(Tractor) With the Old Codgers, Danny's found a mighty fine outlet for his world-class banjo pickin', punkish front-porch musings, and legendary Texas-bred musicality. Look out as well for his electrified "Heathen" outfit, and be prepared to have your mojo set on fire, no matter what the context. JAMES KIRCHMER

(Fenix) I've gotta admit -- I prefer the dark, candles-and-cobwebs atmosphere of Halloween to the perky, eggnog-and-carols spirit that descends this time of year like a plague of locusts. Billing itself as "a night of beauty, bewilderment, and extravagance," as well as "the scariest Christmas ball you'll ever attend," the Fenix's holiday extravaganza sounds much more up my alley. Promising a dark forest, fog, and bewitching music (and that's just for starters), this promises to be one holiday event that will truly stand out from the rest -- as well as add new dimension to the phrase "holiday spirits." BARBARA MITCHELL

(Graceland) Let me tell you a little something about sex appeal. Back in my day, we didn't need all the jiggling and wiggling that you look at on your music television. Real ladies wore skirts that covered their knees, and they wore white gloves, and a boy would shiver and quiver if you took off your glove and let him kiss your hand. That's what nice girls did. The other kind of girls were there for other things, but boys didn't marry the other kind of girls. Nope, they were happy with a peck on the cheek until marriage. Back then, a naked wrist had sex appeal! Oh wait, they're called Six Appeal? What the hell is that? ERIN FRANZMAN

FRIDAY 12/17

(Showbox) It doesn't get more festive than an evening with Pink Martini, so if you're having a difficult time jump-starting those holiday spirits, this is just what the doctor ordered. Put on your best duds, order up a cosmopolitan or several, and surrender to the swank stylings of this Portland ensemble. It may not get you out of spending quality time with your feuding family, but you'll be transported to another time and place for a couple of blissful hours. BARBARA MITCHELL


(Tractor) From the press release, this gig sounds like it could've been the evil byproduct of a record executive's greed gland in the early '90s: Christmas classics played by grunge rockers. But this isn't the early '90s anymore, and anyone who is still garage rocking is hardcore and obviously in it only for the love of that fuzzed up sound. And of course we all love Christmas. And Christ. And Krist Novoselic. And Kurt, who is harking now as the dark angel sings, or whatever. One thing's for sure -- it's a night of full circles at the Christmas-y, feedbacking Tractor. NATHAN THORNBURGH

(Breakroom) All I want for Christmas is an evening of moody, textured indie rock to soothe my troubled soul and make me forget that I'm going to have to spend four whole days with my family. Goodness gracious -- it's my lucky day! Mars Accelerator and Bugs in Amber both fit the bill nicely, offering up the kind of music that draws you in and keeps you there, mesmerized and happy. Now, if only they'd play my grandmother's living room.... BARBARA MITCHELL

(Bohemian) 'Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even (eek!) a mouse.... And then the Bohemian booted its regular crew of malnourished, underpaid Friday night artists in order to bring in a legend: the fabulously tall and nearly incomprehensible Eek-A-Mouse. You know an artist is doing something impenetrable when the simplest label that critics can attach to the artist's style is "bong-gong-giddy-mem-giddy-hoy." But that's how he sings, and people will dig it, just like they did back in the '80s when Eek-A-Mouse's clever reggae babbling was as much a part of South Florida culture as linen blazers and cocaine Christmas parties. NATHAN THORNBURGH

(Moore Theater) Unfortunately for the Counting Crows, their first single went straight to the top of the charts, effectively obscuring the fact that they're actually a damn fine band and not another one-hit wonder. (Trust me -- regardless of any homicidal tendencies triggered by hearing "Mr. Jones" even one more time, there's a tremendous amount of depth and soul to the rest of their catalog that more than compensates.) Plus, they earn bonus points for bringing the Gigolo Aunts (signed to lead-Crow Adam Duritz's label), who have miraculously managed to remain relatively obscure after years of crafting many albums' worth of beautiful pop songs. BARBARA MITCHELL

( The S-Man cometh. One of the world's globetrotting-est DJs makes his way to Seattle and promises to throw it down "tough, Latin, and funky." Househeads will likely be very pleased, as will the legions of Nair-ed, shirtless gay boys who've been looking for a solid, deep dance night. LEAH GREENBLATT

(Crocodile) "What the heck is 'Label Mania'?" you ask. Well, that's a darned good question. Tonight, you'll have the opportunity to check out such local luminaries as Eureka Farm, Love Battery, the Pin Ups, and Graig Markel (New Sweet Breath, Tagging Satellites) who'll be wowing the crowds with original material while representing a wide spectrum of Seattle's independent labels. In addition to performances, you'll have the opportunity to buy CDs at discount prices, get more info on the state of indie music here in the Northwest, participate in a super raffle, and more. Plus, it's a benefit for Home Alive! BARBARA MITCHELL

(Jules Mae's) The always witty and delightful "TAD Dodge DARTh Vader Tadillac Seville," as he signs his e-mails, is bringing his Hog Molly to "lovely industrial- rotted Georgetown." Please refer to the Live Music Bio Box for more pearls of wisdom from Tad, who has been crowned Miss Bio Box 1999. In the event that Tad is unable to fulfill his duties as Miss Bio Box, the crown will fall to the first runner-up, Ken Stringfellow. It's in my contract with the Miss Bio Box pageant that I'm not allowed to divulge any information about the swimsuit competition. ERIN FRANZMAN


