First Night 2007

From Voltron and John Doe to fireworks and U.V. Pro, an insider's guide to getting the most out of your button on New Year's Eve.
By SHARON STEEL  |  January 4, 2007

Babe the Blue Ox

It's worth noting that Joyce Linehan, the director of public information for Boston's First Night organization, used to do A&R for Sub Pop. She's been blogging up a storm lately, and just the other day she let loose on those bastards who've been asking her why Priceline didn't name our fair city's celebration as one of the nation's top destinations for New Year's Eve. Spinning like James Carville on two hours' sleep, she took a potshot at the online travel agencies -- and the lazy reporters who recycle their press releases -- then counter-punched by pointing out that the first two hotels she called were booked solid. Advantage: Linehan. Plus, how can anyone bitch about a First Night where U.V. Protection -- the local all-female operatic synth-pop trio of faux robots -- is playing Copley Square? With guest thereminist John Berenhardt? And a crowd full of people with electronic theremin applications loaded into their PDAs?!

Boston’s First Night is the oldest and largest New Year’s Eve festival in the country, and it has everything: art, music, dance, theater, a killer fireworks spectacular. The GRAND PROCESSION begins at 5:30 pm at Hynes Convention Center (900 Boylston St). This year’s theme, “Life on Earth,” divides the giddy pageant of performers into four color-coded worlds: natural, human, mythical, and wired. The gang will roll down Boylston St to the corner of Charles and Beacon, each world being led by a different piece from the Back Alley Puppet Theatre and Puppeteers Cooperative. It’ll culminate with a fireworks display at 7 pm on Boston Common. This much you probably could've figured out on your own.

But before that, starting at 1 pm, artists will be toiling away on five ICE SCULPTURES to be illuminated at dusk. Donald Chapelle’s “Oysterman,” on the Common by Brewer’s Fountain, pays homage to the high seas; “Cloud Dancer,” by Steve Rose and David Peterson at the Frog Pond, has winged Pegasus soaring by. Be sure to have a good long gape before January 2, when they’ll be knocked down or melted by global warming, whichever comes first. 

There’s plenty to look at at the new Institute of Contemporary Art (100 Northern Ave on the Boston Waterfront), and it’s open from 10 am to 5 pm. And plenty to listen to everywhere. Country-noir songstress MARY GAUTHIER and JOHN DOE, a former member of punk band X gone roots-rock solo, headline the Orpheum (1 Hamilton Place), Mary at 8:30 and 10:30 pm, John at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. Seated in a circle around a single mic at the Hynes Convention Center, SESSIONS AMERICANA flesh out the countrypolitan sound from 7:30 to 11 pm. The HOLMES BROTHERS transport their gospel-influenced funk to the Berklee Performance Center (136 Mass Ave) at 8:45 and 9:45 pm; CUL DE SAC provide modern instrumental accompaniment to two short films, Raymond Briggs’s “The Snow Man” and Ladislas Starevich’s “The Mascot,” at 7:30 and 8:45 pm.

At First Church in Boston (66 Marlborough St), Russian-born Dorchester classical-guitarist GRIGORY GORYACHEV will perform at 6 and 7:45 pm, followed by mezzo-soprano D’ANNA FORTUNATO at 9 and 10:15 pm. The AMARYLLIS DUO serenade Old South Meeting House (310 Washington St) at 3 pm and the BRILLANER DUO take the Berklee stage at 7:30. Plus, the AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS comes to Arlington Street Church (351 Boylston St) from 10 to 11 pm, and at 9 pm King’s Chapel (58 Tremont St) music director HEINRICH CHRISTENSEN coaxes Bach out of that church’s historic C.B. Fisk organ.

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