Top Shelf

Voodoo Daddy, Wranglers and Jingle Jam

by Chris Aaland

Not to be a Grinch, but it’s that time of the year when the Three Wise Men, Santa Claus and Rudolph wrestle away venue dates for holiday concerts. And that’s a good thing. A little Burl Ives singing “Silver and Gold” warms the soul.

Jump, jive and wail under the mistletoe with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Community Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Monday. The seven-piece California outfit was at the forefront of the swing revival in the early 1990s and has kept chugging along ever since. Their 1998 album, “Americana Deluxe,” was an instant classic and remains a catchy, albeit guilty pleasure. “You and Me and the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)” and “Mr. Pinstripe Suit,” among others, still sound as good today as they did 13 years ago. This time around, Scotty Morris and company are revisiting their “Wild & Swingin’ Holiday” party. So dust off those zoot suits and get ready for some holiday tunes spiced with Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway influences.

If jump blues Yuletide isn’t your thing, perhaps the more traditional Bar D Wranglers Christmas Jubilee is. Gary Cook (guitar), Richard Lee Cody (guitar), Matt Palmer (fiddle) and Joel Racheff (doghouse bass) wrangle up traditional holiday and Western music, cowboy poetry, tall tales and humor at 7 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Dec. 15) at the Community Concert Hall. They’ll be joined by the octogenarian Bar D founder Cy Scarborough — one of the most beloved men to ever strum a guitar in these parts — and honey-voiced songstress Lisa Blue. Sure, you know these guys from their Bar D Chuckwagon in the Animas Valley — a venue that entertains 70,000 people per year. They’ve played nationally, including shows at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, and on Grand Ole Opry television and radio shows.

For the whole family — but kids especially — the Hank hosts a Morning with Santa from 9-11 a.m. Saturday. Enjoy a fun, holiday breakfast buffet with Santa, his elves and Miss Candy Cane. Decorate your own pancakes, get photos taken with Santa, sing along with the elves and make handcrafted art to take home. Patrons are encouraged to donate hats, gloves and blankets to Project Merry Christmas. Cost ranges from $5-19 depending on your age.

The Abbey hosts its inaugural Hip-Hip Jingle Jam at 9 p.m. Friday, featuring Brown Boy, Doll-E Girl, MS Lady Pinks and more. It’s a 21-plus affair.
The Summit throws its XXX-MAS party tonight with DJ Brenmar as part of an extra-special Thirsty Thursday. Also on tap this week are happy hour with Eric Kiefer from 6-9 p.m. Friday, a dub fiesta including the Summit Dub Squad and A Dub Rock Band at 10 p.m. Friday, happy hour with Rupnow & friends from 6-9 p.m. Saturday, and a bluegrass/Southern rock-flavored throwdown with Kentucky Deluxe at 10 p.m. Saturday.

Get goofy at Moe’s at Friday’s Disco Night, featuring DJ Double D, and its hip-hop blowout presented by Citified Urban Clothes, featuring DJ Juan Blanco on Saturday. Both shindigs start around 8 p.m. There’s also the weekly Musica del Mundo at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Elsewhere: Freeplay does the weekly Ska-B-Q at the World Headquarters in Bodo Park from 5-7 p.m. tonight; the Kirk James Blues Band returns to the Schank House at Vallecito at 7 p.m. Saturday; and Psychedelic Mojo rocks the Derailed Saloon at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Congratulations are in order: Steamworks brewers Ken Martin and Spencer Roper, along with co-assistant general manager Dave Woodruff, have achieved “certified cicerone” status, joining a select group of 330 suds slingers across the country to earn the title. A cicerone is to craft beer what a sommelier is to wine, designating those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving a wide range of beer … or taproom Einsteins, as I like to call them. The ultimate certification is “master cicerone,” which only three in the entire U.S. of A. have earned. When that happens, happy drunks will scrawl “Roper is God” on bathroom walls across town, much like British blues fans did with Eric Clapton in the 1960s.

With apologies for Top 40 fans out there and just in time for your holiday shopping, this week’s Top Shelf list features my Top 11 albums of 2011.

1. Dale Watson & the Texas Two, “The Sun Sessions.” Watson had a gig in Nashville cancelled because the venue owner opted for a DJ spinning club tunes over this venerable alt-country legend. So Watson rented the Sun Studios and recorded an instant, Johnny Cash-flavored classic.

2. Hayes Carll, “KMAG YOYO (And other American Stories).” While the title track is my unquestioned song of the year, the rest of the album is simply one stunning slice of Americana after another.

3. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, “Unentitled.” Denver’s Goth-country champions just get better with age.

4. Lydia Loveless, “Indestructible Machine.” The new Gillian? The new Neko? Find out for yourself when she plays the inaugural “Outlaw Snowdown” alt-country festival in Pagosa Springs from Jan. 13-15. Others on the bill include the Supersuckers, Band of Heathens and more.

5. Gillian Welch, “The Harrow & the Harvest.” It’s a shame Gillian’s pace has slowed to eight years between albums, but her fifth studio effort was well worth the wait.

6. Tom Waits, “Bad as Me.” Every decade, it seems, Waits reinvents himself. This one will go down with “Rain Dogs” and “Mule Variations” as signals of his evolving musical journey.

7. Town Mountain, “Steady Operator.” Robert Greer announced from the stage the soon-to-be birth of our Baby Gus at last summer’s Pagosa Folk’n Bluegrass Festival. Gus may be gone, but this album will serve as a reminder of those precious few months we had with him. And “5 Shots of Whiskey” strangely serves as a sad-yet-beautiful eulogy.

8. Dave Alvin, “Eleven Eleven.” Dave turns up the volume to 11 on this one.

9. Eddie Spaghetti, “Sundowner.” Good, old-fashioned fun from the lead Supersucker.

10. Wanda Jackson, “The Party Ain’t Over.” Whatever Jack White touches turns to gold.

11. Hot Club of Cowtown, “What Makes Bob Holler.” The music of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys has fueled the Hot Club for nearly 15 years. Their music embraces the Hot Club as much as the Austin trio embraces these Western swing pioneers. n

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