Holiday concert season

19. December 2012 13:52 by Julie Merar in Music   //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

thumbnail Most people look forward to the holiday season and it's easy to understand why. With friends, family, presents and delicious food, what else could you ask for? Holiday concerts have also become a staple of the Christmas season, with shows popping up all over the country during December. And it's not just holiday standards either, there are shows for everyone, whether you like hip-hop, country or classical music.

The Holiday Pops concert, put on each year by the Boston Pops Orchestra, stands out as one of the best, and most well-known, shows in the United States. Since its inception back in the 1970s, people have traveled to Boston from all across the country to experience the legendary show firsthand.

Held at legendary Symphony Hall, the show takes audience members through numerous holiday standards from Handel's "Hallejuah Chorus" to the crowd favorite "Sleigh Ride." The tradition is also famous for incorporating a timeless Christmas story into the performance. In years past, it has ranged from 'Twas The Night Before Christmas to Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus.

Although the Holiday Pops is famous for its Christmas classics, there are a number of other concerts that put a less traditional spin on the holiday season. Among the most popular is the Jingle Bash, which is held each year at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, and this year's event (slated for December 15) has an impressive lineup.

Some of the biggest names in pop music will be heading to the Chicago area for the show, including teen sensation Justin Bieber and hip-hop star Pitbull. "Call Me Maybe" singer Carly Rae Jepsen, fresh off her Grammy nomination, will also be among the headliners. World-famous DJ Calvin Harris will take the stage as well.

Many of the best holiday shows are hosted by local radio stations, such as Hartford, Connecticut's, annual Jingle Jam, which is put on by 93.7. Held at the XL Center, the Jingle Jam has attracted some of the biggest hip-hop names in the industry and this year is no different, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross and Ne-Yo will all be making their way to the popular concert.

It's hard to find someone who doesn't enjoy Christmas music, whether they prefer the John Lennon staple "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" or the WHAM! classic "Last Christmas." There's no denying that holiday concerts are here to stay.

Eric Clapton on the road again

17. December 2012 13:32 by Julie Merar in Music , Tour News  //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

thumbnail Of all the legends of classic rock, Eric Clapton is among the most successful over the last two decades. Though his time with the Yardbirds, Derrick and the Dominoes and Cream made him an icon of the 1960s and 1970s, he has maintained a place in contemporary music while some of his peers may have faded from view.

Over the last decade, Slowhand has continued to tour and record new music, and he's planning on furthering the trend in 2013. Clapton recently announced an extensive U.S. tour that kicks off on March 14 before culminating at the much-anticipated Crossroads Guitar Festival on April 12 and 13 at Madison Square Garden.

Clapton's resurgence as a force in the industry began more than 20 years ago. He was years removed from songs like "Crossroads" and "White Room," but when he recorded his now-legendary Unplugged album, Clapton was once again atop the music world. The 1992 album perfectly showcases Clapton's technical skill and songwriting prowess, taking listeners through an acoustic take on classics like "Layla" and newer songs such as "Tears in Heaven," an emotional eulogy to his deceased son.

Clapton's unplugged album earned him six Grammy awards including Album of the Year and Song of the Year, and helped set the stage for what would prove to be an impressive decade. He released a number of popular tunes throughout the 90s that helped introduce him to a younger audience. Songs such as his cover of "Change the World" and 1998's "My Father's Eyes," made were hits among a diverse audience.

More recently, Clapton has not slowed down. He continues to perform with some of the most talented guitarists from across generations. Over the last several years he has played with the likes of Keith Richards, Jeff Beck (who was also a member of the Yarbirds) and Gary Clark, Jr., one of the most skilled emerging guitarists. His 2010 album, Clapton, was a critical and commercial success and peaked inside the top 10 on the Billboard 200 charts.

In 2013, Clapton's participation in the Crossroad Guitar Festival is especially important because it marks his 50th year in the music industry. Since it first launched in 2004, the festival has brought together some of best guitarists in history and 2013's is no different. The two-day event will feature the likes of Buddy Guy, John Mayer, BB King and Vince Gill.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Shows

5. December 2012 15:17 by Julie Merar in Theater  //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

Posting Graphic It's that time of year again, when everyone breaks out the tinsel and ornaments, fills up on fruitcake and eggnog, and lays out some milk and cookies for Jolly Old St. Nick – that's right, it's Christmas. The holiday season is off to a grand start and while many families have their own traditions and ways to celebrate the big day, so do many performance troupes and theaters. There are a plethora of wondrous shows to check out this year, each of which is bursting with holiday spirit.

Fans of more traditional Christmas fare will have a lot of great shows to choose from in the coming weeks. One of the most treasured classics of the season is the Nutcracker Suite, a charming ballet scored by Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky that has captured the hearts of countless families since the 1890s. Theatergoers can also follow the story of Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens' A Christmas Carol, or experience the Yuletide joy of The Night Before Christmas. Meanwhile, fans of Christmas music can enjoy rousing versions of their favorite songs with the Christmas Pops, or catch updated versions of these holiday classics at Jazzy Christmas.

Some of your favorite characters are also feeling festive this holiday seasons, and bringing their Christmas cheer to the stage. Fairy tale lovers can take their little ones on a magical journey as Cinderella's Christmas brings a bit of the princess' lifestyle to the stage, while drama enthusiasts can learn lessons about family and togetherness at Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas. Fans of the Sunday funnies can enjoy season's greetings from their favorite furry friends at performances of Garfield Christmas and It's Christmas, Snoopy. Of course, what holiday season would be complete without a visit from the Dr. Seuss' green grump, the Grinch? How the Grinch Stole Christmas continues to be a cherished part of the seasons - and a performance that families won't want to miss.

Those who are looking for a slightly different take on the traditional holiday theater experience will have a number of unique options to explore as well. Whether you're hoping for a scare at Halloween on Christmas, to experience new worlds at Christmas on Mars, or looking to learn a bit more about photography at A Kodachrome Christmas, you're sure to find something to suit your tastes this Christmas.

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