Best bets: Old Dominion, Christmas movies, Humbird
Old Dominion plays Amsoil
It's a question for the ages: "I wonder if Jack and Diane ever made it," Matt Ramsey sings at the top of Old Dominion's 2017 Billboard topping album "Happy Endings." "Did the heartland just swallow them up?" The poppy Nashville fivesome is known for its songwriting, which can bend tongue-twisty, smooth and soulful and/or cutely witty. Old Dominion closes its "Happy Endings" tour in Duluth with Canadian duo High Valley opening.
Old Dominion plays at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Amsoil Arena. Tickets start at $29 at Ticketmaster outlets, including ticketmaster.com.
Pretty much everyone, live
Here's a holiday hodgepodge: a pack of quick-witted improv pros meets people who drink beer and sing sacred songs meets fitness fanatics meets D&D'ers who play for an audience.
"A Holiday Spectacular Extravaganza Pageant" is a variety show featuring a mix of local artists and a mix of local artistry.
The lineup includes: Renegade Improv, Colder By the Lake, Superior Shorts, Beer & Hymns, Duluth Ukulele Community Strum, Nerd Nite, Twin Ports Choral Project, The Underground, Ignite Studio, Twin Portals and more.
"A Holiday Spectacular Extravaganza Pageant" is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at Teatro Zuccone, 222 E. Superior St. Tickets: $5
Ursa Minor: Lyric free
Portrait of a Drowned Man is a five-guy instrumental rock band that has become the go-to for filmmaker Mike Scholtz's quirky docs. (Most recently, "Music from the Film 'Wicker Kittens,'" Scholtz's inside view of competitive jigsaw puzzling.) The band, rich in guitar players, creates layers and swells and left unchecked you could sway yourself into a trance. They'll be joined by Tyler Scouton, the artist behind the meat-flinging industrial band Bratwurst. As a soloist, he leaves the hotdogs at home. Scouton is more tuned into the plinkety plunks made from synths and gadgets.
Portrait of a Drowned Man with Tyler Scouton is 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at Ursa Minor, 2415 W. Superior St.
Holidays bring RV sewage, beat-down frogs, an evil Santa
The Griswolds, the Muppets and the Santa-ian star of Finnish folklore get screen time this weekend at Zinema 2, which has been hitting the holiday content hard.
"Christmas Vacation" (7 p.m. Dec. 14) is the National Lampoon tale of one holiday-happy dad, played by Chevy Chase, whose tacky relatives begin breaking Christmas as soon as they roll up in their RV.
"The Muppet Christmas Carol" (10 a.m. Dec. 15) is the classic tale with a Kermit Crachit and Piggy as his wife, Gonzo as the narrator and Waldorf and Statler as the Marleys. (This one gets an extra screening as one is already sold out).
"Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" (7 p.m. Dec. 16) is about a research team that stumbles on the burial mound created by the Sami people to encase Joulupukki — the model for Santa Claus.
Arrowhead Chorale's "Holiday Jubilations & Traditions: A Scandinavian Christmas" will have old school and contempo carols from Scandinavia, Ireland and England. The program includes "Dong Dong Merrily on High," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Nar det lider mot jul" and a composition of "Beautiful Savior" by Frode Fjellheim.
"Holiday Jubilations & Traditions" is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 and 3 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Depot's Great Hall. Tickets: $20 adults, $6 students, free for 12 and younger.
Humbird to play Blush
Humbird is the experimental project of Siri Undlin, whose folk-vocals are a classic style of pretty. Her instrumentation is minimal, wide-open, airy. Double airy, actually. Her song "Human" starts with the long even breaths of someone sleeping, then adds layers of snorts, whistles, giggles and cheek pops. Humbird is scheduled to release its first full length album — a followup to "Elsewhere" and "Where Else" — in 2019.
Humbird and Caley Conway with Charlotte Montgomery is at 8 p.m. Dec. 17 at Blush, 18 N. First Ave. W. Tickets: Between $5-10.