Most of us shudder at the sound of a jingle bell before Halloween. Not Tje Austin. To prepare for the second edition of his Swinging Motown Christmas at Geraldine’s, the silky R&B artist has been obsessing over holiday music since early October “much to (the) disdain” of his collaborators.
“I was like, 'I just have to get my mind right,'” he says with a laugh.
He plotted the free, family-friendly holiday show as a sprawling extravaganza with a nine-piece band. Austin rose to national prominence in 2011 as a competitor on Season One of the NBC singing competition show “The Voice” and has been a steady presence on the city's R&B scene over the last couple years. He'll host, but he says the holiday show will really be headlined by "Tje and friends." He's invited five guest vocalists to drop in and duet or sing their own songs.
The set list will include “a lot of classics and the fun stuff,” he says.
The fun stuff includes pop Christmas hits from Mariah Carey, the Jackson 5 and Wham.
Christmas is Austin's favorite holiday. He grew up in a large family with rich traditions.
“I was adopted when I was 4 days old by a lovely Mormon couple,” he says. “We moved around a lot and it seemed like everywhere we moved, we adopted another kid. You know, some people collect spoons, my parents collect kids.”
Before the holidays each year, his parents would pack all the kids into a van to drive around and look at Christmas lights.
“We would have these little Styrofoam cups full of hot chocolate and we would be looking at all the Christmas lights and my mom would be the champion choir director. We would just sing Christmas songs as we’re driving around getting chocolate wasted, all these kids hopped up on sugar before bed,” he says.
With a cast of players that outnumbers his 10 siblings, he hopes to recreate some of the warmth and wonder at the Geraldine’s show.
“It’s my favorite thing to do each year. I love Christmas,” he says.
Tje Austin's Swinging Motown Christmas takes place on Dec. 21. There is no cover. The show starts at 9 p.m., but Austin recommends early arrival. Last year, the club packed to capacity. 605 Davis St. geraldinesaustin.com
FIVE MORE COOL HOLIDAY CLUB SHOWS
Dec. 14: The Holiday Groove at Empire. Buttoned up choral carols aren’t your speed? Well, you’re in luck, Bad Santa. Austin Groove Project presents a bluesy, soulful, hip-hop holiday experience. The killer bill includes hip-hop heavies Magna Carda, young blues standouts Jackie Venson and the Peterson Brothers, and rising R&B star Alesia Lani. Sibling hip-hop trio the Bishops, Vapor Caves, the electro-groove project featuring Yadira Brown and Boombaptist, and rhythm kingpin D Madness also play the two-stage bash. $15. 8 p.m 606 E. Seventh St. empireatx.com
Dec. 15: Home for the Holidays with Carolyn Wonderland, Marcia Ball, Shelly King at Antone’s. It feels good to be home. Well, sometimes. The newest (and swankiest) version of the storied Austin club is a fine place to make merry memories with loved ones or quell your quarreling with cantankerous Aunt Sally. With powerful pipes, this mighty trio of artists will make your favorite Christmas songs soar. 7 p.m. $20. 305 E. Fifth St. antonesnightclub.com
Dec. 21: Sunny Sweeney's Dysfunctional Family Christmas at 3Ten. Bring your crazy cousins, and perhaps your old high school crush, as the Texas singer-songwriter hosts what will almost certainly be a “Hard Candy Christmas” with ample honky-tonk heartbreak. Brennen Leigh and Tennessee Jet also perform. $20-$25. 8:30 p.m. 310 Willie Nelson Blvd. 3tenaustin.com
Dec. 21: A Bidi Bidi Christmas at One 2 One. Here’s our big question: Will the Santa suits be sequined? The best Selena tribute band in Texas dons the big man’s garb and adds a festive selection of holiday songs to their fabulous set of the Tejano queen’s hits. $15 10:30 p.m. 1309 S. Lamar Blvd. one2onebar.com
Dec. 22: Miss Lavelle White’s Christmas Party at C-Boy’s. Experience the spirit of the season and the true soul of the city as the Texas blues legend, who turns 90 next year, hosts a holiday get-down. $10 at the door. 8 p.m. 2008 S. Congress Ave. cboys.com
CHRISTMAS MUSIC OUTSIDE THE CLUBS
Dec. 13-24: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. The long-running Austin holiday tradition combines artisan shopping with live music from (mostly) local artists. This year's lineup includes everyone from renowned honky-tonker Dale Watson to dreamy R&B artist Mélat. $10 (12 and younger free). Concerts at noon, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily. Check website for schedule. 900 Barton Springs Road. armadillobazaar.com
