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Eugene Weekly : Music : 12.29.11

 

Burning Down the House

Save the last dance for 2011, because 2012’s gonna be a riot

Reeble Jar

Norma Fraser
The Sugar Beets

Does anybody know when, exactly, that Mayan calendar thingy is s’posed to go down? And what, precisely, will occur when the Year 2012 turns over? Will the shit really hit the fan? There’s been talk of “global transformations,” but it’s uncertain what those Mayan seers had in mind — whether we’re all going to catch holy fire and shrivel into beef jerky or, instead, light up like kliegs and flame out like angels. Is this the End or just the Beginning?

Listen up, music fans and fan dancers, we’ve had enough of these dire predictions and apocalyptic talk. For all we know, we’re already dead. The only certainty is that whatever happens when we rip 2011 off the corkboard, we want it to happen to music. Play us a soundtrack. Put that needle in the groove, DJ Fancypants, and give us that thumpa-thumpa voodoo you do. Let’s make like Prince, and party like it’s 2011. So get on the bus, Baby Jesus — in Eugene, you ride for free.

 Boozehounds snicker and call it “Amateur Night,” but they miss the point: New Year’s Eve is a ritual, a time to shed this past year’s used-up skin like a snake and slither reborn into the future. And we in Eugene are being offered myriad ways to get tipsy and toast 2012, whether that means doing the whirling dervish to hippie jams, bouncing the pogo to hip hop, or getting deep and contemplative with a taste of local nouveau-folk/alt-country twang.

In what can only be considered a huge coup for Eugene fans of ska, Jamaican singer Norma Fraser, dubbed the “Queen of American Roots Reggae,” rings in the New Year at Mac’s Vet’s Ballroom. Returning to the scene after a 20-year hiatus with a new-ish album, C’Mon Baby, Fraser is the real thing: Her first single, “We’ll Be Lovers,” was recorded in 1961 at Coxson Dodd’s legendary Studio One in Jamaica, where she worked with such luminaries as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. “I’m more mature now,” Fraser has said, “and truly understand how music can heat people and bring joy to their lives.”

When it comes to artistic output and critical recognition, 2011 was a banner year for Eugene singer/songwriter Tyler Fortier. He toured like mad, released several albums including the stark, lovely Bang on Time, and in general proved himself more than worthy of the big-time recognition that is sure to come, and soon. Fortier — an EW “Next Big Thing” singles contest co-winner — brings his scorching live performance to WOW Hall, where along with the Ty Curtis Band he will put a fitting exclamation point on a very productive, very exciting 2011.

And what would New Year’s Eve be without the electrified hip hop of Eugene’s own Marv Ellis & The Platform combined with the jam-band ballistics of local funk faves Reeble Jar. Both outfits will light up McDonald Theatre for a patently wild, and wildly danceable, New Year’s Eve party.

Yo, there’s more. Keeping it low-down and local, dubious, Van Wenda and Downseekers chime in 2012 at the Cooler. The Sugar Beets play Cozmic, featuring a special midnight celebration with Infusia Dance Tribe. At the Granary, you can catch Poor Miner’s Union and the Alder St. All-Stars, while the Dead Americans and The Up Beat unleash some ‘60s soul and reggae to toke in 2012. If the sepia-tinged nostalgia of the Roaring 1920s is your cup of absinthe, catch Bad Mitten Orchestre and local bluegrass badasses Water Tower Bucket Boys at Sam Bond’s. Basin & Range and other funky fools kick out the jams at Oak St. Speakeasy, and Concrete Cowboys mosey up to Whiskey River Ranch.

There’s plenty more going on in Eugene on Jan. 31, so if none of the above melts your butter, check out our weekly Nightlife section for further New Year’s Eve options. Cheers.