The Hippo


May 24, 2020








The gift of music
A holiday wish list for serious fans

By Michael Witthaus

Honestly, most critic gift guides are meekly disguised letters to Santa — what some call a job perk. In that vein, remember Ralphie from the movie A Christmas Story? Well, primo seats for Foo Fighters at Fenway Park (July 18 and 19, is this obsessed kid’s Red Ryder Range Rifle for the coming holiday, while the One Direction show at Gillette Stadium (Sept. 12, qualifies as rabbit ear pajamas. 

To fulfill a local music fan’s wish list, you could start with earlybird tickets to next year’s Granite State Music Festival. 2015 will mark the fourth year for the event, which features the cream of regional talent and the occasional national headliner (June 20-21,
Groovechild, featured in the 2012 Seacoast 1990s music scene documentary In Danger of Being Discovered, is completing its first studio album in 22 years. Pre-order the disc, also featuring rare unreleased and live material spanning 20 years, at — add a limited edition hoodie for $100 or a private performance for two grand.
If you’re looking for something to wrap and put under the tree, try Freevolt’s Take The Product, Pat & the Hats’ Fake It Till You Make A Hit or a copy of A Christmas Gift For, the new holiday album from power pop rockers The Connection. Links for purchase can be found on band Facebook pages. Better still, go to a show and buy one directly from the band. Get it autographed; the gesture will make both the fan’s and the musician’s day.
Recycled Percussion is an end-of-year tradition. The America’s Got Talent and Las Vegas stars play two junk rock shows at Plymouth’s Flying Monkey on Dec. 28 ( and five hometown shows beginning New Year’s Eve at The Palace Theatre in Manchester (
Comedy fans will appreciate tickets for Juston McKinney’s Last Laugh 2014 at Portsmouth’s Music Hall on Dec. 27 — an early show was just added to the hilarious year-in-review show from the Maine comic (
Clothing always makes a great gift. Buy a Daytrotter sweatshirt to celebrate indie musicians like Spoon, The Kickback and Sturgill Simpson, or satisfy a classic rock fan’s desire for Led Zeppelin or Fleetwood Mac with a poster art T-shirt. Both can be found at Wolfgang’s Vault, which also sells an annual subscription to stream its amazing live music library (
Worn Free offers replicas of clothing worn by rock stars. Each item comes with a backstage pass facsimile tag with a photo. Two favorites are a T-shirt with a Sounds Magazine logo and one that says, “Corporate Magazines Still Suck” — both favored by Kurt Cobain in his Nirvana days (
There are several rock books to choose from. Joe Perry’s autobiography, Rocks: My Life in and Out of Aerosmith is a good one, another is producer Glyn Johns’ Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Faces… British writer Gareth Murphy’s Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry is a compelling study of the music business, from pre-Edison to MP3.
Several CD and DVD box sets came out this year. Looking for Johnny: The Legend of Johnny Thunders studies a punk rock icon admired by Bob Dylan, among others. REMTV contains all of REM’s performances on MTV back when it still played music, including their mesmerizing 1991 Unplugged appearance.
Speaking of Dylan, completists are clamoring for the deluxe Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series. Spanning six discs, the set features all 138 tracks from the famous 1967 sessions, along with between-song banter and a 120-page book stuffed with rare photos and memories.
But that’s so 20th century. If your favorite music fan is between tween and twentysomething, a better choice would be seats for Frozen and Broadway star Idina Menzel’s Aug. 28 concert in Boston (, not the Led Zeppelin IV Super Deluxe Box Set with vinyl (hint, hint). 
As seen in the December 11, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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