Category Archives: Music

Seattle Symphony’s Shostakovich and Schnittke is a Don’t-Miss Concert

This week’s Masterworks program at the Seattle Symphony promised to be an exciting one and it delivered in spades Thursday night, an all-Russian concert with Russian composers, a Russian conductor, Andrey Boreyko, and a Russian soloist, concertmaster Alexander Velinzon. (There are several Russian instrumentalists in the orchestra also.) The final concert is Saturday evening.

Shostakovich’s great “Leningrad” symphony, his No. 7, came after intermission; first came the extraordinary Violin Concerto No. 4 by Alfred Schnittke.

Schnittke’s music has somewhat a reputation of being hard to listen to and take in, but this is not so, particularly in this concerto. The music is described as polystylistic, which only means that the composer drew on all sorts of musical styles, from rock, jazz, minimalist and more as well as classical, for his work. But so did popular Gershwin—jazz and classical together.

Like Gershwin, Schnittke brings them into a coherent whole in this concerto, sometimes tonal and upbeat, sometimes dissonant, sometimes both simultaneously with the soloist in one mode, the orchestra in another. While the orchestra is massive for this, the music is not, often even spare. Velinzon’s violin sang throughout: mellifluous, lyrical in many areas, soaring or contemplative in others, fast, wild or arpeggiated in still more, peaceful or powerful, but always with a firm, rich tone, never scratchy, which fit the music like a glove. Schnittke includes some unexpected instrumentation, like a prepared piano which often had a raspy, honky-tonk timbre, and duets for the soloist with other instruments. Twice, Schnittke has the orchestra rise to great sound and fury and has the violin solo continue in the air, not on the strings, as it couldn’t have been heard anyway over the orchestra. Boreyko gave masterly leadership to the orchestra which responded to his every nuanced gesture shaping the music.

Shostakovich’s symphony was a beacon of hope to Russia when it was first performed in March 1942. He composed it near the beginning of the long and terrible siege of Leningrad, which caused massive hardship and death both in the city and among the siege troops. Shostakovich was one of those ordered to evacuate the city, his home, not long after the final encirclement of the city and the siege began (though the city had been under fire for some months before that). By then he had composed the first three movements, and he completed the fourth shortly after. The symphony had its premiere in Kuibyshev, a safe area many miles east of Moscow.

It’s not a battle symphony. Rather, it is a paean to the steadfast people of Leningrad, who never gave in to the German armies; people Shostakovich knew well, living in a situation for which he was present in the early stages. What came through Thursday night under Boreyko was a sense of determination, of courage threaded through the 68-minute work. It’s not sad, not terrible, but immensely colorful.

Halfway through a serene and unhurried first movement the rhythm of marching feet begins softly and grows inexorably, tension building gradually to threatening, with clashes and the feel of scurrying, cacophony below, loud dominating march above. One gets a sense of efforts at normal life in the second and third, and in the last, it’s positive, energetic, elegiac as well, but with this sense of determination dominant.

Boreyko, who stands rock solid on the podium, sometimes conducted with minimal gestures at others described exactly what he wanted with poesy and clarity in his arm movements. He brought out all the nuances and made vivid Shostakovich’s intent. There were many fine orchestra solos, including all the wind principals and the cello. The whole was moving, even breathtaking in its sweep, color and emotional intensity. One could have heard a pin drop in the audience.

Mostly Nordic Chamber Music Series Visits Sweden

Lena Moén, soprano
Lena Moén, soprano

I had no idea Swedish art song existed, but of course it does. At the Nordic Heritage Museum Sunday afternoon, Mostly Nordic treated the audience to a concert of such songs, largely from the 20th century but dipping back to the 19th, in the third of its annual performances highlighting the music of a specific Nordic country. (There are two more concerts in the Mostly Nordic series this spring, featuring music from Norway, May 2, and Iceland, May 31.)

