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A few final bits of cheer before Christmas

Michael Barnes, Out & About

Staff Writer
Austin 360

The holiday parties are winding down for family time. ...

The Commodore Perry Estate reopened with more than a little panache. Pale floral arrangements set off the dark interior paneling. Tables offered salty and sweet bites. Bartenders poured wine and scotch. A good 150 people wandered from grand room to grand room, then out under a tent and into the garden. I imagine there was not much outdoor activity the next night, when a second party was visited by soaking rains. ...

Two parties rattled 816 Congress Ave. last week. The first served as a housewarming for Texas Monthly magazine on the 17th floor. The lustrous and orderly offices made most newsrooms look like "Hoarders." Another night, an equal number of dignitaries and social hounds hit the annual holiday party at the Law Office of Becky Beaver on the 16th floor. Both affairs sparked flintier than usual chats with guests. ...

White Ghost Shivers has rewarded my loyalty since I first heard these vaudevillians at the Broken Spoke ages ago. They are serious musicians who have serious fun with a dark sort of early-century jazz. They recently released the CD "Nobody Loves You" for an adoring agglomeration at Antone's, preceded by the East Side Dandies, who play 1920s music as if it were composed today, and Whiskey Shivers, fiddling up a storm as fans got so excited, they nearly formed a mosh pit. Swing dancers took advantage of the Dandies, whipping out historically informed moves I'd never seen outside of a movie musical. ...

Dropped by soon-to-boom Rattle Inn, another Kevin Williamson project, sandwiched between his Ranch 616 and Star Bar. The place is as big as several barns, partitioned into a handy bar and a dance hall, with an enormous, vaulted rooftop patio. You can see it from West Sixth Street. The elevated arrangement showcases the skyline, as do the upper bars at nearby Molotov, the Ranch and the transplanted 219 West. ...

Seeking a quiet, out-of-the-way spot for lunch on a cold day? The cafe at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center makes killer soups and sandwiches, as well as other hearty fare. Met former KMFA jock Rich Upton there for a far-ranging conversation that included reminiscing about Austin theatrical producers from the past. Quite a collection of outsized characters that was!

mbarnes@statesman.com