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Acoustic Americana Music Guide, Dec 2 through 8, + upcoming HOLIDAY ev ents….

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  • mountain482@juno.com
    . Egads, it’s December. At least finding inspirational interludes – musical respites - in your holiday dashing-about is simplified, with the Guide’s
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2010

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      Egads, it’s December. At least finding inspirational interludes – musical respites - in your holiday dashing-about is simplified, with the Guide’s “SHOW-OF-THE-WEEK” picks to humbly assist you. Plus, you’ll find a bit o’ news, and lots more…

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      Tied to the Tracks

      ACOUSTIC AMERICANA

      MUSIC GUIDE

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      DECEMBER 2 through 8, + upcoming HOLIDAY events, 2010

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      “QUICKIE ACCESS:” “SHOW-OF-THE-WEEK” PICKS, & THIS WEEK’S NEWS… 

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      1) “Show-Of-The-Week” Picks, December 2nd through 5th

      2)  Join the All Star Lineup, Caroling for Shut-Ins, this Sunday

      3)  Enjoy Live Music While Buying Your Holiday Junk (er, Gifts)…

      4)  Plan Now – December 11th Offers an Amazing Array of Shows

      5)  Out-of-Town Holiday Guests? Where to Take ’Em for Music

      6)  December’s Origins and our “Poem of the Month” 

      7)  December 7th – a Day of Enduring Relevance

      8)  “Own Chrifmaf Dire in the Moaning” (Yes, we meant to spell it that way…)

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      Here are these feature stories…

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      1)   “Show of-the-Week picks,” December 2nd through 5th

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      The first weekend of December arrives with an exceptionally rich offering of acoustic music. And the days leading to it aren’t bad. It’s all here (though we’re sure to add more, as additional shows are announced).

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      Thursday, December 2nd’s “SHOW-OF-THE-WEEK” pick:

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      8 pm RASPIN STUWART, plus DUANE THORIN opening, at the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena.

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      Friday, December 3rd’s “SHOW-OF-THE-WEEK” picks:

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      * 7:30 pm RONNY COX, stellar singer-songwriter & famous actor, plays the Sherman Oaks Presbyterian Church concert series, in Sherman Oaks.

      * 7:30 pm “RUMPELSTILTSKIN” with puppets, as the old German folk / fairy tale is presented by “Tears of Joy” at Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz at Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles; good event for children.

      * 8 pm BORDER RADIOKELLY McCUNE & her all-star band – return to the Coffee Gallery Backstage, Altadena.

      * 9:30 pm KEN O'MALLEY brings his authentic and original Irish music on 6 & 12 string, with his powerful vocals, to the Cock N Bull Pub, Santa Monica.

      * 10 pm-midnight Rick Shea performs at The Press in Claremont .

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      Saturday, December 4th’s “SHOW-OF-THE-WEEK” picks:

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      * 1-3 pm “THE SKIRBALL AT THE AMERICANA AT BRAND'S HANUKKAH CELEBRATION” at The Americana at Brand in Glendale .

      * 3 & 8 pm “ALOHA CONCERT SERIES” brings AARON SALA to the Ruth Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, Whittier .

      * 7 pm Kate Wallace and Doug Clegg, award -winning Santa-Barbara-based songwriters, bring their Americana music to the Coffee Gallery Backstage, Altadena .

      * 7:30 pm MOSCOW NIGHTS play the “Ojai Concert Series” in Matilija Auditorium, Ojai.

      * 8 pm “ AMERICANA MUSIC CONCERT” with Peter Feldmann, Tom Lee, & David West, at Presidio Chapel in Santa Barbara .

      * 8 pm Musica Angelica presents a program of “World Champs” of baroque music, in “Feste Italiane,” at Pasadena Presbyterian Church in Pasadena. (Sat, Dec 4 at 8 pm at Pasadena Presbyterian Church in Pasadena , and Sun, Dec 5, at 3 pm at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica .)

      * 8 pm JAMES LEE STANLEY at Boulevard Music, Culver City .

      * 8 pm “ALOHA CONCERT SERIES” brings AARON SALA to the Ruth Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, Whittier .

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      Plus, an “EVENT-OF-THE-WEEK” FOR ARTISTS:

      10:30 am-1 pm WORKSHOP: “SONGWRITING... Get Real!” presented by Los Angeles Women in Music (LAWIM) with Gold & Platinum Songwriter Harriet Schock, at Institute in Hollywood 90028. RSVP by 6 pm, Dec 3 to 213-243-6440 or info@...

