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Who’s in KC this weekend? Trans-Siberian Orchestra, David Cook and more

Trans-Siberian Orchestra will perform two shows on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Sprint Center.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra will perform two shows on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Sprint Center. Erie (Pa.) Times-News via AP


Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Granada

Ebony Tusks, the locally based experimental hip-hop group, has received short shrift during a series of high-profile concerts in recent months. Working as a warm-up act for artists including Public Enemy and Vince Staples, Ebony Tusks has given performances that have been artistically rapturous but absurdly brief. Its headlining appearance at Thursday’s benefit concert for a food bank should allow the adventurous collective to demonstrate its full range. With Spencer Mackenzie Brown, Toughies and CS Luxem.

8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1. Granada. 785-842-1390. Free, but a $5 donation is requested.


Friday, Dec. 2, at KC Live

Melodic rock will supplant the cheerful jingle of hand-rung bells at Friday’s Rock the Red Kettle concert in the Power & Light District. The Fray and David Cook will perform at the free benefit event for the Salvation Army’s charitable efforts. The conciliatory sentiment expressed in the Fray’s biggest hit “How to Save a Life” makes the Colorado band an excellent fit for the fundraiser. Cook, a rock artist from Blue Springs, won the 2008 season of “American Idol.”

6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2. KC Live. 816-842-1045. Free.


Friday, Dec. 2, at the Garage at Knuckleheads

Sara Watkins would be forgiven for envying the high profile achieved by her former band mate Chris Thile. Along with Thile and her brother Sean, Watkins expanded the audience for bluegrass in the previous decade with the groundbreaking trio Nickel Creek. Thile recently became the host of the radio program “A Prairie Home Companion.” Watkins, a fine violinist, vocalist and songwriter, is touring in support of her superlative new album, “Young in All the Wrong Ways.” With River Whyless.

8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2. The Garage at Knuckleheads. 816-483-1456. $20 in advance.


Friday, Dec. 2, at the Tank Room

Jennifer Hall delivers a sensitive reading of the heartbreaking jazz standard “Miss Otis Regrets” in a video posted at her YouTube channel. In the colorful video for “Make It Out Alive,” Hall looks and sounds as if she’s auditioning to replace the frontman of a modern rock band like Young the Giant. Hall’s wondrous voice is the only constant element in the Chicago-based singer/songwriter’s expansive stylistic range. With Crystal Rose and Jessica Paige.

7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2. Tank Room. 816-214-6403. $5 in advance.


Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Riot Room

Many of the musicians who fashion themselves as traditional country artists are prone to sweetening their sounds with a few contemporary embellishments. Not Luke Bell. The Wyoming native plays undiluted honky-tonk that wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows in 1956. The approach may be reverent but it isn’t stuffy. Bell plays with a lively spirit that evokes the feisty legacies of his musical heroes like Ernest Tubb and Lefty Frizzell. With Starhaven Rounders and Windler.

8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. Riot Room. 816-442-8179. $12 in advance.


Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Sprint Center

The titular protagonist of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” decries the commercialization of the holiday. He’s horrified when he discovers that Snoopy is participating in a “spectacular super-colossal neighborhood Christmas lights and display contest.” The people who flock to Trans-Siberian Orchestra performances every December would likely insist that Charlie Brown had it all wrong, that the “spectacular super-colossal” special effects of the group’s rock opera, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” accentuate the wonder of the holiday.

3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. Sprint Center. 816-949-7100. $35.50-$72 in advance.


Sunday, Dec. 4, at Knuckleheads

The blues landscape is riddled with the lifeless careers of former child prodigies. For every Joe Bonamassa who has sustained a lengthy career after being hailed as a novelty in his youth, there are dozens of failed next-big-things. Marcus King, a 20-year-old marvel from South Carolina, is among the most recent blues aspirants. Partly because he’s a dual threat — his raspy vocals are as potent as his guitar pyrotechnics — King’s odds seem better than those of most fledgling blues hopefuls.

8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4. Knuckleheads. 816-483-1456. $13.50 in advance.


Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Knuckleheads

Fans of the forward-thinking jazz group Medeski Martin & Wood know Chris Wood as a bassist in the tradition of legends like Charles Mingus and Charlie Haden. An entirely different audience embraces Wood’s work with his brother Oliver in the Wood Brothers. Along with a rotating cast of collaborators, the Wood Brothers apply their expert musicianship to a robust blend of blues, folk, rock and bluegrass with improvisational gusto. With Ben Sollee.

8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. Knuckleheads. 816-483-1456. $25 in advance.


Wednesday, Dec. 7, at PBR Big Sky

“Somewhere in the Middle (Between Right and Wrong),” a minor hit by Texas-based country artist Josh Ward, describes a couple trying to resist temptation after meeting “in a small town bar not far from home.” The title of the song might also apply to the artistic choices made by Ward. He manages to find the common ground between the often insipid clichés of commercial radio fare and the rough-and-tumble honky-tonk of country formalists.

8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7. PBR Big Sky. 816-442-8145. $11 in advance.


Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Granada

The Kongo’s breakout hit “Come With Me Now” was seemingly inescapable a couple of years ago. Used in commercials and as bumper music in sports and news broadcasts, “Come With Me Now” added an uncommon burst of international flavor to the airwaves. The song’s inviting chorus and the audacious use of musical elements from the Kongos’ South African home were stimulating. The band is attempting to build on that success with the percussive and accordion-laced new album “Egomaniac.”

8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7. Granada. 785-842-1390. $18 in advance.


Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland

A flat voice intones “I am a human being capable of doing terrible things” on Awolnation’s latest single, “Run.” While a rendition of the menacing hit is likely to act as a highlight of Wednesday’s concert, the human being who programmed the first of four “How the Buzz Stole Xmas” concerts did a very wonderful thing. All four bands at the show perform compatible electro-pop. Awolnation, the Los Angeles band best known for the 2011 smash “Sail,” tops the bill of like-minded bands. With Capital Cities, 888 and the Moth & the Flame.

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7. Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. 816-283-9921. $30 in advance.


Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the VooDoo

Even though Maren Morris isn’t the headliner of the Acoustic Christmas concert sponsored by radio station 106.5 the Wolf, she’s the must-see artist at the event. The native Texan successfully duplicates Taylor Swift’s pop moves on the slick hit “80s Mercedes.” By name-checking Hank Williams and Johnny Cash on the jubilant “My Church,” Morris indicates she doesn’t intend to entirely forsake her country roots. With the Eli Young Band, Love and Theft and Jackie Lee.

8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7. The VooDoo. 816-472-7777. The VooDoo. Advance tickets are available in exchange for the donation of a $10 unwrapped toy at the radio station’s studios during business hours or at one of the station’s promotional events.