Despite living in a world that is seemingly rotating off its axis and just plain miserable, there are, believe it or not, many reasons to give thanks. You just have to look for them.
Kris Hansen, for one, doesn’t have to look real far. The local musician, songwriter, and engineer nearly lost his life after being struck by a brain aneurysm in 2001. Leading up to that tragedy, Hansen had been working in the music business for over a dozen years. But the aneurysm figuratively crippled him. In fact, when something like that happens, most folks would have to kiss everything and everybody goodbye. But Hansen defied death; somehow, he’s lived to tell about it. Actually, he spends more time singing about it. Since the episode, Hansen has experienced an artistic rebirth, a burst of creativity, as if he’s trying to make up for all the writing time he’s missed.
His debut, Kris Hansen’s Left Hand Band, features 18 songs written in the aftermath of the aneurysm. A thing of beauty, filled to the gills with ideas and hooks and melodies and meaning. It’s a musical jacquard of styles, from breezy, jazzy, and psyche pop to folk, roots, and classic rock. Sonic touchstones include John Lennon, Paul Westerberg, the Mekons, Levon Helm, Richard Thompson, and Robyn Hitchcock, which should give you some indication of where his heart is at. It’s a jubilant celebration of sound, with feelgood vibes and lots of sprightly plucking. The wistful instrumental “Ghosts,” the anthemic love song “About Her,” and the whimsical Brian Wilson-inspired closer “Laugh and Get Bored” are but a few of the many highlights worth mentioning.
Hansen’s accompaniment — Bob Giusti on drums (who contributes the Beatlesy “Catastrophe Ragtime”), George Dussault (who weighs in with the quirky “Opus in L minor”), Jon Tierney, and Tara Hansen — provides colorful support. As a result, there is not only a warm emotional undercurrent on Left Hand Band, there’s some solid musical chops backing it all up. Pick up a copy. It’s a plain ol’ blast, not to mention a miracle this baby even got made.
KRIS HANSEN + THE LEFT HAND BAND | December 27 + 31 | SNOOKERS, 145 Clifford Street, Providence | 401.351.7665 | lefthandband.com
All about Eve
Folks who like to ring the New Year in with a little live music to go along with their imbibing have a bunch of sweet options. Chan’s, where it’s fun to celebrate pretty much anything, presents YOUNG NEAL, with his trademark ’58 Fender Stratocaster, and THE VIPERS. Admission is $40 for the show, which includes a buffet dinner. Reservations must be made separately for the concert. The night includes hats, noisemakers, and the de rigueur champagne toast. For information or reservations call 401.765.1900. In Newport, it’s a reunion that everybody . . . er, at least a few people have been waiting for: TWO GUYS & ANOTHER GUY, performing for the first time in 20 years. It all goes down at Jimmy’s Saloon on Memorial Blvd. Call 401.846.5121. There’s also a New Year’s Eve bash at Jake’s, of course, featuring a clutch of 75 or Less bands: SIX STAR GENERAL, THE PROPELLERS, MUSTACHE RIDE, and HOPE ANCHOR. The cover is $5 till 10 pm, then $7. Call 401.453.5253. At AS220 on New Year’s Eve, Grüvis Malt’s evil twin, EBU GOGO, will be releasing their monstrous and mind-boggling new disc, Chase Scenes, a bizarre but immensely satisfying hybrid of Zappa, Rush, Freddie Krueger, King Crimson, and The Twilight Zone. DENIMVENOM opens. Call 401.831.9327.