The 20 Best Things To Do in Dallas This Week, Dec. 23 – 29

Confetti Eddie will begin his new series, Silly Magic Tricks and Giggles, this week.
Confetti Eddie will begin his new series, Silly Magic Tricks and Giggles, this week. Mike Brooks

Monday, December 23

The Trains at NorthPark
For over three decades, NorthPark Center has constructed an enchanting miniature train display, Trains at NorthPark, which has become a Dallas tradition for thousands of visitors as well as a significant philanthropic effort that has raised over $13 million for the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. The models are laid out across 1,600 feet of track and depict Dallas landmarks before they move across to the Southwest and up to the Golden Gate Bridge before going East to New York City and Washington, D.C. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $4 for children. For more information, visit Eva Raggio

The Funky Knuckles
The jazz-funk-fusion band The Funky Knuckles have been killing it in North Texas for about the last seven years. The band's 2014 album Meta-Musica reached No. 1 on iTunes' jazz charts the day it was released. Two years later, The Funky Knuckles put out their 11-song, hard-not-to-dance-to, full-length New Birth. The band has been on the bill every Monday night at Three Links for some time now. The Funky Knuckles celebrated the release of their fourth album, Delicious, at the venue this year and took home a Dallas Observer Music Award for Best Jazz act a couple of weeks ago. The free show starts at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 23, at Three Links, 2704 Elm St. Jacob Vaughn

Tuesday, December 24

Rick Recht Concert & Menorah Lighting
There are countless Christmas concerts (and albums) to enjoy this season, but the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas, 7900 Northaven Road, is kicking out the jams for Hanukkah. Along with the menorah lighting with Chabad of Dallas on Tuesday, the center welcomes internationally beloved musician Rick Recht. Hot on the camp circuit, Recht is also a family favorite, with 13 albums. The menorah lighting (free) takes place from 5:15 to 5:45 p.m. and the concert follows at 6:30 p.m. Concert tickets are $10 and available at Food will be available for purchase, but fellowship is free. Merritt Martin

Wednesday, December 25

Christmas Day Bowl at Bowl & Barrel
If you were a really good boy and Santa Claus read your letter and left you that 14-pound Hammer Black Widow Legend and those badass skull-patterned black and green Pyramid bowling kicks under your tree, it’s pretty likely you can’t wait to polish up the rock, slip into the new shoes and send some pins flying. Good news: You can break in your new gear at the Christmas Day Bowl from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Bowl & Barrel at The Shops at Park Lane, 8084 Park Lane, Suite 145. The alley will offer its late-night food menu and $5 local craft beers from the bar. Lanes are $30 an hour for up to eight bowlers on weekdays, and shoe rental is $5 per person. Call 214-363-2695 or visit for more information. Jesse Hughey

Thursday, December 26

Shaun Martin
The multiple Grammy Award-winning artist, writer, producer and performer Shaun Martin was a music major at the University of North Texas when he banded together with fellow students to form Snarky Puppy. Since starting the chart-topping band, Martin has worked with acts like Kirk Franklin, Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu and many others. In 2015, Martin put out his debut solo album Seven Summers. His latest album Focus was released three years later. He wrote, arranged, produced and played the keyboards on both albums. This Thursday, you can see Martin in action at Deep Ellum Art Co. 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 26, at Deep Ellum Art Company, 3200 Commerce St. Tickets are $15 at Jacob Vaughn

Tim Mathis
It's always nice when a local comic who left to pursue a dream comes back to do a show for the crowds that spawned him. Tim Mathis is from Freeport, which is just under 300 miles from Dallas, so he's not technically a native, but close enough. Mathis started his career in Houston's booming comedy scene in 2011 after serving four years in the Navy. Comedian Kevin Hart chose him in 2016 for his touring Comedy Central stand-up series Heart of the City. Then he moved to Los Angeles, where he became a working comic and has made three appearances on TruTV's Laff Mob's Laff Tracks and starred in a Crown Royal ad that aired during a Super Bowl. He'll be performing five shows at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 26, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28, at Hyena's Comedy Nightclub, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. The Thursday show is free with a reservation. Friday and Saturday shows are $15-$20. Reservation and ticket purchases can be made at Danny Gallagher

Whether you’ve been down since the '90s or your ears still respond “like a virgin” to the sultry sounds of the original Queen of Pop, PriMadonna is Dallas’ own little slice of nostalgia for anyone looking to revisit the musical earworms of yore. Winners of the Dallas Observer Music Awards Best Cover Band in 2018, PriMadonna features some of the best local musicians in Dallas replicating all the eclectic costumes and catchy tunes for everyone who couldn’t catch Madonna proper’s recent Madame X Tour. But that won’t be the only flashback in store for Dallas on the night in question. PriMadonna will be backed up by The B52s tribute band the Deadbeat Club as well as the surprise return of Psycho Pony, a Neil Young tribute with deep Dallas ties, for a trip down memory lane full of festive dancing and iconic music. Who could ask for a better gift on the day right after Christmas? It starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 26, at House of Blues, 2200 N Lamar St. Tickets are $14 at Nicholas Bostick

