“We have assembled inside this ancient and insane theatre/ To propagate our lust for life and flee the swarming wisdom of the streets ... / Where are the feasts we were promised?/ Resident mockery, give us an hour for magic/ We of the purple glove/ We of the starling flight and velvet hour ... We of sundome and the night.”—“An American Prayer,” Jim Morrison
Being thankful for Jim Morrison’s contribution to rocanrol music is probably common among music writers. But—much like reactions to green chile in the gravy on Turkey Day—some express passionate reservations about The Doors while others gobble that spooky LA quartet and their mythos right up. There is something dark, something that can’t quite be characterized about their output. Since I’ve never been able to quite figure out the shape or mass of the quality, I keep on listening.
The other thing that keeps me interested: Morrison spent a few youthful years in Burque. He and his family lived at 8912 Candelaria NE. While he was way too young to be part of the nascent Duke City rock scene, this place obviously influenced his work. References to a tragically violent car accident Morrison witnessed on the road to Algodones, N.M., abound in his poetry and most analyses of his lyrics.
Getting to be a part of that mythos by simply living in Albuquerque is something for which I am thankful. Learning about that history was one of the early adolescent life events that moved me away from insect collecting and toward piano practice and daily visits to the neighborhood record shop.
I know you’re thankful for certain things too, gentle reader. I am certain you are reflecting on a sense of gratitude and generosity engendered by the Thanksgiving holiday. But you probably wanna go out too. In my family, folks would go see a movie at the mall after this yearly ritual as part of the long weekend. I used to suggest concerts of all sorts, but I always got overruled ... except for the year my father took us to see José Feliciano at the Kiva Auditorium, as a kind of revenge, I thought. I still think you should find something cool to listen to as you embrace feeling gratefully full and reasonably reflective, and here’s a list to help out with that.
Kate Star Cherry
Courtesy of artist
After your own familial or personal Thanksgiving ritual is concluded, swing on down to Blackbird Buvette (509 Central NW) on Thursday, Nov. 27, for an evening of trance and dance featuring Fractal Frequencies with Kate Star Cherry. Even if dinner left you in a post-meal trance, some dancing will most certainly assuage any fears about holiday weight gain. Plus which the evening’s featured artists are glorious time-traveling entities whose groove was programmed to help you find the transcendence that three plates of pumpkin pie could not. This is a free, 21-plus event, and it begins at 10pm.
Since returning to Burque earlier this year, bassist-at-large James Whiton has slipped seamlessly back into our burg’s music scene. It’s hard to believe that he was ever gone, and his naturally laid-back performance style and killer chops are a perfect complement to the cool desert air and starry nights. Whiton will perform on Friday, Nov. 28, at Vernon’s Hidden Valley Steakhouse (6855 Fourth Street NW) in the Black Diamond Lounge, a venue that’s recently hit its stride with awesome jazz shows. Whiton’s solo bass project, featuring acoustic elements and electronic manifestations, is called Solo Bass Loop Madness. He’ll also mix in some intense Xmas cover tunes for this performance too. Whiton, who has played alongside notables like Keith Richards and Charlie Musselwhite, takes the stage at 7:30pm for this free, 21-plus show.
On Saturday, Nov. 29, Launchpad (618 Central SW) presents mr. Gnome, consisting of Nicole Barille and Sam Meister. They’re from Cleveland, and they rock, albeit in an art-damaged, psyched-out prog fashion. Mr. Gnome gained national notice and exposure with the release of a recording titled The Heart of a Dark Star. By turns cleverly complex and stunningly simple, the music of mr. Gnome soars and shifts through time.
Austinite indie-psych outfit Young Tongue (formerly known as The Baker Family) shares the bill. Expansively dreamy with pop conceits and hair out to there, Stu and Liz Baker (vocals, keys, guitar) and their cohorts Nathan Ribner (bass), Darryl Schomberg (drums) and Travis Larrew draw on a variety of American rock influences, resulting in a sound that creeps and crawls with crisp attention to instrumental detail. Local alt-rock crew Great States, featuring Morgan Ching, Eric Jecklin, Sean Leston and Ryan Rael, opens. This promises to be another great $8, 21-plus show at Launchpad. Doors are at 8pm, and the concert begins at 9pm.
