Live music and more, tonight through Thursday, compiled by Tom Di Nardo, Shaun Brady, Sara Sherr, Jonathan Takiff and Damon C. Williams. Plus, seasonal concerts and events.
Leahy: Canadian troupe of brothers and sisters will entrance you with their Celtic-flavored take on the season. Expect feisty, fiddle-driven tunes, vibrant vocals and dynamic step dancing. Zellerbach Theater, Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St., 8 tonight, $25-$45, 215-898-3900, www.pennpresents.org.
Aimee Mann: Cool, melancholy stylist puts her special spin on the holiday. And fans must love it, as this is Mann's "3rd annual" holiday show and biggest in terms of special guests. The very wry and spry Nellie McKay will surely bring the smiles. Also on the bill - Grant Lee Phillips, Paul F. Tompkins and Morgan Murphy. Keswick Theatre, Easton Road and Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 8 p.m. tomorrow, $29.50 and $39.50, Toys For Tots donations welcome at all Keswick holiday shows. 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com.
Coyote Run: Celtic rock band chases down "A Kilted Christmas," an original saga with song, humor and dance. Sellersville Theater, Main and Temple streets, Sellersville, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, $19.50, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com.
Vienna Boys Choir: This famous brand has been singing up the holiday with bell-like tone and purity of purpose for, would you believe, 500 years? Keswick Theatre, Easton Road and Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, $28.50 and $35, 215-572-7650, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com.
Ten Out of Tenn: American Songwriter Magazine presents this touring troupe of Tennessee troubadours in a special holiday show of classics and newbies - and they've got an album to match. We're especially fond of Griffin House, Matthew Perryman Jones and Australian ringer Butterfly Boucher, but you'll also hear good tidings from Katie Hervig, Trent Dobbs, Tyler James, Jeremy Lister, K.S. Rhoads, Andy Davis and Erin McCarley. The Note, 142 E. Market St., West Chester, 8 p.m. Wednesday, $12, (all ages) 800-594-TIXX, www.thenotwc.com.
Love Comes Down at Christmas: Contemporary Christian rock and folk pop acts get down with Christmas in song and a modern retelling of the story. Jars of Clay headline, along with Leeland, Sixpence None the Richer and Sara Groves. Keswick Theatre, Easton Road and Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, $39.50 (buy 5 or more tickets and get one free Jars of Clay holiday music CD), 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com.
Peter Nero and the Philly Pops: "Holiday POPS" is a 10-performance tradition. This year, the 150-member Pops Festival Chorus, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir and organist Peter Richard Conte perform seasonal favorites with an audience sing-along. Special guests this time are the von Trapp Children, great-grandchildren from the singing family made famous in "The Sound of Music." Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center, Broad and Spruce streets, 3 p.m. today and tomorrow, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 2 p.m. Dec. 18-20, $27-$104, 215-893-1999, www.phillypops.org.
Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia: Alan Harler leads "From Heaven on High," with seasonal works including Mendelssohn's early Cantata "Von Himmel Hoch," Glenn Rudolph's "The Dream Isaiah Saw," the premiere of local composer Anthony Mosakowski's "Resonet in Laudibus" and a carol sing-along. Busy organist Michael Stairs will also perform in this highlight of the ensemble's 135th season. St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave., 4 and 8 p.m. tomorrow, $30, 215-735-9922, www.mcchorus.org.
Pennsylvania Ballet: The annual extravaganza of Tchaikovsky's evergreen "Nutcracker," with brilliant choreography by legendary George Balanchine and a newly designed production, one of the musts of every holiday season. Academy of Music, Broad and Locust streets, 7 tonight, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. tomorrow; noon and 4 p.m. Sunday; 7 p.m. Thursday, with 19 more performances through Dec. 31, $29-$134, 215-893-1999, www.paballet.org.
Anonymous 4: These haunting female voices, in a class by themselves for sublime vocal harmony and expression, offer songs, carols and ballads in a program called "The Cherry Tree." St. Mark's, 1625 Locust St., 8 tonight, $23, 215-569-8080, www.pcmsconcerts.org.
Thomas Jefferson University Choir and Orchestra: Dr. Robert Thayer Sataloff conducts Vivaldi's sumptuous "Gloria," plus carols and Handel's "Hallelujah" Chorus, as well as other choral works. Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany, 330 S. 13th St., 8 tonight, free, 1-800-JEFF-NOW.
