Thursday, December 30, 2004
First Night Monterey offers this all. And minus the champagne-goggles, you have a better chance of kissing the one you intended when your friends yell out, “Happy New Year!”
Along Came Betty
This local quintet performs be-bop covers and jazz classics while adding their own original songs to their repertoire. Together since 1998, Along Came Betty plays melodic and richly harmonized hard-bop that swings. Catch their set at 7pm and again at 8pm at the Golden State Theater, 417 Alvarado St.
Just back from a West Coast tour, this engaging banjo player is known for his energetic and amusing shows. Gordy Ohliger has played banjo in festivals and jams worldwide, wrote and performed for the PBS special America’s Banjo: A Musical History, and is bound to convert the most skeptical of this classic American instrument. Strum your way over to the Regency Theater at 426 Alvarado St., for his performances at 9:15pm, 10pm, and 10:45pm.
The Blue Tones
First of all, it’s absolutely necessary to note here that Teen Magazine voted this young band one of the top three bands of the nation! Can thousands of squealing girls be wrong? The members of the band have graduated high school by now, but these local boys are still astounding audiences nationwide with their danceable blues renditions. They’ll be feeling the blues at 6:45pm, 8pm, and 9:30pm behind Community Bank on 439 Alvarado St.
The Black Irish Band
Many of this year’s First Night performers are exploring various musical traditions. This band delves into traditional maritime and railroad songs as well as ethnic ballads of Ireland, Italy and America at 9:15pm and 10pm at the Golden State Theater, 417 Alvarado St.
This Brazilian ensemble creates a hot performance complete with music, choreography and costume. Their Samba and reggae tunes will energize your party, so if you feel your eyes drooping, fuel up with their 9:15pm and 10:15pm shows at the Serra Ballroom, Monterey Conference Center, 1 Portola Plaza, before heading off to the countdown.
Chicano All Stars
Latin music is basically the sexiest music to dance to. Go see this Salinas-based seven-member band and show off your impressive moves to their rocking music. Their all-star performances can be seen in the Serra Ballroom of the Monterey Conference Center, 1 Portola Plaza, at 7:15pm. If you miss out, this group that headlined First Night last year is playing the finale at 11:15pm.
Like the quiz night that has permeated Tuesday night bars world wide, Comedy Sportz improv shows seem to be the new hot hit. Two teams try to out-do each other with wit, humor, and on-the-ball action, performing unscripted (and unrehearsed) scenes, songs and games at 7pm and 8pm in the Masonic Lodge Hall, 525 Pacific St. They are vying for the audience’s vote, so clearly they aim to please. And please the crowd they will; even if they mess up, everyone will end up laughing.
Garland Thompson Poetry Slam
Don’t be scared off by the name. With poet, actor, playwright, etc. Garland Thompson, you could hardly call this open poetry reading a “slam.” He is known for the welcoming and friendly environment he provides for novice poets with his Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam as well as slams at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur. You don’t have to don a black beret, tight pants or a turtleneck, but this is your chance to let out that inner-poet. And don’t worry: they’ve already warned the public of the possibility of “adult content.” Not quite ready to read your own? No worries, you can come to judge as well. But then you do have to wear a beret. It’s only fair. The slamming starts at 9:15pm at Morgan’s Coffee and Tea, 498 Washington St.
Getting a bunch of people singing together in a room seems to only happen at church these days. But this group’s renditions of music from the ’40s through ’70s are actually going to get you singing along. These guys are smart enough to provide their own “hymnals,” so you don’t have to worry about looking up lyrics beforehand. And here the music is, you know, rockin’. Three hootenannies will take place at 6:30pm, 7:15pm, and 8pm in the Maritime Museum Historic Theater, 5 Custom House Plaza.
P & T Puppet Theater
Peter Brizzi and his large and colorful puppets have been performing in zMonterey County and the Bay Area since 1979. His show is geared toward children, but his adaptations of “Just So Stories” will intrigue an audience of all ages. Just think of Being John Malkovich, minus the infidelity or magic-mirror sets, and plus a little good-natured family values, which is just what every New Year’s Eve needs. Bring the whole family to the deck at Bay Books, 316 Alvarado St., at 3pm and 4:15pm.
Red Beans and Rice
Maybe not the most classy meal for a celebration night like New Year’s Eve, but this band is a classic. After ten years with Terrence Kelly, this blues band now plays with new frontman Bishop Mayfield. He and the six other members play unique blues renditions and have won numerous music awards, including best band of Monterey for eight years in a row. And this isn’t any tear-jerker blues; this band is going to make you want to dance. This show gets cooking at 8:30pm, 9:15pm, and 10pm on the Colton Hall Lawn Stage, 351 Pacific St.
First Night buttons can be purchased for $15 at BayBooks in Monterey, Rite Aid Pharmacy in Del Monte Center, BookWorks in Pacific Grove or any Safeway or Longs Drugs in Monterey County. Children under five are free. Call 373-4778 or visit www.firstnightmonterey.org for more info.