Swedish soprano Lena Moén  with her frequent collaborator, pianist Lena Johnson, gave us songs by composers Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, Bo Linde, Wilhelm Stenhammar, Mogens Schrader, and Gustaf Nordqvist, and included a few from out of the country by Schubert, Grieg, and Richard Strauss. The audience was provided with all the words, a thoughtful gesture which made the songs even more enjoyable.

Moén began with a startling cow call, such as was given by girls calling their family’s cows home. Sounding like a cross between a Swiss yodel and an American cowboy’s “Eee-yoww!”, she explained after that every girl had her own individual call and the cows knew which call to come to.

It was guaranteed to gather everyone’s immediate attention, and Moén continued with a charming selection of songs, mostly about love or spring or both, in a voice unlike anything we usually hear here.

Robust and sturdy, pure but not silvery, with vibrato used artfully or not at all, her voice was ideal for these songs. She reached the highest notes effortlessly, no strain and hitting them squarely except in one song where she had a slight problem with them.

The beautiful songs themselves belong fully in the art song category, not folk, and have accompaniments which are a full component of each piece, performed by Johnson and Moén as a seamless pair.

Lena Johnson, pianist
Lena Johnson, pianist

Johnson also played a few solos, one group by Peterson-Berger, one a Fantasy in B minor by Stenhammar. We are so used to hearing the cream of the cream of world pianists here, that it can be hard to judge others fairly, but while Johnson easily had the technique for all the notes, she tended to be a bit slapdash with nuance and approach.

The more familiar Grieg song “I Love You” came off well, though the Strauss songs, “All Souls Day” and “Devotion” were a little less suited to Moén’s voice. The surprise came with Schubert’s “The Shepherd on the Rock,’ which emphatically did not suit Moen, or perhaps she didn’t suit it. With Seattle’s Sean Osborn providing a clarinet role to die for in its beauty, Moen’s strong voice did not provide the classical sound required. It needed more refinement, to be less “out” there, gentler, more nuanced for this song. On the other hand, the song is difficult in that the notes go fast all over the range with wide jumps and Moén encompassed all of them with rippling ease. Only her topmost notes in the last part of the song failed quite to reach their goal.

Moén and Johnson gave one encore: an arrangement of “Over the Rainbow,” which she sang softly, and well.

The Sonics Played the Year’s Best Live Rock Show Last Thursday

The Sonics.
The Intelligence.
The Intelligence.
Steve Turner of Mudhoney.
The Sonics.
The Sonics.
Jerry Roslie of The Sonics.
Larry Parypa of The Sonics.
Freddie Dennis of The Sonics.
Dusty, Rob, Chris.
The Sonics.

(photo: Tony Kay)

The Intelligence played a solid opening set. (photo: Tony Kay)

Openers The Intelligence started things off well. (photo: Tony Kay)

It's a helluva night when a mind-blowing set by these guys isn't even the evening's highlight: Mudhoney's Mark Arm. (photo: Tony Kay)

Again, Mudhoney were great. But, you know, The Sonics: Steve Turner of Mudhoney. (photo: Tony Kay)

Rob Lind of The Sonics toots one mean horn. (photo: Tony Kay)

The Sonics' Rob Lind toots one mean horn. (photo: Tony Kay)

Still peeling paint with that voice: Jerry Roslie of The Sonics. (photo: Tony Kay)

Larry Parypa of The Sonics. (photo: Tony Kay)

Dude can scream: Freddie Dennis of The Sonics. (photo: Tony Kay)

Dusty Watson, Rob Lind, and Chris Ballew all have their heads on backwards, baby. (photo: Tony Kay)

(photo: Tony Kay)

The Sonics. thumbnail
The Intelligence. thumbnail
The Intelligence. thumbnail
Mudhoney. thumbnail
Steve Turner of Mudhoney. thumbnail
The Sonics. thumbnail
The Sonics. thumbnail
Jerry Roslie of The Sonics. thumbnail
Larry Parypa of The Sonics. thumbnail
Freddie Dennis of The Sonics. thumbnail
Dusty, Rob, Chris. thumbnail
The Sonics. thumbnail

Alongside The Kingsmen and The Wailers, The Sonics were basically responsible for the howling breach-birth of the monster that is Northwest rock and roll. Barely out of their teens when they began playing together in the early 1960s, the five snappily-dressed young badasses who comprised The Sonics mixed the soot of their industrial Tacoma hometown with the sweaty abandon of old-school rock and blues heroes like Little Richard and Howlin’ Wolf to create an unhinged new animal.

