San Diego concerts light up for the holidays with many and varied options
Is Santa Claus a big music fan?
The days when there were only a handful of holiday-themed concerts each December are long gone. Ditto the days when such concerts meant only traditional holiday songs — no more, no less.
From country, folk and jazz to rock, hip-hop and Celtic, here’s a look at nearly 30 of the notable concerts coming up this month. (Chris Isaak’s Tuesday and Wednesday Holiday Tour shows at the Belly Up have been canceled; ticket refunds are available at point of purchase.)
“Carols by Candlelight,” with Lonestar, Brandy Clark, Charlie Worsham, Anna Vaus and Steve Vaus
Likely San Diego’s oldest annual holiday concert series, Carols by Candlelight has raised $1.2 million for Rady Children’s Hospital since the series’ 1990 inception.
Organized by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter (and Poway Mayor) Steve Vaus, past editions have featured everyone from Kenny Loggins and The Commodores to Stephen Bishop and Fallbrook resident Rita Coolidge.
This year’s lineup is headlined by veteran county band Lonestar and six-time Grammy-nominee Brandy Clark, who was such a hit at 2016’s Carols she was invited back this year. Vaus and his daughter, Anna, will also perform, along with Charlie Worsham.
8 p.m. Friday & Saturday. California Center for the Arts Escondido, 340 North Escondido Blvd., Escondido. $19-$68. (800) 988-4253 or artcenter.org
91X’s “Wrex the Halls,” with The Lumineers, Vance Joy, Dreamcar, The War on Drugs, Arkells, Buckfast Superbee
The first night of this year’s Wrex The Halls — scheduled for Friday — has been canceled, which will disappoint fans of co-headliners Rise Against and Run The Jewels.
Happily, the second (and now only) night will go on as scheduled. Will thousands of fans sing along to The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey,” Vance Joy’s “Riptide,” Dreamcar’s “Kill for Candy,” The War on Drugs’ “Holding On” and Arkells’ “Knocking on the Door?” Yes, Yes. Maybe. Maybe. We’ll see.
6 p.m. Saturday. 6 p.m. Valley View Casino Center, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd. $45-$70. (619) 224-4171 or axs.com
San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus: “Jingle”
“Jingle Bells” and “Joy to the World?” Check. The world premiere male choral arrangement of “You Will Be Found?” Check. Singing nuns who — wild guess — aren’t real nuns? Check. Expect good cheer aplenty when the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus performs its annual holiday concert.
8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Balboa Theater, 868 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. $21-$70 (Saturday), $19-$65 (Sunday). (619) 570-1100 or sdgmc.org/tickets-events/
Six String Society’s “A Christmas in Paris,” with Gregory Page, Whitney Shay, Daring Greatly, Leonard Patton, Casey Hensley, Taylor John Williams, Sherri Anne, Jimmy and Enrique, Greg Douglass, Patric Petrie, Jillian Calkins, Robert Parker, Adrian Demain and Jim Soldi.
Imagine a Parisian living room, some time in the first half of the last century, in the home of leading San Diego crooner Gregory Page.
Now imagine 14 of his musical pals dropping by.
7 p.m. Sunday. Belly Up, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. $22-$39; must be 21 or older to attend. (858) 481-8140 or frontgatetickets.com
“How the Grouch Stole Xmas,” with The Grouch, Del the Funky Homosapien & DJ Fresh
Now in its 11th year, this annual tour puts a hip-hop spin on Christmas, by way (loosely) of San Diego’s Dr. Seuss. The lineup includes America’s DJ Fresh, not to be confused with England’s DJ Fresh.
8 p.m. Sunday. The Music Box, 1337 India St., downtown. $22; must be 21 or older to attend. (619) 795-1337 or musicboxsd.com
Ty Herndon: “An Evening of Hits & Holiday Tunes”
One of the few openly gay male artists in country music, Ty Herndon has seen his commercial success dwindle since coming out in 2014. His 2016 album, “House on Fire,” reaffirms Herndon’s commitment to his craft and showcases his impassioned singing.
8 p.m. Tuesday. Martini’s Above Fourth, 3940 Fourth Ave., 2nd floor, Hillcrest. $15-$40. (619) 400-4500 or ma4sd.com
Sacha Boutros: “Christmas in Paris”
Holiday songs will be amply featured by this versatile San Diego singer, who recently announced she is moving to Paris.
