The Essentials | Entertainment picks for the week of Dec. 26-Jan. 1 

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CONCERTS
By Scott Renshaw
OK, so you’re not spending New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas this year. Little did you know that Salt Lake City wouldn’t just ring in 2008 by becoming Vegas, but Vegas circa 1965.

For 30 years, BOB ANDERSON has submerged himself in the personas of some of the Strip’s most legendary talents, becoming a late-night television and live-performance sensation as a singing impressionist. But don’t let the alarm bells go off just yet: “Singing impressionist” doesn’t quite do justice to a Bob Anderson performance. Unlike stand-up impressionists who use a familiar voice for a quick, often mocking gag, Anderson invests his performances of classic casino-lounge singers with a loving respect for guys who lived—and some still do—to entertain an audience.

And, oh, by the way, some of his mimicry is extraordinary. You might not mistake his Sinatra for the real Chairman of the Board, but close your eyes when he’s crooning “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” and tell me you can tell that it’s not really Tony Bennett. Listen to the hiccupping “whoah-oh-oh” of “It’s Not Unusual,” and try to restrain yourself from tossing underwear at this Tom Jones.

From his current home base in Branson, Mo., Anderson takes the stage with the Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Sinatra’s own musical director, Vincent Falcone. Revel in a bygone entertainment era. The Chairman would approve.

Bob Anderson @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 355-ARTS, Monday, Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.

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OUTINGS
By Jacob Stringer
This year, like many before, the flavor of FIRST NIGHT is rather loose and inclusive, focusing more on providing family-friendly fun and memorable good times than a hard-nosed thematic evening. Somewhat geared toward a Cajun Carnival, this year’s New Year’s Eve fun includes the likes of The All-Star Voodoo Revue, The Hot 8 Brass Band (left), fire performers, break dancers, hypnotists and Giant Lite-Brite, for all those in need of a little interactive art.

As in years past—15 to be exact—this Downtown Alliance event is one you can make an evening out of, or just stop by for a bit of fun during your party-hopping circuit. Although the performers and entertainment provide ample enjoyment for those willing to brave the cold, the hands-down best part of any First Night is the fireworks display marking one year’s death and another’s birth. Even without alcohol, blasts echo off downtown skyscrapers and the reflection of falling light explosions in the surrounding glass provides a stimulating experience fit to usher in another hopeful new year. Here’s to one free from war and filled with peace.

First Night @ Gallivan Plaza, 239 S. Main, Dec. 31, 6 pm-midnight, $8 in advance at Albertsons and The Gateway concierge or $10 day of the event at Gallivan Plaza, Albertsons, and the Gateway concierge. Children 12 and under free. Participants can ride TRAX free of charge on New Year’s Eve from 5 p.m.-1 a.m. by wearing a First Night Salt Lake ’08 button.

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CLUBS
By Jamie Gadette
You could stay home with a box of pizza (or box of wine) and watch another Times Square ball drop, but with myriad New Year’s Eve celebrations offering something for everyone, there’s really no excuse for laying low on Dec. 31.

Everyone should start off the evening with an early show at Kilby Court. Bring the entire family for sets by Tolchock Trio (new material on its way!), Future of the Ghost (gearing up for a tour), Kid Theodore and Patter Stars. Those feeling particularly bold should then brave the snow-filled canyon and head up to Harry O’s for a special set by The Roots’ brilliant drummer ?uestlove. Even if he just plays one long solo, your mind will explode. In a good way.

Prefer to TRAX it? Get ye to The Depot where Agape’s Ryan Powers will join Electric Space Jihad for diverging DJ sets. Will Powers bring the noise or tone it down for a broader audience? Only time will tell. Be sure to ask Jihad for some Ace Frehley. Speaking of rock, how about some heavy double-bass action with Blackhole? The local quartet will team up with Xur and Thunderfist for ear-splitting action at Burt’s Tiki Lounge where revelers might also catch a rerun of some sweet vintage cartoons behind the bar.

Want to ease into 2008? Get mellow at Monk’s with DJ Rebel & Tallman spinning a mix of roots, reggae and dancehall favorites. Whatever you do, drink responsibly, because while you should venture out of the house, we all want you to get back in one piece. Happy New Year!

Here & Now: Other New Happenings This Week
UTAH MEN’S BASKETBALL VS. IDAHO STATE Catch the last home game before the Mountain West Conference season begins. Jon Huntsman Center, 1825 S. Campus Dr., 581-UTIX, Thursday, Dec. 27, 7 p.m. UtahUtes.CSTV.com

BENEFIT FOR GIL Performances by Slippery Kittens Burlesque, Thunderfist and Pagan Love Gods, two of which will remained clothed. Bar Deluxe, 666 S. State, 521-5255, Saturday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m.

KWANZAA CELEBRATION Art workshops, music, poetry and food from around the world in celebration of the African-American holiday tradition. Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 410 Campus Center Dr., 581-7332, Saturday, Dec. 29, 1-4 p.m. UMFA.Utah.edu

LEND ME A TENOR Tony Award-winning farce about a great Italian singer, an ardent fan, and lots of slamming doors. Hale Centre Theatre, 3333 S. Decker Lake Dr., 984-9000, Dec. 31-Feb. 9, HaleCentreTheatre.com

JERRY MABBOTT The kind of comedian who teaches comedy to other comedians, entertaining you with a New Year’s Eve laugh party. Wiseguys Comedy Café, 3500 S. 2200 West, 463-2909, Monday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. & 10 p.m. WiseguysComedy.com

TORCHLIGHT PARADE AND FIREWORKS A Snowbird tradition on the Plaza Deck, ringing in the New Year with bonfires, hot chocolate and a sky full of lights. Snowbird Resort, Monday, Dec. 31, dusk. Snowbird.com

THE KING’S ENGLISH NEW YEAR’S DAY SALE Kick the year off right, stocking up on your favorite reading material while everything in the store is 25 percent off. The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, 484-9100, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. KingsEnglish.Booksense.com

STUDENT SLAM 2008 In the spirit of the annual Plan-B Theatre Company Tradition, 25 actors ages 14-19 work with professional playwrights, directors and designers to create five 10-minute plays in 24 hours. Eh, but they’re used to all-nighters. Rose Wagner Center Black Box Theatre, 138 W. 300 South, 355-ARTS, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 8 p.m.

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