The resulting records were as primal and stripped-down as you could get—compact blasts of battering drums, growling bass, ragged fuzztone guitar, grunting animal saxophone, dirty blues keyboards, and hell-with-the-lid-blown-off singing. It was a sound that did its small but crucial part to liberate American rock and roll from years of neutered teen idols, and it made British contemporaries like the Rolling Stones sound like candy-assed dilettantes.

The Sonics never became mega-stars, but they helped write the textbook on garage rock, and when leather-jacketed wastrels in the mid-1970s got fed up with arena rock’s empty pretense, The Sonics became one of the key nutrients in the soil that spawned the entire first wave of punk. The band’s pulverizing DNA winds through Iggy Pop and The Stooges, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Mudhoney, Nirvana, Jack White, and the Black Keys (to name only a few).

All of the above is a long and windy way of saying that The Sonics, despite their unpretentious demeanor, are pretty much Northwest rock royalty. The simple fact that they’re even playing live at this point is cause for celebration: The fact that their gig last Thursday at The Moore Theatre was one of the best live rock shows I’ve seen in my life is nothing short of inspiring.

Sharply attired in basic black, The Sonics took to the stage just shy of 10:00 p.m., opening up with a concise and ripping version of “Psycho.” From there, the pedal didn’t leave the metal for the next hour and 45 minutes as they tore through old and new cuts alike with the no-bull forcefulness of an outfit one-third their age. Pretty much every track a Sonics fan could’ve hoped for got a workout, from originals like “Shot Down” and “Boss Hoss” to  the most menacing cover of  “Louie Louie” that  you’ll ever hear. Best of all, the band fired through nine cuts from their first all-new full-length in 48 years, This is The Sonics (a record whose flat-out brilliance could merit a couple hundred words on its own).

A lot of the evening’s considerable momentum came courtesy of the band’s founding members. Rob Lind’s saxophone and harp provided as much brute force as the bass and drums, and he served as the band’s informal mouthpiece with aplomb, working the charged-up crowd like the host of an extra-packed house party. Guitarist Larry Parypa’s low-key demeanor stood in sharp contrast to the mutant blues licks and power chords he tossed off with lethal efficacy. And let it be stated for the record that lead singer Jerry Roslie’s aggressive, soulful snarl can still cauterize any and all eardrums within earshot.

Original bassist Andy Parypa and founding drummer Rob Bennett were MIA (both, alas, are unable to travel), but thankfully the two new-ish guys forming The Sonics’ current rhythm section were little short of godsends. Drummer Dusty Watson (who’s logged in time behind the kit with everyone from Lita Ford to The Supersuckers) drove the songs with a potent combination of swing and muscle, and bass player Freddie Dennis proved to be the night’s secret weapon. Almost sweetly unassuming before he began playing, Dennis laid down a near-volcanic bottom end on the four-string, and he let fly on nearly half of the lead vocals with a bobcat wail that matched Roslie’s world-class growl slug for slug.

Ferocious as the band’s attack was, though, The Sonics never lost sight of the fact that they’ve always been (and always will be) a rock and roll party band of epic proportions. Lind led the crowd through plenty of call-and-response shouts, and the house-party atmosphere was reinforced by the numerous guest stars who periodically shared the stage. Presidents of the United States of America frontman Chris Ballew gave a spirited guest vocal on “You’ve Got Your Head on Backwards,” Mudhoney’s Mark Arm joined The Sonics for a roaring take on “Shot Down,” and Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic filled in on bass for a fierce rendition of “Cinderella.” By the time the encores rocketed to a close with a turbo-charged cover of Little Richard’s “Lucille,” even the usually-taciturn Roslie could be seen cracking a smile. True rock and roll badasses, it seems, still know how to have a good time.