Brandywine Ballet: Annual presentation of "The Nutcracker" features Koresh Dance Company guest Jae Hoon Lim, as well as Brandywine principals Hannah Telthoster and Jaime Lennon, in the choreography by Richard Hoskinson. Philips Memorial Building, South High Street and University Avenue, West Chester, 10 a.m. today and Thursday, 2 p.m. Saturday plus Dec. 20-21, 6 p.m. Sunday, $20-$35, 610-692-6402, www.brandywineballet.com.
West Jersey Chamber Chorale: Joel Krott leads the ensemble in holiday music from England, with seasonal songs from the Renaissance through the 21st century. First Presbyterian Church, 101 Bridgeboro Road, Moorestown, N.J., 8 p.m. tomorrow, $20, 856-778-1899.
Philadelphia Orchestra: The expanded-ensemble version of Handel's "Messiah" will be performed under the conducting baton of Julian Wachner. Soloists include soprano Sarah Coburn, mezzo Laura Vlasak Nolen, tenor William Hite and baritone David Kravitz, with the voices of the Philadelphia Singers Chorale. Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center, 2 p.m. Sunday, $16.50-$105, 215-893-1999, www.philorch.org.
Ephrata Cloister Chorus: Early American music and seasonal carols in the tradition of early German-Americans presented by the singers from the famous cloister. German Society of Pennsylvania, 611 Spring Garden St., 3 p.m. Sunday, $20, 215-627-2332, www.germansociety.org.
Vesper Recital: "A Little Advent Music" by Hugo Distler, plus music by Rheinberger, Holst and Richard Cummings, grace this program of psalms and anthems for choir and handbells. The instrumentalists are oboist Priscilla Smith, violinist James Finegan, organist Jeremy Gill, cellist Elena Smith and soprano Jacqueline Smith. Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Parkview and Lycoming avenues, Abington, 4 p.m. Sunday, free, 215-659-2642, www.holytrinity.net.
"A Christmas Carol": The classic holiday tale presented for grades 3-7 by American Family Theater. Keswick Theatre, Easton Road and Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, $7, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com.
Philadelphia Orchestra: Assistant conductor Danail Rachev takes the baton for the annual "Glorious Sounds of Christmas" concert, featuring the Philadelphia Singers Chorale. "Nutcracker" and "Messiah" excerpts, beloved works by Vaughan Williams, Bach and Schubert and many familiar carols in orchestral dress make up this well-planned program. Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center, 7 p.m. Thursday and Dec. 19-20, $9-$105, 215-893-1999, www.philorch.org.
Steve Forbert: No, the man doesn't have a great voice in the traditional sense. But does he ever have salt-of-the-earth character. And reams of pensive, original material to match. Tin Angel, 20 S. 2nd St., 7:30 tonight, $25, 215-928-0978, www.tinangel.com.
Mudvayne: Not feeling so good yourself? Connect with these howling rockers, up to their elbows in the muck and mire. 10 Years and Snot also blow through. Electric Factory, 7th and Willow streets, 8:30 tonight, $28.50, 215-336-2000, www.livenation.com.
Cheryl Wheeler: This wise, witty and durable folky singer/songwriter always connects with listeners. And how 'bout that edgy blues guy opening for her - David Jacobs-Strain? Sellersville Theater, Main and Temple streets, Sellersville, 8:30 tonight, $25, 215-257-5805, www.st94.com.
The Juan MacLean: We're not buying into the billing as "The Most Interesting Show in the World." Still, as mashups of electro-pop, techno, house, disco and post-punk go, this alter ego of John MacLean is pretty catchy. DJ Dave P warms up. TLA, 334 South St., 9 tonight, $18, 215-922-1011, www.livenation.com.
Meat Puppets: Seminal '80s cult band, more influential on others (like Nirvana) than commercially successful, is back on the road with two of three original members. The equally experimental Adam and Dave's Bloodline is the audacious opener. Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 9:30 tonight, $15, 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com.
Photon Band: One of Philly's Phinest Psychedelic Pop bands turns on the ray gun. Expect sweet tunes, too, from Audible (Mike and Kristine Kennedy) and 1970s sonic throwbacks Brown Recluse Sings. Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 9:30 p.m. tomorrow, $8, 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com.
The Dixie Bee-Liners: The Roots Music Association has named this co-ed troupe "Bluegrass Artist of 2008." The sextet was actually formed in Manhattan, then relocated to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Now that's commitment to the music. An Xtreme Folk Scene show. The Mermaid Inn, 7673 Winston Road, 8 p.m. tomorrow, $10 for the general public, free for XFS members. www.xfsmusic.org.
