Go Out Strong
A blistering itinerary to end the year with fun.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
With as many as 23 activities going on at any given moment, the First Night festivities in Old Monterey can get overwhelming. To wit: the Weekly’s crack Higher Math Committee calculated two gazillion possible entertainment combinations for the evening—and that includes no free-styling off into local restaurants and pubs, and none of the ever-evolving afternoon “First Act” events for families, which start at 3pm with the “First Night Dances” Opening Ceremony.
Breathe easy, however. The Weekly has derived a way to do it all, albeit at a breakneck pace. Should this actual strategy prove impractical (at press time, it was being run through simulations by the aforementioned crack Higher Math Committee without any certifiable results), let it serve as ample evidence that a full buffet of great, artistic, and far-ranging culture is more than simply possible...it’s expected. (For a complete schedule grid, visit firstnightmonterey.org and click on “Program Guide.”)
3pm>>CREATION STATION, COLTON HALL LAWN
The Geodesic Art Dome, a work of art itself, took three days to erect. Now its interior is crackling with creativity. Enter and build celebration hats, shakers and rattles. Move from here to more creation stations at the Conference Center, see puppet shows at Bay Books, and experience magic with Richard Mayer in the Serra Ballroom. The time between now and the parade will go quickly.
5:30pm>>TWILIGHT PARADE, CALLE PRINCIPAL AND ALVARADO STREET
People-watching was never so good. The homegrown community flavor of the event seeps from each mobile ingredient here—the stilt-walker and the brave bellydancer, the wide-eyed youngsters and the dancers stopping progress and exploding with movement. A perch by the Conference Center allows maximum group viewing as the parade wraps around from Calle Principal to Alvarado.
6pm>>HENNA TATTOOING, PORTOLA PLAZA, MEZZANINE
Said Portola-adjacent perch also permits a speedy leap to the front of the henna line.
6:15pm>>RIC MASTEN, MARITIME MUSEUM HISTORIC THEATRE
Masten is a versatile enough wordsmith that he might inspire both the perfect mood to reflect thankfully on another year completed, and the perfect mood to seize the night’s forward-looking energy. Or he might just make you smile at life ’til it hurts, and because it hurts: “For someone who doesn’t believe/ that my choices are free/ I rejoice in the life that has chosen me.”
6:30pm>>I CANTORI DI CARMEL, CARLETON HALL
Just one of these gorgeous voices is enough to warrant an audience, but i Cantori weaves together dozens tonight. Sweet choral candy for the ears.
7pm>>HOOTENANNY, REGENCY THEATER
Alight to the Regency balcony to help rage with the Hootenanny veterans, who know how to get folksy and interactive with a passion. These massive collaborative singalong jam sessions cover music from the ‘40s to the ‘70s—and cover faces with goofy grins.
7:15pm>>SINGING WOOD MARIMBA, MIIS IRVINE AUDITORIUM
Embrace a little African blessing with this 10-person traditional Zimbabwe dance-music experience, based on traditional Shona culture.
7:45pm>>ART ATTACK, CUSTOM HOUSE (STEPS IN FRONT)
Organizers won’t say which visual performing artists or dance ensemble will leap out tonight at different Art Attack outposts throughout the night, but the options are stirring: the spicy modern-dance-break outfit the DiFranco Dance Stars? Pounding drummer Dramane Kone?
8pm>>TRUSTING LUCY, CUSTOM HOUSE MAIN STAGE
This band doesn’t surface much locally anymore, and it’s too bad—their folk rock, which can range from soft and almost acoustic to far more rockin’, is just the kind of quality female-fronted rock every community needs more of.
8:45pm>>RED BEANS & RICE, CUSTOM HOUSE MAIN STAGE
Dancing in the night air, on historic bricks, to the group voted Best Band in the County by Weekly readers for a decade doesn’t suck.
9pm>>CHICANO ALL STARS, SERRA BALLROOM, CONFERENCE CENTER
The closest thing to Santana in Monterey—if Santana threw in lively cumbias, Van Morrison, and the occasional Stevie Ray Vaughan cover. “They want to rock you,” the Weekly’s music writer Stuart Thornton says. “Please let them.”
9:30pm>>MC LARS, FERRANTE ROOM, CONFERENCE CENTER
Arguably the most playful and promising lyricist to come out of the area in the last 10 years is getting slotted to fill bigger venues each year at First Night. Lars is succeeding in his ambitious post-punk laptop rap mission: to bring a true-to-experience voice to the iGeneration. This is a sentient MC to root for.
10pm>>JONAH AND THE WHALEWATCHERS, MY MUSEUM
These joyous local reggae authorities are a pillar of First Night and the local music scene. They often discount their performances to help local nonprofits (like Surfrider, or First Night), giving their seductively peaceful pulse an effect broader than simply inspiring the room—or museum—to celebrate life with cathartic movement.
11pm>>GRAND FINALE, CUSTOM HOUSE PLAZA
The light and sound show—seizing upon the night’s “Rhythm and Hues” theme—is nice. But it’s got nothing on the decorated collective of musicians on stage—with members from Red Beans & Rice, Chicano All Stars, Grumbling Ginger and Trusting Lucy—who make for a finale where First Night Executive Director Ellen Martin predicts “anything can and will happen.”
FIRST NIGHT MONTEREY
starts at 3pm and lasts until just past midnight; the parade starts at 5:30pm. Adult buttons are $15/before Dec. 31 and $20/day of; youth (6-15) buttons are $12 and $15; kids 5 and under are admitted free. 373-4778 or firstnightmonterey.org.