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Red Beans and Rice headlines an all-star benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy victims Saturday night at the Fox Theater in Salinas.

In December 1992 and January 1993, when First Night Monterey (FNM) was born, Arthur Ashe was Sports Illustrated sportsman of the year, the Galileo spacecraft passed the North Pole of the moon, the U.S. was getting ready to inaugurate Bill Clinton, V clav Havel was elected president of the Czech Republic and NBC had just announced the imminent end of its sitcom "Cheers."

In the two decades since then, there have been many more headlines, and many we might choose to forget, but every Dec. 31, the music and art of First Night Monterey has gone on downtown rain or shine, just like it will on Monday from 3 p.m.-midnight.

Back 20 years ago, Executive Director Ellen Martin wasn't quite on the Peninsula, but soon she'd admit to a friend how "some day" she was going to retire to Carmel."'Some day?! Why some day?'" Martin recalled her friend's challenge.

Thirty days later, the artist and organizer had moved to Monterey County.

And for musician Gil Rubio, way back in 1993, the time was right for the public debut of a little band called Red Beans and Rice. The band, now a staple in Monterey-based blues scene, will be one of two finale performers this year.

For their 20th birthday, First Night Monterey's theme is "Celebrate Monterey."

"We're just celebrating ourselves, actually," Martin said.

Along with everything else you are likely to encounter on Alvarado Street, there will be a walking birthday cake as well as a huge plywood cake done up in chalk art for you to make wishes about your own 2013 birthday.


We have Paulette Lynch, now the executive director of the Arts Council of Monterey County, to thank for beginning First Night. The crowd has grown exponentially over the years, swelling to beyond the population of the city.

The first half of the day's celebration belongs to the kids, of course.

At its heart, FNM is a celebration of the visual and performing arts, and the area's youth are front and center.

There will be the 2-foot by 2-foot puzzle pieces that fit together to display community members' artistic renditions of their hopes and dreams. Pieces were commissioned from the public at places such as the Greenfield library, the Marina teen center, and the YMCA in Soledad.

"We ask them to do something that means something to them," said Nina Parris, Visual Arts Director for the event and curator of the mammoth puzzle. The depictions, she went on to say, usually done in Sharpie, paint and découpage, range from the frivolous to the heart wrenching. Don't be surprised if Justin Bieber fits in next to the importance of safe neighborhoods.

Parris is also building this year's resolution sculpture — a giant, 9-sided cardboard box that people walk through to add their personal resolutions. Hers is to begin learning Spanish; she plans to teach an art class at the Gonzalez library come January.

Leave on your paper bag hat and your commemorative medallion and sample the music after 6 p.m., including favorites the Black Irish Band, hip hop artist MC Lars, West African drum rhythms of Abdoulaye Diallo, Carmel High School Jazz Trio and California Cowboys (described as "the Beach Boys in boots").

Since the participatory spirit of the night doesn't end with make-and-take art projects, there is also the "Junk Jam" where you can play along on reclaimed materials.

The culmination of festivities begins at 11:15 p.m. As the calendar turns from old to new, FNM has chosen to present both the established and the emerging.

Monterey blues favorites Red Beans and Rice will play in the Golden State Theatre while the alternative electronic sounds of Fire in the Hamptons occupy the Serra Ballroom.

Red Beans and Rice should be familiar to anyone who has spent more than a few hours in town. Based out of L.A., two members of Fire in the Hamptons hail from the Monterey Peninsula and have played two dynamic shows in local clubs in 2012.

Please note — you need a "Finale ticket" (free to button-holders) to get in. Pick one up at the Portola Plaza ticket booth 8-10:30 p.m., or until they go.

"One of the cool things about (playing First Night)," said Red Beans and Rice's Rubio, "is because it is so family-oriented. We're all family people. It's nice to be involved with something that allows the family to be there."

Though he couldn't say for sure exactly how many FNMs the band has played, there have only been a few when they didn't.

Living in the moment, having fun and being "joyful with life" is what he's after in 2013.

Martin would agree. "I've never been associated with an event where people were so happy, so joyful.

said the executive director. And here she changed a personal resolution she'd offered earlier. "I guess that's (it)," she revised, "To live in that light."

She summed it up like so: "This is the night; this is the place; this is the deal."

Kathryn Petruccelli can be reached at montereybound@yahoo. GO!


·What: First Night Monterey 2013 presents "Celebrate Monterey"
·Where: Various venues downtown Monterey
·When: 3 p.m.-midnight Monday, Dec 31
·Tickets: Advance purchase admission buttons: adult (16 and older) $20, youth (6-15) $12 through Dec 30; Day of event: adult $22, youth $15; children 5 and under free. Buttons on sale at Monterey County Safeways, Nob Hill Stores in Monterey & Salinas, Walgreens in Monterey & Seaside, The Works in Pacific Grove, The Welcome Center Salinas, Museum Of Monterey, Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey Sports Center; Online button sales with Family Pack Specials available. Hotel packages available. Pick up buttons purchased online Dec. 30-31 at the FNM Conference Center Will-Call Site

More New Year's Eve celebrations

Brazilian Carnaval: Authentic feathered samba dancers straight from Rio de Janeiro will be dancing to the beat of heavy percussion drums with members of Brazil's most recognized band, Olodum. Plus, the Flying Capoeiras (flying martial artists/acrobats), Miss Brazil USA and all-night dancing on three floors,. 10a.m. to 2a.m. New Year's Eve at the National Steinbeck Center, 1 Main St., Salinas. 21 and older. Tickets $55, includes entertainment and drinks; $85, includes reserved seating and champagne bottle; $100, includes reserved front-stage seating, personal waiter, exotic carnaval mask and champagne bottle. Tickets at (keyword search "Brazilian Carnaval") or in person in Salinas and Monterey at the following outlets. Salinas: DJ Booth store, Exclusive Ink, Excitos Latinos; Monterey: Truffles, Twisted Roots. More details at or (323) 788-5699.