Dec. 10-23: Live at the Trail at the Trail of Lights. Another favorite Austin holiday tradition gets even better this year, as the Trail of Lights expands their music program. In addition to hosting music from community groups, Austin’s winter wonderland at Zilker Park will feature headline sets from some of the city's favorite artists including Tameca Jones, Tomar and the FCs, and Los Coast. Check website for schedule. Free-$3, general admission (children 11 and younger free). $15 zip passes and $15 parking passes available. Children over 5 must have an individual zip pass for expedited entry. liveatthetrail.com
MORE HOLIDAY MUSIC IN DECEMBER
7: Hype for the Holidays with Holy Wave, Pnthn, more at the Mohawk outdoor. Includes a holiday shopping bazaar and food drive for Central Texas Food Bank. $10. 8 p.m. 912 Red River St. mohawkaustin.com
7: The Oh Hellos Christmas Extravaganza at Emo’s. $20. 8 p.m. doors. 2015 E. Riverside Drive. emosaustin.com
7: Norman Brown’s Joyous Christmas with Bobby Caldwell and Marion Meadows at One World Theatre. $35-$108. 7 and 9:30 p.m. 7701 Bee Cave Road. oneworldtheatre.org
8: Ho Ho Hoedown VIII at Sam's Town Point. Featuring Ramsay Midwood, Esther Rose, Croy & the Boys, and Los Coast and benefiting the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. 8 p.m. 2115 Allred Drive. samstownpointatx.com
8: Austin Chamber Music Center presents “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at the Stateside Theater. $22-$37. 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 719 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org
8: McMercy Family Xmas Spectacular featuring Lonesome Heroes. $5. 8:30 p.m. 2247 Guadalupe St. cactuscafe.org
9: Light the World 2018, A Christmas Concert with Amy Grant at ACL Live. $49-$99. 8:30 p.m. 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd. acl-live.com
10: A Very She and Him Christmas at ACL Live. $37.50-$70.50. 8 p.m. 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd. acl-live.com
13: Compassion Live’s “The Roadshow Christmas Tour” at H-E-B Center. Features Matthew West, Building 429, Plumb, Josh Wilson and Leanna Crawford. $21.75-$56.75. 7 p.m. 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park. hebcenter.com
13: Jelly's 6th Annual Christmas Jam Benefiting the Sims Foundation at One 2 One. The evening will include a tribute to MC Overlord. $7-$10. 7:30 p.m. 1309 S. Lamar Blvd. one2onebar.com
14: Holiday Market Party with Ex-Romantica and DJ Mike von Paul at Cheer Up Charlie’s. A People Party and Vegan Wonder curate a music/shopping/food experience. 6 p.m. 900 Red River St. cheerupcharlies.com
14: Nightmare before Christmas with Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band, the Infinites and Barbarian at Hotel Vegas. 9 p.m. 1502 E. Sixth St. texashotelvegas.com
15: Bruce and Kelly’s Annual Holiday Show. With special guest John Fullbright. $30-$53. 8 p.m. 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org
15: Funkybatz 2018 Holiday Funky Fling with Good Enough for Good Times (featuring members of Galactic), Honey Island Swamp Band at Antone’s. $20. 10 p.m. 305 E. Fifth St. antonesnightclub.com
16: Lauren Daigle, the Behold Christmas Tour at ACL Live. $22.50-$72.50. 7:30 p.m. 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd. acl-live.com
16: Beto and the Fairlanes Merry Texmas at One World Theatre. $25. 8 p.m. 7701 Bee Cave Road. oneworldtheatre.org
20: Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Erwin Center. $46.25-$79.50. 8 p.m. 1701 Red River St. uterwincenter.com
21: A Rock 'N Roll Christmas Showcase / Ugly Sweater Bash with Black Heart Saints at Come and Take It Live. $8-$10. 7 p.m. doors. 2015 E. Riverside Drive. comeandtakeitlive.com
21: Pachanga presents A Merry-Achi Christmas at ACL Live. $29-$49. 8 p.m. 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd. acl-live.com
21: Michael Martin Murphey’s A Cowboy Christmas 25th Anniversary at the Paramount Theatre. 8 p.m. $20-$50. 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org
22: Robert Earl Keen’s Cosmic Cowboy Christmas at ACL Live. With Shinyribs. $29-$49. 8 p.m. 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd. acl-live.com
22: Shane Smith & the Saints’ Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at the Paramount. $19.50-$24.50. 8 p.m. 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org
22: The Black & Purple Xmas Ball featuring AJ Vallejo's Prince Xperience at 3Ten. With special guest Robert Wagner's Black Crowes Revival. $20-$30. 8:30 p.m. 310 Willie Nelson Blvd. 3tenaustin.com
22: Guy Forsyth’s Rockin’ Holiday Party at Antone’s. $17-$20. 9:30 p.m. 305 E. Fifth St. antonesnightclub.com
25: Flaco Jimenez's 2nd Annual Blue Christmas Dance Party at Antone’s. $15. 8 p.m. 305 E. Fifth St. antonesnightclub.com
25: Dale Watson’s Christmas Show and Dance at the Continental Club. $10. 10 p.m. 1315 S. Congress Ave. continentalclub.com/austin
27: Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis at ACL Live. $49-$89. 8 p.m. 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd. acl-live.com
28: Old 97′s Holiday Extravaganza at the Mohawk. $20-$25. 8 p.m. 912 Red River St. mohawkaustin.com