Robyn Hitchcock: Beaming in Classic Songs from Another Dimension

Love the shirt: Robyn Hitchcock at Columbia City Theater, August 2014. (photo: Tony Kay
Love the shirt: Robyn Hitchcock at Columbia City Theater, August 2014. (photo: Tony Kay

I’ve seen Robyn Hitchcock play at least five times since I first became a fan some 27 (yipes!) years ago, but for the last decade I’ve been guilty of having taken the very prolific, one-of-a-kind English singer/songwriter for granted. After seeing him play Columbia City Theater last August, that’s a mistake I’ve vowed not to make again. He returns to Columbia City Theater for a live set this coming Monday, March 16 (tickets, $22 in advance, are still available). Do yourself an enormous favor, and catch him if you can.

To these ears, Hitchcock stands as one of rock’s great troubadours. He essentially does with lyrics what Salvador Dali did with paint, capturing the absurdities, horrors, and wonders of life, love, and the universe with surreal brushstrokes that—outright weird as they sometimes get—always maintain an affecting core of universal truth. A lot of musicians play-act at boundless creativity and eccentricity: for Hitchcock, it’s as unaffected and natural as breathing.

His career as a rock musician began in the late 1970s as lead singer, guitarist, and principal songwriter for The Soft Boys. Hitchcock firmly established his MO with the band—classic English rock songcraft wedded with sometimes strange, sometimes hilarious, always devastatingly effective lyrics. Hitchcock struck out on his own beginning with 1981’s Black Snake Diamond Role, and he hasn’t stopped since.

After establishing a dedicated cult with his solo work, he and his second backing band The Egyptians landed a major-label deal with A&M Records. The first release during that flush of success, 1988’s Globe of Frogs, introduced a lot of people (myself included) to the man’s unique world view and gift for indelible melodies.

Globe of Frogs bowled me over when I first heard it all those years ago, and I listened to it obsessively for months. Hitchcock’s brilliance didn’t form in a vacuum, of course—he’s openly acknowledged Syd Barrett’s influence on his knack for vividly-bizarre lyrics, and his melodies largely draw from Beatles-style harmonics and Dylan-esque folk—but he lent his own distinctive signature to those familiar elements. Insidious melodies abounded (try not to bounce your head happily to the jaunty, endearingly goofy “Balloon Man”), but the rest of Globe of Frogs was musical painting of the richest variety.

The record’s title track, with its sparse exotic percussion, spectral piano, and Hitchcock’s elliptical but evocative words felt, literally, like stepping into some mysterious, secret world. And unconventional as his lyrics were, they often hit with bracing directness. In the eerie sea-shanty/dirge “Luminous Rose,” he croons a line that remains one of the most profound strings of words I’ve ever heard in a pop song: “God finds you naked and he leaves you dying/What happens in between is up to you.”

After experiencing that record, Hitchcock’s back catalog and successive releases persistently occupied my stereo for the better part of a decade. Most striking about all of those efforts was how he was able to easily switch back and forth between trippy psychedelia (“The Man with the Lightbulb Head”), sterling pop (“So You Think You’re in Love”), and fragile British melancholy (the achingly gorgeous “Autumn is Your Last Chance”), touching on an array of classic influences without being subsumed by them.

