San Diego concerts light up for the holidays with many and varied options

Guitarist-singer Brian Setzer (right) and his 19-piece band will perform Dec. 23 at Pechanga Resort & Casino.
Photo by Andrezej Liguz

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.)

Michael Britt Left) and Dean Sams of Lonestar are shown at a 2016 concert in Nashville. They perform Friday and Saturday at the annual Carols by Candlelight concerts in Escondido.
Photo by Frederick Breedon IV/Getty Images

“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

The Lumineers headline 91X's annual Wrex The Halls concert at Valley View Casino Center on Saturday.
Courtesy photo

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

The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, shown above singing at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, will perform Saturday and Sunday at downtown's Balboa Theater.
Photo by Hayne Palmour IV/Union-Tribune

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

Patric Petrie
Celtic violinist Patric Petrie will play as part of Sunday's "A Christmas in Paris" show at the Belly Up.
File photo

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

Hip-hop stalwart Del the Funky Homosapien will perform Sunday at the Music Box as part of the 11th annual "How the Grouch Stole Xmas" tour.
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“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

Country troubadour Ty Herndon performs Tuesday at Martini's Above Fourth in Hillcrest.
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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

Singer Sacha Boutros seeks to bring back the style and sophistication of the past with Sacha’s Supper Club every second Thursday of the month at the Lafayette Hotel.
Singer Sacha Boutros will perform Wednesday at Martini's Above Fourth in Hillcrest.
David Brooks/Union-Trubune

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

Smooth-jazz sax favorite Dave Koz (bottom right) performs Dec. 14 at Balboa Theater with (clockwise from left) keyboardist David Benoit, trumpeter Rick Braun and guitarist Peter White.
Photo by Antonio Dixon

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

“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

Vocal legend Johnny Mathis performs Dec. 15 at Jacobs Music Center's Copley Symphony Hall.
Photo by Robert John Herbert/CSM/Zuma Press/TNS

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

Jane Lynch (center) performs Dec. 16 in Escondido with Tim Davis (left) and Kate Flannery (right).
Courtesy photo

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

MUSIC---Gary Hoey. Vicky Davis vickydavis@roadrunner.
Rock guitar slinger Gary Hoey performs Dec. 16 at Ramona Mainstage.
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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

Sameer Patel will conduct the San Diego Symphony's four December "Noel Noel" concerts at Jacob Music Center's Copley Symphony Hall.
File photo

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

Multiple-Grammy Award-winner Dianne Reeves will lead a multinational band at the Balboa Theater on Dec. 17
Photo by Jerris Madison

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

“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

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

All in the family: The members of Venice are, from left, Pat Lennon, Mark Lennon, Kipp Lennon and Michael Lennon.
Photo by Michel Porro

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

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

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

Award-winning San Diego singer-songwriter Eve Selis will perform as part of "A Berkley Hart Christmas" Dec. 21 at the Music Box.
Photo by Tony Batakis

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

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

“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

Atlanta hip-hop group Migos headlines radio station JAM'N 95.7's "Jingle Jam" concert Dec. 23 at Valley View Casino Center.
Photo courtesy of Lollapalooza

“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

El Vez, the San Diego-bred "Mexican Elvis," will light up the Casbah on Dec. 23 with his annual "Merry Mex-Mas" show.
Photo by Mike Hippie / El Vez International

“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

“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

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

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