We’re entirely OK with the cheesiness and predictability of the holiday concert calendar. Routine begets tradition, which begets a feeling of holiday cheer, which begets warm and fuzzy feelings, which begets egg nog, which begets mistletoe. So on and so forth.
But whatever, there’s also a healthy number of concerts that are "traditional" only insofar as much as the word "holiday" pops up on the marquee. We dug ‘em up and vetted them for your holiday approval.
Matt Nathanson, Blind Pilot and Allen Stone co-headline this benefit for Children’s Hospital Oakland and the Marines’ Toys for Tots initiative. Concert attendees are encouraged to bring an unwrapped book or toy for the Toys for Tots program, but the gift-giving will be a two-way street. Especially Stone’s set. Check out this clip of the wunderkind soul-boy-gone-wild for a taste of what’s in store.
For a little context, check out this. Yes, that’s among the many things you should be considering for your New Year’s Eve plans. And the Pre-Snowglobe party at 1015 Folsom is what you should be considering in the interim. Veteran hip-hop group Dilated Peoples headline this “btw, something bigger is happening later” show, along with a mess of under-the-radar acts you’ll want to study up on: Griz Clockwork, Nico Luminous and Patrick Sexx. Then get yourself to Tahoe for the destination show of the season.
Peep the All-Star lineup: Zach Rogue (of Rogue Wave), Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Ethan Miller (Howlin’ Rain, Comets on Fire), members of Antibalas, et al. An impressive find for Brick & Mortar, as all of these acts routinely play the larger concert halls of the world. The gimmick is equally ambitious — a musical battle between Christmas and the Festival of Lights. Start stocking up on your Priest-and-Rabbi-walk-into-a-bar jokes and get a ticket.
Leave it to the Wainwright family to put their own spin on the traditional holiday concert. "Christmas 101" is ripe with eclectic English and French carols inspired by their late mother Kate McGarrigle, who started the show in 2005 right before being diagnosed with cancer. McGarrigle has since passed, but her kids are still carrying on with tradition and finally bringing the critically acclaimed show from the east coast to the west coast.
Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour, featuring David Benoit, Sunday Dec. 23, Warfield
California’s own Dave Koz is a consistent force in the holiday concert rotation, his smooth sax a natural complement to all things yuletide. Pianist David Benoit is the real delight though, a veteran on the circuit and the guy who keeps the torch aflame for the Peanuts comic strip. Will it be a Charlie Brown Christmas kind of show? Methinks so.
SF Symphony concerts at Davies Symphony Hall
Something about being downtown San Francisco on a cold, clear night, fancified people in long coats and gowns pouring into a symphony hall to me just screams IT'S THE HOLIDAYS, WE'RE DOING THIS. So...do it. One of these preferably:
Dec. 14-15: Handel’s Messiah w/ San Francisco Symphony and Chorus
Dec. 19: Judy Collins Holiday Concert with the San Francisco Symphony
Dec. 21: Mariachi Music and Holiday Songs at Davies Symphony Hall
Dec. 24: ‘Twas the Night: Christmas Music With the SF Symphony and Chorus.