Having collaborated with everyone from country-star Jamey Johnson to blues/folk shaman Ben Harper to rapper Gift of Gab from Blackalicious, the Blind Boys of Alabama’s cross-genre appeal seems virtually boundless. With a history that spans seven decades and includes five Grammy wins, they’ve served as inspirations to multiple generations while using their formidable harmonies and uplifting attitudes to push the limits on what’s considered gospel. Their holiday shows, a mix of seasonal favorites and their own originals, have become something of a tradition since the 2003 release of their Christmas album, “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”
Long nights of whiskey drinking, tough hands at cards, loose morals and bad decisions – all seem like regular occurrences on Tahoe’s rowdy South Shore, and have clearly informed the music of the Dead Winter Carpenters, who claim North Lake Tahoe as their home. There are strands of old-soul, outlaw country and shreds of ragtime in their country/bluegrass sound, along with a firm, honky-tonk-fueled assertion that the best way to get over those broken hearts is to get out on the dance floor and deal with the hangover tomorrow. With MerryGold.
One of the coolest things you’ll see on the Internet this year: www.bandgeeks gonewild.com. Launched by brothers Robert and David Perlick-Molinari, who make up Brooklyn-based duo the French Horn Rebellion, the site offers streaming versions of the group’s bouncy ’80s-inspired, electronic pop, along with corresponding sheet music and an invitation for anyone to grab their horn, oboe or whatever, and record themselves playing along. The results are homemade versions of the daring sounds created by these two visionary siblings: snappy and funk-packed dance hooks from David (at one time a collaborator with MGMT) laced with live brass from Robert, formerly a first-chair French horn player with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. With Adam J and Shaun Slaughter.
You’ll want to call it an early day on the slopes for this one. Hasidic-reggae-rapper Matisyahu, art rockers the Flaming Lips and hip-hop royalty Jurassic 5 headline this three-day festival in the mountains. 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley. squaw.com/lastchairfestival.