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Kyle Ramar Freeman as Asaka and Courtnee Carter as Ti Moune in Once on This Island.EXPAND
Kyle Ramar Freeman as Asaka and Courtnee Carter as Ti Moune in Once on This Island.
Joan Marcus

The 22 Best Things To Do in Dallas This Week, Dec. 16 – 22

Monday, December 16

Laugh Your MASS Off with Eddie Pepitone and JT Habersaat
If you like your comedy angry and bitter, then the next Laugh Your MASS Off show, at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16, at Main at South Side, should be on your calendar. The Dallas comedy showcase will have two modern comedy legends, known as “The Bitter Buddha” and the punk rocker of modern comedy. The first is actor, writer and comedian Eddie Pepitone, who’s known for his dark, angry rants about the world and himself. Austin native and comedian JT Habersaat has been the headliner of the long-running Altercation Punk Comedy Tour since 2008 and released top-selling comedy albums Hostile Corporate Takeover and Misanthrope. He’s also performed on Doug Stanhope’s The Unbookables tour and has shared the stage with some of punk’s greatest bands, including Black Flag with Henry Rollins. Main at South Side is at 1002 S. Main St. in Fort Worth. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at prekindle.com. Danny Gallagher

Chad D’s 20th Annual Toy Drive
The holidays are almost upon us, and as many a movie has taught us, this is the one time of year we should be charitable. But, if giving isn’t your thing, don’t do it for the kids — do it for the free live music. Every year for two decades, the good folks at The Libertine Bar have played Santa by collecting toys for the Dallas Life homeless shelter. The lineup for Chad D’s 20th annual Toy Drive includes Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner, the new folk-rock project by John Pedigo of the O’s; country songbird Madison King; and The 40 Acre Mule, a manically energetic, roots-rock local favorite. Admission to the show is free with an unwrapped toy or cash donation (used to buy canned goods for the charity). It starts at 6 p.m. and goes until 2 a.m. at the Libertine, 2101 Greenville Ave. Eva Raggio

Paul Slavens & Friends
Like on most Mondays, the spontaneous song generator, DJ and Ten Hands frontman Paul Slavens, will take the stage at Dan’s Silverleaf. Slavens writes and performs songs on the spot, improvising about whatever comes to mind. Song title suggestions get thrown at him from the crowd and he just runs with them. Attendees might hear songs about escaping the spiraling vortex of Ikea, robot children or whatever else they can think of. If this isn’t part of your Monday music routine by now, it should be. The free show starts at 9 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 16, at Dan's Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St., Denton. Jacob Vaughn

Tuesday, December 17

Once on This Island
The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Once on This Island, which purportedly inspired the Disney hit film Moana, truly fulfills the cliché of “having something for everyone.” It’s a tale of class-crossed lovers and a “peasant girl” who makes a deal with the Caribbean gods in the French Antilles to spare the life of her beloved. The show deals with weighty subjects like race and class, while also being an upbeat production with a fitting islander vibe. Showtime is 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, at AT&T Performing Arts Center, 2403 Flora St. Tickets are $78 and up at dallas-theater.com. Eva Raggio

Fiesta Navidad!
Los Angeles-based Mariachi Los Camperos is one of the premier mariachi ensembles in the country, racking up multiple Grammy wins, performing on concert stages that include the Lincoln and Kennedy Center and collaborating with Linda Ronstadt on her landmark 1987 album Canciones de Mi Padre. Founder Nati Cano died in 2014, but his successor, Jesús “Chuy” Guzmán, carries on the tradition. The chance to hear Lawrence Loh conduct Mariachi Los Camperos with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra through a concert of Mexican and Latin-inspired Christmas songs is a holiday gift for anyone who’s had enough of the dreck that’s been on repeat since the day after Halloween. Fiesta Navidad! is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. Tickets range from $32 to $97. Call 214-849-4376 or visit mydso.com for seats or more information. Jesse Hughey

The Free Loaders
If a movie was made about The Free Man, a Deep Ellum Cajun restaurant and live music venue, the soundtrack would consist of songs by one band: The Free Loaders. Luckily, a three-piece variation of the band plays at the venue every Tuesday, so there, you don’t have to wait for the movie to come out to hear its killer soundtrack. Just hop over to The Free Man on a Tuesday evening, order a po' boy and listen to frontman and venue owner John Jay Myers slam on his drums and bark into the microphone with keys and stand-up bass behind him. The free show starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at The Free Man Cajun Cafe & Lounge, 2626-2630 Commerce St. Jacob Vaughn