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      Sunday, December 5th’s “SHOW-OF-THE-WEEK” picks:

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      * 12:45 & 3 pm PETER HIMMELMAN plays the Skirball Cultural Center atop Sepulveda Pass , L.A.

      * 2 pm annual “COWBOY CHRISTMAS CONCERT” with THE SONS OF THE SAN JOAQUIN and JENNIFER LIND in the Wells Fargo Theatre at the Autry National Center (Autry Museum) Griffith Park, L.A.

      * 3 pm Musica Angelica presents a program of “World Champs” of baroque music, in “Feste Italiane,” at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica. (Sat, Dec 4 at 8 pm at Pasadena Presbyterian Church in Pasadena , and Sun, Dec 5, at 3 pm at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica .)

      * 4 pm "KEN O'MALLEY'S TWELVE DAYS OF AN IRISH CHRISTMAS" benefit show at Glendale First United Methodist Church in Glendale is a benefit for San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity.

      * 4 pm 29th annual “LOS ANGELES HOLIDAY CAROLING” for shut-ins, at four senior care centers and a restaurant, with many top award-winning musicians and stars of film, TV, and stage, all in the West San Fernando Valley.

      * 7 pm “ALICE COLTRANE TRIBUTE” with a host of all-star musicians paying tribute to jazz legend Alice Coltrane at the “UCLA Live” series in Royce Hall, on the campus in Westwood.

      * 7 pm Randy Sparks & Friends” plus Jennifer Lind opening, at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, Altadena .

      * 7 pm THE DITTY BOPS return for “one very special show” at McCabe’s, Santa Monica.

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      2)  JOIN THE ALL STAR LINEUP, CAROLING for shut-inS, THIS SUNDAY

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      Many top award-winning musicians and stars of film, TV, and stage will take part in the 29th annual “LOS ANGELES HOLIDAY CAROLING” for shut-ins. All will be there, in the words of event founder VINCENT LEINEN, “to bring happiness and / or enlightenment to the elderly, to care-givers, and to participants in the event itself during the holiday season.” And you are invited to take part.

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      There’s QUITE a lineup in this show, and the Guide’s editor was honored (and flattered) to see his bio listed among all the big stars in the event’s press release. Here are just a few who are taking part:

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      Carl Verheyen, acclaimed guitarist for Supertramp, who just completed their “70-10 Greatest Hits World Tour;” Florence LaRue, six-time Grammy winning singer and original member of the acclaimed musical group The 5th Dimension; Alan O'Day, pop singer-songwriter of  #1 hit “Under Cover Angel,” and writer of Helen Reddy’s #1 hit “Angie Baby” and The Righteous Brothers’ #3 hit “Rock and Roll Heaven;” Charlene Capetillo, mezzo soprano, L.A. Opera (six seasons); Lisa Haley, fiddle player extraordinaire, 2008 Grammy nominee for “Best Zydeco or Cajun Album,” played in films “Beverly Hillbillies,” “Man in the Moon,” and “Rhythm of Life,” played with Brian Setzer, Randy Newman, and Lyle Lovett; Gina Eckstine, performed with Count Basie, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby, and her father, bop-big band leader and ballad singer Billy Eckstine; Prescott Niles, bassist for rock group The Knack, whose “My Sharona” was #1 Billboard single of 1979, and he played on George Harrison’s “Shanghai Surprise” album; Raquel Sandler, soloist with The Boston Pops; Alex Delzoppo, original member of Sweetwater, the band that opened at Woodstock and became the first subject of VH1’s “Behind the Music;” Angela Michael, featured singer on Rod Stewart's "Fly Me To The Moon" CD; Aydiee-Vaughn Dunson, multi-talented actress, singer and actor from “Everybody Hates Chris,” “My Wife & Kids,” “Boston Legal,” and more; Bonnie Ruth Janofsky, award winning composer, songwriter, pianist, and drummer; Craig Lincoln & Sabrina Schneppat, winners of “Traditional Singing” contest at the 2010 Topanga Banjo & Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival; Chelani Tiong, soprano-soloist, Southern California Children’s Chorus; Don Peake, inducted into the Musicians' Hall of Fame in Nashville in 2007, lead guitarist for The Everly Brothers, and the guitar he used on Marvin Gaye’s legendary recording “Let’s Get it On’’ is in the permanent collection of icon guitars displayed at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland; Don Sweeney, famed drummer, bandleader, concert producer, and author of the book “Backstage at The Tonight Show;” Garret Swayne, distinguished singer-song writer; Ginger de Paris, jazz tap, cabaret, and Broadway dancer and singer; Jack Maeby, keyboardist, composer, and music producer, Carly Simon, Etta James, Dr. John, Aaron Neville, Solomon Burke, Buster Poindexter, The Chambers Brothers, Odetta, Cornell Dupree, Bernard Purdie, Barbara Morrison, Virgil Jones, Charles Owens, Benny Powell, Marc Ribot, Otis Rush, Don Covay, and Otis Blackwell; Jim & Jeff Thiel, comedy twin actors from “Teen Angel,” “Murphy Brown,” “Pearl” and movie “Inspector Gadget;” Johnny Knight, who’s performed with Little Richard, the Beach Boys, and the Coasters, and recorded with James Burton, Glen Campbell, and the Raelettes (Ray Charles); Kevin Jones, keyboardist for Ozzy Osbourne; Lana Henry, internationally acclaimed star in the beauty pageant industry and classically trained singer; Linda Breakstone, former political editor of KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV, multiple Emmy, Golden Mike, and Press Club writing award winner, nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes; Larry Wines, songwriter, music industry consultant, journalist, and Guide editor; Mike Pinera, guitarist, singer, songwriter, recording artist, producer from the Alice Cooper Band, Blues Image, and Iron Butterfly; Miriam Hernandez, member of the ABC 7 Eyewitness News team in L.A.; Nolan Porter, legendary R&B performer/recording artist; Patrick Ridolfi, tenor soloist has performed with Three Tenors at Dodger Stadium, Placido Domingo, Zubin Mehta, Luciano Pavarotti, Franco Zeffirelli, Tracy Ullman, and sang for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in Rome; Patricia Zappa, singer/author of “My Brother was a Mother: A Zappa Family Album;” Ron Whitaker, drummer & founding member of the ’70s punk/Goth band Voo Doo Church; Sheree “Sheryl” Green-Adams, original Mickey Mouse Club Mousketeer; Sheri Pedigo, actress and recording artist, Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo of The Fifth Dimension, Stephen Housden (of The Little River Band), recently opened for Randy Travis; Robbyn Kirmsse, singing voice of the Rachel Ray show, toured with Joe Walsh & The James Gang, featured on “Society of Singers Great Voices” CD, with Frank Sinatra and Celine Dion, performed with Macy Gray, Vonda Shephard, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Brian McKnight, Billy Preston, Melissa Etheridge (Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston wedding), Stevie Wonder, and Slash; MANY other musicians, and YOU, if you register with Vincent and come out to participate!

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      Vincent says, “Many of the residents in these homes don’t have their health or their families. We all need to be reminded that it’s important to feel blessed and happy with what we already have in life, and less concerned with what we don’t have. The Holiday Caroling Festivities event is a very fulfilling opportunity to share joy, happiness, and holiday spirit with the elderly residents and their care-givers, while enhancing one’s own perspective or appreciation of life, health, and family. This includes the large-scale, must-attend holiday event (estimated 200 participants) in Los Angeles . This enjoyable and rewarding community service project is open to entertainers, singers and musicians of all talent levels and ages.”

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      Vincent continues, “It is a very fulfilling opportunity to give and to receive joy, happiness, and holiday spirit to and from the elderly residents, care-givers, and participants, while enhancing one’s own perspective or appreciation of life, health, and family. Bottom line: Everyone greatly benefits from the festivities.”

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      A full media blitz promoting these events includes the campaign with major Los Angeles metro-area radio, television, and newspaper outlets, local church bulletins and more, all to promote the festivities and overall theme during the holiday season.

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      Vincent’s invitation to the arts community contains an element of urgency: “All effort given to support, promote, and participate in this heart-warming activity would be especially appreciated, since your contribution and presence would greatly enhance the festivities for all involved. Please RSVP ASAP!”

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      Vincent does this across America , every year. Here in L.A. , it happens this year at four senior care centers, then culminates in a dinner for the carolers in a restaurant, all in the West San Fernando Valley . And that’s just the L.A. edition. Vincent hits the road to take it to 18 cities.

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      So, what motivates Vincent to travel across America for the month of December, as the perennial driving force and field general of seventeen MORE “Holiday Caroling” events for shut-ins? To him, it’s simple: “Together, we have the power to make a difference and to make the world a better place!”

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      The L.A. edition is an “EVENT-OF-THE-WEEK” for artists. And it happens at 4 pm this Sunday, December 5.

