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Live music picks: Dec. 16-19

Douglasville-born Norma Jean plays the Masquerade tonight, marking the band's final

Douglasville-born Norma Jean plays the Masquerade Friday, Dec. 16. The show is among the band's last U.S. performances until mid-2012, as the group heads to Europe for a month-long tour in February. Photo: LeAnn Mueller

FRIDAY
Norma Jean

You might be forgiven for not knowing about this successful, hard-rocking Atlanta export because they’ve spent so much time on the road. Since about 2001, when the guys traded in the confusion-making name Luti-Kriss for Norma Jean, they’ve been a touring machine. The band began in Douglasville in 1997, put together by high school friends. After releasing four albums on Solid State, Norma Jean moved to Razor & Tie with last summer’s “Meridional,” bringing the band some of the best reviews of its career. The guys have been working on a new album, but they’ve taken a break to play a string of shows known as the Pizza Riot Tour 2011. This show is among the band’s last U.S. gigs until the summer. They’ll head to Europe in late February for a month-long tour that includes stops in Germany, the U.K., Scandinavia and Russia. With Oh Sleeper, Memphis May Fire, Stray From The Path, Lower Than Atlantis.
6:30 p.m. Dec. 16. $15. The Masquerade, 695 North Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-577-8178.

FRIDAY
Bonerama

This New Orleans combo is a joy to behold. With a three-trombone front line, this big, brassy group has won rave reviews all over the place. After seeing the band at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2007, Rolling Stone’s David Fricke wrote that Bonerama “definitively answer[s] the age-old musical question: What would Black Sabbath sound like with the P-Funk horns instead of guitarist Tony Iommi?” This annual Rock4Research concert raises money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
8 p.m. Dec. 16. $18. $15 in advance. Smith’s Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-875-1522.

Atlanta's Asherel plays for the hometown crowd before heading to Seattle to record the band's major label debut for Columbia Records.

Atlanta's Asherel plays for the hometown crowd at Masquerade on Friday, Dec. 16, before heading to Seattle to record the band's major label debut for Columbia Records.

FRIDAY
Asherel

Take a listen to this Atlanta alt-rock band’s free five-track 2010 EP, “It Won’t Be Quiet Anymore” (you can download it at asherel.com), and you’ll hear what impressed the folks at Columbia Records, who recently signed the trio. There’s an impressive confidence and memorable musicianship in the sticky, elastic guitar riff that dominates “Losing Sleep” or the chiming bass that gives way to the crunchy stomp of “Now That You Know.” And the forceful grit in Trey Rosenkampff’s voice is balanced with a touch of vulnerability. The band is headed to Seattle the day after Christmas to record with Adam Kasper, who’s handled production duties for the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam and Queens of the Stone Age. You’ll also find a couple of more recent demos on the band’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/asherel
7:30 p.m. Dec. 16. $6. The Masquerade, 695 North Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-577-8178.

FRIDAY
Chatham County Line Holiday Show

North Carolina’s Chatham County Line puts an alt-country spin on bluegrass and on Christmas. The band’s holiday celebration began seven years ago as a party for friends and family, but in 2009 they decided to take it on the road. They’re joined by Atlanta’s Blair Crimmins and the Hookers, a band that infuses Dixieland jazz, ragtime and early blues with rock ’n’ roll zeal.
8:30 p.m. Dec. 16. $18. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-524-7354.


FRIDAY-SATURDAY and TUESDAY

Jeffrey Bützer and T.T. Mahony present Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
These Atlanta musicians are back again for the fourth year to perform Guaraldi’s classic jazzy score from the ’60s “Peanuts” holiday special. Chad Shivers and Friends will also be on hand with a run through the Ventures’ surf-inspired Christmas album.
9 p.m. Dec. 16-17. $12; $10 in advance. The EARL, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E., Atlanta. 404-522-3950. Also, 3 and 8 p.m. Dec. 20. $15; $12 in advance. Earl Smith Strand Theatre, 117 N. Park Square, Marietta. 770-293-0080.

SATURDAY
Jim Brickman’s Christmas Celebration

Overwhelmingly mellow California pianist could serve as a suitable substitute for your favorite tranquilizer. If they could bottle this stuff, drug companies might shudder in fear. If you like your music to calm and soothe, Brickman’s your man.
8 p.m. Dec. 17. $35-$75. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2800.

SUNDAY
Atlanta’s Holiday Hootenanny

A special holiday gathering (and benefit) that brings together a slew of Atlanta talent including Jimmy Hall, Tommy Talton, Col. Bruce Hampton, Rev. Jeff Mosier, Ike Stubblefield, Grant Green Jr., Jeff Sipe, Count M’Butu, Caroline Aiken, Yonrico Scott, Johnny Mosier, Diane Durrett, David Blackmon, Ralph Roddenbery and Donna Hopkins.
7:30 p.m. Dec. 18. $20; $17.50 in advance (bring two cans of food for Atlanta Community Food Bank). Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-524-7354.

Vince Gill and Amy Grant bring some holiday cheer to the Fox Theatre Monday, Dec. 19. Photo:

Vince Gill and Amy Grant bring some holiday cheer to the Fox Theatre Monday, Dec. 19. Photo:

MONDAY
12 Days of Christmas with Amy Grant and Vince Gill

One of the most likable performers in country music, Gill first came to national attention in Pure Prairie League. He then spent time as a sideman for Rodney Crowell, scored the first of many Top 10 country hits of his own in 1985, and toured with Emmylou Harris’ band. After all this time, he’s still making brilliant albums, including his monumental four-disc opus “These Days,” which was among the 2007 album of the year Grammy nominees. He followed that up with “Guitar Slinger,” released in October. Grant, Gill’s wife, was a trailblazer in crossing over from contemporary Christian to mainstream pop stardom. Grant’s latest album, “Somewhere Down the Road,” combines newly recorded tracks with a few re-recordings of songs from her earlier albums and a couple of previously unreleased songs.
7:30 Dec. 19. $25-$175. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404- 881-2100.

Shane Harrison / sharrison@ajc.com

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