It’s starting to look a lot (more) like Christmas.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to weigh heavily on everyday life. But hall calendars have been full of concerts since the end of July, after the pandemic shut down the live music industry in March 2020..
As a result, Christmas concerts are returning, with promoters and venues anticipating audiences eager to resume some of their holiday concert traditions.
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller, holiday season staples for years in Milwaukee, return after 2020 liftoff; TSO is at the Fiserv Forum on December 26, while Mannheim is at the Riverside Theater on December 12.
Holiday theater favorites are also returning, such as “A Christmas Carol” at the Pabst Theater, John McGivern’s holiday shows at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s Northern Lights Theater and “The Nutcracker” by the Milwaukee Ballet.
And expect to see more small clubs and local musicians announcing holiday sets in the coming weeks. Milwaukee singer-songwriter Joe Richter has done it before, booking a concert at Anodyne Coffee with his “Yuletide Band” on December 3rd.
But the return of live holiday music this year includes new holiday tours, bands that haven’t done holiday concerts in Milwaukee in years, and even artists leaving for their first Christmas concert tours. .
Here are more than a dozen to discover, listed in order of occurrence.
Performing at the Wilson Center for the first time in seven years, the male choir will sing three Christmas stories, including “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss. 8 p.m. November 27, Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Performing Arts, 3270 Mitchell Park Dr., Brookfield. $ 55 to $ 77 at the box office and wilson-center.com.
It’s rare that the artist behind a classic Christmas song can perform it himself in Milwaukee, but that will be the case for Lifetime Achievement Grammy winner Jose Feliciano, who is celebrating the 50th anniversary. of “Feliz Navidad” with a delay visit. 8 p.m. December 4, Uihlein Hall, Marcus Performing Arts Center, 929 N. Water St. $ 25 to $ 52 at the box office and ticketmaster.com. Masks and proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test required for entry.
The former “Glee” star, frontman of Broadway (including for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) and Emmy winner for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” has released his first full solo album. “A Very Darren Crissmass” includes his staple renditions like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and originals like “Drunk on Christmas,” which will be featured on his first holiday tour. 8 p.m. Dec. 7, Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave. $ 39.50 to $ 65 at the door, the Pabst Theater box office (144 E. Wells St.) and pabsttheater.org. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test required. Masks encouraged, mandatory for children 11 and under.
Isaak is celebrating the 30th anniversary of “Wicked Game,” so expect to hear the groundbreaking title track from his album and other selections. But Isaac’s most recent release was a live Christmas album in 2017, and those tunes will be a big part of this holiday tour’s setlist. 8 p.m. December 8, Miller High Life Theater, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave. $ 59.50 to $ 75 at the box office and via Ticketmaster. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test required. Masks compulsory for the first five rows, encouraged for all.
Delayed by the pandemic, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra finally began hosting full concerts last month at the Bradley Symphony Center (after a $ 90 million renovation of the former cinema palace that has become its new home). Naturally, the MSO will resurrect its Holiday Pops program from December 10 to 12 and will perform Handel’s Messiah on December 16, 18 and 19. But MSO is also expanding its Christmas content, including reserving the Grammy-winning classic troupe, a capella Chanticleer bent. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, Bradley Symphony Center, 212 W. Wisconsin Ave. $ 25 to $ 115 at the box office and mso.org. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test required.
A vacation program for people who tend to hate vacation programs: John Waters, the irreverent cult filmmaker behind “Pink Flamingoes” and “Hairspray,” promises “vacation garbage for bad little boys and girls around the world “In his traveling one-man show that he dubbed” It’s a Christmas massacre! 8 p.m. December 9, Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. Phillips Ave. $ 49.50 at the door and through the Pabst. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test required. Masks encouraged, mandatory for children 11 and under.
In an interview last year, the frontman of the alternative rock group, Justin Furstenfeld, suggested that he would record a dark Christmas album next. It remains to be seen if this album will arrive this year, but there’s a good chance this Christmas-themed concert (the group’s 13th at the Rave) will feature some of that material. 8 p.m. December 10, the Rave, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave. $ 33 to $ 43 at the box office and therave.com.
The season four finalists of “America’s Got Talent” come to town for their “Deep in the Heart of Christmas” tour, one of the few morning shows this holiday season for anyone who wants to get out but not stay too much. late. 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12, South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, 901 15th Ave., South Milwaukee. $ 20 to $ 65 at the box office and southmilwaukeepac.org. Masks mandatory for children under 12, encouraged for all guests.
With quite powerful pipes for Broadway and a preference for retro R&B (she has already recorded a tribute album to Nina Simone), Morgan James has set her sights on holiday music with her new soul album “A Very Magnetic Christmas”. 8 p.m. on December 14, at the Back Room at Colectivo Coffee, 2211 N. Prospect Ave. $ 20 at the door and via the Pabst. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative tests required. Masks encouraged, mandatory for children 11 and under.
After debuting at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee in 2019, the tour is making a comeback with past and present members of Temptations, Miracles and Contours. 8 p.m. December 17, Riverside Theater. $ 49 to $ 59.50. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative tests required. Masks encouraged, mandatory for children 11 and under.
Josh Catering Trio
Caterer, best known as the frontman of pop punk band The Smoking Popes (and also a pastor), gets into the spirit of the season with this “holiday night”. 8 p.m. on December 18, Back Room at Colectivo Coffee. $ 15. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test required. Masks encouraged, mandatory for children 11 and under.
After a stellar appearance on Blake Shelton’s “Friends and Heroes” tour finale at the Fiserv Forum last month, the country pop star returns to town for a full set of her hits, as well as holiday tunes. December 19, Riverside Theater. $ 49.75 to $ 119.75. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test required. Masks encouraged, mandatory for children 11 and under.
Summerfest perennial Vassar enjoys playing at Milwaukee Market so much that he found a way to do it last year when every venue was closed – during a series of drive-through concerts in Grafton. In recent years, he’s returned to Milwaukee over the holidays, often with a co-star, and this time around, rock band Sister Hazel will join him. 7:00 p.m., Northern Lights Theater, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, 1721 W. Canal St. $ 55 to $ 65 at the box office and via Ticketmaster. Masks required.
The music of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
After reopening in 2016, the beloved East Side club, the Jazz Estate, successfully hosted annual concerts, for families and adults, with local jazz musicians in a band dubbed The Commercialists performing the Vince Guaraldi’s score of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. These shows – two to three performances per night, December 10-21 – are often sold out, but this year the Jazz Estate is moving the show to a larger venue to make sure more people can attend. 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on December 23, Turner Hall Ballroom. $ 25. Proof of COVID-19 vaccinations or negative COVID tests required for entry. Masks encouraged, mandatory for children 11 and under.
Piet also talks about concerts, local music and more on “TAP’d In” with Evan Rytlewski. Listen to it at 8 p.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9) or wherever you get your podcasts.