Hot tickets for the first week of 2014 include rare shows from iconic pianist and composer Leon Russell and a run of shows at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium by evergreen rocker Neil Young. Actor Jeff Daniels brings his comedic talents to some refreshingly self-deprecating songs at 54 Below, Sonic Youth's guitar maestro Thurston Moore continues his downtown residency at The Stone and you'll find hip-hop visionary Africa Bambaataa behind the wheels of steel at Le Poisson Rouge.
Thursday, Jan. 2
Although "Vivid," their major label debut album in 1988, became their international breakthrough, Living Colour were already Downtown heroes, having emerged from Manhattan's vibrant "no-wave" punk-funk music scene in 1983. Led by explosive guitarist Vernon Reid, Living Colour released three albums before disbanding in 1995, reforming at a gig at CBGB's in 2000. Their biggest hit remains their debut single "Cult Of Personality." At Brooklyn Bowl, Williamsburg.
Experimental guitarist and all-round underground innovator Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) continues his 10-performance residency at the artist run avant-garde music venue The Stone on the Lower East Side. At 8 p.m. Moore is joined by Samara Lubelski on violin and Nate Wooley on trumpet and electronics, at 10 p.m Daniel Carter (sax) and Ryan Sawyer (drums) join the fray.
Actor Jeff Daniels is also an accomplished singer and songwriter with a knack for writing satirical ditties with titles like “If William Shatner Can, I Can Too,” “You Can Drink An Ugly Girl Pretty” and “Have a Good Life (Then Die).” At 54 Below 254 W. 54th St. Midtown.
Friday, Jan. 3
B. B. King Blues Club & Grill is celebrating three "Icons Of Funk" tonight — guitarist Leo Nocentelli, of the Meters, keyboardist Bernie Worrell, (Parliament, Funkadelic, Talking Heads) and the trombonist Fred Wesley, James Brown’s longtime musical director.
Saturday, Jan. 4
In 1982 Bronx DJ Africa Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force sampled Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express" to create "Planet Rock," one of Hip-Hop's first hymns. Active throughout the '80s as a producer, DJ, activist and leader of Zulu Nation, an international hip hop awareness group, tonight Bambaataa brings his encyclopedic music knowledge to the decks at (Le) Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village.
Brooklyn Night Bazaar does a fine job blending an indie market, fresh tasty food and interesting curations of mostly local indie music every Friday and Saturday in their recently launched Greenpoint warehouse venue. Tonight catch the bouncy pop rock of Magic Man, country folk quintet The Novel Ideas, the ambient folk-pop of Photocomfort and the spooky melodies of Texan singer songwriter Jarod Dickerson. 165 Banker St, Greenpoint.
Sunday, Jan. 5
Oklahoma's Leon Russell, described in the New Yorker as "one of the few legitimate living legends," has made soulful contributions to some of the greatest recordings of all time. Tracks including The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man" and Ike & Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" both bare the passionate playing of the ultimate rock-and-roll session man. Also a solo artist (9 Top 40 albums) and a peerless songwriter ("This Masquerade," "Delta Lady") Russell played studio sessions with George Harrison, Gram Parsons, Ringo Starr, Doris Day, Elton John, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, Badfinger, Frank Sinatra, The Band, Bob Dylan, BB King, Glen Campbell, and The Rolling Stones. Russell was ushered back into the spotlight in 2010 when he collaborated with Elton John on the album "The Union," his first top 5 album since 1972's "Carney." In 2011 Elton John welcomed his idol into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. At City Winery, 155 Varick St. Also Jan. 6.
Monday, Jan. 6
Canadian folk and rock legend Neil Young begins a run of shows tonight at Carnegie Hall's
Stern Auditorium (also Jan 7,9,10). Young's career began in Canada — he played guitar in the Rick James ("Superfreak") fronted Mynah Birds and wrote his first hit record "Flying on the Ground is Wrong" for Canadian rockers The Guess Who. Influenced by Bob Dylan, he also wrote his evergreen "Sugar Mountain" in 1964 on his 19th birthday. Moving to LA in the mid '60s, he formed Buffalo Springfield alongside Stephen Stills and Richie Furay, part of the first wave of North American bands to become popular in the wake of the British chart invasion. Throughout the '70s, the Young legend grew with a string of classic solo albums (1972's "Harvest" being his first solo number one) and a new collaboration with bar room rockers Crazy Horse. Young's restless creativity has taken numerous twists and turns, including brushes with synth pop (1982's "Trans") and experimental feedback and noise. His most recent releases include 2013's "Live At The Cellar Door" — a recording of concerts at Washington D.C.'s The Cellar Door in 1970 — and his longest album ever, the hard rocking "Psychedelic Pill" recorded with Crazy Horse.
Tuesday, Jan. 7
Texan electronic pop band Feathers play The Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side tonight as a warm-up to supporting Depeche Mode in Europe.
Wednesday, Jan. 8
Jherek Bischoff is equal parts songwriter, producer, performer and composer. His debut album, "Composed" was written on a ukulele. Bischoff recorded each part, stitching together dozens of recordings to create his huge symphonic sound layer by layer. With guests including David Byrne, Zola Jesus, Sondre Lerche, Greg Saunier of Deerhoof and Mirah. At Stans Warehouse, Dumbo.