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      So many artists participate that an RSVP is needed so you CAN take part. You can get more details at www.ReachfortheStars.com/caroling and you can reach Vincent at 818-342-9336.

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      3)  Enjoy Live Music While Buying Your Holiday Junk (er, Gifts)…

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      We first offered this last year, and it proved so popular we’re doing it again.

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      It’s The Age-Old Dilemma. They’re a couple. She’s addicted to recreational shopping, and he’d rather have a root canal than be dragged along. The Guide offers a solution. Beginning this week, there are events where merchants offer live music and other pleasant amenities to lure shoppers. It happens for one night in Santa Monica , Claremont and Venice , and there’s more as the month gets closer to Christmas. See the times and dates in the Guide for complete listings, and here’s what to look for.

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      Wednesday, December 1st; every Wednesday:

      * 5-8 pm CLAREMONT WEDNESDAY GREEN MARKET” featuring live acoustic music inside and outside the Packing House in Claremont , plus shopping.

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      Thursday, December 2nd (TONIGHT ONLY):

      * 5-10 pm 16th annual “LOS ANGELES DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND POWER GRIFFITH PARK LIGHT FESTIVAL” in Griffith Park , holds the “Kick-Off Preview Bike Night,” 5-10 pm (Light Display Hours). Okay, so there are no shops along the festival route, but there’s plenty nearby.

      * 6-9 pm “SAN PEDRO’S FIRST THURSDAY ARTWALK,” this month with a holiday theme in and around the galleries and shops.

      * 8 pm PRE HOLIDAY WINE TASTING” at Café Cordiale in Sherman Oaks (beginning at 8).

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      Friday, December 3rd (TONIGHT ONLY, plus recurring Friday events):

      * 5-9 pm Annual “MONTANA AVENUE HOLIDAY WALK” from 7th-17th St, along Montana Av, in Santa Monica,; it’s a very big deal on the West side.

      * 11 am-5 pm “FREE FRIDAYS” (every Friday) at the LONG BEACH MUSEUM OF ART in Long Beach, gives you a chance to shop at the museum store and enjoy the exhibits.

      * 5:30-10 pm “MONROVIA FAMILY FESTIVAL” (every Friday) offers a four-block street fair in old downtown Monrovia, always with live acoustic music in several places, and a variety of shops open ~ free parking, free event.

      * 5:30-9 pm “ART WALK” in Claremont , (first Friday, every month) with live music, and this month with a Holiday theme.

      * 7 pm “FIRST FRIDAYS ON ABBOT KINNEY ART WALK” (first Friday, every month) with art and music all along the boulevard in Venice, this month with a Holiday theme.

      * 8-10 pm monthly “FIRST FRIDAY” show, with different recording artist guests each month, hosted by SEVERIN BROWNE and the FIRST FRIDAY BAND – this month with a holiday theme – at Kulak's Woodshed in North Hollywood.

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      Saturday, December 4th (TONIGHT ONLY):

      * 5 pm annual “PARADE OF LIGHTS & WINTER FESTIVAL” in Norco , where western music happens, and the parade begins at 5 pm; Festival immediately follows Parade, at Nellie Weaver Hall, on Sixth St in Norco . Event includes the lighted parade, entertainment, Santa, snow, food, shopping opportunities and more. For info, call the Norco Dep’t of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, 951-270-5632. More at www.norco.ca.us. Free.

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      Sunday, December 5th (TODAY ONLY):

      * 1-3 pm 30th annual “ Holiday Spirit of San Pedro Parade” includes the Los Angeles Police Emerald Band complete with bagpipes, kit & kilt; parade route begins at 5th St & Pacific Av, San Pedro 90731. San Pedro has plenty of shopping.

      * 2 pm annual “COWBOY CHRISTMAS CONCERT” with THE SONS OF THE SAN JOAQUIN and JENNIFER LIND in the Wells Fargo Theatre at the Autry National Center (Autry Museum) Griffith Park, L.A. Come early and you can shop in the Museum Store.

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      Other recurring events that offer similar possibilities are:

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      Wednesday, every Wednesday:

      * 7-9:30 pm Weekly “WINE & SONG” series hosted by award-winning songwriter BRAD COLERICK always with great musical guests at Firefly Bistro, 1009 El Centro St, South Pasadena 91030; 626-441-2443; www.eatatfirefly.com; (its original venue closed, but the series is still going strong, just up the street, and there are nearby shops.)

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      Thursday, every Thursday:

      * 11 am-2 pm “VAN NUYS FARMER'S MARKET” with live music performances, in the Van Nuys Civic Center behind the Los Angeles City Hall annex building and in front of the City Library in Van Nuys.

