Music News & Reviews

Merry music to you

First and foremost, a very happy Christmas to all of you from myself and The Musical Box.

In some ways, it seems as if we barely took down the tree from last year. In others, Christmas was a long time in coming, especially when you measure it in musical terms — specifically, the politely arranged carols pumped seemingly without interruption into almost every store sound system in November and December.

I remember especially a weary Starbucks barista who waited on me a few years back as a recording of Burl Ives' Holly Jolly Christmas merrily chirped away. She mouthed along with the lyrics in a sort of half-hypnotic state induced, no doubt, by having the song's antiseptic cheer as part of the soundtrack to her daily work life.

Some holiday sounds resonate in happier terms, however. My favorite seasonal records, in fact, still sound fresh and inspirational.

They include:

■ John Fahey's The New Possibility, which evokes seasonal invention and inspiration on solo acoustic guitar in ways only a master stylist like Fahey can.

■ Emmylou Harris' Light of the Stable, the epitome of what a country Christmas — on record, at least — should be.

■ Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas, a powerfully nostalgic statement of youthful holiday innocence mingling with adult realities.

■ George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. Not a holiday album per se, but a profoundly spiritual rock discourse all the same.

My own history with Harrison's record goes way back. I bought this as a gift for my sister on Christmas Eve 1970 at the long-gone Consolidated Sales department store in Louisville. The price: a then-astronomic $6.97 for a triple album. I doubt she realizes to this day how many times I snuck a listen to ol' George on her stereo when she was away. Few records, even now, move me as much.

May a similar musical spirit be with you on Christmas and throughout the rest of the holidays and throughout the coming year.

Holidays at Buster's

Maybe you already have had all the seasonal joy and family warmth you can stand for one Christmas.

If so, Buster's, 899 Manchester Street, will be open Christmas night. There won't be live music, though — just the two things that distinguished Buster's at its old demolished digs on West Main Street: pool and a killer jukebox.

Buster's comes alive in full Thursday, though, with a Black Tie New Year's Eve Bash featuring Atlanta electro-rock quartet Today the Moon Tomorrow the Sun, Nashville pop-rock stylists The Worsties, Candy and a late-night dance party sporting tunes spun by DJs from WRFL-88.1 FM.

Some of the proceeds from the evening will go to WRFL's Boost the Power, Build the Power fund. The event says black tie, but the Buster's Web site says that in terms of attire, "anything from mod to retro will do." (9 p.m. $25. (859) 368-8871.

Happy free new year

Here's something you don't see every New Year's Eve: free entertainment. Al's Bar, 601 North Limestone, has a full evening of it Thursday with sets by three Lexington pop brigades: Attempt (featuring Trevor Tremaine of Hair Police, and Eyes and Arms of Smoke), the self-described "post doo-wop band Idiot Glee (with James Friley of Bedtime) and psychedelic pop stylists The Butchers. Taking the evening into the wee hours will be DJ sets by Robert Beatty (another Hair Police-man) and Ron Theakston. Doors open at 8. Music begins at 9.

Christmas postscript

How ironic it is that in a weekend devoted to silent nights, Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Avenue, is serving up a post-Christmas party Saturday featuring the deliciously noisy rock 'n' roll glee of local punk vet Lawrence X. Tarpey and The Yellow Belts. The Loaded Nuns and Frank Rocket will open. (9 p.m. $5.)