Life can get pretty lonely this time of year for the Jews. Sure, we've got Hanukkah and all, ostensibly eight days of gifts to celebrate the fact that some oil burned longer than expected once upon a time (as opposed to, oh, celebrating the birth of our savior). But ask any Jew who's not too proud to be honest, and he or she will tell you that it's tough not to feel a bit left out during the holiday season.

While we're scrambling around, desperately seeking out wrapping paper that's got menorahs and dreidels on it, most everyone else is at home with their loved ones, sitting around the brightly lit Christmas tree, sipping eggnog, singing carols and checking out the goods that Santa delivered this year. Call it Christmas envy.

But in recent years, Jews have begun to at least attempt to reclaim their slice of the holiday pie, and one needs to look no further for proof of this than in the resurgence of Jewish and Hanukkah-themed music. This week, then, is cause for celebration among local, musically adventurous Jews, as the Hanukkah Tour 2006 (alternately billed as the Eight Crazy Nights Tour) descends upon our fair burg.

The tour brings together three Jewish-centric bands and two lecturers to provide us Hebes with a sense of inclusion during this holiday season. Headlining the show is Victoria, Australia's pop-punkers Yidcore, whose oeuvre includes odes to David Bowie and Adam Sandler, as well as tunes like "Od Yavo Shalom Salaam" and "Yaldah Raah," both of which are sung entirely in Hebrew. The bill also includes the brilliantly named Jewdriver (a flip of the bird to the white supremacist band Screwdriver), a band of unruly Oakland, Calif., punks; and The Zydepunks, a joyous-sounding five-piece whose self-description--"New Orleans' own Cajun Irish Jewish Punk band"--pretty much sums 'em up. (Half the fun of listening to a song like "Madeline" is trying to figure out if they're singing in French or Hebrew.) The lecturers are Tattoo Jew, aka Los Angeles-based filmmaker Andy Abrams, whose focus is the taboo of Jews with tattoos, and Jericho's Echo, a fellow filmmaker who has explored the punk rock scene in Israel.

Lonely Jews of all ages should head over to Skrappy's, 201 E. Broadway Blvd., on Tuesday, Dec. 19. For show time and cover charge info, call 358-4287.


Three chicks and a dude constitute Los Angeles' The Randies, whose recent album Saw the Light (Elicit/Majestic, 2006) displays them maturing gracefully as compared to their 2004 debut, At the Friendship Motor Inn (Elicit). While both contain winning tracks that fuse power-pop hooks, slash-and-burn punk and good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll, the new disc also finds them unafraid to flaunt their '60s girl-group influences on songs such as the midtempo ballad "Up in Lights." The Randies are something like a post-punk version of The Runaways, a less fierce L7 with more melodies, or a Muffs for the 21st century. In other words, they'll charm the hell out of you.

The Randies perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Dec. 16. Opening the show at 9:30 p.m. are locals Bombs for the Bored, whose appearance is rumored to be one of their last, followed by Emily Long. Cover is a fiver. For further details, call 798-1298.


Nearly a year after last hitting Club Congress, legendary L.A. roots-rockers The Blasters make a return appearance to the same venue this week in support of their 2005 album 4-11-44 (Rainman). The group, founded in 1979 by brothers Phil and Dave Alvin (Dave has since gone solo, leaving singer/guitarist Phil and bassist John Bazz as the remaining original members), are still plugging away at what they call "American music," an amalgam of blues, rockabilly and country that adds up to a form of rock 'n' roll best experienced in a barroom.

They'll be right at home, then, at Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Dec. 16. Opening the show are our two beloved Als--Al Perry (who once told me that his dream gig is to play lead guitar for The Blasters) and Al Foul, who starts the night off at 9 p.m. Admission is a ten-spot. Questions? Call 622-8848 for answers.


Anyone out there remember the excellent Tucson band Fistsized, who broke up about two years ago? Well, the reason they broke up was because one of their members, Doug Owen, was relocating to Seattle. This week brings the chance to find out what he's been up to since he left, when his new band, Madraso, takes to the stage at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St. The trio recently self-released an EP, The Theme of Consequence, which contains seven rhythm-heavy songs that will appeal to anyone who misses Fugazi or the '90s output of Dischord Records. It's good stuff, and you can hear it for yourself on Saturday, Dec. 16, along with locals Staircase Wit and Pod People. Things get rolling around 10 p.m., and questions will be answered by calling 622-3535.


Christmas arrives early at The Hut this year, when the cleverly titled Christmas Party at The Hut hits that venue at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 17. (Note: That start time comes from an e-mail we received from the club's booker; the venue's MySpace page says the show starts at 6 p.m., so please call 623-3200 to verify.) Expect to hear holiday tunes both old and new from the likes of the Tryst, Kings of Pleasure, The Wyatts, Ghost Cow and Feta and Shiraz. The Hut is located at 305 N. Fourth Ave., and cover is $3.

Whether he's being billed as the Microphones or Mt. Eerie, Washington State's Phil Elverum performs a lo-fi brand of psych-pop that has built a substantial cult following in the last seven or eight years, and might have been labeled "freak-folk" if it didn't pre-date the term. He'll be at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Saturday, Dec. 16, along with openers Woelv, Adrian Orange and Brando Skirts. The all-ages show begins at 9 p.m., and cover is $8. For more info, call 884-0874.

If you're reading this paper the day it officially hits the street, lucky you: There's still time to catch the multicultural phenomenon known as Ozomatli, who prove that "party" (the celebratory kind) and politics aren't mutually exclusive. In addition to old favorites, expect to hear new songs that will appear on the group's upcoming album, the infectious Don't Mess With the Dragon, set for release on March 27, 2007, on Concord. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., and tickets are $25 at the door. For additional information, call 740-1000.

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