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There's double trouble in PriMadonna.
Mike Brooks

Trey Rose
The Oklahoma-born, Texas-based country act Trey Rose will take the stage at Opening Bell Coffee this Thursday. As a young kid in the small town of Hugo, Oklahoma, Rose began wanting to pursue music after hearing a Matchbox Twenty song on his way home from school. Since then, he has played on stages in six different states and appeared on season 16 of The Voice. You won't want to miss this country gem who hangs his hat in Texas this Thursday. The free show starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26, at Opening Bell Coffee, 1409 S Lamar St. Jacob Vaughn

Friday, December 27

The Grand Illusions of Rob Lake
Before waving off this show as “just another illusionist who’ll have some special where he freaks people out on the street and then disappears into the ether,” just hold up. The Grand Illusions of Rob Lake, coming Friday and Saturday to the Music Hall at Fair Park, 909 First Ave., is different. He has a rescue dog named Roger who makes appearances with him. People who rescue dogs don’t just up and disappear on them. Plus, everyone knows Lake is legit because he was a finalist on America’s Got Talent. His magic and illusions are seen in stage productions (The Phantom of the Opera and others), and he won a freaking Merlin Award. That should really be the deal-sealer. He is officially the International Stage Magician of the Year. Levitating, disappearing, moving things, lights, whooshy fabric and maybe fiery things? It’s all there at 8 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets start at $24.99. Visit Merritt Martin

Robert Earl Keen
Texas sure has a great roster of country music artists, but none help us celebrate the holiday season quite like Robert Earl Keen. Hosting what he calls the "Countdown to Christmas," Keen takes over the House of Blues on Friday for a holiday country concert sure to include his cult Christmas classic "Merry Christmas From the Family." Sure, the countdown to Christmas will technically be over by then, but we can still keep the Yuletide cheer going for at least a few more days before once-beloved Christmas trees line street curbs like yard waste and the twinkling lights that once illuminated houses — and the hearts of children — end up tangled in a box in the garage for another year. Also on the bill for Friday's show is Shinyribs, a swamp-funk country band from Austin. It starts at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27, at House of Blues, 2200 N Lamar St. Tickets are $45-$99.50 at Diamond Rodrigue

Final Fridays Honors Headkrack
This Friday at Three Links, hip-hop artists in North Texas will honor the work of the New York rapper Headkrack. The show takes place ahead of the premiere of the musician and international radio host's new radio show The Morning Hustle, which is set for Jan. 6. With his group, THE BODEGA BROS, Headkrack has played shows around the world and battled rappers like Scribble Jam in Cincinnati. Performing in honor of the artist will be hip-hop artists like Suave Burgandy, Kinfolk Jack, Trey Galactica and several others. It starts at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, at Three Links, 2704 Elm St. Tickets are $10-$15 at Jacob Vaughn

Rod Man
Reality show watchers might recognize Rod Man as the winner of the eighth season of NBC's Last Comic Standing. Comedy watchers might recognize him because he's funny. Man cut his comedy teeth in Atlanta's famed Uptown Comedy Club. He moved to Los Angeles and has toured the country performing at some big places like Caesar's Place in Las Vegas, The Gibson Amphitheater in LA and The Apollo Theater in New York. He also appeared in director Judd Apatow's 2005 film Funny People alongside Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. Man will perform five shows at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 29, at the Addison Improv. 4980 Belt Line Road. Tickets are between $20-$30 at Danny Gallagher

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Joshua Ray Walker will hit the stage at The Blue Light Dallas this Friday night.
Meredith Lawrence
Joshua Ray Walker 
Winner of the 2019 Dallas Observer Music Awards for Best Album, Best Song and Best Country Act, Joshua Ray Walker will be playing an intimate show on Friday night at The Blue Light in Deep Ellum. Not only has Walker received Dallas' highest accolades, his efforts have received the attention of national publications like Rolling Stone, who picked "Canyon" as the 18th best Country and Americana song of 2019. He has also received international attention on his well-received Scandinavian tour this past fall, and has already booked a small tour in Scandinavia again next year. With so much acclaim and recognition, it's hard to believe that audiences will have many more chances to see this rising country music star play in such a small venue much longer. Walker is a country musician that even non-fans of country music will enjoy due to his immense songwriting prowess and heartfelt earnestness. If you want to be able to say "I remember seeing Joshua Ray Walker back when…" this is not a show to miss. It starts at 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, at The Blue Light Dallas, 2811 Main St. Tickets are $15-$25 at David Fletcher