Wednesday, December 18

Cirque Holidays
An international cast celebrating “the diversity of holidays from around the world” with acrobats, clowns and other circus acts — sounds like the war on Christmas is still on in Addison, as WaterTower Theatre collaborates with Lone Star Circus to present Cirque Holidays, a show blending modern elephant-less “cirque” with what sounds not Jesus-y. Check it out at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 15650 Addison Road, or at one of several performances scheduled through Dec. 22. We’re a devout bunch here at the Observer and would hate to show up for a holiday show that was merely entertaining, rather than maudlin and religious. Find tickets ($44) at watertowertheatre.org. Patrick Williams

Thursday, December 19

The Meyerson's concert organ gets joined by a brassy accompaniment for the symphony's Christmas show.
The Meyerson's concert organ gets joined by a brassy accompaniment for the symphony's Christmas show.
Lukiffer/English Wikipedia

Big Brassy Christmas & Organ Extravaganza
We’re not here for subtlety this Christmas. If it’s not big, bold and loud, we don’t have time for it right now. We need over-the-top, sonorous and intense to feed our holiday spirit. The Dallas Symphony’s Organ and Brass Christmas, conducted by Lawrence Loh, is flamboyant and lively enough to meet all our holiday criteria — the DSO brass and percussion sections join with the Lay Family Concert Organ for a full, festive program of Christmas classics and holiday staples. The Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St., will boom and pulse with Yuletide cheer at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19. Tickets are $52 to $92 at mydso.com. Jennifer Davis-Lamm

Crown the Empire
What started as a high school band, composed of Colleyville Heritage High School students, turned into an empire — Crown the Empire, to be more specific. The four-piece Dallas metalcore act has been on the rise since they first started jamming in 2010. The band told the Observer it had garnered a sizable fan base in about a year before they even released their first EP. The day the band did put out their debut release was the same day they got their first record contract. Since then, Crown the Empire has toured with groups like Underoath, Dance Gavin Dance and The Used. Recently, the band released two singles, “what I am” and “20/20,” but they haven't put out a full album in about three years since Retrograde. The band just wrapped up a 22-show tour that took them away from Dallas for about a month, so you won't want to miss them at Trees this Thursday. It starts at 11:30 p.m. at Trees, 2709 Elm St. Tickets are $17-$19 at eventbrite.com. Jacob Vaughn

Dr JOE
The seven-piece, Austin-based, fuzz-gospel-soul-rock band Dr JOE just released its first two singles this year, and they're onto something. They kicked off 2019 with "Tell Your Mother," a heavy, foot-stomping track that'll knock the wind out of you. Frontman Joe Sparacino slams on his keyboard and belts every line of the song like they're the last words he'll ever sing. A few months later, in October, Dr JOE released their second single "Good Days." This song is more soothing than their first, but the contrast shows us the band's wide range. In total, the band sounds like a mashup of artists like Elton John, Ray Charles and Tom Waits to name a few, and what's not to like about that? Dr JOE will share the stage at Double Wide with local favorites Atlantis Aquarius. It starts at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19, at Double Wide, 3510 Commerce St. Tickets are $10 at eventbrite.com. Jacob Vaughn

Friday, December 20

Black Nativity
Bishop Arts Theatre presents Black Nativity for the 16th year in a row at its Oak Cliff venue, 215 S. Tyler St. Curtain times are 8 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday for this classic song/play written by poet and social activist Langston Hughes. Carols such as "Baby Born Today" are sung gospel style. The play's first performance took place off-Broadway in 1961; the cast had a successful tour of Europe the following year. Tickets run from $19.50 to $30. FYI: A member of this all-African American cast in Dallas several years ago, Akron Watson, is today starring as Aaron Burr in the Chicago production of Hamilton. For more information, 214-948-0716 or go to bishopartstheatre.org. Reba Liner

Tom Green brings his stand-up act to Addison.
Tom Green brings his stand-up act to Addison.
Kristen Wong