Q102 Jingle Ball: Pop radio station dangles some of the hotter artists of the hour for your listening and screaming pleasure. Enjoy the gift of Pussycat Dolls, Jesse McCartney, Katy Perry, Metro Station, Shontelle, Lady GaGa, David Archuleta, Brandy and Kevin Rudolf. And OMG, HSM's Ashley Tisdale is a special guest MC. Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, 6 p.m. Sunday, $49.50, $65 & $75, 215-336-2000, www.livenation.com.
The Big Horn Cavaliers: 15-piece jazz band wails in the brassy, modernistic vein of the Maynard Ferguson troupe. Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 6 p.m. Sunday, $10, 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com.
In the Round: They're talking 'bout a round robin (taking turns) performance, as Nicole Reynolds, Lucy Wainwright Roche and Rebecca Pronsky share their most interesting wares. Tin Angel, 20 S. 2nd St., 7 p.m. Sunday, $12, 215-928-0978, www.tinangel.com.
Gene Ween Band: One of Bucks County's hottest musical exports, as co-founder of the quirky, mercurial Ween band, Gene Ween takes a busman's holiday touring with fellow Ween bassist Dean Dreiwitz, RANA guitarist Scott Metzger and Duo drummer Joe Russo. All but Gene have previously worked together in a Led Zep cover band and also with brother Dean Ween. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 8 p.m. Tuesday, $20, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com.
Elliot Murphy: American-born but long France-based folk troubadour connects well with fans of Bruce Springsteen, and with "The Boss" himself. Jann Klose - an intriguing singer songwriter infused with soul gospel and Afro-pop flavors - is the opener. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 8 p.m. Wednesday, $23-$28, 215-222-1400, www.worldcaflive.com.
Savoy Brown: They were one of the original British Invasion blues rock bands, and still feature the same front man, Kim Simmonds. Opening the night is Craig Thatcher. Sellersville Theater, Main and Temple streets, Sellersville, 8 p.m. Thursday, $29.50, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com.
The Zodiac - Sagittarius Edition: Outerspace alum DJ Cru-Cut will spin a set and serve as special guest during this horoscope-themed event. DJs Roxy and Nex Millen will spin for the evening, while Mighty Flipside ESQ hosts. There will also be free astrology readings and giveaways. Medusa Lounge, 27 S. 21st St., 11 tonight, 21+, 215-557-1981.
A Hip-Hop Show: Oftentimes, the best hip-hop shows are the ones that feature no title or theme, but just have a lineup of thorough artists. Buff 1, Zilla Rocca and the amazing Hustle Simmons duo certainly won't disappoint. The Khyber, 56 S. 2nd St., 9 p.m. tomorrow, $10, 21+, 215-238-5888, www.thekhyber.com.
A Night at the Whistle: Hip-hop fans on the outskirts of town (and the city dwellers who don't mind traveling) may want to check out this set by hard-working DJ Cru-Cut. Expect the veteran DJ to display his unique beat-juggling style while playing present-day hit and old-school classics. Wet Whistle Bar & Grill, 300 Meetinghouse Road, Jenkintown; 10 p.m. tomorrow, $5, 21+, 215-884-5705.
Another Hip-Hop Show: Completing this week's run of themeless shows, top-shelf regional lyricist Verso, Journalist (a personal favorite) and Bunji will take turns delighting the crowd with their unique lyricism. The Fire, 412 W. Girard Ave., 9 p.m. Wednesday, $7, 267-671-9298, www.iourecords.com/thefire.
MC Lars: Post-punk laptop rapper from L.A. plays an early all-ages show with MC Frontalot, YT Cracker, and South Jersey's Circuits and Tendons. The Khyber, 56 S. 2nd St., 6 tonight, $10, all ages, 215-238-5888, www.thekhyber.com.
Vincent Black Shadow: The Baltimore psych/garage band plays with Deep Sleep, Psyched to Die, and Women. Kung Fu Necktie, 1248 N. Frankford Ave., 8 tonight, $8, 215-291-4945, www.kungfunecktie.com.
Gildon Works: The local Echo & The Bunnymen-like buzz band tops a solid bill with House of Fire, Sunshine Recorder, and The New International Satan. North Star Bar, 27th and Poplar streets, 9 tonight, $8, 215-684-0808, www.northstarbar.com.
Positively Sick on South Street: Bring a donation for Toys for Tots and get a dollar off admission, which includes rockabilly band The Old Souls, the cowpunk of Cisco Jeeters, and The Jukebox Zeros, the band behind host Pete Santa Maria. Tritone, 1508 South St., 9 tonight, $6, 215-545-0475, www.tritonebar.com.
