NEC’s Jordan Hall
Widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation, Suzanne Vega emerged as a leading figure of the folk-music revival of the early 1980s when, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, she sang what has been labeled contemporary folk or neo-folk songs of her own creation in Greenwich Village clubs. Since the release of her self-titled, critically acclaimed 1985 debut album, she has given sold-out concerts in many of the world’s best-known halls. In performances devoid of outward drama that nevertheless convey deep emotion, Vega sings in a distinctive, clear vibrato-less voice that has been described as “a cool, dry sandpaper- brushed near-whisper” and as “plaintive but disarmingly powerful.”
9 – 10:30 p.m.
The legendary soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples is responsible for blazing a rhythm & blues trail while never relinquishing her gospel roots. Rolling Stone named the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself” among Top 500 Songs of All Time. She was featured in The Band’s The Last Waltz with The Staple Singers. Her collaborations and appearances with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bill Cosby to Presidents Kennedy, Carter and Clinton to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Prince, Bob Dylan, Los Lobos, Aretha Franklin, Ry Cooder and Jeff Tweedy rank among Mavis’ many career highlights. This appearance at the venerable Symphony Hall will be her First Night debut. Reserved seating is available for this show by visiting firstnight.org.
Julian Lage Trio featuring Larry Grenadier and Eric Harland
Berklee Performance Center
7:45 (live broadcast) and 9:30 p.m.
Berklee alum and jazz guitarist Julian Lage has been performing since he was five, and has played with such artists as Carlos Santana, Pat Metheny and David Grisman. A former child prodigy, he was the subject of a 1997 Academy Award-nominated film, Jules at Eight. His 2009 debut release, Sounding Point, was nominated for a Grammy. His most recent release, Gladwell reflects Lage’s wide-ranging musical interests and talents, ranging from chamber music, American folk and bluegrass to Latin, world, string-band tradition and modern jazz. 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. Reserved seating is available for this show by visiting firstnight.org.
Boston Park Plaza Hotel, Terrace Room
10 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Juanito Pascual is acclaimed as one of the top young flamenco guitarists on the international music scene. He has won praise around the globe as a respected new voice in this most Spanish of musical genres. He is recognized in Spain as a unique and creative voice with mesmerizing virtuosity, warm and evocative playing, and original compositional style. He has been a featured artist in some of the best-known fine arts centers, clubs, and festivals in the United States, and has been featured on National Public Radio’s “The World,” as well as countless television and radio programs.
Mike Daisey: WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES
Boston University Theatre
9:30 – 11 p.m.
Mike Daisey, described by the New York Times as “the master storyteller” weaves together a performance on the turning of the year: that bizarre annual ritual when we drink too much, resolve to change everything about ourselves, and have much less fun than we are certain we should be having. With incandescent wit and heart he’ll explore our obsession with the future, hilariously skewering our assumptions all the way, and and carry the audience with him right up to the brink of a brand new year. Reserved seating is available for this show by visiting firstnight.org.
Information furnished by our partners at First Night Boston.