“We have come for light/ Wholly, we have come for light/ It’s true/ I am the sun/ I am the new year/ I am the rain/ I am the sun/ I am the new year/ I am the way home.”—“New Year” written by Kim Deal and performed by The Breeders on Last Splash
Unless you’re the publisher, one of my editors or the folks in the production department, I reckon you are reading this sometime after the winter solstice. Here where I am—a week behind you, gentle reader—it is still getting dark a bit earlier every day. But in the future you inhabit, the length of daylight is actually increasing by a few minutes every diurnal rotation.
This increasing brightness in the Northern Hemisphere will continue until the next solstice. This most excellent news certainly calls for celebration. Fortunately there happen to be a number of noteworthy shows available for human consideration and consumption this coming week. In short, more light means more music.
Courtesy of artist
Friday, Dec. 26, is Boxing Day; it’s also a prime opportunity to check out Eric McFadden in concert at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW). Reports of McFadden’s heady contribution to the local scene (Angry Babies, anyone?) and his success as a solo, session and touring musician in San Francisco—and among the likes of George Clinton and Eric Burdon (The Animals, War)—have graced this page before. He’s well-known around here and on Earth because he can play.
A guitar virtuoso whose stylings range from flamenco to funk, McFadden is an intense instrumentalist with a baritone voice that goes on forever. A great introduction to his work is 2011’s Bluebird on Fire. You can listen to that album over and over but make sure to catch his live act too. It’s definitely life-changing stuff. Tickets for this 21-plus gig are $10, with doors at 8pm and live McFadden at 9pm.
What happens after Boxing Day? On Saturday, Dec. 27, the Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living (2801 Louisiana NE) and local charity Rhythm Without Borders host a Beat Ebola benefit concert to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders and their work amidst the ebola crisis in West Africa. Featuring master musicians and UNM music alumni John Bartlit, Daniel Ward and Steve Chavez, this concert also features well-known members of the world music community.
Performances by Zimbabwean artist Rujeko Sarah Dumbutshena, Haitian band Racine Kreyol, Malian act Bekaye Kouyate and Ghanian master drummer and dancer Mensah Sokpor with dance and drum ensemble Wamba will highlight the beauty and diversity of the musical world. This benefit concert also speaks to the cultural importance of continuing to support the battle against the ebola virus. A tax-deductible donation of any amount grants one access to this essential, all-ages show that starts at 7:30pm.
There’s a terrific opportunity to compare and contrast the baroque with postmodern minimalism on Sunday, Dec. 28, when Chatter ABQ presents a concert that elucidates works by Arcangelo Corelli, J.S. Bach and Steve Reich at The Kosmos (1715 Fifth Street NW).
A chamber string ensemble led by violinist David Felberg showcases the considerable talents of fellow players like Ruxandra Marquardt (violin), Shanti Randall (viola), Thomas Shoebotham (cello) and Jean-Luc Matton (bass). The ensemble plans to dig deeply into divergent compositional traditions through recitations of Corelli’s majestic Christmas concerto Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Bach’s Suite in B Minor for Flute and Strings and Reich’s liltingly meditative Duet for Two Violins.
Poet John Roche, an English professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, begins the recital with a reading from his new work. Tickets range in price from $5 to $15. The recital begins at 10:30am, when our city is entirely illuminated.
As the last few days of 2014 creep past, there is a certain quietude to their progression. The trickling away of moments provides time for reflection, an avocation that can be enhanced by the deft piano playing of Bob Tate. He has been the house pianist at Vernon’s Hidden Valley Steakhouse (6855 Fourth Street NW) for over four years. He’ll be at the 88-key ebony and ivory helm on Sunday, Dec. 29, beginning at 6pm.
Tate’s rep as Burque’s piano man extends well beyond his tenure at Vernon’s, including gigs with noted jazz saxophonist Doug Lawrence. Tate takes many of his cues from the Great American Songbook, but he isn’t afraid to linger and improvise around the work of greats like Hoagy Carmichael and Victor Young. It’s loungy and luxurious listening, and the food’s not too shabby either.
The new year is one day closer, and it’s time to switch gears from placid, pleasant piano with a hardcore show at Launchpad (618 Central SW) on Tuesday, Dec. 30. Laramie, Wyo., punk rockers stoic. bring their winter tour to town, promising an event that’s sure to melt down those moments preceding 2015’s entrance. With brutal tuneage like “Haunted Lives” in their mountainous repertoire, Jacob Watson and company instinctively know how to bring chaos out of the darkness and into the light.
Local thrash adherents Loathe, whose latest album Heresy is at once sludgified and super speed-inflected—as tracks like “Reaper” and ”Bitter Sweet” demonstrate—share this ill bill with Annihilate and Supreme Verdict. This 21-plus brain crusher begins at 9:30pm. Doors are at 8pm, and it’s only 5 Washingtons to get inside.
And now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the evening before the next year begins. Finish it all off and start again in style at Sister (407 Central NW) with the final concert ever (maybe) by local noisemakers Gusher. Gusher stars Zacque Dana singing, banging on odd things and destroying drum kits and Austin Morrell and Alec Wilkes ripping up devices that look suspiciously like guitars; Burque audio mastermind Lee Sillery adds provocative basslines to the whole schmear. At times oddly melodic but also dissonant, Gusher is practically the perfect vehicle to chase 2014 away ... once and for all.
The New Year’s Eve celebration at Sister starts with the nuclear nuances of bassist James Whiton. Like his former colleague Eric McFadden, Whiton made huge strides outside the bounds of Burque. His return to this musical military outpost in the desert has been heralded by man, especially here at the Alibi music department. The dude can play, and he does so with a flair that’s unmistakably Albuquerquean in origin yet ultra-worldly in its attention to detail and form. Whiton continues to amaze with an upright bass and electronic elements. This is a 21-plus party, and doors to the fiesta open wide at 8pm. Tickets are $5. The music begins at 9pm and will continue until well after 2014 is properly banished.
In the future, there will be a year that’s referred to as 2015. Maybe you’re already part of it or even transcend that thing called time, just as music sometimes does. To arrive at what will inevitably be, you had to survive the time period known as 2014. That means you had to go out and groove whenever you had the chance, whether it was rock or not. And you got home safely too. Keep that in mind as you journey through the nights in search of light and live music to sustain you as we inch toward spring. Happy New Year, folks.