Tom Green
Tom Green screamed his way into America's pop-culture consciousness just before the start of the millennium with his MTV reality comedy The Tom Green Show. These days, he's not screaming as much, but he's still getting plenty of laughs. He'll perform his stand-up shows at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22. Green found a massive audience on MTV thanks to his Canadian comedy show of the same name where he'd find unique ways to mess with the heads of people on the street, his studio audience and even his own family. He hosted Saturday Night Live, performed in such memorable roles as "The Chad" in director McG's Charlie's Angels opposite Drew Barrymore and even did comedy specials about his bout with testicular cancer and friendship with Monica Lewinsky for MTV. The Addison Improv is located at 4980 Belt Line Road. Tickets are $25-$35 at improvtx.com. Danny Gallagher

A Drag Queen Christmas – The Naughty Tour
Call us crazy, but at times it seems that Christmas only focuses on the “nice” events: screenings of warm and fuzzy movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, Christmas light tours paired with hot cocoa and that Elf on the Shelf gag so loved by white families in matching Christmas sweaters. What about those of us who make a point of staying away from the “nice” list? Well, finally there’s an event suited for the naughty types: A Drag Queen Christmas — The Naughty Tour, hosted by Nina West, had the contestants of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race (including show favorites Latrice Royale and Lady Bunny) performing drag renditions of holiday songs. It starts at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, at House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. General admission tickets are $22.50 at houseofblues.com. Eva Raggio

Pinups by Hilly Holsonback
If you’re sick to death of Christmas already, here’s something that has nothing to do with the jolliest season whatsoever. Hillary Holsonback’s exhibit Pinups at Sean Horton (presents) gallery is an exploratory form of self-portraiture, where Holsonback (also a well-known actress and performance artist) superimposes her image onto those of silver screen stars’ and others. The resulting life-size works are a fascinating amalgamation of form, a play on the concept of self and on viewers’ muddled perceptions. It runs noon to 5 p.m. every Wednesday through Friday until Jan. 4. Entrance is free at 905 W. Jefferson Blvd. For more information, visit hortongallery.com. Eva Raggio

[DARYL]
"[DARYL] was always loud — a nightmare for sound guys," is one of the best quotes on the band that the Observer’s ever run. While not officially reunited (because the popular area band with a retro Pixies-meets-Police sound never really “broke up” after forming in 1999), the band’s members just morphed into other bands and projects. But [DARYL] reconvened onstage after a lengthy hiatus to play Homegrown in 2018, after first announcing “reunifying” for a show in 2011. Also splitting the bill are Dylan Silvers (of The Polyphonic Spree, Deathray Davies, The Crash That Took Me and, yeah, [DARYL]) and Co. in the ambitious super-group-meets-art-collective known as These Machines Are Winning — truly one of Dallas’ most ambitious audiovisual “comic/music/film projects.” The gig poster for the show also promises special performances by Black Tie Dynasty, The Crash That Took Me and Go Imperial. It starts at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20, at Double Wide, 3510 Commerce St. Tickets are $15 at prekindle.com. Daniel Rodrigue

Saturday, December 21

Revelers Hall is an old-timey haven for vagabonds and jazz cats. Every weekend, the house band plays an electrifying, yet acoustic set.
Revelers Hall is an old-timey haven for vagabonds and jazz cats. Every weekend, the house band plays an electrifying, yet acoustic set.
Jason Roberts

Broadway(ish)
Why risk a huge chunk of your hard-earned money to see Broadway's take on Aladdin or Deuce Bigalow or whatever movie Broadway is adapting as a musical, when you can see one crafted right before your very eyes. That's what the improv comedy troupe Broadway(ish) does every third Saturday of the month at Stomping Ground Comedy Theater, 1350 Manufacturing St. Every show features a group of seasoned comedy performers making up a hilarious Broadway musical right on the stage. The next show starts at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at Stomping Ground. Tickets are $10 online and $12 at the door. Visit StompingGroundComedy.org for tickets and more information. Danny Gallagher

