Downtown music

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December 6, 2004 // UPDATED 4:49 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

'Duck in the Halls'?

The wonderfully witty and sarcastic pianist Judith Owen has performed just about everywhere -- in addition to being the "Felicity" chanteuse, her animated self did a cameo on "The Simpsons" (in which she played the happy little dittie "To Hell and Back" . . . with a not-so-slinky Homer lying atop the piano).

Together, she and her husband, the similarly wonderfully witty Harry Shearer (who, besides providing several voices for "The Simpsons," plays "Derek Smalls" in Spinal Tap, the parody heavy-metal band featured in "This Is Spinal Tap," a mockumentary famous for prop mishaps -- including Smalls getting stuck in a vein-encrusted pod), must make everybody's "do-not-invite" party list.

Surely just one member of this pair could rip an ego to shreds in seconds flat. Owen may be pretty, blond and blue-eyed, but get on her bad side and she's bound to write a song about you that you don't want to hear.

Lucky for us, though, she and the hubby will be in town to make fun of the holidays -- not us.

The lovely couple's set features totally new arrangements of "Silent Night," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and, perhaps most remarkably, Spinal Tap's "Christmas with the Devil."

The trimmings are completed with Owen and Shearer originals "The Dancing Tree" and "My Father's Voice." Owen will also preview material from her 2005 jazz CD -- a collection of smoky originals alongside classic jazz, rock and pop standards arranged in Owen's inimitable style.

Sunday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m. Fine Line Music Caf/, 318 1st Ave. N. $16 in advance, $21 at the door. 338-8100.

One more time

The Reverend Horton Heat is coming back to town, and he's bringing a whole slew of new material this time. His recent release, "Revival," is ripe with the Reverend's characteristic mix of punk, rockabilly, country and surf guitar, but -- and perhaps this is what the record's title alludes to -- there with an almost palpable vitality to this album that's been missing from the Rev's music for a long time.

Some might say the Rev's lost a little edge, for while the subject matter of the newer songs is consistent with his repertoire -- women, drinking, rockin' out and acting brain-damaged in public -- this married father of two's newer works have a little more, well, humanity to them. He cautions tired drivers to pull over for catnaps, for example, and sings about the downside of heroin. As a result, the Rev strikes a deeper chord, and these songs will just keep rattling in your brain long after he's walked off

the stage.

Thursday, Dec. 9, 6 p.m. First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N. $7 in advance, $14 at the door. 338-8388.

'Purdy eyes'

Local singer/songwriter Peter Mayer has been called many things, most of them good. He and his music are "bright," "hopeful," "transcendent," "intriguing," "appealing" and "everything you could ever want from a singer/songwriter," a la local reviewers.

I've also heard he's "a really nice guy" with "purdy eyes" and "great hair."

Don't just take all these people's words for it, though. See him for yourself. His wonderful knack for finding the natural spirituality in everyday events will make this a night even the most humbug holiday-shunner will enjoy.

Saturday, Dec. 11, 8 p.m. Historic Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Ave. S. $22-$24. 651-989-5151.

Holly Day can be reached at