There's some terrific shows in December in the New York area. I'd like to take some time out from entering events in the Arbitrary Guide to Popular Culture to point out some of the best for this month.
At the top of my list is the three day reunion of Chris Cutler, Fred Frith and Hugh Hopper (of legendary bands Henry Cow and Soft Machine) who will be at The Stone December 15th through the 17th. The entire month of December has been curated by Downtown Music Gallery's Bruce Lee Gallanter and Manny "Lunch" Maris, the first non-musicians invited to do so by The Stone's director, John Zorn.
Zorn will be stepping away from The Stone to perform at Roulette on the 17th with Jim Staley and Ikue Mori and to celebrate New Year's Eve at Tonic with Mike Patton and Bill Laswell. Tonic is presenting a show at Abrons Art Center on the 16th featuring WFMU's Laura Cantrell, Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips, Chocolate Genius, The Honorary Title, Elysian Fields and Heather Greene.
December 16th also has the amazing 14th Annual UnSilent Night, an outdoor ambient music piece for an infinite number of boombox tape players. (More on this and other December highlights after jump)
Everyone is invited to participate by bringing a boombox tape player. Last year there were over 1000 people marching from Washington Square Arch to Thompkins Square Park with the tapes (handed out before the march by the organizers) playing in sync from their boomboxes. It's really spectacular. Those who want to participate are asked to email them to so they know how many tapes to bring. There's no charge.
Lou Reed is performing "Berlin" Live at St Ann's Warehouse for the first time ever, from December 14th through the 17th. Gogol Bordello will be at Irving Plaza on the 21st, and Patti Smith is closing out the year at Bowery Ballroom from December 29th through the 31rst. Smith also has an art show, A Pythagorean Traveler currently on display at the Robert Miller Gallery through January 13th.
Other choices for New Year's Eve include James Brown at B.B. Kings and Radio 4, Oxford Collapse and more at Mercury Lounge. If you can't partake of this seasonable bounty of musical bliss perhaps you'd like to look at some great pics of legendary shows from NYC clubs of the late 70's and early 80's that I found posted on flickr here. To see details of these shows and listings of many more shows and events go to The WFMU Arbitrary Guide to Popular Culture. And check out Terre T's Gig-o-Rama and Rob Weisberg's World Music Calendar for other listings of shows in the area.