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GET A LEG UP ON NEW YEAR’S EVE ACTION

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that a proper New Year’s Eve celebration needs music. Lots of music. The best-case scenario would include nothing but music. And maybe alcohol.

There is a musical tradition that bands pull out all the stops when they play on New Year’s Eve. Based on my own experience, I can say that is nearly always true. If it’s music you crave and a celebration you need, you can do a lot worse than hitting a concert on the last night of the year.

Your own taste will figure heavily here, but there is usually something for everyone going on within about an hour of Fredericksburg. Even if you don’t see something familiar here, each of these shows will be a great place to party. If you’re not careful, you might even learn something about music.

All of these shows take place Dec. 31. You know, New Year’s Eve.

THE TRANSMITTERS

The Kenmore Inn, 1200 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg

540/371-7622; kenmoreinn.com

$30–$35

The Transmitters are Fredericksburg’s best rocksteady and reggae band, but the genre qualifiers are hardly necessary. They are just the best band, period. If you want to see extremely talented musicians having an excellent time onstage, this is the place to be. Staying local for NYE has never been an easier choice.

TROMBONE SHORTY & ORLEANS AVENUE

9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW, Washington

202/265-0930; 930.com

$75

You know who can party better than anyone on the planet? People from New Orleans, and musicians in particular. Trombone Shorty is the pre-eminent purveyor of funky dance music, and his band straight-up throws down. Add go-go pioneers Trouble Funk and you have one heck of a horn-driven end-of-year party. The ticket also gets you champagne and a “Bayou sandwich biscuit,” which is nice.

THE INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS WITH LOVE CANON

The National, 708 E. Broad St., Richmond

804/612-1900; thenationalva.com

$35–$40

This one is for the acoustic fans, or folks who like their bluegrass stretched beyond its traditional boundaries. The ’Dusters have been blowing bluegrass minds with expert picking, smooth harmonies and extended jams for years. Love Canon puts down spandex-tight acoustic covers of ’80s hits with precision and flair. Together, they will offer a tremendous celebratory clusterpluck.

THE LEGWARMERS

The State Theater, 202 N. Washington St., Falls Church

703/237-0300; thestatetheater.com

$50

Speaking of ’80s hits, The Legwarmers have developed a significant D.C.-area fan base with their faithful covers of every Reagan-era pop hit you can shake a Swatch at. Even their non-holiday shows are a packed house of costume-clad party people, so their NYE show will probably go off like a Def Leppard “Rocket.”

THE SELDOM SCENE AND THE STRAY BIRDS

The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria

703/549-7500; birchmere.com

$39.50

The Stray Birds is not a local band, per se, although they have played a few well-attended gigs here in the ’Burg and sometimes invite favorite Fredericksburg son Jay Starling to pick a little Dobro. What they are is one of the hottest folk–Americana bands in the country, with a set full of the most delicate acoustic tunes you might ever hear. The Seldom Scene? Well, they’re just one of the greatest bands in bluegrass history.

RAMSEY LEWIS AND JOHN PIZZARELLI

The Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW, Washington

202/416-8000 ; kennedy-center.org

$85–$95

A jazz piano master, prolific composer, jazz historian and radio host, Lewis is the perfect companion for an evening of cool tunes and celebratory sophistication. This show is a tribute to Nat King Cole, so the music is guaranteed to be top-notch. And it’s at the Kennedy Center—you can’t get much classier than that.

JASON ISBELL AND THE DIRTY DOZEN BRASS BAND

The Jefferson Theater, 110 East Main St., Charlottesville

434/245-4980; jeffersontheater.com

$40–$85

Isbell has made his mark outside of the Drive-By Truckers, and is now one of the most reliably cerebral voices in Southern rock. He also has a killer band—one that is sure to keep the roof properly raised for NYE. And let’s not forget about Dirty Dozen, a filthy–funky New Orleans jazz outfit that continues to push the musical envelope after more than 30 years.

FRANKENFÜT

Colonial Tavern, 406 Lafayette Blvd., Fredericksburg

540/373-1313; irishbrigadetavern.com

$5

The original Frankenfüt was a local super group of sorts, and that is still the case, even though the lineup has changed. Billing itself as Frankenfüt 2.0: Das Füt Reboot, they promise the same kind of butt-kicking rock ‘n’ roll. And you can’t beat a great NYE party right here in town.

DOUG GATELY JAZZ BAND

Potomac Point Winery, 275 Decatur Road, Stafford

540/446-2107; potomacpointwinery.com

$109

University of Mary Washington jazz instructor and Jazz Ensemble director will add his flute skills to a crack jazz band for a decadent evening of wine and food. Did I mention that this soirée is inspired by “The Great Gatsby”? Now that’s how you ring in the new year.

Jonas Beals: 540/368-5036

jbeals@freelancestar.com

 

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