      * 11:30 am-3 pm weekly “7+FIG FARMERS MARKET” at 7th & Figuroa, downtown L.A. ; held on the beautifully landscaped upper plaza, above California Pizza Kitchen. Certified Gourmet Farmers Market, open-air, with vendors, lunches, produce, kettle korn, fresh flowers, honey, fresh breads, tamales, olives, dried fruits, nuts, crepes, crafts, and live music (varies each week). Entertainment is free.

      * 7-10 pm “POCKET GOLDBERG & FRIENDS SONGWRITER SHOWCASE” at Arnie’s Café & Ristorante Italiano in Sherman Oaks. Shop nearby, then go for dinner and the music.

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      Every night:

      December 2 through 30:

      * 5-10 pm 16th annual “LOS ANGELES DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND POWER GRIFFITH PARK LIGHT FESTIVAL” in Griffith Park, offers walking every night, bikes some nights, cars some nights, shuttle buses every night. Light display hours are 5-10 pm, and people begin lining-up for the bus tour earlier than that. (Okay, so there are no shops along the festival route, but there’s plenty nearby.)

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      There are these and, no doubt, similar events are happening elsewhere for the next few weeks. As we learn of more shopping-with-escape-hatch events with live acoustic music, we’ll let you know.

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      Beyond that? Well, there’s that always-wonderful holiday gift idea: give a fine CD to your music loving friends! And please buy it from the artist at a gig or from your local RECORD STORE.

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      4)  Plan Now – December 11th Offers AN Amazing Array of Shows

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      For starters, the Guide has named five events that night as “SHOW-OF-THE-WEEK” picks…

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      * 7 pm THE TUMBLING TUMBLEWEEDS, top award-winning Western group, tour their brand-new CD, "Blaze Across the West," at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, Altadena.

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      * 7 pm "KEN O'MALLEY'S TWELVE DAYS OF AN IRISH CHRISTMAS" show at Yucca Valley United Methodist Church in Yucca Valley .

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      * 7:30 pm BAYOU SECO plays the “SongTree” concert series in Goleta .

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      * 8 & 10 pm DAN HICKS & THE HOT LICKS present "HOLIDAZE IN HICKSVILLE" - CD release concert for the upcoming “Crazy For Christmas” album, at McCabe’s in Santa Monica .

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      * 8 pm CHRIS STUART & BACKCOUNTRY bring their splendid West Coast bluegrass to Boulevard Music in Culver City .

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      * 8 pm RONNY COX plays the “Caltech Folk Music Society” series on the Caltech campus in Pasadena .

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      Y’know, concert tix make great gifts…

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      5)  OUT-OF-TOWN HOLIDAY GUESTS? WHERE TO TAKE ’EM FOR MUSIC

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      Okay, if they’re here December 11, the problem solves itself, given the rich offerings of music that night, all over L.A. But what if they’re here closer to Christmas, when most venues reduce their offerings or simply take a hiatus? One venue comes to the rescue.

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      The charming little 49-seat Coffee Gallery Backstage concert hall, and its free-show counterpart, the Coffee Gallery Front Stage, continue their abundance of offerings nearly every night, right through the holiday season.

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      The Backstage presents top-notch professional entertainers – usually touring musicians, or the best L.A.-based pros while they’re home from the road for the holidays. In a typical week, you can catch an act that plays big venues everywhere else, and often, you can see them on the Backstage for a fraction of the ticket price of a big venue. All seats are within twenty feet of the stage, and the dramatic use of stage lighting and really, really good sound consistently earn honors as “Best Intimate Acoustic Venue in L.A.” in both FolkWorks’ annual “Top Ten / Best of the Year” and in the Guide.

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      Meanwhile, the Front Stage is a free venue, a potpourri that often attracts talented locals – including pros who want to “test drive” their new songs for an audience before making additions to their road show set lists. For example, BILL BURNETT (The Backboners) just played a free night-before-Thanksgiving show.

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      The place is a genuine arts mecca. And the “gallery” part of the name is legit, since the coffee house doubles (triples?) as an exhibition space for shows by select painters or other visual artists, and the featured artist changes each month. Renowned painter Donna Barnes Roberts teaches watercolor classes there, as well.

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      The Guide features write-ups of all the Backstage shows, and there’s something happening nearly every night. Plus, our “Recurring Events” links for each day let you know the general scheme of things on the Front Stage – when there isn’t a special show for us to report in any given day’s “Today-Only” events.