Sr. Presidente
Heberto Añez Novoa has performed under the moniker Sr. Presidente since 2011. It's hard to pin down one genre when it comes to Sr. Presidente's music. In a way, they all seem to merge together in his sound. This multi-instrumental artist is free-flowing in his songwriting and is self-described as "avant-Latin American-pop." Drawing influence from musicians like R. Stevie Moore, Luis Alberto Spinetta and Caetano Veloso, to name a few, Sr. Presidente is pushing boundaries of music. It starts at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, at The Wild Detectives, 314 W 8th St. Tickets are $10 at Jacob Vaughn

Saturday, December 28

Cotton Bowl
As long as you can keep your mind off the long-term effects of the sport’s inevitable head injuries and the injustice of not paying the players, college football can offer an escape from the stress of the holidays and the news cycle when the No. 17 Memphis Tigers play the No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium, 1 AT&T Way, Arlington. On Friday, two free-to-the-public events precede the game. Memphis’ and Penn State’s bands will fight to the death at 3 to 4 p.m. at Texas Live!, and country singer Jana Kramer will perform at the Arlington Backyard at Texas Live! at 7 p.m. Ticket prices start at $14 and have no ceiling. Call 888-792-2695 or visit Jesse Hughey

La Pompe
Self-described as "A little bit of gypsy, a little bit of French, a whole lotta swing!," the four members of La Pompe bring a completely unique perspective to the local music scene. With a mandolin, guitar and upright bass anchoring Kat Hackett's charming vocals, their music swells with nostalgia and brims with a breezy pep that will have audiences tapping their toes and transported back in time to French cafes or dimly lit New York jazz haunts. You'll likely recognize several songs in their vast songbook, but they're quick to also bust out an original composition or put a current spin on an old standard. Kick back and enjoy some post-holiday festivities as they take center stage Saturday at Revelers Hall. It starts at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28, at Revelers Hall, 412 N. Bishop Ave. Admission is $5 at the venue. Jeff Strowe

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The Winspear Opera House will be hosting Shen Yun, a visual spectacle.

Shen Yun
Shen Yun is nothing short of a grand visual spectacle, which you’ve probably gathered from the billboards, flyers and digital ads that are ubiquitous around the city. It’s something of a Cirque du Soleil meets thousands of years of Asian history, but with a bit of political intrigue thrown in: Shen Yun is a production of the Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual movement that has clashed with the Chinese government since the 1990s and has become politically outspoken in defiance of Beijing. The purpose of the show, and its accompanying marketing blitz? To spread the word about the oppression of the spiritual sect and to promote the controversial practice of Falun Gong, which is characterized by the Chinese government as a cult. So, in a nutshell, there’s a backstory behind the classic Chinese dance and acrobatics presented as part of the production, which runs from Saturday, Dec. 28, through Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora Street. Tickets are $80 to $200 at Jennifer Davis-Lamm

The Robot Bonfire
Artists Josh Watkins, Jason Davis and Jimmy Huckle blended their musical talents to create an indie-rock machine, The Robot Bonfire. Throwing bands like The Cure, Sunny Day Real Estate, U2 and others into a melting pot of influences has garnered them the unique heavy, mysterious sound you can hear on their self-titled album. The band made their debut at 2018's South by Southwest festival and was featured on iHeart Radio’s Loud and Local several times. You won't want to miss this chance to catch the band at Armoury D.E. this Saturday.  The free show starts at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28, at Armoury D.E., 2714 Elm St. Jacob Vaughn

Confetti Eddie's Magic Parlor Presents Silly Magic Tricks and Giggles
Confetti Eddie's Magic Parlor is a vaudevillian haven for those who need to escape the drudgery of the sensical everyday. The magician is pulling all the screwball tricks out of the box, with Silly Magic Tricks and Giggles, a 90-minute show inspired by Mad Magazine's Mad Books of Magic by artist Al Jaffee, whose lampooning illustrations depicted magicians as wacky showmen. Silly Magic is an all ages show featuring magicians, comedians and variety performers. The show premieres with select dates on Jan 11, 18 and 25, 2020, with a soft opening on December 28, 2019, at 823 Exposition Ave. Doors open at 7.30 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20-30 at Eva Raggio

Sunday, December 29

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical
Is that Santa helper Elf on the Shelf a demonic being or a Christmas tradition that brings joy to your household as it watches your Santa-believers for naughty or nice? If it’s the latter, add to the merriment and head for The Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm St., for the one-night touring stage show of The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical at 7 p.m. Sunday. You can also sign up for a pre-show experience, which includes a photo op with a North Pole backdrop and a special mail box for your very own Christmas wish list and message that go straight to Santa’s workshop. Get details at Russ Kaplan is composer; Sara Wordsworth, writer/lyricist. Tickets range from $29.95 to $59. Reba Liner
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Dallas Observer Staff