Here's my best-of shows for 2006:
1) Haale, Club Helsinki, February 3, October 14, Mass MOCA June 24
Three shows, three different configurations of musicians, three spectacular musical experiences of psychedelic Persian magic. Haale’s at least three steps to the left of almost everything else you’ve ever heard, but she’s so dead-on it you probably won’t notice. I suspect 2007 will be Haale’s year.
2) Tallis Scholars, Tanglewood, August 17
I’d been waiting 15 years to see this early-music a cappella group, and every second of the wait was worth it. Mesmerizing, majestic, ethereal, and utterly moving. The ten voices filled every inch of the Ozawa Theater with joy and wonder.
3) Robbie Fulks, Club Helsinki, July 2
Hyper-smart and insidiously funny, Fulks and his killer band played country music the way it oughta be played, the way it used to be played before the country scene got Wal-Marted into mediocrity. And the guy flat-picks like a demon. The only problem was that it was damn hard to dance when you’re laughing your ass off.
4) Tin Hat, Club Helsinki, March 4
Carla Kihlstedt and company performed an evening of intergalactic chamber music that was beyond bold, beyond creative, beyond tasteful. Horns, reeds, strings, a tiny pump organ. Crumpling paper as a percussion instrument. Watching these guys was like taking a three week vacation to a different and delightfully better place.
5) DuWayne Burnside and the Mississippi Mafia, Club Helsinki, September 16
Move over, Rover, and let DuWayne take over. You want the funk? You’ll have to ask DuWayne ‘cause he’s got it. All of it. Cold. Deep, too! Stanky, stanky, stanky-ass stanky............
6) Matisyahu, Washington Avenue Armory, October 17
Everyone’s favorite Hasidic reggae singer showed why he’s da bomb, thoroughly debunking the racist bullshit thrown at him this year by the solipsistic twits at the New York Times. (I got yer authenticity right here, jack-offs.) His arena show was every bit as intimate, powerful, and inspiring as the staggering set he did two years ago on the tiny stage at Savannah’s. Matisyahu’s got his mazel tov mojo woikin’ overtime, bwah.
7) Bob Dylan, Doubleday Field, August 17
I’ve been trying to figure out whether I like Dylan for, oh, 44 years or so; this show locked it in. He’s really got me now. The lingering remains of Hurricane Ernesto kept a lot of people away, and what a show they missed. What a band! George Racile is some kinda drum god. Dylan was actually smiling through the mist.