Celebrating the release of "A Very Mermen Christmas," Jim Thomas brings the greatest space surf band in the world for a too-infrequent visit to Moe's Alley. Fans have heard shards of the Christmas shredding in Mermen jams, but on the disc, Thomas rings pretty true to classics such as "The Little Drummer Boy,""Carol of the Bells," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," and the like.
If you don't know the Mermen and you are a fan of Jimi Hendrix, get your butt out there and see them. It's as close as you can come to the master's mercurial musings. As a surf band, they have far more in common with Jimi than with Dick Dale, and really, there is no one else that does what they do. It's a trip back to the best of the 1960s.
Thomas promises to play "Within You and Without You," as a Ravi Shankar tribute, "My Favorite Things," and whatever comes up, as usual.
The inspiration for the Christmas album was the song "Do You Hear What I Hear," which he heard somewhere and caught the lines:
"Do you hear what I hear
a song, a song
High above the tree
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea"
"A voice as big as the sea," said Thomas in an interview. "Can you imagine anything more Mermen?"
I defy you to find a better modern instrumental than 'With No Definite Future.'
In a revealing interview in the Santa Cruz Weekly, Todd Snider says he's quit quitting drugs. He says his partying lifestyle hasn't affected his career.
I'm not so sure that friends or promoters would agree, or whether we're watching a potential Kurt Cobain flameout, but his latest work takes him out of the realm of happy, goofy songs and into a darker tableau. On Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables he sounds like a cross between Lou Reed and Johnny Cash – not a bad combination for those who think too much to be fooled by a few beers. Kurt Cobain would love this.
Graham Parker and the Rumour
Did they have to put this classic British songwriter against the live broadcast of the Rolling Stones in Madison Square Garden? Ow.
And against Elvin Bishop? You thought there were too many choices Friday? Saturday is painful.
Parker, one of the greats of the 1970s, has released "Three Chords Good," his first album in 31 years, and just the title alone lets you know he hasn't lost the wry humor that created such songs as "Local Girls" with its chorus: "Don't bother with the local girls," "You Can't Be Too Strong," "Love Gets You Twisted," and "Waiting for the UFOs."
I don't really have to say much here, do I? You know him. Great bluesman, schooled as one of the white guys who hung out with the masters in Chicago. Played with Paul Butterfield in the 1960s. Had a timeless hit in the '70s with "Fooled Around and Fell in Love." Continues to tour and delight audience with no sign of aging through the present.
He plays foot-stomping, get off your feet and dance blues, with a tinge that hangs on from his native Oklahoma, just like his accent.
If you haven't seen him, you'd better before the end of the Mayan calendar. Fool around with some video here.
He's written novels, run for Governor of Texas, played with his band the Texas Jewboys and is one of the most famous Americana artists ever to twang and bang.
His Bi-polar tour features him on solo guitar with opener Brian Molnar.
His most recent book, written with Willie Nelson, is called Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die and a Russian moviemaker is filming his novel, Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned.
You know you can't resist him and it's a great way to spend the end of Hanukkah. Suck down some video here.
Santa Cruz Ballet's NUTCRACKER AT THE CIVIC
Friday 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 1:00 and 4:30 p.m.
See story here.