I can see why Groundhog Day might be somebody’s favorite holiday. You don’t have to buy cards or presents. You don’t have to get twice as much work done in the run-up to Groundhog Day just so you can take the day off. And it gives you a great excuse to watch Bill Murray’s great comedy in which he lives the same Groundhog Day over and over.

Reliving the same day, especially a midwinter day, might seem more like a nightmare scenario, something out of “The Twilight Zone.” But “Groundhog Day,” the movie, makes it a funny and uplifting prospect because Murray’s TV news reporter character realizes that he can use those repeat days to mitigate past mistakes and make himself a better all-around person. He learns to react differently to things that annoy him and think more about how other people feel, doing little things that bring happiness to others rather than worrying only about his own unhappiness.

I haven’t had to awaken every morning to “I Got You Babe” as Murray’s character does in the movie, but I have been through plenty of ruts where it seemed like the same thing every day. There have been times this past month when life has felt a bit ruttish, but I’ve found if I can squeeze in time to listen to music, especially something I’ve not heard before, life feels a lot less like a rut and more like a groove.

A few things have tickled my ear this past week, including the first music video put out by Nailed Down, a project the band worked on with Brett Huus of Sound Strations Audio Productions. The song, “Secrets,” is a throwback to 1980s and ’90s hard rock, evoking Guns N’ Roses with screaming twin-guitar work by Cohan Nelson and Justin Michaels. Singer Dalton Nichols is in peak form, both on soaring vocals and in his charismatic yet enigmatic performance in the relatively elaborate video, directed by Mark Davini.

The video, which features local fixture “Metal Patrick” rockin’ out in the audience in the performance scenes, alternates between stage shots of the band rocking out (looks like it’s in the Brickhouse) and a storyline involving Nichols and a young woman who reminded me of a young Pat Benatar.

I remember seeing Nichols doing riveting solos as a member of the Onalaska Hilltoppers show choir, and I’m not surprised that he’s become the kind of rock frontman that grabs your attention even before he’s sung a note. Relatively new to the band, bassist Dave Schmeckpeper and drummer Jordan Angst seem like just the rhythmic engine to get the ambitious band revved up and motoring toward the goal of bigger things.

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It might take some time for them to hit the big time, and until then you can see Nailed Down honing its craft around here. The band is playing Saturday night (starting at 9) at Our Corner Bar on La Crosse’s North Side. No doubt they’ll knock you right out of your rut if you’re a fan of raucous, old-school hard rock.

Also this week I heard a fantastic California band called The Shelters, a guitars-bass-drums quartet just out with its self-titled debut album, which was produced by Tom Petty. You can hear a lot of early Heartbreakers in the leadoff single, “Rebel Heart,” a swaggering rocker with delicious Rickenbacker guitar riffs and a chorus that you’d swear was 1970s Petty.

I listened to the whole album and not one song had me reaching for the “skip” button. Quite a few were worth immediate repeats. One of the standouts was “The Ghost is Gone,” a moody tune that simmers with a jazzy Doors vibe with slide guitar frosting.

I’m loving this band. My awesome wife bought us tickets to see Tom Petty in concert up in the Twin Cities in June, and even though I’m a longtime fan of Joe Walsh, the opening act, I’d give up the chance to see him if it meant The Shelters got to kick off the show.

Between Nailed Down, The Shelters and the reminder that I’m up for a booster shot of Petty this year, my rut is definitely feeling groovy. If you’re in a rut, I recommend getting out and seeing some live music this weekend. Some of the highlights include Omission Republic (Friday at The Pump House Regional Arts Center), Wheelhouse (Friday at Leo and Leona’s Tavern and Dancehall), The Sonic Beats (Saturday at the Brickhouse) and, if you want to make it a three-day weekend, RiFF RAFF on Monday night at the Cavalier Theater. For a dose of music and laughs, check out Live from La Crosse’s 12th sketch comedy show Friday and Saturday at the Cavalier.

Rock on …

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Randy Erickson covers arts and entertainment and county government for the La Crosse Tribune. Contact him at 608-791-8219 or randy.erickson@lee.net.


(1) comment

The Aaron Carter show last night was bizarre. He played one of his new singles four times and the other one twice. He might have played them more, but I left before the end at the insistence of my daughter, who used to be a big AC fan and wanted to hear some of the old hits.

Quite a few people were streaming out with us, too. It was rarely clear when he was singing and when it was a recording, but that's how you've got to roll, I guess, when your "sound" relies so much on vocal processing and auto tune. But, I mean, who does that? Who plays a song four times in a show?

If Carter really wants a touring and performing career, he's either going to have to come up with a whole lot of new material, become an opening act for a bigger name or cave in and do those songs he recorded as a boy (which everybody at the Cavalier last night wanted to hear, including me).[thumbdown]

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