8 p.m. Wednesday. Martini’s Above Fourth, 3940 Fourth Ave., 2nd floor, Hillcrest. $15-$40. (619) 400-4500 or ma4sd.com
Dave Koz 25th Anniversary Xmas Tour, with David Benoit, Rick Braun, Peter White and Selina Albright
Smooth-jazz sax stalwart Dave Koz will share the stage with trumpeter Rick Braun, singer Selina Albright and pianist David Benoit (who once played in a band with San Diego’s Jose Sinatra).
8 p.m. Dec. 14. Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. $50-$95. (619) 570-1100 or ticketmaster.com
“An Irish Christmas Concert”
Irish music and dancing will share the spotlight. The lineup includes veterans of “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance.”
8 p.m. Dec. 15. Balboa Theater, 868 Fourth Ave., downtown. $22-$75. (619) 570-1100 or ticketmaster.com
Johnny Mathis Christmas Concert
Chances are this golden-voiced legend of American song will have fans swooning as he sings his lush classics and Christmas favorites.
7:30 p.m. Dec. 15. Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B St., downtown. $53-$136. (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com
Jane Lynch: “A Swingin’ Little Christmas”
Former “Glee” TV star Jane Lynch will be joined by fellow “Glee” alum Tim Davis and “The Office” co-star Kate Flannery. They’ll feature songs from their 2016 joint album, “A Swingin’ Little Christmas.”
2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16. California Center for the Arts Escondido, 340 North Escondido Blvd., Escondido. $40-$50. (800) 988-4253 or artcenter.org
Gary Hoey’s “Ho Ho Hoey’s Rockin’ Holiday Tour,” with RDG
Now in its 22nd year, rock guitarist Gary Hoey’s annual holiday tour mixes Yuletide favorites with covers of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” and Focus’ “Hocus Pocus.”
7 p.m. Dec. 16. Ramona Mainstage, 626 Main Street, Ramona. $30; must be 21 or older to attend. (760) 789-7008 or ramonamainstage.com
City Lights Series: “Noel Noel,” featuring the San Diego Symphony, under the direction of Sameer Patel, featuring the San Diego Master Chorale, San Diego Children’s Choir and narrator and bass baritone Kevin Deas
The San Diego Symphony’s Dec. 16, 22 and 23 concerts will feature Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy,” Bizet’s “Farandole,” Lucas Richman’s Hanukkah Festival Overture, a suite from “The Polar Express,” and more.
The Dec. 17 concert — a 60-minute sing-along affair geared to kids and their parents — will be without the San Diego Children’s Choir and vocal stalwart Kevin Deas.
8 p.m. Dec. 16 and 22; 2 p.m. Dec.17 and 23. Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B St., downtown. $20-$71 (Dec. 16, 22 and 23), $10-$25 (Dec. 17). (619) 235-0804 or sandiegosymphony.org/
CANCELED: Dianne Reeves: “Christmas Time Is Here”
A five-time Grammy Award-winner, jazz vocal dynamo Dianne Reeves will put a little love — and swing — in your heart. Her band features ace drummer Terreon Gully and Brazilian guitar virtuoso Romero Lubambo.
8 p.m. Dec. 17. Balboa Theater, 868 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. This concert was canceled on Dec. 11; ticket refunds are available at point of purchase. (858) 459-3728 or ljms.org
“4th Annual Country Christmas,” with Sam Outlaw, Nancarrow and Brawley
Expect a night of down-home music from Nancarrow, Brawley and former San Diego advertising sales executive Sam Outlaw (real name: Sam Morgan).
8 p.m. Dec. 17. Belly Up, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. $12-$21; must be 21 or older to attend. (858) 481-8140 or frontgatetickets.com
The Brad Steinwehe Jazz Orchestra presents “A Big Band Christmas”
The mood will be brassy at this concert by trumpeter Brad Steinwehe and his ensemble, featuring saxophonists Christopher Hollyday and Dick McGuane.
8 p.m. Dec. 19. Dizzy’s, Arias Hall (behind the Musician’s Association Building), 1717 Morena Blvd., Bay Park. $15-$20. (858) 270-7467 or dizzysjazz.com
Venice Christmas Show
Noted for its rich harmony vocals, the Los Angeles band Venice counts David Crosby and Pink Floyd alum Roger Waters among its fans and collaborators. Expect to hear songs from the familial quartet’s recent “Waves of Christmas” album.