Hitchcock’s muse has remained incredibly consistent over the years. After migrating from A&M to Warner Brothers in the ‘90s, he set up camp with indie label Yep Roc Records in the early 2000’s, and catching up with the lower-profile but still great albums he’s released in the ensuing decade-plus has represented some of the most rewarding music-nerd catch-up I’ve ever experienced. His voice—a singular, reedy tenor that swings between angelic sweetness, the impish playfulness of a truant British schoolboy, and a sometimes eerie deadpan—hasn’t aged a day, and his latest long-player The Man Upstairs combines Hitchcock’s still-sharp original songs with some well-chosen covers (his spare acoustic version of the Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost in You” will make you swoon). The album, like so much of Hitchcock’s work, feels classic and timeless in equal measure.

He also delivers one of the best live shows you’ll ever see. Hitchcock usually plays solo sets, and he’s capable of summoning up all the richness of his most psychedelic work with nothing more than his voice and an acoustic guitar. Best of all, his onstage banter alone merits the price of admission. Expect stream-of-consciousness tangents that include everything from minotaurs to giant irradiated astronauts, and blasts of hilariously pointed socio-political commentary. Once you see him onstage you’ll be hooked, and here’s hoping that unlike me, you’ll never take Robyn Hitchcock for granted.

Local Musicians Find a TV Audience on ‘Band in Seattle’

The Gods Themselves on Band in Seattle
The Gods Themselves.
The Gods Themselves.
The Gods Themselves.

The Gods Themselves take to the Victory Studios stage. (photo: Tony Kay)

Astra Elaine holds court, Collin O'Meara bashes out the beat. (photo: Tony Kay)

Damion of The Gods Themselves. (Photo: Tony Kay)

(photo: Tony Kay)

THE FAME RIOT's Liz Scarlett gets all Guitar Hero. (photo: Tony Kay)

Shazam Watkins and Liz Scarlett, THE FAME RIOT's resident wallflowers. (photo: Tony Kay)

(photo: Tony Kay)

(photo: Tony Kay)

(photo: Tony Kay)

The Gods Themselves on Band in Seattle thumbnail
The Gods Themselves. thumbnail
The Gods Themselves. thumbnail
The Gods Themselves. thumbnail
THE FAME RIOT. thumbnail
THE FAME RIOT. thumbnail
THE FAME RIOT. thumbnail
THE FAME RIOT. thumbnail
THE FAME RIOT. thumbnail

Band in Seattle recently began shooting for its second season, and the scrappy locally-produced show’s become an engaging regional music sampler in the year-plus of its existence.

There are plenty of ways to see quality video footage of local bands playing live, but Band in Seattle offers up its wares in charmingly old-school fashion on CW network affiliate Channel 11 every Saturday night at 11:00 p.m. Whether by accident or design, the show’s programmers have demonstrated a knack for cherry-picking a wide cross-section of Seattle musicians nicely uninformed by trends: A durable blue-collar rock band (Gunn) or a sharp old-school soul ensemble (Funky 2 Death) may not hold much flavor-of-the-month cache, but it’s great to see them getting exposure in the same venue as hip-hop futurists Kingdom Crumbs. In another nice touch, all of the bands showcased weigh in on their music—and on balancing the mundane necessity of day jobs with their art—in mini-documentary wraparound segments.

Season 2 started strong with a great showing by noir-pop chanteuse Prom Queen, and last Friday Band in Seattle taped a segment featuring The Gods Themselves and THE FAME RIOT (their caps, not mine) at the show’s usual haunts, Victory Studios. The performance space sported great acoustics and a comfy retro layout that made it feel like a party at your cool uncle’s bachelor pad, replete with free beer courtesy show sponsors Naked City Brewery.

I never miss a chance to see The Gods Themselves play live if I can help it, and their Band in Seattle session cemented that resolve. The band’s debut record was, simply put, my favorite local rock release of 2014, a beyond-cool amalgam of post-punk starkness, caveman rock throb, and thick psychedelic funk wrought from a deceptively minimalist three-piece lineup. Live, TGT delivered a no-bull yet elastic sound that thrived on unlikely synergy: They hefted some serious rock muscle behind B-52’s-style new wave on “Last Chance for Love,” primal garage-rock stomp behind epic goth (the towering “Thunderbird”), and an unexpected vein of soul amidst the serpentine snarl of “I Am the President.” Thanks to the sharp sound mix, the call-and-response interplay between lead singer Astra Elaine’s versatile purr and Damion Heitnschel’s Joey-Ramone-style bark came through loud and clear.

