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holiday arts preview

Critic’s picks: Pop music


MICHAEL McDONALD Billed as “an evening of holiday and hits,” McDonald’s show is the only place you’re likely to hear both “White Christmas” and “Takin’ It to the Streets” from his stint with the Doobie Brothers. The show corresponds to McDonald’s 2009 holiday album, “This Christmas.” Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $32-$85. Wilbur Theatre. 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com

A CHRISTMAS CELTIC SOJOURN WITH BRIAN O’DONOVAN A mix of storytelling, song, and dance, this seasonal staple is a family favorite. The run includes stops at Cutler Majestic Theatre (select dates from Dec. 12-21), Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport (Dec. 15, which is sold out), the Hanover Theatre in Worcester (Dec. 17), and New Bedford’s Zeiterion Theatre (Dec. 18). Dec. 12-21, Various showtimes and ticket prices. Full information at www.wgbh.org/listen/christmascelticsojourn.cfm


CAPE ANN BIG BAND This 17-piece big band revs up for a brassy holiday show that runs the gamut of jazz, pop, and swing. Dec. 7, 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets: $19-$34. Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport. 978-546-7391, www.rockportmusic.org

THE AIMEE MANN CHRISTMAS SHOW After a three-year hiatus, Mann resurrects her annual Christmas show and brings some special guests. Ted Leo, her partner in the indie-pop duo the Both, will be on hand to sing their new holiday song, “Nothing Left to Do (Let’s Make This Christmas Blue),” along with Susanna Hoffs (of the Bangles) and singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton. Dec. 9, 8 p.m. Tickets: $35-$45. Wilbur Theater. 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com

THE SWEETBACK SISTERS COUNTRY CHRISTMAS SINGALONG You might think you don’t want to sing along to “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” You’d be wrong. It’s hard to resist the communal joy these Brooklyn-based honky-tonkers bring to their run of holiday shows. Dec. 11, 8 p.m. Tickets: $17. Club Passim, Cambridge. 617-492-7679, www.clubpassim.com

ROCK ’N’ SOUL HOLIDAY CONCERT James Montgomery, Barrence Whitfield, Charlie Farren, and Greg Hawkes (of the Cars) are just a few of the local roots luminaries on the lineup for this sixth-annual tradition that’ll get you rockin’ around the Christmas tree. Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $25-$30. Regent Theatre, Arlington. 781-646-4849, www.regenttheatre.com


RONNIE SPECTOR Perhaps no other pop singer is more associated with Christmas than Spector. With the Ronettes, she was the voice behind some of the secular classics – including “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Frosty the Snowman” – and her annual Christmas program is always old-fashioned fun. (And yes, this free show is worth the road trip to a Conn. casino.) Dec. 13, 8 p.m. Free. Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Conn. 888-226-7711, www.mohegansun.com

KLEZWOODS KLEZMER CHRISTMAS Fun fact: These kamikaze klezmer musicians took their name from Atwood’s Tavern, the Cambridge haunt where they first got started and to where they’ll return for this show. Dec. 16, 9 p.m. Tickets: $8. Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge. 617-864-2792, www.brownpapertickets.com

WINTERY SONGS IN ELEVENTY PART HARMONY As a welcome respite from sugary holiday cheer, Jennifer Kimball leads a heavenly choir of extraordinaire voices belonging to Rose Cousins, Laura Cortese, Rose Polenzani, Valerie Thompson, and Jenna Moynihan. They’re as warm and cozy as a night by the fire. Dec. 17, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Tickets: $20. Club Passim, Cambridge. 617-492-7679, www.clubpassim.com

A JOHNNYSWIM CHRISTMAS As Johnnyswim, the soulful husband-and-wife duo of Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano-Ramirez trade on the close, sensual harmonies only lovers can conjure. Their Christmas performance will no doubt be similarly intimate. Dec. 20, 8 p.m. Tickets: $25, $22 in advance. The Sinclair, Cambridge. 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com JAMES REED

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- Special section: Holiday Arts Preview