8 p.m. Dec. 20. Belly Up, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. $20-$35; must be 21 or older to attend. (858) 481-8140 or frontgatetickets.com
Quattrosound: “A Holiday Show”
Featuring two women and two men, this multinational group blends elements of Latin music, jazz and classical.
7:30 p.m. Dec. 21. California Center for the Arts Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. $25-$45. (800) 988-4253 or artcenter.org
Fishbone: “6th Annual Crazy Glue Xmas,” with Band of Gringos
Now in its 38th year, the Los Angeles-based band Fishbone wil deliver a holiday show fueled by funk, punk, ska and more.
8 p.m. Dec. 21. Belly Up, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. $20-$35; must be 21 or older to attend. (858) 481-8140 or frontgatetickets.com
A Berkley Hart Christmas, with Gregory Page, Randi Driscoll, Eve Selis and guests
The folk-rocking Jeff Berkley and Calman Hart will celebrate their 20th anniversary as a duo next year. Their Christmas show will feature three of San Diego’s top troubadours.
7:30 p.m. Dec. 21. The Music Box, 1337 India St., downtown. $25-$44.98; must be 21 or older to attend. (619) 795-1337 or musicboxsd.com
Brian Setzer Orchestra’s 14th annual Christmas Rocks! Tour
Former Stray Cats’ singer-guitarist Brian Setzer has been leading his 19-piece big band since 1992. Their performances are rollicking at any time of the year.
8 p.m. Dec. 23. Pechanga Resort & Casino, 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula, $69.50-$99.50; must be 21 or older to attend. (877)-711-2946 or ticketmaster.com
“Holiday Bebop,” with Matthew Elton Smith & Matt Hall
This may be the only holiday concert to split the difference between “Silent Night” and the Dizzy Gillespie classic “A Night in Tunisia.”
8 p.m. Dec. 23. Dizzy’s, Arias Hall (behind the Musician’s Association Building), 1717 Morena Blvd., Bay Park. $15-$20. (858) 270-7467 or dizzysjazz.com
“Jingle Jam,” featuring Migos, G-Eazy, Ty Dolla $ign, Rob $tone & Sob X Rbe
With a a top ticket price of $199.50, plus service fees, this multi-act bill — headlined by top Georgia hip-hop trio Migos and featuring San Diego’s Rob $tone — is definitely not for scrooges. “Bad and Boujee,” indeed.
7 p.m. Dec. 23. Valley View Casino Center, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd. $49-$199.50. (619) 224-4171 or axs.com
“El Vez Merry Mex-Mas,” with Los Sweepers and Pony Death Ride
In the second half of the 1970s, the then-teenaged Robert Lopez co-founded the pioneering San Diego punk-rock band The Zeros. In 1994, he was reborn as El Vez, the self-proclaimed “Mexican Elvis” and became known for such songs as “You Ain’t Nothing But a Chihuahua,” “Graciasland,” “Lordy Miss Lupe” and “G.I. Ay, Ay! Blues.”
For his annual “Merry Mex-Mas” show at the Casbah, El Vez will be accompanied by a band featuring local favorites Birdy Bardot and Pat and Lety Beers of the Schizophonics. Their repertoire will include “Backdoor Santa,” “Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus?” and a mash-up of Led Zeppelin’s “Royal Orleans” and Charles Wright’s “Express Yourself.”
8:30 p.m. Dec. 23. Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd., Middletown. $20-25; must be 21 or older to attend. (619) 232-4355 or casbahmusic.com
“A Drag Queen Christmas,” starring “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestants
The day after Christmas will be a drag, figuratively speaking. San Diego native RuPaul Andre Charles isn’t scheduled to appear at this show, which will be hosted by Trinity Taylor and star Shea Coulee, Kim Chi, Aja, Latrice Royale, Naomi Smalls, Chi Chi DeVayne and Eureka O’Hara.
8 p.m. Dec. 26. Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway, Suite 600, downtown. $20-$50. (619) 235-9500 or ticketmaster.com
The Steely Damned 2’s 2nd annual Holiday Show
Led by fleet guitarist Hank Easton, the reactivated edition of this all-star, 12-piece San Diego Steely Dan tribute band delivers note-perfect renditions of more than 40 numbers from the songbook of Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker.
8 p.m. Dec. 29. The Music Box, 1337 India St., downtown. $22-$68.50; must be 21 or older to attend. (619) 795-1337 or musicboxsd.com