Holiday pop and rock concerts are as much a staple of the season as shopping mall Santas -- but with a twist. You'll hear some familiar yuletide carols, but you're just as likely to hear obscure, weird and wicked holiday ditties as well.
Here's what to expect from seven notable holiday shows taking place around Dallas-Fort Worth in the next few weeks.
Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison
Continuing a tradition they started at Fort Worth's Caravan of Dreams in 1999, the Austin-based singers like to fill their annual Holiday Shindig with such lesser-known tunes as "Bringing in a Brand New Year" and "Please, Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)." Willis will also try out a tune or two from her upcoming studio album.
Friday, Dec. 15 at 6:45 and 9:30 p.m. at Kessler Theater, 1230 W. Davis St., Dallas. $24-$28. thekessler.org.
Keeping the spirit of Frank Sinatra alive, Dallas-based Ricki Derek teams up with the Ho, Ho, Ho Orchestra for an evening of holiday songs, many of which he recorded on his 2012 album Here's to Christmas. Here's hoping he covers Frank's classic version of Jimmy Webb's "Whatever Happened to Christmas."
Saturday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. at Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave., Dallas. $30-$42. granadatheater.com.
Michael Martin Murphey
The Oak Cliff-born Michael Martin Murphey has come a long way since his days playing with Michael Nesmith in the Trinity River Boys. One of the most popular country-folk singers of the '70s, Murphey has turned Christmas into a cottage industry: In addition to releasing three holiday albums, he's performed his Cowboy Christmas show 24 years in a row.
Monday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. $38.50-$82.50. basshall.com.
Asleep at the Wheel
Ray Benson and crew know how to put on a swinging, ringing holiday show - a fact they proved on 1997's Merry Texas Christmas, Y'All and last year's Lone Star Christmas Night. In addition to country versions of "Feliz Navidad" and "Little Drummer Boy," expect to hear Willie Nelson's "Pretty Paper," George Strait's "When It's Christmas Time in Texas" and best of all, the Youngsters' 1956 R&B gem "Christmas in Jail."
Thursday, Dec. 21 at 9 p.m. at Billy Bob's Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth. $14-$25. billybobstexas.com.
Nothing can stop this annual holiday arena-rock juggernaut, not even the April death of Paul O'Neill, the group's behind-the-scenes mastermind. O'Neill originally launched the band as a bombastic classical-rock fusion inspired by Queen and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Today, it's all that and more, a sort of Spinal Tap meets It's A Wonderful Life with lasers, fireworks and enough guitar histrionics to make "Carol of the Bells" sound like Megadeth.
Friday, Dec. 22 at 3:30 and 8 p.m. at American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave., Dallas $58.50-$78.50. ticketmaster.com.
Although Chip Davis named his group after Germany's Mannheim school of classical music, the Steamroller actually isn't very classical. Its Muzak-y, synth-pop take on Christmas has been a theatrical touring hit since the '80s, when it put out its first holiday album.
Thursday, Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. at Toyota Music Factory, 300 W. Las Colinas Blvd., Irving. $59.95. ticketmaster.com.
Robert Earl Keen
The Texas troubadour has written at least one bona fide holiday classic: "Merry Christmas from the Family," a sly portrait of family dysfunction that's been covered by everyone from the Dixie Chicks to Jill Sobule. The Houston-raised singer is also likely to play 1998's offbeat "Happy Holidays Y'all" and his remake of Bill Monroe's "Footprints in the Snow."
Friday, Dec. 29 at 8:30 p.m. at House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St., Dallas. $45-$97. livenation.com. And Saturday, Dec. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. $55-$88. basshall.com.