Speaking of loud, Tacoma outfit THE FAME RIOT came fully-equipped with plumage so gloriously garish it woulda made the most shameless hair-metal band blush, and that’s a significant part of their charm. Frontmen Shazam “Tea Time” Watkins and Liz Scarlett ladled on plenty of showmanship to go with their teased hair, sequins, and circulation-constricting stretch pants, playing their rock-star roles to the hilt and lending an extra layer of humor and flash to their slick and catchy pop. Contrasting electro-disco with smeared-lipstick decadence isn’t a new concept, of course—British bands like Dead or Alive and Sigue Sigue Sputnik ruled dance clubs back in the ancient analog days of the 1980s—but damned if these T-Town imps don’t work that combination like conquering heroes. If the seemingly spring-loaded audience reaction at their Band in Seattle session was any indication, there’s potential for some serious mass-appeal method to THE FAME RIOT’s madness.

The Gods Themselves/FAME RIOT episode of Band in Seattle should air sometime in the spring, and the show continues to film new episodes throughout March and April, with plenty of worthwhile local bands in tow. Tickets and more info are available here.

Your Live Music Bets for the Weekend of December 19 through December 21

santa-claus-with-devil-movieIt’s less than a week before Santa does the Down-The-Chimney Shimmy, so the fact that there are some seriously cool holiday-themed live shows going on this weekend should come as no surprise. What may surprise you (and what will surely make your live music choices true agony for the next three days) is how many great non-holiday shows lie in waiting. Consider this heads-up my Christmas gift to you. Happy Holidays, folks.

Friday, December 19 (tonight!)

Dancer and Prancer’s Xmas Extravaganza with Shannon and the Clams, La Luz, The Fe Fi Fo Fums, DJ Brian Foss @ Chop Suey. 21+. $15 at the door. Show at 9 p.m.

In case you didn’t know, Capitol Hill venue Chop Suey becomes the latest local music venue to fall victim to grabby developers come January. That means you’d better get your fix while you can, and this second night of holiday hijinks should be just the ticket. Shannon and the Clams play retro rock that plumbs surf music, rockabilly, and lo-fi pop, La Luz’s swaggering garage-surf remains crucial live, the Fe Fi Fo Fums bash out lovingly sloppy rock that makes the Black Lips sound like Yes, and hosts Dancer and Prancer do the Ventures’ surf-Christmas schtick with irresistible panache. All that, and pictures with Santa, and a DJ set by booking God/former Funhouse Santa Brian Foss? Smells like Christmas-palooza.

Kinski, Spoils, Low Hums @ The Blue Moon Tavern. 21+. $8 at the door. Show at 9 p.m.

Kinski have been kicking around Seattle for long enough (since 1998) to officially be taken for granted, but do so at your own peril. Their most recent full-length, 2013’s Cosy Moments, saw them pounding out some lean and menacing hard rock with vocals, but fans can rest assured that the band’s dreamy/gothy/atmospheric/freaky instrumental soundscapes remain intact–and mesmerizing live. Low Hums most definitely live up to their name, generating a slow-rolling and likewise-atmospheric wall of sound that adds some roots twang to the trip, as if Ennio Morricone’s slide guitar player dropped acid and joined a shoegaze band.

X, The Blasters, Girl Trouble @ El Corazon. 21+. $25 advance/$30 at the door. Show at 8 p.m.

If the words ‘seminal’ and ‘legendary’ didn’t already exist, some rock critic or music nerd would have had to invent them to describe X. The LA punk band influenced a couple of generations of indie musicians by draping a roots-rock canvas over punk rock. They still give it their all onstage and sport an astonishing back catalog. Roots-rock stalwarts The Blasters and Tacoma’s own Mount Rushmore of Garage Rock (Girl Trouble) form a super-powered opening one-two punch.

