DIRTY REGGAE PARTY: Reggae bands in Los Angeles are as common as sushi bars in West Hollywood, but L.A.-based ska-reggae outfit the Aggrolites has distinguished itself from the pack by merging the exuberance of old-school reggae beats with the guttural, passionate funk of James Brown. Formed in 2002 as a backup band for the ska pioneer Derrick Morgan, the group’s infectious sound emphasizes their multicultural heritage and love for L.A. through a collection of soul-shakedown grooves that the band has dubbed “dirty reggae.” The quintet’s latest release, Reggae Hit L.A., has earned them mounting acclaim throughout the regional and worldwide reggae scene. Catch the Aggrolites’ set at the Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave.) in Goleta this Friday, December 14, at 8 p.m. Call 967-0907 for info. -Joel Aurora
THE PLAYER’S CLUB: ‘Tis the season for giving. And what better time than this Monday, December 17, to lend a hand and enjoy some jams courtesy of the SOhO Jazz Club. This year, Santa Barbara’s leading baritone, Art Emr, rings in the holidays-and collects some much-needed cash for the Unity Shoppe-with his Christmas & All That Jazz. The evening’s lineup includes a slew of SB’s musical heavyweights (Woody DeMarco, Randy Tico, Jessica McAllister, Mark Glover, and Ruben Martinez, to name a few), along with special guests like vocalist Jessica Johnson and the Candy Cane Dancers. Admission is a nominal $10 donation, and dinner reservations can be made by calling 962-7776. The show starts promptly at 7 p.m. and SOhO is located upstairs at 1221 State St. Visit sohosb.com for additional details. -Aly Comingore
CALLING ALL DREAMERS: One of your own has issued a clarion call to his unique and intimate holiday concert. John Gill, a carpenter, UCSB grad, and self-described perpetual dreamer, hopes to make one dream come true by performing for a small audience at the Alhecama Theatre on Monday, December 17.
Set against a borrowed-yet-luxurious Victorian backdrop-donated by the Ensemble Theatre Company-the young singer/songwriter will exhibit his Bob Dylan-meets-Tom Waits-style vocals with the ever-intuitive Gary Sanginitto playing bass and Bret “the Flying Dutchman” Van Derhyden on drums.Other bands will follow, and Barry Spacks, former poet laureate of Santa Barbara, is slated to read some of his poetry. Doors open at 7:30 and remember, “If you will it, it is no dream.” -Tyler Vickers
KEEPING IT SIMPLE: When Thoreau made the suggestion to “simplify, simplify,” he wasn’t speaking specifically of music composition, but if you want to hear how the idea translates to punk rock, give a listen to Antelope. Stripped down and straightforward, with a guitar and bass that are as insistently pace-making as the drums, and engaging, contemplative lyrics, they’ll make you nod in time and muse simultaneously. The understated intensity of songs like “Mirroring” and “Wandering Ghost” suggests that their live performances will be well worth catching. Check them out at Muddy Waters (508 E. Haley St.) on Thursday, December 13, at 8 p.m. No word yet on what other bands might be playing. Check out myspace.com/muddycafesb for details. -Kiersten Tarr
LOST HIGHWAY: Misdirection and the wayfaring artist go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s no wonder the theme has taken over Muddy Waters’ upcoming 8 p.m. show on Saturday, December 15, featuring King City Speed Trap, The Donner Party, Finn Riggins, and Evy Llyan. Speed Trap is a mellow and acoustic trio of souls lost in a sea of confusion and utter despair-but, knock on wood, they got their health. The Donner Party, whose namesake is a founding band member (not the lost and cannibalistic settlers), are indie rock fall-out boys making a barrage of pretty sounds. Folk songstress Evy Llyan’s sound is a gentle and pastoral mixture of Jeff Buckley and Crosby, Stills & Nash, though altogether much more feminine. And Idaho-based Finn Riggins lack a precise genre, though they blast surf-tinged, ska-inflected noise and are sure to be the most uncommon, energetic, and impressive artist of the night. Visit myspace.com/muddycafesb for info. -Jessica Hilo