For years, First Night Boston has been exposing local families to the arts through an all-day, all-night festival. There is something for every taste – dance, comedy, music, spoken word, theater and more. Here are our best bets for First Night arts.
9 – 10:30 p.m.
The Magnetic Fields are the music of songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Stephin Merritt. In their two decade career, which began in Boston and then relocated to New York City, the band has released ten albums, including their seminal 3-disc masterwork 69 Love Songs. That album, released in 1999, continues to be celebrated as one of pop music’s great achievements; Tim Page described it as “an encyclopedic, flabbergastingly ambitious, opera-length work that riffed off everybody from Cole Porter to Steve Reich, Gilbert and Sullivan to Kurt Weill [and] established Stephin Merritt as one of the leading composers of his generation.” Stephin Merritt arranges and produces all his albums, playing many of the instruments as well. Additional instrumentation is provided by his band members: cellist Sam Davol, guitarist John Woo, percussionist/pianist Claudia Gonson, and singer Shirley Simms. The band has been touring throughout 2012 to support their new album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea (Merge Records). This will be their First Night debut. (Reserved seating is available for this show. Visit www.firstnight.org for info.)
Boston Symphony Hall
Opening for The Magnetic Fields, Tanya Donelly is a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter, and co-founder of the bands Throwing Muses, the Breeders, and Belly, and has also released four solo albums. Her latest project is a series of collaborations with various authors and musicians, which will be begin release in early 2013. Some of the collaborators involved so far are authors Rick Moody, Mary Gaitskill, Wesley Stace/John Wesley Harding, songwriters Kristin Hersh and Bill Janovitz, Claudia Gonson and Sam Davol of Magnetic Fields, One Ring Zero, Dylan in the Movies, and more to come as the series continues.
Lee Fields & the Expressions
NEC’s Jordan Hall
9 – 10:15 p.m.
There aren’t too many artists making soul music today who had a release in 1969, back when R&B was first beginning to give the drummer some. Lee Fields, however, is one such artist–or maybe he’s better labeled a phenomenon. Since the late 60’s, the North Carolina native has amassed a prolific catalog of albums and has toured and played with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. With a career spanning 43 years, releases on 12 different record labels, and having toured the world over with his raucous-yet-tender voice, it’s mind-blowing that the music he’s making today with Brooklyn’s own Truth & Soul Records is the best of his career. With a catalogue that ranges from James Brown-style funk to lo-fi blues to contemporary Southern soul to collaborations with French house DJ/producer Martin Solveig, Lee Fields has done it all. Today, with The Expressions–Truth & Soul’s house band, Lee Fields continues to evolve, enmeshed into the group’s sweeping, string-laden, cinematic soul sound. Their first full-length together, My World, released in June 2009 on Truth & Soul, was called “one smoking mother of an old-sound soul record” and a “throwback done right” by Pitchfork. Treacherous followed in 2011, with Faithful Man, which paired Fields with the Truth & Soul house band the Expressions, arriving in 2012. (Reserved seating is available for this show. Visit www.firstnight.org for info.)
John Scofield’s Überjam
Berklee Performance Center
First Night is pleased to host the first reunion show of jazz guitar master John Scofield with his legendary Überjam. 2013 will reunite this legendary band both on the road and in the studio. This group pioneered Scofield’s fusing of jazz, funk and electronic music to become one of the defining bands of his career. The original Überjam record was released in 2002 with Up All Night the following year – recordings that documented Scofield’s fruitful collaboration with guitarist/computer manipulator Avi Bortnick, drummer Adam Deitch and bassist Andy Hess. The group will be joined in the studio this winter by drummers Louis Cato and Adam Deitch for a release due out in May on Emarcy/Universal, before hitting the road for the remainder of 2013. The superstar guitarist is a 1973 alumnus of Berklee. This performance, a partnership between First Night, Berklee College of Music and 89.7 WGBH, will be broadcast live in Boston on 89.7 and on stations across the country as part of NPR’s annual New Year’s Eve broadcast “Toast of the Nation.” (Reserved seating is available for this show. Visit www.firstnight.org for info.)
Hynes Room 302
3 and 4 p.m.
Experience exciting modern south Asian pop music and dance based upon the traditional folk dances of the Punjab region.
Hynes Convention Center Hall D
A favorite act wherever he goes, Boston-born comic Jim Lauletta mixes his cynical, biting, self-deprecating material with some of the most off the wall and original impressions you’ll EVER see. Not only is Jim one of the most popular headliners in New England, he’s a regular performer in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. His impressive resume of national television credits include: HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival’s Best of the Fest, A&E’s Caroline’s Comedy Hour, Comedy Central’s Two Drink Minimum, and Comcast’s Comedy Spotlight.
Information furnished by our partners at First Night Boston.