City Winery Chicago announces a slate of holiday shows in December, including Shemekia Copeland’s Holiday Party and Michael McDermott’s Mischief & Mistletoe three-night stand. The holiday season kicks off December 6 with holiday favorites from honky-tonk home-towners The Empty Pockets and a southern Christmas concert with Bayou Soul man Marc Broussard on Dec. 8. Rhett Miller brings his Holiday Extravaganza Show with Nora O’Connor and Gerald Dowd on Dec. 10. Daytime offerings include the family-friendly Stomp Your Feet to the Jammin Beat Holiday Magic edition on Saturday, Dec. 19 and a Chicago Philharmonic Chamber Players’ cool jazz brunch concert St. Nick in Shades the next day.
The Empty Pockets return to their Chicago hometown for this special evening of music filled with critically acclaimed originals and holiday favorites on Sunday, Dec. 6. The Pockets craft rootsy, often-cerebral and always-catchy Midwest Americana rock ’n’ roll with a smack of Texas saloon and a taste of Motown soul. Madison, Wisconsin-based singer-songwriter Mark Croft and soulful Ohio songwriter Nate Jones open.
Lead singer of The Old 97’s Rhett Miller brings his Holiday Extravangza show with special guests Nora O’Connor and Gerald Dowd. In addition to his music being featured in film and television, Rhett has appeared in an episode of the NBC series 30 Rock, and the Old 97’s were prominently featured in the Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy, The Break Up. Primarily known for his songwriting and awe-inspiring live performances, Rhett is also a critically acclaimed author whose work has appeared in several books and periodicals including Rolling Stone, McSweeney’s and The Atlantic.
The Kids’ Concert Series – Holiday Magic on Saturday, Dec. 19, noon will help with environmental awareness, neighborhood diversity and the ability of everyone to make his or her own music are just a few of the themes covered in this lively entertaining program of songs and stories for children and all ages. Selections from Parents Choice Award-winning CD’s I Like Gum and Brighter Than Fireflies encourage the audience to clap their hands, stomp their feet and sing along to the jammin’ beats with Amy Lowe and guitar & drum duo KingKatz (Dave Katzman and Mike Rodbard).
Chicago Philharmonic Sunday Series – St. Nick in Shades: Fresh Riffs on Holiday Tunes, taking place on Sunday, Dec. 20 features vocal stylist Cheryl Wilson who sings a cool program of holiday favorites that runs the gamut from jazz tunes like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to classical pieces like “Oh Holy Night” and pop hits like “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Wilson – who has collaborated with artists as diverse as Michael Jackson, Mavis Staples and Celine Dion – navigates this varied terrain with her versatile voice. Jim Gailloreto struts his stuff as he expertly showcases the colorful sounds of the woodwind family, including various saxophones and flutes. And pianist Jeremy Kahn tempers the afternoon’s wide-ranging program with a jazz flavor.
Heir to the rich tradition of soul-drenched divas like Ruth Brown, Etta James and Koko Taylor, blast-furnace voiced Shemekia Copeland was presented with Taylor’s crown by her daughter at the 2011 Chicago Blues Festival and given the honor of the new “Queen of the Blues” by official proclamation of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. On Sunday, Dec. 2o she performs a holiday-themed show, Shemekia Copeland’s Holiday Party.
Described by author Stephen King as “one of the best songwriters in the world and possibly the greatest undiscovered rock ’n’ roll talent of the last 20 years,” Michael McDermott’s brand of rock ’n’ roll brims with the kind of well-honed style and wisdom that can only come from a career on the road and a pedigree in the studio. Effortlessly blending natural folk sensibility, pop hooks and honest rock, McDermott’s music is as much for the outcast as the congregation. It’s an exploration of the dark corners of life’s journey and it resonates middle class truths through the passionate filter of a kid that grew up on Chicago’s Irish South Side. Michael McDermott – Mischief & Mistletoe will have a three night stretch starting on Monday, Dec. 21 is an all-request show. Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 22 & 23, are “Best Of” shows of songs from his entire catalogue: the hits, the radio songs, the movie songs, the TV songs, the ballads and barn burners alike; for those new to McDermott’s music, these are arguably the best shows you will see all year.
For New Year’s Eve, (Thursday, Dec. 31, 7:30pm & 11pm) pedal steel guitar virtuoso Robert Randolph – one of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” – returns to City Winery with longtime accompanists, the Family Band, comprising the guitarist’s actual family members Marcus Randolph, Danyel Morgan and Lenesha Randolph, together with guitarist Brett Haas. Their joyous, upbeat 2013 album Lickety Split – Randolph’s first studio recording in three years – features 11 original compositions, plus a stomping cover of “Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players, showcasing the band’s unique chemistry. New Year’s Eve shows include a glass of bubbly for a toast.
Tickets for holiday programs at City Winery Chicago are on sale now on the website.