click to enlarge Last call for Christmas music
Angel Brown plays this Friday at Boone’s (5:30 p.m.) doing a trio show, then with the Smooth N' Blue Band at Lime Street Cafe (8:30 p.m.).

We've surely had ourselves a fun December time as the final, pre-holiday Now Playing of the season sits before your eyes. After this, we prepare for the New Year (eve, day and beyond), welcoming 2024 with open arms and open hearts, and for some of us at a certain age, with open mouths at the surprise of it all. But let's not get ahead of ourselves and return to the present for this coming weekend before a Monday morning Christmas day.

Last year, if I remember correctly (and I do because I double-checked on the calendar), Christmas proper fell on a Sunday which pretty much whacked out our weekend music schedule with Christmas Eve festivities taking over for our usually rockin' Saturday night. We were also experiencing our first wintry weather of the season so many Friday gigs never happened. This month holds a much better forecast for weather and for live music, and I believe – with boatloads of confidence – that is a good thing.

I see several holiday happenings around town through Saturday, then that's it for this year. On Thursday, Amy Battles and I sing songs at It's All About Wine with special guest Elvis Himselvis for one more night of mostly seasonal selections before retiring the setlist until next year. The UIS Performing Arts Center presents The Prophecy, a St. Louis-based group "performing in the style of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra." They promise in promotion "to create an extravagant holiday musical production," and that sounds great and will sound great.

On Friday, Angel Brown pulls double duty with a trio show at Boone's (5:30-7:30 p.m.), before heading on over to Lime Street Cafe for a full Smooth N' Blue band performance starting at 8:30. Angel will most definitely be dropping in her fine renditions of many Yuletide numbers for your listening pleasure.

Marty Brown, a Nashville-based, contemporary country music legend and hit songwriter (it's a long list, my friends) brings his self-styled Christmas Show to Jeb Brown's (no relation) Backroom Lounge in Riverton, also on Friday.

The Hoogland Center for the Arts delivers Robbie Howard, "a world-renowned impersonator and tribute artist," doing his Sinatra and Friends Christmas Show featuring familiar versions of holiday standards from Frank, Dino, Andy, Burl and more, this Friday and Saturday.

Johnnie Owens lands at Buzz Bomb on Saturday, from 2 to 4 in the afternoon, to croon your favorite Christmas classics in classic Johnnie style during the final downtown Holiday Walk of 2023.

And Mary Kate Smith and Damian Zimmerman do their duo show at Broadgauge this Saturday evening, where they've requested you to "summon the Christmas spirit together" at the gorgeous upstairs ballroom in the restored building on the historic Petersburg square.

For an item not holiday-related, how about attending a brand-new acoustic open mic on Friday, especially designed for all ages and hosted at a new coffee house café by Jack Reilly from 5 to 8 p.m. Jack and his cohorts are offering an opportunity for all to join in playing music at what they're calling the Rhythm of the Railyard held at The Railyard (2242 S. Sixth St.), that neat-looking place near the train overpass where the old steakhouse of many names used to be. After this Friday's kickoff, the open mic will continue on Thursdays (4 to 6 p.m.) as long as it does.

That concludes our holiday happenings edition for 2023 as a look at the listings for Sunday, Dec. 24, results in absolutely no live music, nowhere, no how, by no one anywhere.

Now go have yourself a merry little

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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