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MUSIC

Pop & Rock

TRAVIS SCOTT One of the biggest names in 2018 hip-hop is this Houston-born rapper-singer, whose flair for spectacle — he’s honoring the amusement-park theme of his latest album, “Astroworld,” with an onstage rollercoaster — amps up the intensity of his psychedelia-tinged genre experiments. Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. $29.95 and up. TD Garden, Boston. 617-624-1000, www.tdgarden.com

MAXWELL Over the past decade, this soul auteur has released the first two installments in his “Blacksummersnight” trilogy, two stunning albums that showcase his songwriting talent and magnificent vocals; part three, “Night,” is scheduled for release next year. Live, he’s a magnetic presence whose vocal range is matched by his top-notch bandleading skills. Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m. $33.50 and up. Orpheum Theatre, Boston. 617-482-0106, www.crossroadspresents.com

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MARISSA NADLER The Jamaica Plain-based singer-songwriter’s eighth album, “For My Crimes,” sounds gorgeously spectral, but its windswept textures are grounded in close-to-the-bone lyrics. Dec. 8, 8:30 p.m. $15, $13 advance. Great Scott, Allston. 617-566-0914, www.greatscottboston.com

MAURA JOHNSTON

Folk & World

MIKE COOLEY To my mind, the Mike Cooley songs are as often as not the most interesting ones on a Drive-By Truckers record. He reworked a bunch of them a few years back for his first solo effort, the live acoustic affair “The Fool on Every Corner,” and that’s how he’ll do ’em Tuesday. Dec. 4, 8 p.m. $22-$30. City Winery, Boston. 617-933-8047, www.citywinery.com/boston

PARKER GISPERT “I am a rock artist, I mean you no harm . . . do some country,” sings Parker Gispert on his marvelous solo debut, “Sunshine Tonight.” What he does there ain’t twang, but it is often pastoral, it weaves together murmuring folk and swelling, orchestral pop, and it’s a far sight removed from the music he’s been making with his band, the Whigs, for most of his adult life. Dec. 7, 9 p.m. $12. O’Brien’s Pub. 877-987-6487, www.ticketfly.com

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BILL KIRCHEN’S HONKY TONK HOLIDAY As regular as Santa, Bill Kirchen has been coming around every December with a sackful of dieselbilly chestnuts, from “Reindeer Boogie” to “Blue Christmas Lights” to “Run Rudolph Run” to a seasonally decorated version of his survey of the entirety of postwar popular music, “Hot Rod Lincoln.” Dec. 7, 8 p.m. $32. The Bull Run Restaurant, Shirley. 978-425-431, www.bullrunrestaurant.com

STUART MUNRO

Jazz & Blues

BESSIE SMITH, EMPRESS OF THE BLUES An all-star tribute to the greatest blues singer of them all, curated by Paula Cole and featuring Doyle Bramhall II, Terri Lyne Carrington, Shemekia Copeland, Dom Flemons, Nona Hendryx, Meshell Ndegeocello, Valerie Simpson, and more. Proceeds go toward renovating the Cabot. Dec. 4, 8 p.m. $59.50-$84.50. The Cabot, 286 Cabot St., Beverly. 978-927-3100, www.thecabot.org

VANGUARD: THE MUSIC OF RAN BLAKE The nonpareil pianist, composer, and educator joins the NEC Jazz Orchestra in a program that includes his evocative compositions “Horace Is Blue,” “Memphis,” and the sublime “The Short Life of Barbara Monk.” Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m. Free. Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston. 617-585-1122, www.necmusic.edu

AARDVARK JAZZ ORCHESTRA ANNUAL CHRISTMAS CONCERT Boston’s venerable progressive big band presents its 46th yuletide celebration featuring, among other seasonal delights, the premiere of music director Mark Harvey’s latest work, “Healers of the Universe,” a tribute to Boston social activist Kip Tiernan, founder of Rosie’s Place. Proceeds will benefit the Poor People’s United Fund, founded in 1980 by Tiernan and Fran Froehlich. Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m. $20. Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St., Boston. 617-452-3205, www.aardvarkjazz.com

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KEVIN LOWENTHAL

Classical

BOSTON BAROQUE Handel’s “Messiah” on period instruments, conducted by Martin Pearlman. Soloists Layla Claire, Eric Jurenas, and Norman Shankle make their Boston Baroque debuts. Jordan Hall. Dec. 7-8. 617-987-8600, www.bostonbaroque.org

CHAMELEON ARTS ENSEMBLE In a performance honoring the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s Faustian pocket drama “The Soldier’s Tale,“ baritone James Demler plays the three roles of the titular soldier, the devil, and the narrator. The concert also includes music by Saint-Saëns and Joan Tower. First Church in Boston. Dec. 2, 4 p.m. 617-427-8200, www.chameleonarts.org

