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.
On Friday, December 28, SEXCOFFEE will be sharing the big stage at Lupo’s with the GREY SANFORD BAND, BAYLOCK, SCOTTY DON’T, and BADFISH, the Sublime tribute. Call 401.331.LUPO. Also on Friday at 6 pm at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, SARAH BROOKS AND GRACEFUL SOUL will be having a CD release party. The band, featuring saxman Marcus Monteiro, guitarists Bob Shlink and Jim Robitaille, bassist Bill Miele, and drummer Kenny Hadley, will undoubtedly provide tremendous and funky support. Go to whaling museum.org or call 508.997.0046. On Friday at the Blackstone, 1005 Main Street, Pawtucket, it’s an official Ugly Sweater Party, highlighted by the inspired double bill of FUNGUS AMUNGUS and SYMMETRY. Doors open at 8 pm and there’s a $7 cover, which includes a free champagne toast, even though it’s not New Year’s Eve. Call 401.726.2181. Chan’s hosts the JAMES MONTGOMERY BLUES BAND on Friday at 8 and 10 pm. Call 401.765.1900. SHARKS COME CRUISIN’ will be at Patrick’s Pub on Friday. It will be an acoustic night with plenty of rowdy singalongs. Stop by, grab some grog, and belt it out with the band. Call 401.751.1553.
At Jake’s on Saturday, it’s BEN PILGRIM AND THE FREE UNION BAND, VON DOOM and SIX STAR GENERAL. Von Doom will be celebrating the release of their debut disc, The Universe. On Saturday at the Mediator, the PROVIDENCE WHOLEBELLIES invite everyone to its ANNUAL STEVE DUBOIS MEMORIAL HOEDOWN & BIRTHDAY CAKE PARADE from 7 to 10 pm. Dubois, a local music legend, died in 2002. He was one of the founding members of the Wholebellies, and his spirit lives on in the band’s music. Incidentally, if your birthday is this winter, bring a cake or the like, and join in the Birthday Cake Parade. Admission is $5 and kids are free (BYOB). Call 401.461.3683.