In Everything But The Girl’s “25th December” (one of those great non-Christmas Christmas songs that end up on “indie xmas” mix tapes), Ben Watt sings about the quintessential winter feeling: regret. “I’m thirty and I don’t know nothing no more,” he whines in the way that only British people can whine, thinking about old friends, his father, all of things he never said, etc. Yes it’s sentimental, and yes I first heard this song when I was 12, but as I near my own 30th year (407 days, not that I’m counting), the song seems to tap into the overwhelming sadness of December, all unresolved resolutions and vanishing daylight.
December is a time to crawl away in a little hole, which–hey!–that’s what bars are! And–double hey!–that’s where music is played, and that’s where so many of us will end up this season after some obligatory familial dining and the tearing of wrapping paper. So, in honor of making lists that we never check twice, here are some brief notes on your musical holiday shopping.
Pieta Brown’s “This Land is Your Music” concept shows are kind of awkwardly named, but the idea behind them is perfect to warm your holiday heart. It’s an event that attempts to showcase the relationships between musicians and fans and arts and music and community, and the proceeds from the shows (which will include a visual art component) benefit Friends of Hickory Hill Park and Iowa Public Radio. This year the shows happen on Dec. 4 and 11. On the first night Pieta will strum with the Vagabonds and on the second night Alexis Stevens will be the opening act.
For the person on your list who has everything, you’ll want to get them tickets to the December edition of I Hear IC, one of the coolest semi-regular live music events in town. I’m sure I’ve mentioned them before, but these events are curated by Jared Fowler, who likes to pair some of his homies from the UI School of Music with people from the local scene. Best of all, each performer can only play for 10 minutes, so if you don’t like it, then something else is next. Typical shows are a little over an hour. This one is on Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. at the Englert and will feature Christine Augspurger playing “Anvil Chorus,” a solo percussion piece by Pulitzer-winning UI Alum David Lang, Ex-Action Model, Idris Goodwin and Cassius Goens, and the nature-sound sounding Lwa.
music school nerds people who are professionally trained, a man by the name of S. Carey will be playing at the Mill on Dec. 10. He’s famous for being a member of Bon Iver. The “Name of Dude (from other band)” association is often more of a red flag than an accolade, but this is a promising show. The classically-trained Carey’s new album is an interesting blend of contemporary composition “stuff” (that’s the technical term) with rock music aesthetics.
Also, Tim Kasher (of Cursive) is playing the Blue Moose with Minus the Bear on Dec. 13. I guess “Name of Dude (from other band)” is pretty much a sure bet this month!
Finally, as of press time, here’s what I could find about New Year’s Eve events around town. First off, Iowa native William Elliott Whitmore, who’s NYE shows are a bit of an Iowa City tradition, is playing at the Blue Moose. He characteristically tore the roof off of a sold out house the last time he played there. Whitmore is a force as much as he is a musician, and seeing him live in Iowa is essential to understanding the man and his music. I’ve never really experienced such a connection between audience and performer than the last two times he’s played in town. Unlike Christine O’Donnell, dude actually is us.
At the Mill two local legends are joining forces as Dave Zollo will be playing with the Gglitch. Both bands fall under the category of “musically gifted”–all these guys can play–and if you can’t make it out for NYE both bands have shows at the Yacht Club earlier in the month, please check their website for details. Speaking of the Yacht Club, it looks like the last Public Property show EVER is going to be their way to ring in 2011. Need I remind you that this a reggae band who has recorded with Toots? Feel that pressure drop, bitches, and get your tickets early.