Inlander traditions: Televised Tradition
I grew up in a typical nuclear family at a time when cable television offered all kinds of new and exciting viewing possibilities, so watching what my parents called the "boob tube" was always a big part of my life. That includes during the holidays, when for years I filled my screen with classic yuletide flicks (White Christmas) and more modern features (Christmas Vacation, Bad Santa), along with a steady diet of oh-so-cheesy made-for-television comedies and tearjerkers. I'm a little more discerning now, perhaps, but I still try to at least make time each year for a childhood favorite, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, a children's book adapted by Muppets creator Jim Henson into an elaborate, hour-long TV special full of ornate sets and great tunes. It's as good today as when it premiered in 1977.
They come from the land of the ice and snow
The Coeur d'Alene Symphony offers the perfect opportunity for Inland Northwest residents to have a special night full of stellar music. The city by the lake is always decked out in serious Christmas lights, and a night of holiday-themed classical music at the group's annual "Realm of Ice and Snow" concerts is an ideal precursor to a night strolling snowy streets. The two shows feature Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1 (Winter), as well as some Russian Christmas music and Holiday Pops. Dec 3-4, at 7:30 pm, $27/adults; $21/seniors; $10/kids, cdasymphony.org
The three women in Affiniti are all masters of their crafts, quite literally, as harpist Aisling Ennis, violinist Mary McCague and vocalist Emer Barry all hold master's degrees in music. And while they all tour the world as soloists, the alchemy they share when they join forces makes Affiniti a must-hear experience, especially at their holiday shows. Blending classical, Celtic and pop influences on traditional Irish tunes and old holiday favorites, the trio truly evokes a spiritual vibe in every room they play. When they hit Spokane for one night only, they'll be joined by Howard Crosby, nephew of the venue's namesake. Mon, Dec. 7, at 7 pm, $22/general; $17/seniors and students; all ages, bingcrosbytheater.com.
Skanking with Santa
Anyone who has seen the English Beat in concert knows there are few things more joyful than the ska band led by Dave Wakeling. The singer, still in fine form 30 years after the band's heyday, cracks jokes at a rapid clip, the saxophone blasts along with the reggae-meets-pop vibes and the dancing is nonstop. You know the scene when Charlie Brown and the Peanuts crew break out into a dance party? Go to an English Beat show and feel the same kind of happiness. Thu, Dec. 10, at 8 pm, $40, all-ages, thebartlettspokane.com
Some holiday counter-programming
Even the most enthusiastic Ralphie or Hermey can get a little sick and tired of all the holiday festivities that seem to start at Halloween. A night to get away from all the eggnog and family hoopla can do you a world of good, and you can't get much further away from the saccharine seasonal stuff than spending a night with Black Sabbitch, an all-ladies Black Sabbath tribute band in the tradition of AC/DC lovers Hell's Belles and The Iron Maidens. All these women have rocked in original bands, including notables Betty Blowtorch and theSTART, and a night spent with them ripping through "War Pigs," "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and "Paranoid" might be just what you need to keep you from turning into a Grinch before Christmas. Thu, Dec. 10, at 7:30 pm, tickets TBA, all-ages. bigdipperevents.com
A festival for the rockers on your list
It can be hard to find any music that doesn't involve jingling bells or choirs during the holidays, so consider what the good folks at The Pin! are doing a true public service. Over the course of two weekends, the venue's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" festival will welcome more than 45 bands to its stages, most of them of the hard-rock/metal persuasion; this year's lineup includes I Declare War, The Nixon Rodeo, Age of Nefilim and Boat Race Weekend, and many more. Dec. 11-13 and Dec. 18-20, at 5 pm daily, tickets TBA, all-ages, thepinevents.com
Swing your way through the post-Christmas blues
It's always a little strange when you see holiday-related commercials or Christmas movies on your TV once the holiday is over, and it's even more odd to go see a Christmas concert after Dec. 25. That said, there is no good excuse for missing the Brian Setzer Orchestra on their 12th annual "Christmas Rocks!" tour when it stops in Spokane. Setzer is one of the baddest guitar men on the planet, a rockabilly legend and one-man old-school rock 'n' roll revue, and his 18-piece orchestra brings the kind of classic swing sound guaranteed to put a smile on your face, even if you don't get all you want under the tree. Setzer has several Christmas albums to his credit, like his brand new Rockin' Rudolph, that are full of old favorites and originals. Sat, Dec. 26, at 8 pm, $52/$62/$82, all-ages, foxtheaterspokane.com ♦