* Local music fans will have a hard time staying in this week thanks to an impressive slate of local shows. Thursday, Dec. 23, Satchel Grande and Old Money play The Waiting Room, while Slowdown Virginia and Polecat reunite at Slowdown. Friday, Dec. 24, Banjo Loco and several openers are at Waiting Room. Sunday, Dec. 26, Mal Madrigal, Our Fox, The Bruces and Before The Toast And Tea are at Slowdown, while Little Brazil, Conduits, The Filter Kings and All Young Girls Are Machine Guns rock The Waiting Room, which hosts a benefit for Amber Wilkins Monday, Dec. 27. Monday is also Ladyfinger, Back When, The Answer Team and Lightning Bug at Slowdown. Finally, Mousetrap, Mercy Rule, Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship and The Stay Awake will be at The Waiting Room Wednesday, Dec. 29. You’ll find stories on most of these shows in this issue. Check our music listings this week for more local shows. * And, as promised, here’s a mini holiday playlist, from me to you. It’s a shortened version of one I’m giving friends and family this season. In my opinion, the best Christmas songs tend to be wistful, not cheesy. A prime example is Judy Garland’s sad-faced “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” I’m not saying have a blue, emo Christmas, but a little reflection always tends to permeate my holidays. Most of these follow in that tradition: * “Fairytale of New York,” The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: Epically insulting and simultaneously tender, regardless of whether one spends Christmas Eve in the drunk tank. * “Ave Maria,” Stevie Wonder: Stevie’s huge voice inflates this song to new heights, and nimbly marries classical and soul sounds. * “Maybe This Christmas,” Ron Sexsmith: A reflective croon that asks much more than commerce from Christmas. * “All I Want For Christmas is You,” Mariah Carey: Don’t judge. This romp is a modern classic. * “Greensleeves,” Vince Guaraldi Trio: Between the song itself and the Trio’s execution, this is masterful wistful. * “Christmas Lights,” Korey Anderson: My new Christmas tradition, from Pine Ridge Vol. III . * “Auld Lang Syne,” The Bruces: The ending part of a new year. Helps me “sign the bottom line” every time. * “My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year),” Regina Spektor: The beginning part of a new year, and a warm welcome at that. For a longer, more comprehensive batch of seasonal songs visit http://ht.ly/3s4uL to hear the streaming Jingle Jams: A Holiday Mix From NPR Music. Backbeat takes you behind the scenes of the local music scene. Send tips, comments and questions to backbeat@thereader.com.

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