It's not easy being Jewish this time of year. All that Christmas music on the radio, all the holiday-themed programming and commercials on TV. Fortunately, Jews have Sean Altman as a cultural antidote, making his annual visit to town (this time as "Jewmongous") with a new and wildly funny crop of inside jokester songs about Jewish identity, traditions, stereotypes and hangups. (Nothing's sacred or too profane with this dude, so leave the spiritually sensitive and the kiddies at home.)
Sweetening the comedic pot roast, he packages the notions with oddly connected musical parodies. So his put-down of a proselytizing "Jews for Jesus" guy comes off like the Byrds' "So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star." And the wickedly disfunctional bar mitzvah scenario "Today I Am a Man" plays to a tune evocative of the Beach Boys. Oy, dat's good. Sharing the bill - Cindy Kaplan and the University of Pennsyvlania's "premiere" (they got more than one?) Jewish a cappella group the Shabbatones.
World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, $17, $20 day of show, 215-222-1400, worldcafelive.com.
- Jonathan Takiff
Troubled retro-soul queen Amy Winehouse grabbed all the headlines this year, but take notice of her back-up band, the Dap-Kings, fronted by a true soul survivor, Sharon Jones. The 51-year-old Augusta, Ga., native toiled in obscurity for years, recording uncredited backing vocals and even working as a corrections officer at New York's Ryker's Island. The world finally caught up with her mighty voice as a younger generation of vintage R&B record collectors kick-started her career.
Fillmore at the TLA, 334 South St., 9 tonight, $17, 215-922-1011, www.livenation.com.
- Sara Sherr
Power 99 FM is serving up a blockbuster "Holladay Jam" this year. Urban crooner Chris Brown will join rappers Bow Wow, Soulja Boy and Shop Boyz, plus reggae artist Sean Kingston and teen popster Lil Mama. The sleeper artists of this show are Kingston and Soulja Boy, who both have been gathering steam since their debut releases earlier this year.
Wachovia Center, 3601 S. Broad St., 7:30 p.m. Thursday, $39.95-$69.75, 800-298-4200, www.ComcastTIX.com.
- Damon C. Williams
Conductor Rossen Milanov is playing Santa this season, leading the Philadelphia Orchestra in two splendid holiday programs. With the ensemble's brass and percussion sections, he'll offer a diverse program of carols, Baroque masterpieces and holiday gems, beginning with "Spirit" by local composer Jennifer Higdon, on Tuesday at the Kimmel Center. Guest Ken Cowan performs on the Fred J. Cooper organ.
Thursday and next weekend, Milanov batons the orchestra and the Philadelphia Singers Chorale in the annual "The Glorious Sound of Christmas." His podium marathon continues with Holst's "Christmas Day," excerpts from Rimsky-Korsakov's Suite from "Christmas Eve" and Borodin's "Polovtsian Dances" from "Prince Igor," thrusting audiences into the season with real sonic splendor.
The busy Milanov will warm up by leading Symphony In C (formerly the Haddonfield Symphony) tomorrow in "Winter Legends." We're triply lucky to have this local treasure on both sides of the Delaware.
Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce streets, brass and percussion concert, 7 p.m. Tuesday, $45-$75; "Glorious Sound of Christmas," 7 p.m. Thursday and Dec. 21-22, $33-$103; 215-893-1999, www.philorch.org. "Winter Legends," 8 p.m. tomorrow $15, $25, $40, Gordon Theater, Rutgers University, Camden, 856-429-1880.
- Tom Di Nardo
To say that Rudresh Mahanthappa's work with French bassist Hubert Dupont's trio, Dupont T, is the most traditional he's done in some time is no denigration of Mahanthappa or Dupont. In fact, taking away the high concepts and inventive compositional devices that have dominated the Indian-American alto saxophonist's discography in recent years merely leaves him free to assert his claim as a distinctive and innovative voice, regardless of gimmickry. Dupont T adds Mahanthappa to the bassist's working trio of drummer Chander Sandroe and pianist Yvan Robillard.
Their recent CD, "Spider's Dance" (Ultrabolic), consists almost entirely of the leader's compositions - slow, spacious affairs that leave plenty of room for the instrumentalists to move around in. Mahanthappa's sole contribution, the brisk, brief "1010," stands alone as a race-to-the-finish speedfreak.
This is a quartet that seems to instinctively work well together, and can only have gotten better with time.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street & Ben Franklin Parkway, 5:45 and 7:15 tonight, free with regular museum admission of $14, 215-763-8100, www.philamuseum.org.
- Shaun Brady