A must-see show for guitar fans takes place at The New Lift Lounge Thursday, Dec. 16, when Texas guitar star Buddy Whittington joins popular songwriter Randy McAllister at 5:30 p.m. Whittington took Coco Montoya’s place with John Mayall’s band for 15 years when Montoya went solo in 1993. Mayall obviously has smart taste in guitar players, having been influential in the early careers of guitarists from Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Walter Trout to Montoya. Whittington is in high-caliber company. It’s been a few years since engaging singer-songwriter Randy McAllister played local stages, where he was a real audience favorite. With seven CDs to his credit, the fifth-generation Texan is a fine songwriter-performer. He mixes the usual blues subject matter with sometimes offbeat, real-life character studies that are told through his creative observations and word play. One critic wrote, “If Mark Twain had envisioned a 21st century roots musician, he might have created a character like Randy McAllister, with an easy-going persona and a wry, and an observant wit … McAllister's songwriting approach is particularly skillful, able to be both truthful and funny.” The Lift’s 5:30 p.m. Thursday show schedule continues this month with the return of the red hot Brad Cordle Band Dec. 23. Audience favorites The Bel Airs get their boogie groove going Thursday, Dec. 30. The Lift has booked blues-rock band Devon Allman’s Honeytribe for New Year’s Eve. And yes, Devon is the son of Gregg Allman. Check out Honeytribe’s music at thetribalcommunity.com. Outta This World Kyle Harvey celebrates the release of his new CD Merry Christmas From Outer Space at Barley Street Tavern on Tuesday, Dec. 21. The haunting song of the same name appears on this year’s Christmas for Pine Ridge: Vol. III Live at The Waiting Room and inspired Harvey to record a disc of new material. Harvey says on Facebook that those attending in “galactic or holiday-themed gear” get free admission. Santa’s Tattooed Helper As The Reader hits the streets, Lash LaRue will be loading his truck with toys and making the trek to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Saturday, Dec. 18, LaRue will join Lakota medicine man David Swallow Jr. in the toy-giving party held for the children and families on the reservation. This year’s Toy Drive featured a record number of events. The generosity of the community and the many artists and venues who donate time and talent to the events means that children on the reservation will have gifts for a happier Christmas. Funds will also go to keep the clinic heated and operating and also to provide heating for the elderly. In addition, toys will go to children from the Omaha and Winnebago tribes. Christmas for Pine Ridge: Vol. III Live at The Waiting Room , this year’s benefit CD featuring 15 local artists, can still be purchased at Garage Guitar, 50th and Dodge. Watch lashlaruetoydrive.com for photos to be posted of the children with their gifts. In the end the messages of the toy drive are several. The toys and gifts for the children bring them real hope and joy in a season where we often take these blessings for granted, and hope is powerful medicine. LaRue always tells the story of the child who had been warned by his parents that he probably wouldn’t get anything for Christmas, smiling with his gift and saying “See Mom, I told you Santa wouldn’t forget me.” The toy drive always illustrates to me that one person can make a difference wherever they choose to, just by starting where they are and taking the first steps. So if you’re feeling helpless or hopeless yourself, remember that you do have power - to change your circumstances and to create positive change in your circle of friends and your community. You just have to take the first step. Hot Notes Havana Garage cigar bar in the Old Market presents the Kris Lager Band acoustic Thursday, Dec. 16. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17 and 18, hear the Brad Cordle Band at the Garage. McKenna’s has Levi William Saturday, Dec. 18. Friday, Dec. 17 at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar, Son of 76 & The Watchmen open for Brad Hoshaw & The Seven Deadlies. Son of 76 is led by occasional Reader contributor Josh Hoyer. Slowdown’s Frostival 2010 Wednesday, Dec. 22, benefits the Omaha Food Bank with a variety of music including Kris Lager Band, Funk Trek, Blue Martian Tribe, Midland Band and The Weeping Figs. See theslowdown.com. The FolkHouse presents Stacey Earle and Mark Stewart Sunday, Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m. Their acoustic songs, harmonies and stories have made them extremely popular on the national circuit. Stacey is also the sister of performer Steve Earle. Call 932.8551 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP and for details. The FolkHouse concert series is held in the Jerome Brich home.