STRANGE TIMES OF THE SEASON: The nice thing about holidays is they make the world feel reliable and dependable. You can trust in the stability of your tree and the glow of your ornaments, even if the world seems to have taken a turn for the retroactively weird and terrifying.
But lest the turning of the calendar bring on feelings of Grinch-y gloom, we are reminded at times such as these of each other and the love that keeps us all afloat. We somehow made it through a year once again, and we weren’t the only ones who struggled along the way here and there. What better reason to give gratitude or a gift than to say, “Thanks for making it through with me”?
Or perhaps you feel moved to make life a little easier for others to get through by improving their day-to-day. If so, consider seeing ALO’s Zach Gill, the generously spirited singer/guitarist whose accordion-accented reveries will help out Ellwood Elementary School at the Ellwood Extravaganza on Sunday, December 4, 7 p.m. at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.). A silent and live auction and a raffle will help out programs for the children at Ellwood, and all the proceeds of the event will go directly to the school, so dinner reservations are encouraged.
HOLIDAY CHEER: Another nice thing about these steadfast traditions of ours is how versatile they are — how our Christmas carols and songs can adapt to any genre, for better and for worse. In one instance of the “for better,” SOhO again rings in the holiday cheer with finger-style guitar master and his band, the Laurence Juber Trio, who come to town on Monday, December 5, on the reindeer hoof heels of a recent Christmas album release.
First coming to fame as lead guitarist in Paul McCartney’s Wings, with whom he won a Grammy (and no doubt simply had a wonderful Christmastime at some point or other, if you’ll recall McCartney’s song), Juber has since made a name for himself with his virtuosic guitar skills and will interpret holiday greats with uncommon ability. His album LJ Plays the Beatles was voted one of Acoustic Guitar magazine’s all-time Top 10 albums. Sounds like a simply wonderful time.
UKULELE UNDER THE TREE: Speaking of finger-style playing, there’s also the innovative ukulele genius Jake Shimabukuro, who plays UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Thursday, December 1, at 8 p.m. The Hawaiian-born master of ukulele has changed the way people think about the instrument with his sophisticated reinterpretations of songs such as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which are not unlike Jimi Hendrix in their electrifying expression. His latest album, Nashville Sessions, hit #3 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums Chart recently with a series of evocative originals, not like any ukulele you’ve heard before. If you can’t do a holiday vacation to Hawai‘i, this will be a nice holdover.
WHITE NOISE CHRISTMAS: There is no better season than winter for shoegaze-inspired and dark noise music, and for fans of all sounds deeply sensorial, the Funzone (226 S. Milpas St.) hosts a night of heavy sounds on Thursday, December 1. You can bang your Santa-hat head to S.B.’s very own heavy rockers Lanayah, who will be joined by S.F. shoegazers Clumsy. You can dig the intense noise vibrations and sound experimentations of New York’s Machine Girl, Detroit’s Five Star Hotel, or L.A.’s Girl Pusher, and your ears will screech with joy, pain, or some mixture of the two.