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Merry and bright or a bitter Christmas? A roundup of Austin holiday concerts for everyone

Drag queens DenDelaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon make the holidays merry and gay at the Paramount.

From homespun holiday traditions with classic carols to campy blasphemy that will make you cackle, here's a selection of the best holiday music events in Austin. Check individual venue websites for COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Dec. 1

“Home Cookin’ for the Holidays” livestream fundraiser for HOME. Launched a decade ago, the nonprofit Housing Opportunities for Musicians and Entertainers helps aging Austin-area musicians cover their housing expenses. Nearly three dozen local and national acts have signed on to send in a song for this virtual event that will be streamed from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the HOME Facebook page, KUTX’s YouTube channel and luckpresents.com. The lineup includes Marcia Ball, Los Lobos, Shawn Colvin, Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks, Dave Alvin, Carolyn Wonderland, Ruthie Foster, James McMurtry, Gloria Gaynor, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock, Los Texmaniacs, Shinyribs, Terry Allen and more. Donation instructions will be shown onscreen during the event. facebook.com/homeaustinorg — P.B.

Dec. 3-4

Graham Reynolds Ruins the Holidays at Long Center Rollins Studio Theatre. Prefer a sad Christmas? Local composer and bandleader Reynolds recasts the jolly as melancholy by switching the keys of your favorite Christmas songs from major to minor.  $29. 7:30 p.m. thelongcenter.org. — D.S.S.

Dec. 6

Conspirare Christmas at the Long Center. The Grammy-winning choral ensemble has issued several seasonal records drawn from its holiday shows, including this year’s “Close to You,” which features songs recorded at the band’s 2019 performance in historic Austin chapel the Carillon. Isaac Cates & Ordained, a Kansas City gospel group, will join artistic director Craig Hella Johnson and the Conspirare cast for this year’s concert. $10-$125. 7:30 p.m. thelongcenter.org. — P.B.

Austin's first couple of country music celebrate their annual holiday shindig at the Paramount on Dec. 11.

Dec. 11

Bruce & Kelly’s Holiday Shindig with special guest Radney Foster at Paramount Theatre. An Austin holiday tradition for two decades, the Shindig features Americana music husband-wife Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis playing some of their best-known songs plus holiday-themed home movies. There’s a different special guest every year; this time it’s native Texan Radney Foster, one of Nashville’s top singer-songwriters of the past 30 years. $30-$48. 8 p.m. austintheatre.org. — P.B.

Dec. 12

BenDeLaCreme & Jinkx Monsoon at Paramount Theatre. Category is: Holiday opulence and dysfunctional family realness. The superstar drag queens build this splendorous vaudeville extravaganza around a simple premise: “Everyone is Traumatized by Christmas,” but it’s nothing a little campy blasphemy can’t cure. Their new holiday album is a glorious romp with bad Santas, passive-aggressive relatives and a version of “Away in a Manger” (“A Gay in a Stranger”) that will leave you blushing for days. Let these "Drag Race" alums help you find a new holiday tradition that’s merry and gay. $25. austintheatre.org. — D.S.S.

A Charlie Brown Christmas at Stateside at the Paramount. Few musical works conjure up the spirit of the holiday season more than the music that jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi recorded in the mid-1960s for the animated TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The Austin Chamber Music Center is behind this pair of live performances that will feature pianist Michelle Schumann, bassist Utah Hamrick, drummer David Sierra and other guest musicians playing “Christmastime Is Here,” “Linus and Lucy” and other favorites from the soundtrack. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. $22-$37. austintheatre.org. — P.B.

Dec. 15

"Motown Christmas" with Tje Austin and friends at Geraldine's. The R&B singer, master baker and former contestant on the NBC singing show “The Voice” spends months planning his yearly holiday shindig. Expect a lively mix of traditional and pop Christmas faves at this sixth annual event, with special guests and fun surprises along the way. Free, reservations recommended. 8 p.m.  geraldinesaustin.com. — D.S.S.

Dec. 16

Tejano Christmas Toy Drive at 3Ten. J.R. Gomez y Los Conjunto Bandits are the hosts of this fourth annual event collecting collect new and unwrapped toys plus monetary donations for the Travis County Sheriff's Brown Santa program, which helps provide for families and senior citizens in need during the holidays. Also performing are Mario Ortiz, La Dezz, Stevie D, Shelly Lares and others. $15-$20, or free with a new and unused toy. 7:30 p.m. acl-live.com. — P.B.