(Tractor Tavern) The Souvenirs are back at the Tractor, only a few days after the Buck Owens tribute rang through those same dusty speakers. So, is the Bakersfield Sound -- the California honky-tonk pioneered by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard in the '50s -- really making a rebound? Or is it just coincidence that Seattle's Souvenirs ended up paying homage to that genre 40 years after the fact? Only time will tell: Seattle has withstood and ignored a number of cultural invasions from California before, but none quite so heartfelt or old-fashioned. NATHAN THORNBURGH

(Breakroom) It might take a bellyful of cherry-flavored antacids and an armful of smack to put up with Ian Moore's "Pennyroyal Tea." Where's this guy been, anyway, that he thinks it's okay to waltz into a jealously protective, post-WTO Seattle with a title like that? Insult! And then there's this CD: Ian Moore's Got the Green Grass. Not only is it a maniacally groping attempt at opportunistic genre-raiding, but everyone knows Seattle's got the greenest, most potent grass this side of paradise. Good thing he's pretty. Skip Moore but catch Richmond Fontaine. RICK LEVIN

(Seattle Catch) Fremont is my pick for neighborhood-most-likely-to-survive-the-millennium. That's because Fremonters are incessantly communal and can survive for weeks on end with nothing but arts and crafts and organic soy products for sustenance. Musically, too, they are quietly self-sustaining, with joints like Seattle Catch providing low-key, well-executed jazz from qualified local players like Tom Armstrong. More gigs like this will ensure that Fremonters won't have to venture out into the outlying nuclear cauldron when they want a Chianti and a nice bossa. NATHAN THORNBURGH

(Showbox) The campaign for "Los Lobos for President 2000!" begins today. We are facing several difficult "trends," such as the fact that Richard Nixon is the closest thing to a Latino who's ever been in the White House (his hair was black). It's equally unlikely that they would let five guys share the position together. But probably the biggest nail in the heart of our young campaign is the fact that Los Lobos are rumored to be appearing in public with Wood, those annoying crafters of teen heart-rock. From a campaign manager's perspective, that's the most damning revelation since Gary Hart was caught in the lubed leg-lock with Donna Rice back in 1998. NATHAN THORNBURGH

(Fenix Aboveground) If the pairing of Seattle's own Sir Mix-A-Lot with Seattle's own Dave Dederer and Chris Ballew of the Presidents of the United States of America seems frighteningly unnatural, you need look no further than their mutual love of all things "round and juicy" for convincing, if you know what I mean. And in case you don't, I'm talking about asses and peaches. JASON PAGANO

SUNDAY 12/19

(The Big Foot Inn Tavern) The Stranger is not usually quick to endorse anything billed as a jam session. But accompanied by anything billed as a meat shoot, we're willing to put aside our differences. It's not clear if Meat Shoot is a band, lawn bowling with cold cuts, or a really clever euphemism for some masturbation contest, but any of those three options has to be better than a jam session. ERIN FRANZMAN

(Crocodile) Perhaps you can judge a band by the company they keep. That might be a dangerous standard in the Northwest, but 764-HERO would remain unscathed: They've played with Love as Laughter and Modest Mouse in the past few months alone. Not a bad crowd to run with. ERIN FRANZMAN

(Tractor Tavern) Oh goodie, I LOVE foosball! ERIN FRANZMAN

MONDAY 12/20

(Wildhorse Casino, Pendleton, OR, (1-800-654-WILD) Wow, this is a dead night in Seattle. Obviously the only thing to do is head down to Oregon to see a gen-u-wine singing cowboy. Hampton actually owns and works on a ranch in New Mexico when he's not on tour, playing "music that is passed on, that grows and changes but will never die as long as there are ranges for cattle to graze and men and women a' horseback to tend them." See? I'm not sending you off to see some guy who carries a lariat and sings to forget his flat suburban split-level house, his flat suburban wife, and his flat, steaming-blacktop-and-strip-mall New Mexico life. This is a ranch dude. Makes his living "a' horseback." That's New Mexican for "on horseback," you know. Wink. ERIN FRANZMAN


(Crocodile) With their days as Blue Collar Platonic Friendship Excuse and Blue Collar Random Sexual Encounter long in the past, Blue Collar Love are focused on the future and are finally ready to make a serious commitment to a meaningful relationship. Blue Collar Love are tired of waking up alone, baby.... I swear, Blue Collar Love have changed their ways! To prove this to you, Blue Collar Love would like nothing more than to demonstrate the depth of their emotion tonight at the Croc. Please, baby baby, please! JASON PAGANO


(KeyArena) If there's anyone who understands the spirit of Christmas, it's Amy Grant. Like Christmas, Amy used to be all about Jesus and the Word of God and other downer topics, but then she made a brilliant crossover move and refocused her act on pouty lips and winter accessories. In fact, the practice of certain local malls to wedge humble manger scenes between great loafs of capitalistic window display reminds me strongly of Amy Grant. Her troupe would blame me for the death of Christ while at the same time cooing "Baby, baby" and shaking their corn-fed, denim-clad asses in my face. NATHAN THORNBURGH


(Crocodile) Sure, C Average recently opened two shows for the Who in Chicago, and sure, they're friends with Eddie Vedder, who may or may not be around. And yes, the Tremens will be celebrating their CD release tonight. But if you love fronds and spores as much as I do, if rhizomes and pinnae are what you crave, then you'll be sorely disappointed to learn that the music of Biography of Ferns is entirely unrelated to the plant species from which they take their name. JASON PAGANO

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