Funky 2 Death @ Seamonster Lounge. 21+. Free! Show at 10 p.m.

I’m a relatively late convert to Wallingford’s Seamonster Lounge, but it’s a great little scrapper of a venue with decidedly funky leanings. Local ensemble Funky 2 Death have pretty much served as the Seamonster’s informal house band for awhile now, and they’re capable funketeers with a surplus of chops. The grooves don’t come more organic and durable, and when guitarist Jabrille “Jimmy James” Williams begins firing off molten licks you best look out.

Saturday, December 20

Xmas Maximus, Cathy Sorbo, The Candy Cane Dancers @ Darrell’s Tavern. 21+. $10 at the door. Show at 9 p.m.

Last year’s Xmas Maximus Holiday Show provided some seriously good times, serving up plenty of holiday-themed original and cover songs that took plenty of goofball paths (yes, Christmas tunes and prog rock can be combined, if you’re as bent as these guys are). This year’s installment continues the madness, with the best dive bar in North Seattle once more standing in for the North Pole, an all-star cast of local musicians (including singer Barbara Trentanange, who belts out “At the Christmas Ball” below) populating the band, comedian Cathy Sorbo turning the air blue, and the Candy Cane Dancers bringing the burlesque.

My Goodness, Haunted Horses, Chrome Lakes @ Sunset Tavern. 21+. $12 at the door. Show at 8 p.m.

In case you haven’t gotten the news, My Goodness crafted what might be the best epic rock record of 2014 with their full-length Shiver and Shake (further elaboration here). Why they’re not filling giant venues at this point is one of life’s true mysteries, so enjoy seeing them in the cozy confines of Ballard’s Sunset Tavern while you can. The strong, stacked bill also includes the drony and scary Haunted Horses, and some potently forceful post-punk from local boys Chrome Lakes.

X, The Blasters, Boss Martians @ El Corazon. 21+. $25 advance/$30 at the door. Show at 8 p.m.

See Friday, December 19, give or take the very awesome stylings of another local garage rock ensemble, Boss Martians, in lieu of Girl Trouble.

Joe Purdy, OK Sweetheart, Sophia Duccini @ The Neptune. 21+. $29 advance. Show at 7 p.m.

Joe Purdy‘s tremulous folk stylings offer the requisite earthy charm, but for my money, the two opening acts make this bill damn near irresistible. Local girl Sophia Duccini‘s sidelong folk songs with pop tinges would impress even if she wasn’t a tender 18 years old, and former New Yorker/current Seattleite Erin Austin lends some powerhouse pipes to her ongoing project/band OK Sweetheart, combining sixties pop, folk, and Muscle Shoals soul to shimmering effect.

Santa Claus @ Scarecrow Video. 21+. Free. Show at 8 p.m.

Before you go to any of the above music shows tomorrow night, you’re cordially invited to visit the world’s greatest video store, knock back a beer, and watch Santa Claus score wacky dust from Merlin the Magician before going mano-a-mano with a devil. My sworn mission to make this bizarre bon bon an enduring holiday classick continues. First ten people receive a suitably bizarre door prize, courtesy of Santa!

Sunday, December 21

Piano Starts Here: A Charlie Brown Christmas @ The Royal Room. All Ages. $5 advance. Show at 6 p.m.

Gigantor, Lushy @ The Royal Room. 21+. No Cover, Suggested Donation $5 to $15 at the door. Show at 9 p.m.

Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas never fails to wrap a warm scarf around one’s heart, so hearing several talented local musicians wending their way through those jazzy chestnuts roasting on an open fire should be a treat. Stick around at Columbia City’s great new-ish venue for what will surely be sterling turns by Gigantor (fab reggae/ska fronted by Lynval Golding of ska legends The Specials) and Seattle’s finest cocktail/bossanova/space-age pop ensemble, Lushy.