Project H.O.M.E. Benefit: For once, going to a strip club is good community service. With Soraia, Preston Swift, and Whiskey Train. Upstairs at Club Risque, 1700 S. Columbus Blvd., 9 tonight, $5, 215-463-6900, www.myspace.com/athenamusic
Shop, Rock & Roll: Girls Rock Philly and Mew Gallery host a holiday craft bazaar and rock show to benefit Philly's only girls rock 'n' roll camp. Includes local vendors and camper band Iron Tree and camper DJ Sassafras. Old Pine Community Center, 401 Lombard St., 2-6 p.m. tomorrow, $5-10, 215-789-4879, www.girlsrockphilly.org.
Vinnie Caruana: The leader of Movielife and I Am the Avalanche plays solo and acoustic with Doylestown's Balance & Composure and Man Overboard. The Khyber, 56 S. 2nd St., 6 p.m. tomorrow, $8-$10, 215-238-5888, www.thekhyber.com.
F--- Cancer: Local rockers B-tchslicer, Cisco Jeeters, Boogie Witch, Live Not on Evil, Beast Infection, The Dark Lords of Stonehurst, and Scareho pitch in to aid the ailing punk legend and Mayor of South Street Mikey Wild. Connie's Ric Rac, 1132 S. 9th St., 8 p.m. tomorrow, www.myspace.com/conniesricrac.
For Jack II: A tribute to late local musician Christopher Tucker of The Situation and raise money for his son's educational fund. With A Place to Bury Strangers, the reunion of The Three 4 Tens, Deaf Not Dead, The Jolly What, and Further Faster. Mojo 13, 1706 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, Del., 8 p.m. tomorrow, $10, 302-798-5798, www.mojothirteen.com.
Hell Under The El: Their last show at the El Bar features Clashing Plaid, The Cosmosonics, Eric 13, Kill Kill Kill, and The Blessed Muthas. El Bar, Front and Master streets, 9 p.m. tomorrow, $5, 215-634-6430 www.myspace.com/hellundertheel.
Philadbundance Benefit: Includes Beretta 76, Chuck Treece's latest project Man Is Doomed, Victor Victor Band, and Se7en Heads. North Star Bar, 27th and Poplar streets, 9 p.m. tomorrow, $10, 215-684-0808, www.northstarbar.com.
Black Landlord: Maxx of The Goats and Incognegro put together his hip-hop/funk live band after trips to Paris and Berlin. With Da Rezarect and Swift Technique. 941 Theater, 941 N. Front St., 9 p.m. tomorrow, $20, 215-235-5603, www.villagegreenproductions.net.
Photon Band: The Art DiFuria led Jam-meets-The Who trio top an excellent local bill with Audible and Brown Recluse Sings. Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 9:30 p.m. tomorrow, $8, 215-238-5888, www.johnnybrendas.com.
The Red Masque: The avant rockers headline a like-minded bill of experimental rock, psych, and noise with Radio Eris and Offshore Drilling (members of Drums Like Machine Guns). Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St., 8 p.m. Sunday, free, all ages, 215-573-3234, www.therotunda.org.
Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow: Includes sword swallowing, snake charming, fire eating, a living snow globe, and other human feats. Plus DJ Psydde Delicious. Silk City, 5th and Spring Garden streets, 9 p.m. Sunday, $10, 215-592-8838, www.luckydaredevil.com.
Monday Night Club: This week's installment features "Suicide Idol," a song parody contest hosted by dirty Neil Diamond impersonator Dirty Diamond. National Mechanics, 22 S. 3rd St., 9 p.m. Monday, free, 215-701-4883,
Jack Rose: Philadelphia folkie/ragtime lap guitarist joins Sun Circle (the new project for laptop folk artist Greg Davis and Zach Wallace), and Bird Show (Town and Country's Ben Vida). Chapel of the First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., 8 p.m. Tuesday, $10, all ages, 267-765-5210, www.r5productions.com.
Snacks: The weekly party for Making Time's Dave P and guest DJs features Voxtrot's Ramesh Srivastava. Woody's, 202 S. 13th St., 10 p.m. Tuesday, free, 215-545-1893 www.igetrvng.com.
Live Home Movies: The Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association invites guests to bring up to 10 minutes of home movies on super 8, reg8, 16mm, or DVD. Sherman Arts' Rich Wexler projects various oddities in between films. Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, $5, 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com.
Panic: Gregg Foreman, Kyle M, and John Redden spin Smiths, Morrissey and all things British. The Barbary, Frankford and Delaware Avenue, 9 p.m. Wednesday, free, www.myspace.com/thenewbarbary.