THE TALLIS SCHOLARS The renowned British vocal ensemble, directed by Peter Phillips, performs seasonal music from the Renaissance as well as a newly commissioned work by Nico Muhly. Presented by Boston Early Music Festival. Note change of venue: this month’s BEMF concerts scheduled for St. Paul Church, Cambridge, have been moved to Memorial Church, Harvard University, Cambridge. Dec. 7, 8 p.m. 617-661-1812, www.bemf.org

ARNEIS QUARTET This Boston-based ensemble presents an all-American evening, including Ruth Crawford Seeger’s serialist String Quartet (1931) as well as works by Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty members John Harbison and Elena Ruehr. Free and open to the public. Killian Hall, MIT, Cambridge. Dec. 7, 8 p.m. www.arneisquartet.com

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ARTS

Theater

BLACK NATIVITY Now in its 48th year, this production of Langston Hughes’s song-play — which melds scripture, verse, music. and dance to tell the Nativity story — is invariably a highlight of the holiday season, both spiritually and musically. Directed by Voncille Ross, who is also in the cast, along with Marilyn Andry, Betty Hillmon, Desiree Springer, and the Honorable Milton L. Wright, among others. Dec. 7-23. National Center of Afro-American Artists. At Robert J. Orchard Stage, Paramount Center, Boston. 617-824-8400, www.emersonparamount.org

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CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE Created and directed by Neil Goldberg, this strangely intriguing show is built on the premise that Christmas tree ornaments somehow come to life, then tell their own stories via circus performances that feature aerialists, acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, and wheel spinners. When “Cirque Dreams Holidaze’’ played at the Shubert in December 2016, my review described it as “a full-on sensory immersion in which Las Vegas meets family entertainment meets musical theater meets acid trip, with elements of Santa’s Workshop and an old-time TV variety show thrown into the mix. Dec. 4-9. Boch Center Shubert Theatre, Boston. 866-348-9738, www.bochcenter.org

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE Pushed to the brink of despair, George Bailey gets a chance to see what the world would have been like if he had never been born. Answer: Not so great. Producing artistic director Weylin Symes adapted Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film for the stage. Featuring Stewart Evan Smith as George, Marge Dunn as Mary, Margaret Ann Brady as Potter,’ and William Gardiner as Clarence, the guardian angel who opens George’s eyes. Also featuring Bob Mussett as Uncle Billy and Jenna Lea Scott as Cousin Tilly. Codirected by Tonasia Jones and Tyler Rosati. Through Dec. 23. Greater Boston Stage Company, Stoneham. 781-279-2200, www.greaterbostonstage.org

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DON AUCOIN

Dance

AMERICAN / WOMAN This mixed evening of contemporary dance is part of Betsy Miller Dance Projects’s initiative to reach out to female choreographers throughout the United States and creatively explore what it is like to be a woman in today’s America. Inspired in part by #MeToo conversations and the current political climate, the concert features work by New England artists, including Shura Baryshnikov, Rachel Boggia, Ali Kenner Brodsky, Alexandra James, Kellie Lynch, Jessie Jeanne Stinnett, and Lida Winfield. Dec. 8-9. $10-$20. Movement Arts Gloucester Massachusetts (MAGMA), Gloucester. 978-381-3494, magma.center

12 DANCERS DANCING . . . A CHRISTMAS IN CAMBRIDGE There are a variety of “Nutcracker” productions throughout the month. But Honey Blonder’s lively holiday showcase has been offering a quirky alternative for an impressive 20 years, with an eclectic array of original choreography evoking the season. This year’s production features 14 companies from around the area, including Disco Brats, Rainbow Tribe, North Shore Civic Ballet, and Nozama Dance Collective. Dec. 8-9. $16-$23. The Dance Complex, Cambridge. 617-547-9363, www.dancecomplex.org

AURORA BOREALIS: A FESTIVAL OF LIGHT AND DANCE The magic of this production is found in the interplay of light and form. Boston University’s festive annual presentation is a non-sectarian celebration featuring collaborative, experimental dance and movement pieces by faculty and students. Dec. 2-3. Free. Boston University Dance Theater. 617-353-1597, www.bu.edu/fitrec/dance/dance-theater

KAREN CAMPBELL

Galleries

CODED Color is art’s most vibrant, and perhaps most slippery, element. Curator Alexandria Smith taps eight artists, including Laylah Ali and Alex Jackson, who are deft in their handling of color’s powers, including psychological resonance and cultural meaning. Through Jan. 27. Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, 551 Tremont St. 617-426-5000, www.bcaonline.org

DAVID MOORE: MONOCHROME GRIDS Moore has been making these paintings for more than 20 years, each an extended meditation on tone and pattern. He saturates panels with layers of paint, and scores and draws lines, creating color-soaked fields that flicker and fluctuate. Through Dec. 22. Howard Yezerski Gallery, 460 Harrison Ave. 617-262-0550, www.howardyezerski.com