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      It’s best to make reservations for Backstage shows, because they sometimes sell-out. The venue offers a waiting list when that happens, so take that option when it’s all there is (good chance it will get you in). Make Backstage reservations at 626-794-2424. Current info is available at www.coffeegallery.com.

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      The Backstage offers a few dinner shows each month, and there are potlucks, sometimes in conjunction with shows, sometimes to celebrate holidays or events of significance in the local arts community.

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      Whatever else is happening, the Coffee Gallery offers plenty of coffee drinks and more. The apple pie is wonderful, topped with locally-made Fosselman’s Ice Cream, and Mama Julie’s tasty chili, soups, salads, or sandwiches are sometimes available in the evening, if the lunch rush didn’t eat them all. Before you subject yourself to a fast food drive-through on the way there, call the harried barrista to see what’s available, at 626-398-7917.

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      Backstage entrepreneur, booker, Ice House founder and show biz legend Bob Stane himself runs the sound and the recently upgraded lights. That’s characteristic, despite the fact that the musicians on stage are probably Grammy, music Oscar, music Emmy, or Juno Award winners or nominees. And the folks with coveted honors aren’t all on stage here. In 2009, the Folk Alliance FAR West bestowed Bob with its “Ambassador Award,” the organization’s highest non-musician honor. The choice itself was acclaimed.

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      Bob often says of shows in the Coffee Gallery Backstage, “Your out-of-town guests will go home talking about their experience here. And if you found this place while you were ashore from a cruise ship” – sometimes he substitutes, “while you were wandering a back street in a European arts district” – “you’d go home and tell all your friends.”

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      As unblushingly self-promoting as that sounds, he has the testimonials to back it up, including those of a loyal cadre of artists who always plan their tours to perform there. So, if you’re tired of your guests talking about Branson or Austin or Nashville , take them to the Coffee Gallery, and show them the best of L.A. ’s acoustic music scene. It’s likely there’s a show there, whatever night you pick.

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      6)  December’s Origins and our “Poem of the Month” 

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      We’ve been including tidbits like these for a long time, as the first of each month rolls around. But too many people miss ’em there, so we’re promoting this to a News Feature, starting this month.

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      It’s DECEMBER,

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      …and WINTER arrives on the 21st. (As if you can tell the difference in Southern California .)

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      The name of the last month of the year comes from the Latin word, “decem,” which means tenth. December was the tenth month of the ancient Roman calendar.

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      December brings two joyous holidays – Hanukkah and Christmas.

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      Hanukkah, the “Festival of Lights,” is a multi-day celebration in the Jewish tradition, with gifts, the lighting of the candles of the menorah, and special traditions like the dreidel, notably commemorated in the song by Don McLean of “American Pie” fame.  

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      Christmas is celebrated in most of the Christian world on December 25, though there is no credible evidence that Jesus was born then, or even born in the winter. December 25th was designated as Christmas Day by the Roman Emperor Constantine, to rob the thunder from the largest competing “new” religion, Mithraism, and its holiday, the Day of the Feast of Mithra. That tactic of moving-in on other people’s holidays would prevail for the next thousand years, as the Catholic Church spread Christianity throughout Europe by co-opting various pagan holidays and re-designating them as the special days of various Catholic Saints – whose canonization proliferated in direct proportion to the number of pagan feast days that needed to become Catholic Holy Days.

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      While all the history is fascinating, we’re advocates that everyone can enjoy the central messages of Hanukkah and Christmas ~ peace on earth, good will to all people.

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      December’s Poem-of-the-month:

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      Merry Christmas

      We was whistlin', we was singin' on a winter afternoon;
      The hobble chains and fryin' pans was jinglin' to the tune.
      Fer we knew the day was Christmas and the line camp was in sight,
      No, it wasn't much to look at but it suited us all right.
       
      We onpacked and we onsaddled, then we turned our hosses out;
      We cooked lots of beef and biscuits and we made the coffee stout.
      We et all we could swaller, then we set and took a smoke,
      And we shore did work our memory out to find a bran new joke.
       
      No, it wasn't like the Christmas like the folks have nowadays—
      They are livin' more in comfort, and they've sorter changed their ways—
      But I sorter wish, old pardner, we could brush the years away,
      And be jest as young and happy, as we was that Christmas Day.
       
      -
      Bruce Kiskaddon, 1933

      (and if you enjoyed that, get acquainted with www.cowboypoetry.com)

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      7)  December 7th – a Day of Enduring Relevance

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