el vez, december 10 and 11
Another year, another El Vez Merry MeX-mas extravaganza. This time around it was a two-night stand at the Horseshoe that kicked off Tuesday with pal Dave Foley giving an advance screening of his upcoming TV special, The True Meaning Of Christmas (airing on CBC December 22), that features El Vez squaring off with figure skater Elvis Stojko along with sketches involving Mike Myers and Jason Priestley.
The curious celebs on hand for opening night, including Sean Cullen, Mark McKinney and overzealous Flare grabby-Gladys Suzanne Boyd, left the second evening to the hardcore El Vez fans. As anticipated, there were a few campy-cool new costumes in the mix this time around -- a snappy toy soldier get-up and a tiger-striped jumpsuit being the highlights -- to go with the entertaining new spins on the old holiday classics just released on the Sno-Way, José (Graciasland) disc being sold at the show. But the best bit was his mid-set revamp of the Oasis staple Champagne Supernova, which El Vez cleverly spun with low-rider finesse as Souped-up Chevy Nova. Magnifico!
Those wiped out by the duelling Messiahs being performed around town finally have another option for holiday music. And it's a good one.
Globe-trotting singer/songwriter Hawksley Workman (currently residing in Paris), home for the holidays, does a free show tonight (Thursday, December 19) at the Rivoli. The surprise intimate gig ties in nicely with Universal's re-release of Workman's excellent Almost A Full Moon mini-album of Christmas songs. If you're not feeling the spirit of the season yet, this should help you get into the swing of things. Arrive early to avoid disappointment.
junetile, december 23
It never rains but it pours. We haven't heard from local dreamy avant-popsters Junetile since way back in September, since founding member and cellist Sam Simmons took a brief hiatus from live performances to focus on his academic career on the other side of the ocean.
But they're back with panache, playing two shows -- Monday (December 23) at the Rivoli, and then at Clinton's January 10) in preparation for the release of their new full-length album, all things (un)clear, which drops mere weeks from now.
Since their last live show, Junetilian-slash-superproducer Michael Philip Wojewoda has left the band -- amicably -- although he lent his considerable production skills to the making of the record.
"There are no hard feelings and we're still all cool," claims Simmons. "It's just the right decision for all of us."
Filling in on percussion are local lights Jeremy Gara (of Kepler and Snailhouse) and Pilate's Bill Keeley, the former at the Rivoli and the latter at Clinton's. And be sure to check out openers Minefield, who warm up Monday's crowd with their expansive and soulful man-machine fusion.