Collages: Helen Back's Jimi Mooney shares his artistic side at this reception at the newly-reopened Sweet Jane. Sweet Jane Vintage Clothing and Records, 1742 E. Passyunk Ave., 5-9 p.m. Thursday, free, 215-339-0882, www.myspace.com/helen
War on Drugs: The Mojo-lauded Philly band plays with Comoros and Joshua Marcus. Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 8 p.m. Thursday, $10, 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com.
Metropolis: The DJs from Philadelphyinz and Hurrah spin disco, hip-hop, and electro. The Barbary, Frankford and Delaware Avenue, 9 p.m. Thursday, free, www.myspace.com/
Jason Moran and the Bandwagon: The Philadelphia Museum of Art has commissioned pianist Moran to pen a piece inspired by the museum's exhibit of quilts from Gee's Bend, Ala. The resultant work includes one of the most promising team-ups in recent memory: Moran's knockout trio will be supplemented by guitarist Bill Frisell, who brings an airy Americana to the pianist's urban angularity. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street and Ben Franklin Parkway, 5:45 and 7:15 tonight, free with regular museum admission of $14, 215-763-8100, www.philamuseum.org.
Christian McBride: Philly-born bassist is so ubiquitous as a sideman and voice-of-jazz that it's been some time since he's led his own group back to town: saxophonist Ron Blake, keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer and drummer Terreon Gully. Montgomery County Community College, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, 8 tonight, $22, 215-641-6300, www.mc3.edu.
Ron Horton Sextet: As part of Ars Nova Workshop's "Free/Form: Composer Portrait" series, trumpeter Horton leads a fantastic group through music from the late pianist Andrew Hill's "Passing Ships," released in 2003 after 34 years on the shelf. Settlement Music School, 416 Queen St., 8 tonight, $15, www.arsnovaworkshop.com.
Abigail Riccards: With the help of some of the most interesting players on the modern jazz scene, including Matt Wilson and Ben Allison, vocalist Riccards' debut album manages to find a new slant on well-worn standards. Here, she'll supplement her quartet with saxophonist Joel Frahm, which should have the same effect. Chris' Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom St., 8 and 10 p.m. tomorrow, $20, 215-568-3131, www.chrisjazzcafe.com.
Ed Wise: Bassist leads his New Orleans Jazz Band through a set of old-fashioned, Big Easy swing, presented by the trad-minded Tri-State Jazz Society. American Legion Hall, Browning Road and Railroad Avenue, Brooklawn N.J., 2 p.m. Sunday, $20, 610-268-5930, www.tristatejazz.org.
Hebden/Reid: An unusual pairing: Kieran Hebden is a young electronic musician best known for his solo project, Four Tet, while Steve Reid is a veteran drummer who started with Martha and the Vandellas and has played with everyone from Miles Davis to James Brown. International House, 3701 Chestnut St., 8 p.m. Sunday, $25, 215-387-5125, www.arsnovaworkshop.com.
Sci-Fi Philly: Weekly avant-jazz showcase presents guitarist Mike Lorenz's quartet; Special What, the local trio formerly known as BRKFST?; and keyboardist Matt Mitchell solo. Gojjo, 4540 Baltimore Ave., 8 p.m. Sunday, $5, www.scifiphilly.com.
Tony Malaby Cello Trio: Stellar threesome led by muscular saxophonist Malaby, with Claudia Quintet leader John Hollenbeck on drums and Chicago improvisor Fred Lonberg-Holm in the cello chair. International House, 3701 Chestnut St., 8 p.m. Thursday, $12, 215-387-5125, www.arsnovaworkshop.com.
Joan Morris and William Bolcom: Soprano Morris and her pianist/composer husband Bolcom make their annual visit to widen the scope of the song form. This time they're delving into cabaret songs of the early 20th century, a journey of discovery delivered by two consummate pros. Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust St., 8 p.m. tomorrow, $23, 215-569-8080, www.pcmsconcerts.org.
Tokyo String Quartet: These world-famous musicians return for their first of two programs with three masterful Quartets: Haydn's Op. 76/1, Bartok's No. 5 and the Mendelssohn D Major, Op. 44/1. Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, Broad and Spruce streets, 3 p.m. Sunday, $23, 215-569-8080, www.pcmsconcerts.org.
Academy of Vocal Arts: The annual "Evening of Russian Romances" features 17 Academy singers in arias from Prokofiev's "War and Peace," Borodin's "Prince Igor" and many others by Shostakovich, Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov from the huge Russian catalog. The program is accompanied by Ukrainian native and Curtis-trained mentor Ghenady Meirson. Helen Corning Warden Theater, 1920 Spruce St., 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, $23, 215-735-1685, www.avaopera.org.