NOW PLAYING | Tom Irwin

Here we come a-wassailing and there we go, too, as the holiday-tinged experiences of December music fill the air with lots of jolly stuff and plenty of holly-ish things as well. We see blowup Santas and plastic nativity scenes decorating lawns, outdoor trees inside the house decorated to the max and lights outside the house illuminating the indoors all over the neighborhood. With all that comes the ubiquitous, holiday-happening music blaring from every street corner and everywhere else too, including many of our favorite local venues.

click to enlarge December-land music
Rumpke Mountain Boys play this Saturday during Rumble'n the Holidays music fest at the Route 66 Hotel and Conference Center.

And that means to you, dear reader, more seasonal music done at more hometown shows and we're here to report that for you. One place you might not think of, but is very likely, quite merrily, a hotbed of holiday songs, could be your local karaoke night. Oh yes, karaoke turns with the seasons as much – if not more (considering the music and the words are supplied for you) – than any other type of recurring gig. So if you're in the mood, make your way to one of the many karaoke nights happening 'round town each week to sing your favorite Christmasy songs.

Thursdays feature the ever-popular Jackpot Karaoke Night with Debbie Cakes at the Curve, plus J.C.B. Entertainment does the duty at La Fiesta in Chatham. While we're here, there appears to be an upswing in open mics on Thursdays, where, armed with an instrument, you're free to come sing any song your heart desires, including a yuletide ditty. I spy John Drake hosting a new one at Ad Astra, while Kortney and friends continue along at the Blue Grouch.

Out-of-town open mics (which, when you think about it, are good for in-town folks to debut at) include Silas Tockey in charge at Spirited Republic/Limerick Brewing Co. in Lincoln and Bob Besser doing Door 4 Brewing in Decatur. Amy Battles and I, joined by Elvis Himselvis in special appearances, will regale the masses at It's All About Wine on Thursdays in December doing non-karaoke holiday sing-a-longs and other songs, too.

Friday at 7:30 p.m. the Pharmacy Gallery presents a special night of music with Emmanuel di Villarosa, a world-renowned tenor singing "popular arias, Christmas favorites and other selections." The venue is requesting formal attire along with a suggested donation of $25 for an individual or $40 per couple. At the Dana-Thomas House (Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m.), the inimitable Johnnie Owens, accompanied by Marty Nagel, entertains at a Holiday Reception with appetizers and a cash bar included for $50.

In one more ticketed holiday event ($30-55), Another Family Affair presents Rumble'n the Holidays music fest at the Route 66 Hotel this weekend featuring music by Sunshine Daydream, Clusterpluck and Dead Man's Dog (Friday) and Rumpke Mountain Boys and Still Shine (Saturday) with both nights including artist-at-large Gia Welch and those famous late-night hoedown jams. Find more info on these shows in our listings or online at the event pages.

If you need holiday relief, Saturday features many of our most popular local groups, plus a couple of interesting traveling tribute acts, too. Look for The Cocktails at Weebles, Jeff Young and the Bad Grandpas at VFW Post #755 and Astrofix with Positively 4th Street at Mowie's Cue, while George Rank's gives us Lincoln's Dead. In the battle of the tribute acts, Danenberger's features The Boy Band Night with a full, live band doing, well, those popular boy band groups, as the Main Gate brings the Decade of Decadence, an 80s hair-metal revue, to town.

So long from December-land. Stay safe and stay tuned for more.

Tom Irwin

Tom Irwin, a sixth-generation Sangamon County resident, has played his songs and music for nearly 40 years in the central Illinois area with occasional forays across the country. He's contributed to Illinois Times since 2000 by writing Now Playing, a weekly music column, as well as features stories and other articles...

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