A cat who goes by the name Jonathan Richman plays Santa Fe on Sunday, Nov. 30. The former head honcho over at The Modern Lovers gigs at Skylight Santa Fe (139 W. San Francisco St.). Though Richman is primarily known as a progenitor of punk, his oeuvre documents a steady evolution from casually plaintive playfulness to searching, midlife musical ruminations.
Richman’s propensity for touring has served to strengthen his skills of observation and musical expression. His work as a duo with drummer Tommy Larkins has allowed Richman to explore influences ranging from doo-wop to country while adding an innovative and singular guitar-playing style to the mix. Forty years after the seminal, eponymous Modern Lovers debut album was released, Richman is still creating fresh, insightful tuneage. Admission to this all-ages show costs $17, even if you are dignified and old. The doors swing open at 6:30pm, and the astral plane appears at approximately 7:30pm.
The Dirty Bourbon Dance Hall & Saloon (9800 Montgomery NE) welcomes Ukrainian band DakhaBrakha to the stage on Monday, Dec. 1. DakhaBrakha is an ensemble whose roots in avant-garde theater and Eastern European folk music have developed into a sonic “ethno-chaos” that’s as challenging as it is listenable. Hell, you can even dance to their tuneage. Sensually transcendent yet earthy, the combo’s use of traditional forms and instrumentation in their live performances portends a profoundly dark, yet danceable winter celebration.
Goddess of Arno, an Albuquerque ensemble of world music players, opens the evening’s Eastern-inflected enchantment. Goddess of Arno has been part of the local scene for going on 30 years, and their mastery of the traditional music of Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Hungary is always an excellent experience. Tickets for this evening of far-out world music are $17 in advance and $22 on the night of the concert. This is a 21-plus affair, with doors at 6:30pm and music at 7:30pm.
Under the baton of trombonist John Sanks, The Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra plays The Cooperage (7220 Lomas NE) on Tuesday, Dec. 2. Founded in 1982 by legendary Burque jazzman Pancho Romero, the 17-piece orchestra has shared the stage with trumpeter Bobby Shew and composer Toshiko Akiyoshi, creating a big jazz sound that’s forward-looking, shrewd in execution and probably an ultra-tasty complement to the surf and turf on offer at The Cooperage. AJO features members of Burque’s jazz who’s-who, including saxmen Glenn Kostur and Lee Taylor, trumpeter Bruce Dalby, Chris Buckholz on trombone, Michael Anthony laying down some groovy guitar and the thoughtfully reactive piano playing of Jim Ahrend. This free, all-ages jazz experience begins at 7pm.
Touring in support of August release Foundations of Burden, Little Rock doom metal master Pallbearer marches solemnly into Sister (407 Central NW) on Wednesday, Dec. 3. Deliberately thick and crunchy—like some sort of deadly Thanksgiving leftovers—Pallbearer makes a kind of rock music that lumbers and destroys much in its path while circling ever closer to sonic oblivion. This is a band that can crush calamitously or drift dreamlike past genre norms into a territory bounded by super-psychedelic, progressive potentials and the distorted dedication of the damned. Singer/guitarist Brett Campbell has it going on, and his vocal style simultaneously soars and shocks.
Icelandic black metal band Sólstafir is also slated to appear. After conquering most of the Northern European metal underground with works like Masterpiece of Bitterness, Sólstafir tours in support of concept album Ótta, which was released worldwide late last summer, before it even got dark up north. Brooklyn female doomsters Mortals, whose recordings include the fierce and foreboding Cursed to See the Future, opens. Advance tickets are available for $10; doors are at 8pm, and the icy darkness takes wind at 9pm.
Reading back through all this as the holidays approach, it’s damn obvious that we’ve got a veritable cornucopia of concerts for which to be thankful. In the words of once-local resident, part-time mystic and all-around weirdly sexy avatar of rocanrol Jim Morrison: “For the music is your special friend/ Dance on fire as it intends/ Music is your only friend/ Until the end, until the end.”