By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Photo by Steve ShermanBlind Boys Of Alabama
Go Tell it on the Mountain
The Blind Boys of Alabama have long been one of the most soulful and sweet gospel groups to inhabit the planet. But the septet has recently blossomed into much more than just that—the Boys have crossed into the secular world with divine results. The group—formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939 and still featuring original vocalists Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter and George Scott—has ventured boldly into R&B, rock, funk, and blues without sacrificing its spiritual essence. Two years ago, the group was well-received by a new, broader audience while opening for Peter Gabriel during the domestic leg of his Growing Up tour. This crossover continues on the new Ben Harper/Blind Boys collaboration, There Will Be a Light, a feeling-filled recording featuring Harper's haunting lap-steel guitar notes and the Boys' soaring harmonies, especially transcendent during "11th Commandment" and "Mother Pray." For this holiday season, the Blind Boys of Alabama are touring behind last year's Christmas-themed Go Tell It on the Mountain, their third consecutive Grammy winner for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album. With well-placed musical contributions from such critical darlings as Richard Thompson, George Clinton, Solomon Burke, Chrissie Hynde, Shelby Lynne, Me'Shell NdegťOcello, Tom Waits and others, revered (and tired) chestnuts such as "The Christmas Song," "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" and "White Christmas" are practically reborn. Yeah, they're that good. (John Roos)
The Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Dr., Cerritos, (800) 300-4345; www.cerritoscenter.com. Sun., 3 p.m. $20-$40. All ages.
Hippie Lettuce and Brownies
It's the fall of 2004, and although High Times' 2002 Stoner of the Year continues to smoke tons of the "hippie lettuce" (he was recently selling $100 brownies at the AMAs) and drape a blue rag from his back left pocket, Snoop's trying to set a positive example for his kids—coaching Pee Wee football to be exact. Because before he was Snoop, Calvin Broadus ran from trouble with the law to playing at Long Beach Poly, home to one of the best high-school-football programs in the nation—a bit of a detour on the way to the top of the rap-music food chain with Death Row Records by way of 1993's Doggystyle, the best-selling debut album until Clay Aiken's release last year. Since then, Snoop has "stayed on point like Stacy Adams," parlaying his hits into a hot Hollywood commodity, crossing over to commercials and acting on the big screen in Starsky and Hutchand Soul Plane. He recently released g-funk nostalgia album 213—The Hard Way (with childhood friends Warren G. and Nate Dogg on hit songs such as "So Fly") and his new solo album, R & G (Rhythm and Gangsta): The Masterpiece, which includes the huge radio cut "Drop It Like It's Hot," featuring Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes. (Ben QuiŮones)
Snoop Dogg with Alicia Keys, Ashlee Simpson, Avril Lavigne and more at the KIIS-FM Jingle Ball at Arrowhead Pond, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 704-2400. Fri., 7 P.M. $35-$150. All ages.