Nerd rock, holiday albums, Spanish guitars

The holidays are a musically problematic time for me, as the air is laced with Christmas jingles and the dismal sound of once-respectable rock bands and artists stooping to make a quick buck by recording songs designed to make us feel good about racking up insane credit-card debt in the name of “generosity.” Let’s call mass, mindless consumption what it is: an addiction. If you want to save the economy by ruining your personal finances, fine. Just wake me up when it’s safe to enter a Walgreen’s without hearing Bob Seger’s rendition of “Little Drummer Boy.”

I’m far from hibernating. Instead of Santa and reindeer, I’m thinking about orcs and goblins after accidentally discovering local nerd-rockers 3d6 (geek lingo for rolling a six-sided die three times to inflict damage points on an imaginary adversary) at last month’s Neoncon, the annual role-playing gamers convention held at Tropicana. This three-piece performs feisty punk numbers about Dungeons & Dragons, comic books, video games and, um, poop jokes. Anyhow, the band possesses a nifty tune in its arsenal called “Damage,” for which they made a funny animated video (watch at The song’s also the title track of 3d6’s self-released digital debut, which you can buy in all the usual places (iTunes, Amazon). The band plays Cheyenne Saloon at 8 p.m. Dec. 15, so look for me. I’ll be wearing my Excalibur T-shirt with dragons fighting each other. Yep, I’m the kind of guy who buys stuff like that.

Another cool purchase I made recently: Singer Kristen Hertzenberg and Jersey Boys associate conductor Philip Fortenberry’s Holidays From the Heart. OK, I previously said that Christmas albums make me hurl, but this one doesn’t sound like an overcooked turkey. That’s because mega-hot Hertzenberg plays Christine Daaé in Phantom-The Las Vegas Spectacular at the Venetian. She’s a fantastic, gorgeously voiced singer who knows how to project emotion. But the best and worst part about making the album was this: Hertzenberg was diagnosed with thyroid cancer while in the studio. She had a deadline to complete this project before undergoing surgery that risked paralyzing her vocal cords. Good news, it succeeded, and Hertzenberg is back performing in Phantom. And Heart has it all—Broadway pop, jazz, gospel and folk—from Harry Connick Jr.’s “I Pray On Christmas” to Annie Lennox’s “Universal Child.” You can buy this moving album at, iTunes or Amazon. Catch Kristen performing songs from her album and more holiday favorites with Las Vegas Philharmonic and Las Vegas Master Singers at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 17, at Artemus Ham Hall on UNLV’s campus. For tickets, visit

Before I get shitfaced on brandy-soaked eggnog and forget to say it: Internationally acclaimed, Colombian-born (and Vegas-based) classical guitarist Ricardo Cobo is working with Alhambra guitar company in Spain to create the (judging by what I hear) incredible-sounding Ricardo Cobo Signature Model. The instrument sings, and I can’t wait to hear him play it live. Check for performance updates.

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