The BLOG: Culture

New Year’s Eve musical offerings: from pricey to free

Economists occasionally devise interesting and novel ways to gauge the strength of the holiday shopping season. Some study the National Christmas Tree Association/Harris Interactive annual consumer tracking poll, which predicts consumer trends based on holiday tree shopping habits.

Here’s a new way: see how many venues have put together New Year’s Eve packages. Dec. 31 is usually the most expensive night of the year – rivaled only by Valentine’s Day. If more places are open for New Year’s Eve 2015-16 than the previous year, that means restaurateurs, club owners and event planners believe people are more willing to spend money this year. We wouldn’t want to bet against their predictions. While we don’t have hard comparative data, it appears that more places are open for New Year’s Eve 2015-16 than a year ago. All hail 2016! Here is a very small sample of the musical doings featuring at least a little bit of jazz on New Year’s Eve in Boston.

Scullers Jazz Club

(Courtesy of Grace Kelly)

(Courtesy of Grace Kelly)

Boston’s own Grace Kelly, now residing in Los Angeles, and her band are center stage for New Year’s Eve at Scullers Jazz Club. The 23-year-old saxophonist and singer, internationally acclaimed since she was a teenager, will appear fresh off her three-evening stint on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Kelly, who has recorded or performed with everyone from bopper Phil Woods to folkie Tom Rush, is as likely to count off a funk tune as she is to play mainstream jazz. Or, as she puts it on her website, “While a current Kelly concert might delight jazz purists with Great American Songbook standards, it could just as easily inspire mainstream listeners with Grace-i-fied takes on the likes of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky,’ Coldplay’s ‘Magic’ or Sia’s ‘Chandelier.’ ”

Scullers, on the Charles River at the Doubletree Suites by Hilton Boston-Cambridge, has two shows on December 31. The 8 p.m. show is $100 per couple for the show only. Dinner and show is $310 per couple. At 11 p.m., the cost of the show only for a couple is $130. Dinner and the show at 11 is $380 per couple. For tickets, go to or call 866-777-8932.


If you have something that works, stick with it. That’s why the Regattabar is welcoming back Dwight & Nicole for the sixth time. This Vermont duo consists of guitarist/singer/songwriter Dwight Ritcher and Boston Music Awards Female Vocalist of the Year Nicole Nelson. Nelson’s voice is powerful and pliant in the same way Aretha Franklin’s is. She can go from a soft purr to a fiery crescendo faster than a Ferrari goes from 0 to 60, and practically peel paint off the bandstand in the process.

The pair calls themselves an American roots band that plays “an inspiring mashup of folk, blues, pop, jazz, gospel and reggae.”

Tickets for the 9:30 p.m. show are $90 per person. The Regattabar is at the Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. For tickets, go to or call 617-395-7757.

First Night Boston

Good jazz music is part of the mix for the 40th anniversary First Night Boston celebration, a series of indoor and outdoor events held in the Hub.

This year, First Night Boston is free and open to all – no First Night buttons required – and is in and around Copley Square, not all over the city, as in the past. Events will take place both on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 at the Copley Plaza and Prudential Center malls, Old South Church and the Boston Public Library. First Night Boston is handled by Conventures, an events and marketing firm run by Dusty Rhodes.

Boston-based Berklee College of Music, one of the best-known schools for jazz and related genres, will hold First Night concerts at the Huntington Arcade at The Shops at Prudential Center, 800 Boylston Street. Performances are on New Year’s Eve from noon-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. and again on New Year’s Day, 4 to 6 p.m. All concerts will be led by Esther Rojas, a professional bassist and arranger from Bogota, Colombia, who decided to enroll in the contemporary writing and production program at Berklee to polish her skills. Rojas will perform a mix of holiday music, Latin, and jazz.

The Boston Saxophone Quartet will play First Night Boston at Copley Place from noon to 12:30 on Dec. 31. The quartet is made up of woodwind players equally adept at classical and jazz who have played for the Boston Pops and Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Quartet’s repertoire ranges from bossa nova to the Beatles and classical to Creole.

For more on First Night, visit

Tom Nutile

Tom Nutile

Tom Nutile can be reached at [email protected].