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Check It Out

Check It Out!: November 22, 2013

Live Music & More

The James Hunter Six —

Minute By Minute (Fantasy)

A blue-eyed singer in the vein of British predecessors Mick Hucknell, Steve Winwood and Rod Stewart, James Hunter is also a double-threat whose warm croon is matched by crisp and tasty guitar playing. Returning from a five-year hiatus that saw the 2011 death of his wife Jacqueline from cancer, Hunter has somehow rebounded to arguably make the best album of his nearly three-decade career. In teaming up with Daptone co-founder Gabriel Roth, the former Van Morrison sideman has found a producer/engineer who complements his overall sound. Hunter’s singing style has a rich tone and range that encompasses the relaxed suaveness of Sam Cooke and excited yelp of James Brown, which translates well on Minute By Minute’s dozen self-penned songs.

Horn arrangements dominate the proceedings on vintage sock-hop-inspired gems like “Nothin’ I Wouldn’t Do” and the joyful, vibraphone-kissed “One Way Love.” Despite his personal circumstances, Hunter remains very much the romantic whether he’s crooning “They say the heart won’t grieve/What the eye can’t see/But you can never deceive/The memory” over a bed of crooning harmonies, a bossa nova-flavored groove and a mournful sax. Or pleads his case on the very Cooke-inspired “If I Only Knew” where he asks with raspy phrasing, “What I got to do to make you love me too/Tell me how I would do it right now/If I only knew.” His longtime band, thanked by its frontman when he renamed his outfit the James Hunter Six, fit hand-in-glove with Hunter’s retro vibe. Songs like “Look Out” and its honking sax sound like an outtake from the soundtrack of a long-lost Carnaby Street documentary while the snappy “Chicken Switch” and its scratchy riffing bring to mind The Meters’ Leo Nocentelli. If Minute By Minute is any indication, music proved to be an effective balm and catharsis for Hunter’s misfortune.

November 30


Mannheim Steamroller @ the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, 720 Northern Blvd.,

4 & 8 p.m. $101.90, $81.40, $61.50. 516-299-3100

Fun fact: Chip Davis, the brain trust behind Mannheim Steamroller was C.W. McCall of “Convoy” fame in a prior professional life. That said, Davis’s current group has cornered the market on multimedia synthesized orchestral Christmas music for the past quarter century, all the while selling roughly 28 million records in the United States alone.

November 30

Westhampton Beach

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes @ Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main St.,

8 p.m. $65, $55, $45. 631- 288-1500

As much a fixture of the Jersey bar-band scene as longtime buddy Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny is one of those artists who always seems to be locally playing one place or another throughout the calendar year. This of course makes Southside Johnny and his Asbury Jukes one of the music industry’s tightest live acts highlighted by the fact that this crew has a deep and extensive canon to pull from.

December  1


Laurie Berkner Band: A Holiday Celebration @ the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, 720 Northern Blvd.,

2 p.m. $108.90, $45.90, $35.90. 516-299-3100

Dubbed “the queen of children’s music” by no less than People Magazine, Laurie Berkner has spent the past two decades cornering that market. In addition to being a stalwart on Nick Jr. , Berkner has released five albums and with this current tour, A Holiday Celebration, coming around to these parts, expect to hear plenty off of last year’s A Laurie Berkner Christmas.

December 3 & 4


Elton John @ Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza.

8 p.m. $179.50, $79.50, $49.50. 212-707-3131

No rest for Captain Fantastic. He recently completed a three-year performing stint at Las Vegas, played at the Queen’s Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace last year, played on the new Queens of the Stone Age album …Like Clockwork and is hot on the heels of releasing his newest album, the T-Bone Burnett-produced The Diving Board in September. That said, expect great things from this pair of dates given the storied shows Reg Dwight has performed over the years at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

December 4


Kenny Rogers @ NYCB Theatre @ Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd.,

8 p.m. $79.50, $49.50, $39.50. 877-598-8497

With it being the most wonderful time of the year and all, Kenny Rogers is swinging through our area with his annual Christmas and Hits Through the Years Tour. Given that the former frontman for the psychedelic-country-rock outfit the First Edition sports the kind of full white beard Santa Claus would envy, it only makes sense that he’s recorded no less than six Christmas albums. And while you wonder how much one man has done to promote the cause of bearded entertainers, be sure to visit With Linda Davis.

December 6

Port Washington

Los Lobos Disconnected: 40th Anniversary Tour @ Landmark on Main Street, 223 Main St.

8 p.m. $72, $67, $62. 516-767-6444

Going into its fifth decade of making music together, Los Lobos stands at the crossroads of American roots music and traditional Spanish and Mexican folkloric tradition. And with this year being the band’s fortieth anniversary, the boys from East L.A. are using the release of last month’s Disconnected in New York City, recorded at City Winery and the band’s fourth live release since 2005, to revisit the Los Lobos canon in a unique manner.

December 6


The Cult @ The Paramount, 370 New York Ave.

9 p.m. $90.25, $63, $52.50. 631-673-7300 

At this point, The Cult is Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy the way The Who is Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. And like the latter, The Cult have experienced a number of rebirths with the latest being last year’s Choice of Weapon, the band’s first album in five years. Now comes the release of the double-CD set Electric Peace, which is a combination of a rerelease of the 1987 release Electric and the 1986 follow-up to Love called Peace that was scrapped and whose remnants have showed up on bootlegs over the years. And to cap it all off, Astbury and company plan to play Electric in its entirety throughout the tour.

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