Mariachi Sol de México de Jose Hernandez brings the romance and drama of Mexican music to a selection of seasonal favorite songs on Dec. 17.

Dec. 17

Pachanga presents A Merry-Achi Christmas with Mariachi Sol de México de Jóse Hernàndez at ACL Live. In his storied career, Hernàndez, a fifth generation mariachi artist, has collaborated with everyone from Tejano sensation Selena to the Beach Boys. Trumpet in hand, he commands a tight-knit ensemble of a dozen players as they deliver the drama and romance of mariachi music to audiences around the world. $29-$49. 6:30 p.m. acl-live.com — D.S.S.

Dec. 17-19

Armadillo Bazaar Outdoors at Palmer Events Center. The holiday music and shopping event with 45 years of history in Austin moves outside this year to create "a safe, family friendly fine-art scene." Over 100 artists will be on-site. With its run compressed to three days, the musical portion of the events will feature two acts each day who will play two sets each. On Friday, Latin Grammy-nominated pop artist Gina Chavez and blues sensation Jackie Venson perform. On Saturday, Grammy-nominated blues and Americana artist Ruthie Foster and soul dynamos Tomar and the FCs provide your shopping serenade. And on Sunday, powerhouse singers Carolyn Wonderland and Shelley King and country soul kingpins Shinyribs close the event out. $10. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. armadillobazaar.com. — D.S.S. 

More:Big changes at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar: 2021 event moves outside at Palmer

Grammy-nominated singer Ruthie Foster will play the Armadillo Bazaar Outside on Dec. 18.

Dec. 18-19

Robert Earl Keen’s The Road to Christmas at ACL Live. The Bandera-based troubadour has been doing these holiday shows for a while, though they used to bit called “Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee” in reference to Keen’s humorous yuletide tune of that name. Despite the name change, no doubt that song will still figure prominently in the set. Opening the show both nights is Georgia singer-songwriter Brent Cobb. $39-$75. 8 p.m. acl-live.com. — P.B.

More holiday shows

Nov. 26: Dumpstaphunk’s “Phunksgiving” with Ghost-Note and Marcus Rezak at Empire Garage

Nov. 26: Peterson Brothers post-Thanksgiving Bash at Antone’s

Nov. 27: Patricia Vonne Christmas Album release show at One 2 One Bar 

Nov. 27:  A Holiday Evening with Bob Schneider & the Moonlight Orchestra at ACL Live

Nov. 27: Peter White Christmas with Mindi Abair and Vincent Ingala at One World Theatre

Dec. 3: “Keep Austin Cheer’d! A Retro Austin Holiday Extravaganza” with Me Nd Adam at Continental Club

Dec. 3-4: "A Very Merry Christmas Show" with Parker House Band, Ryan Davis Trio at Parker Jazz Club (also Dec. 10-11 and Dec. 17-18)

Dec. 5: Young Voices of Austin present “Songs of Joy” at Stateside at the Paramount

Dec. 11: Ian Moore Family Christmas at Stateside at the Paramount

Dec. 13:  A Drag Queen Christmas at ACL Live

Dec. 15: Jelly’s ninth annual Christmas Jam with Jelly Ellington, Otis Wilkins, Watters, Mammoths, Vallejo and more to benefit SIMS Foundation at 3Ten

Dec. 16: "A Very Quiet Company Christmas 2: Lost in Cedar Park" benefit for SIMS Foundation with Quiet Company, Buttercup and more at Haute Spot

Dec. 17-18: Third annual Holiday Jam-Bo-Ree with A-Town GetDown, Flyjack and Graveltooth at 3Ten

Dec. 17-19: River City Pops presents “Tis the Season” at Long Center Rollins Studio Theatre

Dec. 18: Michael Martin Murphey Cowboy Christmas at Paramount Theatre

Dec. 23: Misfit Toys of Christmas Island with Great North Special and Wandering Pines at One-2-One Bar

Dec. 23: Oh Antonio & His Imaginary Friends Holiday Hap at Meanwhile Brewing

Dec. 25: Santiago Jimenez Jr.'s "Blue Christmas" Dance Party with Conjunto Los Pinkys and Ysidro Samilpa at Antone's

Dec. 25: Dale Watson’s annual Christmas Show & Dance at Continental Club