We all have our holiday traditions that don’t change much from year to year. If you live in the Twin Cities, maybe it’s taking in the light shows along Nicollet Mall or Summit Avenue in St. Paul. But regardless of your traditions, no holiday season is complete without a little music.
The best part of the local holiday show scene is the variety. Sure, there are the same holiday classics like The Guthrie’s “A Christmas Carol” or the various stagings of “The Nutcracker” that many Minnesotans enjoy every year, but there are also less conventional performances for audiences who wouldn’t typically see a holiday show. Just consider this past weekend’s holiday concert at the Orpheum Theatre, when R&B singer R. Kelly—the architect of gems like “Ignition (Remix),” “Your Body’s Callin’,”and “Bump N’ Grind”—hosted his “12 Nights of Christmas” concert in support of his Christmas album of the same name.
Here are a few non-traditional holiday shows this December spreading cheer in unexpected ways for Minnesota’s musicheads.
The New Standards 10th Annual Holiday Show | December 13 at Paramount Center for the Arts, St. Cloud | December 17 at Sheldon Theater, Red Wing
It’s impossible to mention holiday shows around the Twin Cities without mentioning one of the main staples in the Minneapolis annual show circuit. While the State Theater shows in Minneapolis have already come and gone, The New Standards still have upcoming shows in St. Cloud (Dec. 13) and Red Wing (Dec. 17; sold out). Guests are always at high volume, and this year’s concert in the Twin Cities included guest performances from Aby Wolf, Gary Louris, and Jeremy Messersmith. This is one to see at some point. Buy tickets.
Snow Show ‘16 | December 15 at Myth
Of all the shows available during the holiday season, this is the one with the highest population of national acts. Headlined by Bastille and BANKS (known best for 2014’s “Beggin For Thread”), this show was originally designated for the Target Center, but eventually moved to the Maplewood location. For those looking for the most variety and the most radio-friendly sound, this might be the top choice. Buy tickets.
Low & Friends Christmas and Holiday Bazaar | December 17 at First Avenue
The Duluth collective is known for its haunting melodies and emotionally gripping vocals. But as they’ve built up steam on the national level, the allure of their upcoming Christmas show (something they’ve done before) has picked up steam. Supporting acts like Hippo Campus and Erik Berry (of Trampled by Turtles fame) just add legitimacy to a bill that needs no more legitimacy. Buy tickets.
The Bad Plus | December 22–23, 25–26 at the Dakota Jazz Club
A tradition going onto its 17th year, local jazz titans The Bad Plus have been offering multi-night displays of their decade-long discography. This year’s set could be especially fun, too. After an album with Joshua Redman and their critically acclaimed “Inevitable Western,” their 2016 release “It’s Hard” is an album entirely of covers, including a mystical cover of late local legend Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones.” Buy tickets.