"And another one's gone/And another one's gone/Another one bites the dust." That's right, yet another local club has expired as of last week. Empire, formerly located at 4310 Central NE, has closed its doors and will apparently file for bankruptcy in the coming weeks, according to correspondence with club owner Hudson Holmes. Considering that both Banana Joe's and Club Rhythm and Blues closed within the past three months, it may seem as though Albuquerque's nightlife is suffering a considerable slump. But keep in mind that, nationally, nightclubs have about a 70 percent failure rate as business ventures. Owning and operating a club in any town is a difficult, mostly thankless occupation, so please support the clubs whose doors currently remain open and keep your fingers crossed for new blood. ... Congratulations to Red Earth, whose latest CD Zia Soul won "Best World Music Recording" at the Ninth Annual Native American Music Awards held two weekends ago at the Isleta Casino and Resort. ... Winter Ball 2003 will be held again this year at OPM on Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. Formal attire is encouraged, but the only prerequisite for attendance is that you donate a packaged but not-gift-wrapped toy to benefit Youth Development Incorporated. This year's bill includes The Eyeliners, Black Maria, The Dirty Novels and Obenjyosan. Tucanos will provide food for those who show up early.
Corey Harris Mississippi to Mali (Rounder)
Like Otis Taylor, slide master Corey Harris is able to channel the raw emotion of the Delta blues. But Harris, unlike Taylor, has been known to approach the raw goods from a kaleidoscopic perspective, mixing in everything from New Orleans brass to hip-hop. His latest release, though, recorded in Mississippi and Mali and with a list of sidemen that includes Ali Farka Toure, Bobby Rush and others, attempts to trace the connection between African folk music and American blues. The results are so satisfying that you won't need to buy another blues CD until well into 2004.
Release date: out now
Sunday, Nov. 30; Outpost Perfornance Space (all ages, 7:30 p.m.): Prior to teaming up with renowned vocalist Susan McKeown, Celtic fiddler and master storyteller Johnny Cunningham helped found and establish legendary groups like Silly Wizard and Relativity, in the process spearheading the Celtic folk movement of the '70s.
Then, a decade ago, after a four-year stint with Windham Hill recording artists Nightnoise and subsequently completing the score for his award-winning stage adaptation of Peter Pan, "Peter & Wendy," Cunningham went in search of a singer for the production, eventually selecting McKeown, who has been called one of the most powerful and distinctive voices in Irish music. It was a pairing that Cunningham once described as "pure magic." Since then, the pair have toured both as a duo and as a trio with guitarist Aidan Brennan.
The Shins with the Sweatband and New Weapons
Friday, Nov. 28; Sunshine Theater (all ages, 8 p.m.)
In case you haven't noticed, the Shins have become a ubiquitous presence in music, fashion and softcore porn mags across this great nation and all over much of Western Europe. Everyone seems to be echoing the sentiments Burque scenesters began making back when the Shins were known as Flake: something along the lines of, "These guys are destined for greatness." And that's just the path the Shins appear to be on.
The Star Spangles with special guests
Thursday, Nov. 27; Atomic Cantina (21 and over, 9 p.m.)
There are plenty of bands made up of emaciated, ratty haired boys (and sometimes a girl named Karen O) in skinny ties and high-waters rehashing '70s garage and post-punk these days to more acclaim than most of them probably deserve. But none of them manage to balance their drunken swagger and snobbery with matching power chords and simple, no-frills shout-rock as well as New York City's Star Spangles.
New Mexico Winter Welcome
with Kimo, Susan Gibson, Stoic Frame and more
Saturday, Nov. 29; O'Niell's Uptown (21 and over, 5 p.m.): NM Brewfest presents another great beer tasting/competition with six of New Mexico's premium breweries. NM Brewfest has been offering this type of event all year long, but this is the most promising yet.
Sarah McLachlan Afterglow (Arista)
After the success over McLachlan's breakthrough, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, her albums have been packaged with an enigmatic sense of obligation on the part of the listener to be captivated. Truth is, her last record, Surfacing, was mediocre at best. But six years is a long time for fans to wait between albums—time enough to forget things like the mediocrity of past works. Afterglow has its bright spots to be sure—"Fallen," "Perfect Girl"—and its production quality is tops. Unfortunately, though, most of the material comes off as journal entries overly wrought into songs that drown in self-actualization. Bummer.
Release date: out now
The Mekons Punk Rock (Quarterstick)
The legendary Mekons have dusted off 15 songs written during their brief flirtation with punk rock back in the '70s and recorded them nearly 30 years later, professing a new interest in one of rock's most misunderstood, over-hyped and, sadly, tired genres. The resulting album sounds dated, of course, but deliciously so. Punk Rock is essential listening for punk fans who gracefully bowed out of the cultural phenomenon before commercialization and lame-ass hyperbole killed the music, which is to say shortly after the Clash released their last great record, 1982's Combat Rock: four years after the Ramones' last great gasp.
Release date: Jan.11