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Native Hawaiian artists, Phoenix and Kathy Griffin kick off 2010

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

2010 has arrived, and so has a full slate of anticipated live performances. Here are my picks for January's best shows, including the already sold-out concert by French pop-rockers Phoenix. Amy Hanaiali'i / Willie K /
Henry Kapono
The Triple Door
January 10, 18 and 26

Grammy-nominated artists Amy Hanaiali'i, Willie K and Henry Kapono promise a warm break from the frosty evenings when they swing through Seattle for performances in the coming weeks. As part of a month-long presentation by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, each will appear individually at The Triple Door (www.thetripledoor.net) in the month of January. This is a perfect opportunity to acquaint, or re-acquaint, yourself with the lush sounds of our Pacific Island neighbors. Having lived in the Aloha State for a brief period and traveled there as recently as three weeks ago, I can't emphasize enough how important these artists, and many more like them, are to preserving the rich tradition of authentic Hawaiian music. Tickets for each show are $20 advance, $25 at the door, but a $50 package gets you into all three concerts - floral lei and sunscreen not included.

Howie Day
The Crocodile
January 17

For the record, I would not kick Howie Day out of my bed. The unbelievably cute singer-songwriter made women and Gay men swoon with his big hit "Collide." But this pretty boy has a dark side, as a bout with alcohol and a series of bad behavioral missteps have prevented him from reaching the next level - he's talented, no question about it, though he's got some growing up to do. The Bangor, Maine native's third studio album, Sound the Alarm, signals the beginning of a new and improved Howie Day, and while it's neither his best work nor an artistic stretch, it does mark the return of a fan-adored musician to the live stage.

Phoenix
The Shoxbox SoDo
January 23

After years of making good albums, French quartet Phoenix found greatness with 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, a Grammy nominee for Best Alternative Music Album (it's pop, really) and a frequent shower-upper on year-end critics' lists. Even during a four-song performance at last month's Deck the Hall Ball, they sounded heavenly, treating fans to extended bouncy renditions of "Lisztomania" and "1901," not to mention lead singer Thomas Mars diving into the audience at the tail end of the mini appearance. But 30 minutes of Phoenix just wasn't enough, which explains why this month's concert at The Showbox SoDo is completely sold-out - undoubtedly, this is January's golden ticket.

Kathy Griffin
Paramount Theatre
January 28-29

Big balls are required to be a female comedienne, and Kathy Griffin has a huge pair. The multi-Emmy winner and Grammy-nominated funny lady pokes fun at celebrities like no one else. From Angelina Jolie to Teri Hatcher to the Olson Twins, anyone's fair game. The redheaded star got her break as a cast member on the TV series Suddenly Susan, and then gradually worked herself back to the spotlight as a live performer - these days, she packs theaters across the country and as far away as Australia. Like a shopping companion at a half-off sale, Griffin is extremely popular within Gay circles - more than 50 percent of her audience uses high-end hair products. Both shows are nearly sold-out, so skip the tanning sessions and make a beeline for the box office.

Jay Farrar / Ben Gibbard
The Showbox Market
January 24

Influenced by the words of Jack Kerouac, and particularly the place where he put some of his most cherished thoughts on paper, Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie) and singer-songwriter Jay Farrar (of Son Volt) meshed talents on a soundtrack for the docu-film One Fast Move or I'm Gone - Kerouac's Big Sur. Original songs like "San Francisco" and "These Roads Don't Move" capture the organic, poetic substance of the author's work, which continues to inspire new generations of artists and free spirits. Gibbard, who penned tracks for last year's Narrow Stairs in Big Sur, is no stranger to side projects - his un-revived Postal Service project is still a personal favorite. Expect a quiet set of indie pop-folk tunes from these two men, and look for fellow DCFC member Nick Harmer playing guitar in the background.

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