Smack dab in the middle of Halloween and Christmahanakwanzaa, Thanksgiving always seems more of an autumn holiday than a winter one for me. Yes, I know winter doesn't actually start for another month but we'd be forgiven for forgetting that given our recent weather. So with this seeming transition between the seasons, I began to think about what a fitting playlist would be for the turkey-centric gathering on Thursday. Of course, every gathering is different and there is no one-size-fits-all playlist, but since no one asked, I'll share what will be making it onto mine (in no particular order) when family shows up on Thursday.
The selection of jazz will probably be more fitting toward the actual dinner and I might start off with a Jim Pepper album I recently borrowed (thanks Carl) called Comin' and Goin'. It is filled with influences from his Native American heritage and nice jazz touches throughout. Keep in mind that this came out in 1987 and has some dated saxophone sounds, but it's a nice tweak on much of the jazz we're used to. Happenings by Bobby Hutcherson (whom we recently lost) is a great showcase for jazz vibraphone and it never hurts to have Herbie Hancock on piano. Eastern Sounds from Yusef Lateef has always been one of my favorites and with its use of more than just the ionian and aeolian modes, it's a nice semi-exotic jazz album. Tom Waits' Small Change is a darkly beautiful album. It is perhaps fitting at the end of the night when you're wasted and bleeding from a fist fight with your father-in-law over who got to carve the turkey. Although definitely more of a winter album, Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas always goes great with family and a fire by the hearth.
I tend to gravitate more to the rock world and there are plenty of albums in this vein that are wholly inappropriate for family gatherings. So it's not always easy to find something that goes with the subtle and restrained mood of Thanksgiving. That said, here are some that I'll probably sneak in earlier in the day. Songs from the Wood from Jethro Tull reminds me of shivering a bit in front of a campfire but its acoustic touches and medieval merriment complement a poor man's feast. Traffic's John Barleycorn Must Die has enough flute to follow Tull and enough touches of jazz to transition into dinner. I'll leave that to you. Van Morrison has a lot of albums to offer that could work well but I'll go with St. Dominic's Preview this evening. Songs: Ohia from The Magnolia Electric Co. has some somber alt-country flavor which could pair well with Song from Lullabye for the Working Class. I haven't listened to Simon and Garfunkel's Bookends in a bit; I'm just hoping we don't all start sobbing during "America." With some folk and a bit of rage barely under the surface, The Throes from Two Gallants might also be a fitting late nighter. Ted Hawkins' The Next Hundred Years is mostly acoustic guitar and some bluesy/soulful vocals from Ted with light percussion and organ occasionally floating around. That about does it for my playlist at the moment. I may improvise with some Nickleback when I'm ready for folks to leave. Let me know what you'll be listening to — my email address is below. Let's find things to be thankful this year.
It's Thanksgiving, aka Turkey Day, Dead Bird Day, etc., so stay in tonight and play some good music while you clean up after ungrateful company. Save your energy to rage during the weekend.
Start burning off some of those calories tonight dancing to the classic country songs of the Redwood Ramblers who will be at the Mad River Brewery Tasting Room starting at 6 p.m. and playing for free. If you feel you've burned too many calories, balance things out with some local beer. Not too far away, you'll find fellow locals The Movers and The Shakers rockin' it up at the Fieldbrook Family Market around 7:30 p.m. and the only money you'll spend is if you pick up groceries. After a three-year break from visiting Humboldt County — which is forgivable since he lives in the Big Apple — Jeffery Lewis & Los Bolts revisit the redwoods. A singer/songwriter and cartoonist, Jeffery is also "the best lyricist working in the US today," according to one Jarvis Cocker. A bit of an "anti-folker," Jeffery often has cartoons and drawings projected to visually complement the music. So with that in mind, it's fitting that local visual storytelling act The ComiX Trip will be opening up the show. It'll be the official premiere of some short films from said trip, featuring "claymation, some animation and stop-motion using paper, as well as live footage." So delight your eyes and ears at the Miniplex tonight at 8 p.m. for only $5. You can also find some free jazz — as in monetarily free — at Six Rivers Brewery at 9 p.m. with the Opera Alley Cats, and some good jams at the Bear River Casino at the same time and for the same price with Blue Rhythm Revue.
In last week's column I mentioned the final performance of the RLA Jazz Trio with Bobby Amirkhanian, who is heading out to Vegas to hopefully perform with Cirque du Soleil in the near future. It appears his official going away party is tonight at the Miniplex. He and his friends will be celebrating his send off with music from Nirvana cover band Lounge Act and also local cover band The Undercovers. The party starts around 8 p.m. and music begins around 9:15 p.m. There's a $5 cover charge going to the bands. Music in the Delta roots vein will be wafting through the air at Six Rivers Brewery tonight courtesy of Crosby Tyler. He'll be joined by a full band tonight around 9 p.m. for this free show.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Night Show on KWPT 100.3 FM weeknights at 6 p.m. He might sneak in some Kraftwerk of Neil Young's Trans.