New Year's Eve Funfest: 8p.m. to 12:30a.m. at Ed's Courtside Bistro at Chamisal Tennis and Fitness Club, 185 Robley Road, Corral de Tierra. inBtween, K Mello and Mike Mahoney perform 8-10; Kiki Wow and Guitar Bob Duo rock in the New Year from 10:30 - 12:30. $45, includes appetizers, party favors and a midnight champagne toast. Bring your own dancing shoes. Full sit-down meals available all night. Just off Laureles Grade, near Highway 68. Reservations: 484-1186, Ext. 17. Learn more at

PacRep's annual Twist & Shout Tribute Concert: PacRep's annual New Year's Eve Party and a limited run of the 2012 Twist & Shout Tribute Concert. Re-created performances by "Elvis," "Chuck Berry," "Leslie Gore" "Dion," "Sam Cooke', "Dusty Springfield," "Johnny Cash", "Bob Dylan" and more — created live on stage by PacRep favorites Davitt Felder, David Schulz, Corey Watkins, guest vocalists Charmagne Scott, Lydia Lyons and Daniel Simpson, with Don Dally on lead guitar. Regular performances at 7:30p.m. Fri-Sat, Dec. 28- 29, and Thur-Sat, Jan. 3-5, with 2p.m. Sunday matinees on Dec. 30 and Jan. 6. New Year's Eve festivities start at 8:30p.m. and include desserts, wine, champagne, party favors and dancing on the newly renovated Golden Bough stage. Regular shows $16-$35; New Year's Eve party $75. Tickets: 622-0100; in person Tue-Sat (11a.m. to 4p.m.) at the Golden Bough Playhouse, Monte Verde between Eighth and Ninth avenues, Carmel; or

Band of Ninjas: 8:30p.m. at Bullwackers, 653 Cannery Row. Vocalist Brian Coelho and guitarist Orion Williams are A Band of Ninjas, an energetic acoustic rock 'n' roll group whose music ranges from classic rock to blues, from country to '80s metal to pop, from acoustic standards to re-inventions of their own original music. No cover. Learn more at 373-1353.

Joe Sharino Band: 7:30p.m. at the Embassy Suites Monterey Bay, 1441 Canyon Del Rey Blvd., Seaside. Tickets going fast. Three packages to chooe from: Dance-only tickets, $135, includes party favors; dinner and dance, $198 adds three-course dinner; dinner, dance and suite for two, $499.95 per couple, adds hotel suite, two-hour cocktail reception with hors d'oeuvres, and breakfast for two. Dinner includes filet mignon and salmon fillet as the double main entre. The Joe Sharino Band plays danceable songs from the '60s, '70s and '80s, including classic rock, Motown, funk and swing. Tickets and more informationa at (keyword search "Joe Sharino").

New Year's Eve with the David Morwood Jazz Band: Seating 5:30-10p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey. New Year's Eve celebration at TusCA Ristorante with the David Morwood Jazz Band and special musical guests. Special TusCA dinner menu. $72. Reservations: 657-6675 or

1833 New Year's Eve party: Two seatings: 5-6:30p.m. or 7:45-9p.m., with party afterwards. The ultimate luxurious New Year's Eve party seven-course prix fixe menu includes caviar and oysters, abalone, Dungeness crab and Monterey Spot Prawns. $125. Sample menu items from Chef Levi Mezick may include Bacon Biscuits with maple chili butter; Smoked Salmon Terrine; Parmesan Gnocchi; Pan Roasted Scallops with caviar, spatzel and mustard emulsion; and Almond Wood Grilled New York Steak with black truffle sauce. Live DJ from 9p.m. to 2a.m. "Roaring 20's and Boardwalk Empire" theme. Spirit Smith Michael Lay will make his signature NYE Champagne Punch. Reservations recommended: 643-1833.

Happy Girl Kitchen Pickle Party for New Year's Eve: 6-9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31 at Happy Girl Kitchen, 173 Central Ave., Pacific Grove. Disco ball, DJ, create your own jar of pickles tailored to yoiur tastes. Also, lasagne with local porcinis, salad, garlic bread and cocktails. Celebrate New Year's at 9 p.m., (midnight in the Eastern Time Zone). No cover; pickles $5, dinner $13 a plate, drinks/pastries extra. 373-4475,

"New Year's Eve Sleepover" at the Monterey Bay Aquarium: 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, to 8:30a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey. Event includes special activities, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks and a sparkling cider toast at 9p.m. to celebrate when 2013 hits the East Coast, followed by a late-night nature movie. $100 per person for aquarium members, $125 all others. Reservations: 866-963-9645 or 831-647-6886,

New Year's Eve with Cheeky Spanks: 8:30p.m.-12:30a.m. Monday, Dec. 31, at the Fuse Lounge in Carmel Mission Inn, 3665 Rio Road, Carmel. Free.

New Year's Eve with Microtonic Harmonic: 9:30p.m.-1a.m. Monday, Dec. 31, at the London Bridge Pub, Wharf No. 2, Monterey. No cover. Full bar, full menu. 372-0581,

Sly's New Year's Eve Bash: Special dinner from 7-9 p.m. Live music with Nu Horizon, party favors, midnight champagne toast. 700-A Cannery Row, Monterey. Call 649-8050 for tickets, details.

Casa Sorrento New Year's Eve Party: 9 p.m., dance music with BTA, 393 Salinas St., Salinas., 757-2720.