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Live music picks, Dec. 11-17

Harpist Kelly Stewart is among the performers at this year's Celtic Christmas Concert. Photo: Clark Hill

Harpist Kelly Stewart is among the performers at this year's Celtic Christmas Concert. Photo: Clark Hill

FRIDAY
Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert

The 17th annual edition of this holiday favorite portrays Christmas traditions of the Celtic lands in music, dance, poetry, song and stories. Among the performers at this year’s concert are Grammy winner banjo virtuoso Alison Brown, the first woman ever to win the Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award, multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven, harpist Kelly Stewart, Irish composer and pianist J.J. Sheridan and sibling duo R.I.S.E. R.I.S.E. is Leah and Chloe Smith, native Atlantans raised on Southern mountain tunes by their fiddling mother, Jan. As always, Irish tenor James Flannery serves as director and host.
8 p.m. Dec. 11-12; 2:30 p.m. Dec. 13. $20-$25; students $10. Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Emory University, 1700 N. Decatur Road N.E., Atlanta. 404- 727-5050.

FRIDAY
Gretchen Wilson

It was just a few years ago that Wilson was headlining nearby at Gwinnett Arena, but in the fickle world of contemporary country music, you’re only as big as your last hit. She caused a sensation when she hit No. 1 with “Redneck Woman” in 2004, but Wilson’s last Top 10 single was “All Jacked Up” in 2005. Nothing she’s released since then has broken the Top 20. She still has a loyal following and she can put on a rowdy, rocking show at the arena. She’ll be even better in a joint with a bona fide bar.
9:30 p.m. Dec. 11. $25-$125. Wild Bill’s, 2075 Market St., Duluth. 678- 473-1000.

SATURDAY
The Association, Rare Earth

The sweet and harmony-rich sunshine pop of the Association was a huge and often forgotten presence in 1967, the year we usually associate with much more psychedelic goings-on during the “summer of love.” The current band includes three of the six guys who hit the top of the charts that year with “Windy.” Rare Earth, among the first white acts signed to Motown, was a little harder-edged and hit the charts a few years later with “Get Read,” “(I Know) I’m Losing You” and “I Just Want to Celebrate.”
6 p.m. Dec. 12. $25-$45. Gateway Event Center, 165 Mill Road, McDonough. 770- 279-9853.

SATURDAY
“The Happenstance: A Battle Of Hastily Assembled Bands”

Thirty local musicians meet in the morning and are randomly divided into five-piece bands. Then they must create a 20-minute set of music to be performed later the same evening, but only one of the songs can be a cover version. The rest of the set has to be crafted that very day. The sixth annual edition of this rocking mad scientist experiment benefits the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
9 p.m. December 12. $7. The EARL, 488 Flat Shoals Ave., Atlanta. 404-0522-3950.

Cowboy Envy (from left): Too Short, Frenchy and Buffalo K (aka DeDe Vogt, Berne Poliakoff and Kathleen Hatfield)

Cowboy Envy (from left): Too Short, Frenchy and Buffalo K (aka DeDe Vogt, Berne Poliakoff and Kathleen Hatfield)

SUNDAY
Cowboy Envy

It’s a sad day for fans of this hat-wearing, Western-stylin’ trio. Berné Poliakoff, DeDe Vogt and Kathleen Hatfield — aka Frenchy, Too Short and Buffalo K — are saying “happy trails” after this gig. No more tales of the dusty trail, no more whip-wielding and no more of those wonderful harmonies, at least in Atlanta. The trio still has a couple of out-of-town bookings to go, but this is the final Atlanta-area show. You can bet they’ll go out with a bang though, and it’s unlikely we’ve heard the last of these three fine singer-songwriters.
4 and 8 p.m. Dec. 13. $8-$10. Eddie’s Attic, 515-B N. McDonough St., Decatur. 404- 377-4976.

TUESDAY
Ruthie Morris Benefit

Atlanta’s musicians can usually be counted on to help out one of their own. “Stomp and Stemmer” publisher Jeff Clark and local promoter Chris Chandler of Party Panda Productions have organized this show to help out Magnapop guitarist Morris, who was among the many Atlantans suffering major damage during this year’s flooding. Pitching in with performances are Amy Ray of Indigo Girls, Warm In The Wake and the Tim Lee 3.
8:30 p.m. December 15. $10-$12. The EARL, 488 Flat Shoals Ave., Atlanta. 404-522-3950.

THURSDAY
Star 94 Jingle Jam

As usual, Star 94’s holiday show is a Top 40 enthusiast’s dream come true. The Fray, beloved of the folks who pick the music for “Grey’s Anatomy,” is the nominal headliner, but a couple of other names on the bill have eclipsed that band in recent buzz. Young Usher protégé Justin Bieber is an Internet-assisted sensation who seems to bridge the tween-teen gap between Miley Cyrus and “Twilight” (expect a heavily female audience for this one). Owl City, primarily the work of  wunderkind Adam Young, scored an unexpected No. 1 hit last month with the synth-pop confection “Fireflies.” A couple of televised talent show winners, Leona Lewis (Britain’s “The X Factor”) and Jordin Sparks (“American Idol”) are also on hand. The line-up is completed by Cobra Starship, a band with a “keytarist” that has recorded a song with “Gossip Girl” star Leighton Meester and collaborated extensively with “American Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi. If that sounds like your cup of tea, enjoy.
7 p.m. Dec. 17. $27-$77. Gwinnett Arena, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth. 770- 813-7500.

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