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Annual X-Mas Show with the Maldives, Grand Hallway, Widower, Devon Williams
When: 9 p.m.
Where: The Tractor
It was during a meditation-induced dream that the universe imparted to neo-flower child Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond who her touring guitarist would be. The name that came floating towards her from the abyss was: Devon. And indeed it would be Devon Williams who would take the stage with the peacenik for her autumn tours, executing guitar parts immaculately and providing a refreshing cynical/sarcastic balance to Stark’s charming yet unchecked optimism. An appropriately delivered one-liner or smirk here and there is Williams’ response to his front-woman’s extended banter about the importance of loving one another and the state of the world today. The man made an impression, and rightly so—he’s not just the touring guitarist for Lavender Diamond. Williams has his own solo project, one of complex yet pretty and poppy arrangements. Comparisons to Harry Nilsson and McCartney, while a bit far reaching at this stage, aren’t entirely unfounded, and with the base he’s built should be spot on with a few more releases under his belt. Then again, with all the residual positive energy that’s rubbed off on him from LD proximity, it might be a whole lot sooner than that. With the Maldives and Grand Hallway. More on this show, from The Short List: The Maldives and Widower on one bill might as well be Seattle's answer to a Bloodshot Records showcase. The bands differ slightly in sound: Widower channels more of Ryan Adams' range-rock, while the Maldives' mellower, twang-filled tracks would make Rhett Miller proud. Though Adams and Miller often sparred, there's no shortage of love here—the two bands are quite intertwined, as they share four of the same members. Add swooping, melodic soundscapes from Grand Hallway and Lavender Diamond guitarist Devon Williams—out on his own this time peddling pretty, well-arranged pop songs—to the bill, and you've got yourself a pile of aural gifts that you don't need to wait until [insert P.C.-proof list of holidays here] to tear into.
-- AJA PECKNOLD
Shonen Knife, the Juliet Dagger, Verona Grove
When: 8 p.m., Saturday
Where: Chop Suey
More than 25 years into a singularly surreal career that's seen them evolve from a trio of Osaka office workers to an indie-rock avatar, Japan's Shonen Knife show no signs of slowing down. They just released their 14th studio album, Fun! Fun! Fun!, and are now in the middle of their umpteenth U.S. tour. "Nick Lowe, Costello, Beatles/Redd Kross, Ramones, Buzzcocks/Shonen Knife is a cult band!" singer-guitarist Naoko Yamano chirped on "Shonen Knife"—the opening track on 712, the 1991 album that served as an intro to most stateside music fans. Like the four misfits they sang about in "Ramones Forever," Shonen Knife haven't altered their formula over the years, nor called it quits despite several lineup changes. Drummer-turned-bassist Atsuko Yamano (Naoko's sister) retired last year, but she's back on board for this tour, along with drummer Etsuko Nakanishi, who's been playing with the group since 2003. Here's your chance to pogo to three-chord ditties about Fruit Loops, rockets, and Barbie dolls. With the Juliet Dagger and Verona Grove.
Wally Shoup Trio
When: 8 p.m., Saturday
Where: Good Shepherd Center
Wally Shoup Trio—your tax dollars at work. And working harder than you're apt to see most of the time. Creative-music stalwart Shoup lassoed his first-ever grant from the city this fall for a series of concerts, and this is your last chance to catch one. Shoup's free-jazz-aflame trio features the intricate passion of Gust Burns on piano and sophisticated bashing of Bob Rees on drums and vibes. "From a Whisper to a Scream" is the title of the series, which pretty much captures the range of texture and dynamics you'll get from this unit. And with the open acoustics of the Good Shepherd, no pin will drop unheard. Plus, it's free!
-- Mark D. Fefer
School of Rock: West Coast All Stars with the Lonely H
When: 3 p.m., Sunday
Where: Chop Suey
SIFF audiences thrilled this past spring to Girls Rock!, a documentary following chickadees ages 8 to 18 through an experience at Portland's Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls. Seeing Beth Ditto and Carrie Brownstein offer constructive and inspiring vocal and guitar lessons to the girls was as exciting as the end result when they lit up the stage. Good news for Seattle girls (and boys!) who want to rock out—Paul Green's School of Rock (itself the subject of a 2005 documentary) is set to open in early January. Rumor has it that the Philly teacher's local franchise is hosting open houses throughout December for interested kids and their folks. Living vicariously? Another rumor posits that the curriculum will start with "Jim, Jimi, and Janis." Groovy. All future rock stars should attend today's show, where kids from the School of Rock West Coast All-Stars and Port Angeles young'uns the Lonely H show how it works when you've successfully wrapped those influences into your own stone-cold style.