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Blondes, freedom and more

Volcano music scribes tell you where to go

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Thursday, Dec. 20

BLUES maria muldaur

I give high marks to any artist who experiments with new sounds rather than milking their comfort zone forever. I recently watched a documentary on when Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 and thought, “Gee, that really took balls.”

One witness to Dylan’s uprising and evolution was Maria D’Amato (who changed her name to Muldaur when she married Jug Band member Geoff Muldaur). A young singer from Greenwich Village who was entrenched with the early ’60s folk revival movement, Muldaur sought out different ways to feed her creativity and express herself musically.

If you want to talk an ever-evolving career, Muldaur would be a great topic for discussion as she has done it all. Muldaur has embraced everything from blues and jazz to country and gospel. Her brief flirtation with pop music in the 1970s resulted in a one-hit-wonder, but the gifted singer was never cut out for that plastic scene and she quickly discarded her disco attire and returned to her Americana roots. Her career got a second wind in 2001 with the release of Richland Woman Blues. The album paid tribute to female blues artists from the 1930s and 1940s. Her latest offering, 2007’s Naughty, Bawdy and Blue, is a continuation of Muldaur’s praise for the likes of Bessie Smith and Victoria Spivey. — Tony Engelhart

[Jazzbones, Thursday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m., all ages, $15-$17, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

Friday, Dec. 21

GOSPEL blind boys of alabama

With an unprecedented career, The Blind Boys of Alabama have been wowing audiences with their powerful vocal harmonies for almost 60 years and are showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. With gospel as their canvas, the group has the ability to paint outside the lines while introducing different shades and textures until a vibrant palette begins to take shape. Ironically, the five blind singers remained under the radar until ex-Genesis singer Peter Gabriel signed them to his label, Real World. Their first disc with the new label, 2001’s Spirit of the Century, employed Afrobeat, R&B, blues, folk and gospel. The 12-track record featured reworked covers from Tom Waits, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ben Harper. My introduction to the group came with their next venture, Higher Ground, on which founding members Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter along with more recent arrivals Bishop Billy Bowers, Joey Williams, Ricky McKinnie, Bobby Butler, and Tracy Pierce paid homage to songwriters Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield and Prince. Both of the recordings were embraced by a new and younger audience while holding onto longtime supporters.

Friday December 21, the group will perform a holiday-themed concert that will feature music from their 2003 album, Go Tell It On the Mountain. — TE

[Washington Center, Friday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m., all ages, $17.75-$35.50, 512 Washington Street SE, Olympia, 360.753.8585]

Saturday, Dec. 22

FOLK/ROCK the blondes and chymes of freedom

With Christmas next week, you probably have a bunch of holiday parties to choose from. If you want to escape the crowds at the mall and the hustle and bustle that comes with time of the year, then may I suggest a relaxing evening with the Blondes and the Chymes of Freedom?

The Blondes sound like a punk rock group but au contraire, it is five vocalist/guitar players who are enthralled with the acoustic work of Bob Dylan and the Everly Brothers but are also known to dip their toes in the Lennon/McCartney well. What began as a Monday night guitar jam in Tacoma, has evolved into one of the South Sound’s most refreshing bands. Performing acoustically, Mark Leibel, Michael Mitchell, Ed Perez, Jeff Sopher and Mark Wagner create a relaxing vibe with three-, four- and five-part harmonies.

With an affinity for the 1960s folk rock explosion, the Chymes of Freedom are dedicated to carrying on in the tradition of Dylan and the Byrds, as well as Neil Young and Gram Parsons. Employing the extra jangley sound of a 12-string Rickenbacker, sweet harmonies and well thought-out lyrics, it’s like 1966 everyday for the Tacoma quartet. — TE

[The Spar, Saturday, Dec. 22, 6 p.m., fund-raiser for the St. Leo Food Connection, $10 donation, 2121 N. 30th St., Tacoma, 253.627.8215]

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