Ugly Sweater Party
By BILL BROWNLEE
Special to The Star
Social media guru Ramsey Mohsen founded the Ugly Sweater Party as a small private function in 2005 to playfully ridicule the garments he describes as “Christmas puked all over.” It has since become an important date on the calendars of many of the Kansas City area’s most prominent movers and shakers. In addition to being a place to see and be seen, the party is a benefit for Operation Breakthrough. Beyond the purchase of a ticket, revelers can contribute to the cause by renting an ugly sweater and by bidding in a silent auction. DJ Ashton Martin will supply the music. 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tower Tavern, 401 E. 31st St., 816-931-9300. kcsweaterparty.com . $60 for a general admission ticket. Multiple V.I.P. packages are also available.
The William Baker Festival Singers
Illuminated by candlelight, the 55 members of the William Baker Festival Singers will perform songs of the season at the annual “Candlelight, Carols & Cathedral” concerts. The first ensemble to bear Baker’s name was formed in suburban Atlanta in 1985. Baker’s ties to the Kansas City area, including music ministries at Village Presbyterian Church and Faith Lutheran Church, led to the formation and ongoing success of the Kansas City branch. The semi-professional choir, among the best of its type in the country, will interpret classical works, spirituals and familiar carols. 3 p.m. Sunday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 416 W. 12th St., and 8 p.m. Dec. 20 at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. 913-403-9223. festivalsingers.org. $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. Children under 12 are free.
The visually stunning interior of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception will resonate with the ethereal sound of the Tallis Scholars on Friday. One of the world’s pre-eminent vocal ensembles specializing in the sacred music of the Renaissance, the British-based Tallis Scholars will perform works including Philippe Verdelot’s “Beata es virgo Maria” and Tomás Luis de Victoria’s “Dum Complerentur Dum Ergo Essent.” The gorgeous singing of the 10-piece a cappella group will offer harried music lovers an evening of serenity. A pre-concert lecture by Peter Phillips, the man who founded the Tallis Scholars in 1973, begins at 7 p.m. 8 p.m. Friday. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 416 W. 12th St. 816-561-9999. chambermusic.org. $30. Tickets for youth 18 and under are free.
Turtle Island Quartet with vocalist Tierney Sutton, ‘A Solstice Celebration: The Festival of Lights’
Celebrated jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton and the Turtle Island Quartet, one of the most adventurous chamber music groups of recent decades, reinterpret the songs of Joni Mitchell on the new album “After Blue.” Sutton’s lush voice and the string quartet’s spare arrangements combine to create bold new treatments of Mitchell’s familiar songs. Although the seasonal theme of the program will include material associated with Hanukkah, Diwali and Christmas, the highlights of Friday’s concert may be the startling new versions of Mitchell’s secular compositions. 7:30 p.m. Friday. Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive, Lawrence. 785-864-2787. lied.ku.edu. $21-$24 for adults and $11-$12 for students and youth.
Danielle Nicole Schnebelen
Many factors contribute to Trampled Under Foot’s ongoing status as one of the most popular bands in Kansas City. Kurt Schnebelen’s blazing guitar delights fans of blues masters like Buddy Guy. The band’s friendly synthesis of blues and rock invites dancing. And in claiming the International Blues Challenge in 2008, Trampled Under Foot achieved validation from independent observers. For many, however, the most appealing aspect of Trampled Under Foot is the emphatically soulful vocal work of Danielle Nicole Schnebelen. Her singing will be front and center as she’s accompanied only by keyboardist Shinetop in the intimate acoustic room at Knuckleheads. 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Retro Lounge at Knuckleheads, 2715 Rochester. 816-483-1456. knuckleheadshonkytonk.com. $30 in advance.
‘The Nativity,’ Paul Mesner Puppets
While the impeccably artful productions by the likes of the Unicorn Theatre and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre may receive the lion’s share of plaudits from traditional theatergoers, it’s entirely possible that Paul Mesner Puppets is responsible for more undiluted joy than any theatrical company in the region. Endlessly creative and engagingly playful, Paul Mesner Puppets productions are worlds removed from simple Punch-and-Judy shows. Accompanied by musicians, the elaborate one-hour version of the traditional Nativity story provides meaningful fun for audiences of all ages. 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. 816-756-3500. Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. paulmesnerpuppets.org. $9 for children and $15 for adults.
Kansas City Women’s Chorus, ‘I’ll Be Home’
The official purpose of the Kansas City Women’s Chorus — “our songs engage the heart, celebrate the spirit, and enrich the mind” — shouldn’t be difficult to discern during its “I’ll Be Home” production at the Folly Theater. Formed in 1999, the chorus includes about 100 volunteer singers of differing backgrounds and orientations. The ensemble’s annual holiday concert will almost certainly feature material like “In Dulci Jubilo” and “Feliz Navidad” from “Joy,” the chorus’ first professionally produced album. Promoters of the concert promise plenty of “TLC” — “tears, laughter and chills.” 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. 816-474-4444. follytheater.org. $22 and $20 for seniors.
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Concision isn’t Doris Kearns Goodwin’s strong suit. Goodwin’s 759-page “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II” won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1995. Her latest work, “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism,” is 926 pages. Fortunately, her skill as a storyteller makes those imposing tomes exceedingly readable. One of the most popular and important historians of our time, Goodwin will discuss her latest, “The Bully Pulpit,” and field questions from the audience. 7 p.m. Friday. Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St. 913-384-3126. rainydaybooks.com. $40 purchases one hardcover book, one stamped autograph admission ticket and two passes to the talk.
Gardens by Candlelight: A Luminary Walk
A week prior to the winter solstice, the luminary walk at Powell Gardens is a beautiful way to take advantage of the otherwise dismal darkness of the season. Hundreds of luminaria will light the paths at the botanical garden in nearby Kingsville, Mo. Outdoor and indoor fires, hot chocolate, cookies and s’mores will help keep hearts and hands warm. Visitors will be treated to bluegrass by the Chambers family and classical music by String Theory on Saturday and the music of the Kansas City Flute Choir and multi-instrumentalist Denny Osburn on Sunday. 5-7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Powell Gardens, 1609 N.W. U.S. 50. 816-697-2600. powellgardens.org. $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $3 for children ages 5-12.
Author Ben Sidran
In spite of his rock ’n’ roll credentials — he co-wrote the Steve Miller Band’s 1969 classic rock anthem “Space Cowboy” — Ben Sidran is the epitome of a jazz hipster. Aside from his extensive recording career, Sidran has been the host of several radio and television programs and has written influential studies about music, including 1972’s “Black Talk.” Sidran’s latest book, “There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream,” is a sophisticated but accessible scholarly treatise about popular culture. He’ll illustrate the issues addressed in the book with a multimedia performance Sunday at the White Theatre. 2 p.m. Sunday. Lewis and Shirley White Theatre, 5801 W. 115th St., Overland Park. 913-327-8054. jcckc.org. $20 for adults, $14 for members of the Jewish Community Center and $11 for students.
The Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Oakland Raiders
More than football fuels the intense rivalry between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. Anyone who has spent much time in the company of supporters of the Chiefs and the Raiders knows that the two groups are completely incompatible. The fans of each team look at life in ways that are as different as the landscapes of Kansas City and Oakland. Raiders supporters are known for their provocative behavior and outrageous costumes. Chiefs fans are famous for their tailgating. Because the Chiefs have the upper hand on their longtime division rivals this season, anticipation for Sunday’s game in Oakland has confident Kansas City fans licking their chops. 3:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS and 101.1 the Fox radio.
Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star