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Lots of jazz this week

Volcano scribes tell you where to go

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Thursday, Dec. 13

SOUL ROCK intervision

Six friends share a passion for crafting challenging compositions with pop sensibility, and they are good at it. The band combines elements of soul, rock and jazz to create a Steely Dan/Stevie Wonder-like groove. — Brad Allen

[Masa, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 2811 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.254.0560]

Saturday, Dec. 15

JAZZ rich wetzel’s groovin’ higher jazz orchestra

We’ve given Rich Wetzel a lot of love over the years, not only because he’s a groovy guy, but because he’s always playing a gig worth mentioning. Saturday is no exception as Wetzel and his Groovin’ Higher Jazz Orchestra bring their annual jazzy holiday to Jazzbones. The Christmas dinner tradition brings the high-note trumpeter full-circle back to where he recorded his first CD, Live at Jazzbones. The evening will include swinging renditions of Christmas classics arranged by Los Angeles’s Tom Kubis, who has written music for many Disney productions. In addition, special guest soloists from the Tacoma Community College jazz choir will add an extra boost to the already jumpin’ sounds of Wetzel’s big band. Singer Carol Kapel will provide holiday cheer as she sits in for a couple of festive numbers. Reservations are strongly recommended. — Tony Engelhart

[Jazzbones, 5-7 p.m., all ages, $10, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

Saturday, Dec. 15


These Oregonians slot themselves as punk/blues/bluegrass on their MySpace page — an interesting combination to say the least. While Hillstomp might have shades of bluegrass and punk intermingled with the blues, I’d categorize them as “hillbilly stomp” as the duos’ sound is closer to the likes of RL Burnside or T-Model Ford with a bevy of acoustic slide guitar work over amplified mikes and homemade percussion.

The Portland pair of Henry Kammerer, aka Hurricane Henry (guitar, banjo and vocals), and John Johnson, aka Lord Johnny Buckets (buckets, cans and anything else he can bang on), melded with a deep appreciation for backwoods Americana, Appalachia and North Mississippi trance blues. Probably even more hardcore than most of the Fat Possum Record’s roster, they play in the same way junkyard bands did in the early 20th century. 

The twosome has released three rousing CDs. One World and The Woman That Ended the World were both highly regarded studio recordings. Hillstomp’s latest, 2007’s After Two but Before Five, captures them live and loose. Not only does it revisit tracks from the previous two records, it also features four previously unreleased tracks and new arrangements of some of their most notorious tunes. — TE

[4th Ave Tavern, with Brackish Water Band, 8 p.m., 210 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, 360.786.1444]

Sunday, Dec. 16

JAZZ maia santell and house blend

Maia Santell and House Blend perform their traditional holiday jazz and blues show at Jazzbones this Sunday. They play an upbeat brand of R&B with a little jump blues and big band jazz thrown in for a party second to none. Santell has been called the Northwest’s queen of swing for her high-energy shows and boisterous vocals. Yet, unlike so many female singers, she is not a screamer but rather possesses exceptional vocal control that is rich and warm. — TE

[Jazzbones, with Beth McBride, 7-11 p.m., all ages, $8-$10, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.369.9169]

Sunday, Dec. 16

ROCK steve e nix and the cute lepers

Sunday, Dec. 16, a day of the week I typically reserve for sweatpants and pigskin, Steve E Nix and the Cute Lepers will play Hell’s Kitchen along with Avenue Rose, the Greatest Hits, Luxury Sweets and the Freakouts. The show will be all-ages, and the doors will open at  5 p.m.

If Steve E Nix sounds familiar, it’s not because your closet Fleetwood Mac fetish is rearing its ugly head. Nix isn’t that Nicks, he’s a dude, for one, and a key member of the successful Northwest pop/punk band the Briefs. If you know anything about the Briefs, you know any band Nix plays a part in is destined to be entertaining. With one record “in the can,” Steve E Nix and the Cute Lepers, while relatively new to the scene, are quickly becoming a force to reckon with.

“Originally the idea for the band was that it was to be something equally influenced by first wave punk, mod-revival, power pop, and a retarded reverence for Johnny Thunders ... oh yeah, with occasional hints of doo-wop, oldie rock ‘n’ roll and a load of female back-up vocals. I still think this is an excellent idea, but as the band has really come together over the last few months, I am starting to think a barbershop septet composition may not feel out of place,” explains Nix on MySpace.

“When not playing shows, we’ll be cruising vintage Vespas, hanging around greyhound bus stations, contemplating hairdos, and working on the next album.”

Consider yourself warned. Check out Nix and the Cute Lepers this Sunday. Perhaps I’ll lose the sweatpants for a change. — Matt Driscoll

[Hell’s Kitchen, Sunday, Dec. 16, 5 p.m., all ages, $7, 3829 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.759.6003]

Monday, Dec. 17

ROCK red elvises

I’ve been waiting a year for this show. I first experienced the zany antics of the Red Elvises at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle last December. They blew me away. With an energy that is unsurpassed, the Russian quartet combines the ethnic music of their homeland with good ol’ fashion rock ’n’ roll for a sound that is fun and fresh. Think polka music with a vintage Elvis Presley vibe. Adorned in metallic suits, the band is as fun visually as they are musically.

The Red Elvises were formed in 1995 by two Russian political refugees, singer/songwriter Igor Yuzov and bass-balalaika player Oleg Bernov, who initially played together in a Russian folk-rock band called Limpopo. Rumor has it that Yuzov saw Elvis in a dream wearing a red dress, and that is what inspired the name change.  After adding another immigrated Russian, guitarist Zhenya Kolykhaov and American drummer Avi Sills, the band hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped. In between their relentless touring of the U.S. and Europe, they have managed to release 12 discs, the last one being Lunatics & Poets in 2004. While their recordings are extremely fun, to fully appreciate the Red Elvises is to see them live. — TE

[The Swiss Pub, 8 p.m., $8, 1904 S. Jefferson Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2821]

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