Romi De Luna's Holiday Special, Big Head Todd, and more

Burgeoning singer-songwriter Bethany Larson


Roma di Luna Holiday Special

The Cedar

If their new Christmas EP is any indication, Roma di Luna's Holiday Special at the Cedar will be overflowing with delicate tributes to old standards, heartbreaking renditions of more contemporary seasonal classics (see: their utterly devastating cover of Joni Mitchell's "River"), and more than a few heartwarming moments between the husband-and-wife duo and their backing band. While their recent full-length releases have been upbeat, full-band affairs, the songs on their new EP are sparse and haunting, allowing Channy Moon Casselle's voice to take its rightful place center stage as she softly croons on "Silent Night" and bounces playfully through "Blue Christmas." If you go, get there early; opener Eliza Blue is another talented female roots vocalist who accompanies herself on banjo and fiddle. All ages. $10/$12 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Andrea Swensson

Trailer Trash's Trashy Little X-Mas Show

Lee's Liquor Lounge

Trailer Trash's first collection of Christmas covers, 1996's Hell, It's X-mas, remains one of the best hip holiday albums of the '90s, recorded live in Rich Mattson's Minneapolis basement in two days with all the warm verve of guys just doing it for fun. After a 2002 follow-up, the Lee's Liquor Lounge legends have returned with Nutcrackers, a third volume featuring rousing twang versions of everything from Clarence Carter's "Backdoor Santa" to Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?"—which they play straight, taking turns on verses, with a few bars of the BoDeans' "Good Things" thrown in because they fit. In person, the honky-tonk band remains one of the last great human jukeboxes, a must-see for out-of-towners here for family, with an eclectic catalog far exceeding the favorites compiled on a second 2009 album, Trailer Trash Plays Smash Hits (all CDs available at This also caps the group's 16th annual series of "X-Mas" shows, so expect the looseness and whimsy that comes with going out on a high note. 21+. $12. 9 p.m. 101 Glenwood Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612.338.9491. —Peter S. Scholtes

FRIDAY 12.25

Fat Kid Wednesdays

Dakota Jazz Club

For a band with a name that sounds like a particularly embarrassing Perkins promotion, Fat Kid Wednesdays has proven to be a pretty damn serious jazz trio. Back when they played East Village's John Zorn-directed club the Stone last January, The New Yorker threw some weighty comparisons around: Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Charlie Haden, the Art Ensemble of Chicago. That spirit of free-jazz exploration comes from more than a decade and a half of experience, as Michael Lewis (sax), Adam Linz (bass), and JT Bates (drums) have grown into an inseparable trio with an almost psychic sense of how to build off each others' rhythmic and melodic patterns. Their weekly curated Monday-night Turf Club shows are always popular, but it's also worth staying up late to see them in the sonically rich confines of the Dakota, where they'll be tonight. $5. 11:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Nate Patrin



Varsity Theater

Twin Cities rockers Quietdrive have been saddled with the pop-punk tag, but that label is usually little more than lazy shorthand wherein "pop" means "catchy" and "punk" translates to "with distorted guitars." In Quietdrive's case, it would be closer to the truth if you lopped off the last half of that descriptor, since whatever punk tendencies they exhibit have a tough time punching through the layers of heavy production that have every track buffed to a glossy sheen. The songs unabashedly take dead aim at the Billboard charts (and they've hit it a few times), incorporating plenty of stadium-sized exploding choruses that sound tailored for teen sing-alongs, but is there any better time than Christmas for things that are shiny and candy-sweet? This event marks five years of the band hosting hugely successful holiday parties, and for longtime Minneapolis fans there's more to look forward to with this show than anything under the tree. All they want for Christmas are hooks. With Take Cover, Catchpenny, and All the Right Moves. All ages. $15. 5 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Ian Traas

SUNDAY 12.26


Triple Rock Social Club

Find us another local hip-hop group with a mayoral sanction, and we'll eat this nasty old Twins hat with mustard. Our local scene is a dense ecosystem in every respect—the species are many, and life cycles are short thanks to overcrowding and occasional predation. But when Heiruspecs hit their diamond anniversary and released 10 Years Strong to celebrate, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman took time out of his busy day dedicating phone booths and public restrooms to declare December 22 Heiruspecs Day. That's hard-won and exotic kudos for a crew that brazenly bucked 20 years of hip-hop tradition. Not content with two turntables to supply every note and every boom-bip, Heiruspecs went all the way live, strings and all. Live-band hip hop is a rare beast to this day, and Heiruspecs are a note-perfect how-to guide for bringing it off. Sense of humor? Impeccable chops? All-Madden caliber flows? Check, check, and check. With Ill Chemistry, Minneapolis Dub Ensemble, and DJ Bill Caperton. All ages. $10. 5 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —David Hansen

MONDAY 12.28

Bethany Larson

Big V's

Fans of country-folk take note: There's a new up-and-comer in town, and her name is Bethany Larson. On her debut EP, Sticks and Stones, Larson's voice comes across softly and sweetly, backed by acoustic guitars and shuffling snare drums. But live, her music takes on a more vivacious persona, adding in electric guitar flourishes and slide guitar wails to achieve something approaching alt-country. Fans of Lucinda Williams, Patsy Cline, and locals Roma di Luna will all find something to enjoy in Larson's developing, slightly edgy folk-rock songs, and Big V's seems like the perfect dive bar in which to watch her cut her teeth. With Fever in the Ox and Mike Behrends. 21+. $5. 9 p.m. 1567 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.645.8472. —Andrea Swensson


Big Head Todd and the Monsters

First Avenue

It's been 16 years since Big Head Todd and the Monsters' major-label debut, Sister Sweetly, went platinum and earned a top 10 single with the laidback "Broken Hearted Savior." Fortunately, the Boulder, Colorado, quartet had the presence of mind to realize their Cream of Wheat-bland bluesy rock balladry wasn't built for hit making, opting instead to embrace their natural role as a pleasantly inoffensive, hardworking live act. The strategy has paid off with a devoted fan following and the necessary live albums intermingled with occasional new releases, such as "Blue Sky," a tribute to the space shuttle program that was later used by Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. In recent years, BHTM have made annual early-winter stops in the Mainroom. With this visit falling just before New Year's, it's an ideal opportunity to celebrate another year of mediocrity with a band that's made a career out of living off past glories. With Ken Valdez. 21+. $25/$27. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jeff Gage

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