It always happens this way. The gift wrap, ribbons and the empty gift boxes aren’t even in the recycling yet, and boom – it’s New Year’s Eve. To ease your way out of the season and into 2020, here are a few live music choices, starting with Cannery Row.
Cooper’s Pub hosts The Eldorados, who will get you dancing with beloved covers, plus some Texas-flavored originals from Austin-bred guitarist and singer-songwriter Will Benson.
Sly’s Refueling Station McFly’s (formerly called Sly McFly’s) hosts its annual bash from 8pm, with heart-pounding hip-hop, R&B and contemporary pop from Santa Cruz-based Isaac and the Haze.
Meanwhile, mandolin ace Dave Holodiloff makes his ninth NYE visit to London Bridge Pub to spice up the Wharf’s quieter side with his quartet for a session of jazz, Celtic and bluegrass.
In Salinas, 201 Main hosts three rooms of entertainment including live music by Banda Prohibida Y La Creacion, and a Top 40/hip-hop room with DJ Dave – plus a photo booth and midnight ball drop.
In Carmel, there’s PacRep’s production Legends of Rock ’n’ Roll, a tribute to the genre with a cavalcade of hits – and the opportunity to dance 2019 away onstage.
The motherlode of all local NYE soirees is First Night Monterey, a nine-hour marathon for the last 26 years, offering 65 performances on multiple stages all over downtown Monterey.
The thunderous sounds of traditional Japanese taiko drumming by the local Shinsho Mugen Daiko troupe open festivities at 3pm on the Pacific Street stage. Martha and the Vandellas’ 1964 chart-topping hit “Dancin’ In the Streets” becomes reality when the large ensemble Samba Legal produce their hot Brazilian rhythms in front of Wells Fargo at 9pm.
There’s jazz when local fave Andrea Carter brings her Andrea’s Fault trio to the Portola Hotel (also at 9pm), along with the double Grammy-winning Robert Turner & Kevin O’Neal Trio with Lyndon Rochelle who play three sets at the Monterey Center for Spiritual Living.
Other highlights include the return of San Francisco-based crossover cello whiz Rebecca Roudman and her group Dirty Cello, playing everything but classical. The tight local classic rock dance band Fields of Eden features Kiki Wow and the Wowettes. And there’s also reggae, fusion, Celtic, and post-punk rapper MC Lars, who has played this event since 1998.
It all wraps up with the alt-country swing of the Carolyn Sills Combo for two sets starting at 10pm at Portola.
Who says there’s nothing to do on New Year’s Eve?