr. Burma when they feel like rocking.  Glendon Ingalls, a stellar upright bassist, makes it a trio.  They can play it silky smooth on the timeless standards “Shadow of Your Smile,” or spicy with tunes like “Bye Bye Blackbird.”  Linda sings like a dream and Ted is one of the most versatile guitarists around.   

Saturday: Mystery Button, Salt Hill Pub – This Manchester band plays it a lot of different ways – funky grooves, jumping soul and jamming rhythms.  They cite everyone from Frank Zappa to Don Ho as influences (the list, which also includes Wile E. Coyote and Bea Arthur, took up half of their MySpace page).  They describe their sound as “a tornado of funky jams.” It’s all good playing and singing to these ears.

Sunday: Bob Weir & Ratdog, Lebanon Opera House – Several personnel changes have occurred since this band formed in the mid-90’s.  Bassist Rob Wasserman is gone, and what started as a narrowly focused trio is now a sextet.  It’s more cohesive and adventurous.  They’re unafraid to interpret Dead songs, like “Sugaree” or “Ramble on Rose,” once thought to be the sole property of Jerry Garcia.  

Monday: Tiff Jimber, New England College – She’s a spiritual descendant of Laura Nyro, pouring her heart out, alone at the piano.  But listen closely and you’ll detect a bit of Fiona Apple grrrl in the mix.  Jimber has a steady, sometimes deadly lyrical eye.  She can shift from wounded sparrow to angry hawk in a wink.  The equally talented Boston singer-songwriter Rebecca Loebe joins Tiff for this show.

Tuesday: Mary Gauthier, Iron Horse – Her stark, harrowing songs might have come out of Charles Bukowski – if he’d been a guitar-playing woman.  Gauthier was a teenage runaway, tumbling in and out of rehab and halfway houses, and didn’t write anything until she was 35.   Be grateful for her sunburned voice – you don’t need to read too hard between the lines to know that fate might have kept her from singing a note.