SWEAT IT OUT Feeling cold and tense? Visit this handmade mobile sauna, open most Sunday afternoons and occasional evenings. Artists Caitlin Foley, Heather Kapplow, and Misha Rabinovich are programming events (such as a tea ceremony) and conversations. Participate, or just come and chill. Through Dec. 30. FPAC Space at the Envoy Hotel, 70A Sleeper St. 617-506-9711, www.sweatitout.boston/events

CATE McQUAID

Museums

THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH: DRAWINGS AT THE CLARK An exhibition of Turner and Constable later this month is the Clark’s main event when it comes to British landscape painting, but this display of 16 of Gainsborough’s pastoral drawings is sure to whet the appetite; of Gainsborough, who gained renown mostly as a painter of portraits, it also offers another view. Through March 17. Clark Art Institute, 225 South St, Williamstown. 413-458-2303, www.clarkart.edu

JACK BUSH: RADIANT ABSTRACTION A close confidant of the near-papal critic Clement Greenberg (“No one alive knows more about painting than you do,” Greenberg wrote to his good friend once), Jack Bush, from Toronto, has made nary a ripple in the American canon of mid-century abstract painting. The Museum of Fine Arts puts its toe in the water with three playful canvases by the masterful color-field painter, hoping to make a splash. Through April 21, 2019. Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave. 617-267-9300, www.mfa.org

EDGAR ARCENEAUX: UNTIL, UNTIL, UNTILRonald’s Reagan’s 1981 inaugural fete was televised nationally and headlined with a performance by Ben Vereen, an homage to Bert Williams, one of America’s first mainstream black entertainers. The feed cut out when Vereen capped his performance with a pointed speech about racism and stereotypes in America, and that lost chapter is where this performance piece by Arceneaux, an artist based in Los Angeles, begins. Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Granoff Center, Brown University, 154 Angell St., Providence. 401-863-6888, arts.brown.edu/granoff-center

MURRAY WHYTE

EVENTS

Comedy

CRAIG FERGUSON: HOBO FABULOUS TOUR The former “Late Late Show” host is keeping it personal on his latest tour, avoiding the topical in favor of stories from his own life and bits about the cities he’s visiting. Dec. 2, 7 p.m. $39-$52. Wilbur Theatre. 866-448-7849, www.thewilbur.com

RODNEY PERRY The veteran comic, prolific actor, writer, and improv teacher has joked he didn’t always know he was a “big guy.” One clue, he says, was when he got winded while standing and talking on his cellphone, and his friend asked, “Are you runnin’?” Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. $20. Laugh Boston, 425 Summer St., Boston. 617-725-2844, www.laughboston.com

JENNY ZIGRINO The former Boston comic argues it’s more expensive being single. She spends more money on massages, she says, “because I miss being touched, and I spend a lot of money on psychics ’cause I miss being lied to.” Dec. 7, 7 p.m. $10-$12. Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave., Allston. 617-566-9014, www.greatscottboston.com

NICK A. ZAINO III

Family

HOLIDAYS AROUND THE WORLD WORKSHOP Take a global approach to the holiday season with an arts and crafts workshop. Each parent-child duo will learn about how other cultures celebrate the holidays through a world-traveling exploration of international arts and traditions. Registration is required. Dec. 2, 1-3 p.m. $45. Brookline Arts Center, 86 Monmouth St., Brookline, brooklineartscenter.com

LATKEPALOOZA Come hungry to this annual festival with latkes galore — 5,000 potato pancakes are on the menu at the open-to-all event. But it’s not all potatoes, with activities throughout the floors of Boston University Hillel, including a viewing of “A Rugrats Chanukah” and dreidel games. Dec. 3, 5-7 p.m. Free. Boston University Hillel, 213 Bay State Road, Boston, bu.edu/hillel

BOWLING WITH SANTA Take to the lanes with the jolly old man in red and add a perfect bowling score to your wishlist at this Christmas event. When the little ones tire of gutter balls and the game, they can take photos with Santa and snag a toy, too. Sleep through the main event on Saturday? Head further south on Dec. 9 for the same shindig at Boston Bowl’s Hanover location. Dec. 8, 9-11 a.m. $14-$16. Boston Bowl, 820 Morrissey Blvd., Dorchester, bostonbowl.com

KAYA WILLIAMS

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Dec. 10 The Japanese House at The Sinclair  axs.com

Dec. 11 Straight No Chaser at Boch Center Wang Theatre  ticketmaster.com

Dec. 14 Ghost at Boch Center Wang Theatre  ticketmaster.com

Dec. 18 Beach Bunny at Great Scott  axs.com

Dec. 22 Night Ranger at The Cabot ticketmaster.com

Dec. 28-30 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at House of Blues  ticketmaster.com

Jan. 5 Power of Love at The Sinclair  axs.com

Jan. 10-11 Noname at Royale axs.com

KAYA WILLIAMS