Cirque Musica: Holiday Wishes
If you’ve ever wished Christmas was just a bit more flashy, a bit more circus-y and just generally a whole lot more extra, then Cirque Musica: Holiday Wishes is for you. Take holiday songs, add circus performers and a full symphony orchestra, and you’ve got a large-scale Yuletide spectacle more showy than the yearly Kardashian Khristmas Kard. The all-ages show starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at The Theatre at Grand Prairie, 1001 Performance Place. Tickets are $29.75-$99.75 at axs.com. Eva Raggio

Unfaded Brass Band
The devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005 forced many New Orleans residents to seek shelter in North Texas. While a good number of displaced persons returned home across the state lines, some decided to stay and set up their family base here in the region. This was the path chosen by many of the members in the Unfaded Brass Band, a 10-person outfit that has become DFW's preeminent native New Orleans-style brass band. You might have seen them in various places; they play birthday parties, corporate outings and free outdoor shindigs as often as they grace local concert stages. This upcoming show finds them serving as the house band at Revelers Hall's Ugly Sweater Jam, so dress up in your gaudiest attire and join the festive fun. The free show starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, at Revelers Hall, 412 N. Bishop Ave. Jeff Strowe

Le Cure
The news hit a few months ago that legendary post-punk band The Cure is finishing recording their first album in 10 years. To get acquainted with or refresh your memory of the band's extensive musical catalog before the album's release (which has so far been reported as "soon"), check out Le Cure, the Dallas-based Cure tribute band that's, like, really, really good. They're playing at Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill, so if you throw back a couple of beers, it's sort of impossible not to assume it's the real Robert Smith and the gang. The free show starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, at Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill, 10261 Technology Blvd. E. Diamond Rodrigue

DaBaby
Jonathan Kirk, aka DaBaby, is having the year of his life. After dropping a music video for his single “Walker Texas Ranger” on New Year’s Day and getting signed by Interscope Records in February, the 27-year-old has already released two hit albums and has even more recently teased a possible collaboration with Drake in 2020 after a Dec. 10 appearance in Toronto. It’s no wonder DaBaby’s infectious smile is seemingly omnipresent. Getting his start in rap during a short stint at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, DaBaby’s first mixtape NonFiction dropped in 2015 and was quickly followed by a deluge of social media content that has since catapulted his career to the top. But on the first track off KIRK (DaBaby’s second album of 2019 and first to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200), the North Carolinian rapper opened up about the death of his father, which he learned about days before his tour. If anything, however, the loss has seemingly only further cemented his smile and his status as the biggest thing of 2019. It starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, at South Side Ballroom, 1135 S. Lamar St. Tickets are $11 at scorebig.com. Nicholas Bostick

Out of this world. Cameron Matthew Ray will perform at the UTA Planetarium this Saturday.
Out of this world. Cameron Matthew Ray will perform at the UTA Planetarium this Saturday.
Cal Quinn

Cameron Matthew Ray
Galaxies will collide during singer-songwriter Cameron Ray’s “Behind the Stars” performance Saturday at the University of Texas at Arlington’s Planetarium. Ray says the show is somewhat of a folk opera featuring songs from his 2017 EP Love & Space. Attendees will view the show under a star-filled, galaxy-clustered visual arrangement created in collaboration with the planetarium. The show is a reiteration of his 2016 performance of the same name and concept. The performance was a precursor to his Love & Space EP. Ray says this all happened during a period of change in his life. He says he feels he is going through another season of change, and that it's time to revisit the event. Although Ray usually likes to perform solo, his friend Sean Brown will accompany him on electric guitar. The show will open with a performance by North Texas powerhouse singer-songwriter Bayleigh Cheek. All the stars have aligned to make this rare show happen, so make sure it aligns with your schedule this weekend. It starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, at UTA Planetarium, Chemistry Physics Building, 700 Planetarium Place, Arlington. Tickets are $10 at prekindle.com. Jacob Vaughn

Sunday, December 22

Jumanji: Reverse the Curse
It’s been almost 25 years since the original movie premiered, and we are finally able to get inside the Jumanji game, and we won’t be stuck waiting in the jungle for decades. The VR film Jumanji: Reverse the Curse immerses viewers in an adventure based on the film's game. The multisensory experience, which takes place at Cinemark West Plano and XD, 3800 Dallas Parkway in Plano, is for ages 10 and up, with a height requirement of 48 inches minimum. For a list of showtimes and to purchase tickets ($29.95), visit cinemark.com. Eva Raggio

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