When I was but a wee lad, my father would regale me with stories about how different things were when he was my age, and the one thing that really stuck with me was that families used to crowd around the radio the way they did the television in my childhood (and as they still do now). Think about that for a second. Can you imagine a modern family scheduling dinner around their favorite program--on the radio?

It would take something pretty special for anyone, let alone a whole family, to actually take time out to listen to a specific radio program these days. And that's why I'm urging you all to do just that this week, because something pretty special is being broadcast, and I don't want you to miss it. On Monday, Dec. 20, KXCI (91.3 FM) is broadcasting its holiday special for the third year in a row, and they've finally given it a proper name. "Sonic Solstice" will run from 5 to 10 p.m., and as usual, about 15 local artists and bands will perform holiday songs, both traditional and original, live on the air. Scheduled performers this year are Nancy McCallion, Ozlo & Matt Mitchell, John Coinman, Grams & Krieger, Kathleen Williamson, Kevin Schramm, Namoli Brennet, Kevin Pakulis, Cathy Rivers, Loveland, Mark Matos, Leila Lopez, Ernie Votto, The Fashionistas and the Nick Luca Trio; plus, any special surprise guests who may turn up at the studio. And, now that they've got two shows in the can, we'll be treated to some of the highlights from years past during set changes. Which, of course, means less time-filling yammering from the DJs and more joyous holiday tunes. (I kid, I kid.) Your gracious hosts this year are Laurie Starr, Don Jennings and Mary Buckley.

It's truly exciting radio (it's live, after all), something that's all but extinct right about now, and I've gotta say, it's quickly become a tradition at my humble abode to make a leisurely dinner and just generally dawdle, while listening to the show in its entirety. It's truly one of my favorite seasonal events, and I can't help but think you might feel the same way if you tune in.

So, c'mon. Make my dad proud. Just for one night, leave the TV off; gather with friends and family; and let a bunch of townies get you in the holiday spirit. It works, I swear.

For further info, head to


The folks over at Club Congress are in the holiday spirit this year, featuring not one, but two kick-ass live shows this week to get you all warm and fuzzy.

Fresh off a quickie East Coast jaunt, the almighty Calexico celebrate the season by hosting the Calexico Christmas Show (alternate title: CaleXmas Party), an all-local affair that brings together a slew of guests who will either perform supporting sets, sit in with the Calexicans or both. Said guests include, but are not limited to, Galactic Federation of Love, the Nick Luca Trio, Gene Ruley, Mr. Tidypaws and Tom Walbank. It's a pretty safe bet that all involved will let their hair down a little bit and revel in the informality of it all, which usually translates to "a rockin' good time." It's also a pretty safe bet that this sucker will sell out early, so snatch up them tickets post-haste.

The Calexico Christmas Show begins at 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., or online at

If you've already blown most of your cash on gifts, there's good news. Congress' other local holiday shindig is part of the ongoing series of free shows they call Congress Libre. This one's creatively dubbed Christmas Libre, and will feature the diverse bill of Lovemound, The Knockout Pills and Nowhere Man. It kicks off at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22. For more information about either show, call 622-8848.


Each year, the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association invites the entire Tucson community to its Tucson Folk Festival, free of charge to all, which means they've gotta raise the dough to put in on somehow. Thus, this week brings one of several fund-raisers for the Fest. The Tucson Kitchen Musicians Holiday Party will include performances from Mitzi Cowell, Kevin Pakulis, the Mark Holdaway Trio, Elise Grecco and Lou Stebner and Way Out West. As always, there will be a raffle and food for purchase for vegetarians and carnivores alike. (It's BYOB.)

The TKMA Holiday Party begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at Goddard Hall in the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4831 E. 22nd St. Admission is $5 for members of TKMA, TFTM, KXCI and DBS; $7 for the general public; $3 for children. For further details, call 792-6481.


Austin's Shane Bartell comes equipped with a warm, sensuous voice and a knack for penning a well crafted pop song. He's regularly compared to such songsmiths as Morrissey, Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright, but after listening to his debut full-length, Too Soon to Say (2004, Lilywhite), we'd add Josh Rouse and Ron Sexsmith to that list, and re-emphasize the Buckley comparison. He'll take the opening slot of a triple-bill that also includes the George Squier Orchestra and headliners La Cerca.

The evening begins at 9:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Admission is only $3. For more information, call 798-1298.


Perhaps you've seen Chicago's Low Skies, who specialize in back-alley noir rock, as they're frequent visitors to our burg. The band recently released a new EP, I Have Been to Beautiful Places (2004, Flameshovel), and frontman singer/guitarist Chris Salveter will be pulling in to town this week all by his lonesome to promote it. Salveter can also remind of Jeff Buckley at times, though he's a bit darker and slightly less dramatic, and isn't afraid to yell every now and then.

Chris Salveter performs at the Red Room at Grill, 100 E. Congress St., Monday, Dec. 20. For more information, call 623-7621.

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