BOYS FROM THE COUNTY HELL
The Pogues tribute band Boys From the County Hell has been around for more than ten years, and they're something of a local legend these days. They've actually toured as a backing band for Spider Stacy, one of the founding members of the Pogues. Almost as impressive: The Cleveland-based eight-piece have played marathon 15-hour sets on St. Patrick's Day — an especially fitting time of year, since the Irish Pogues were fronted by the perpetually drunk Shane MacGowan. The Boys' frontman, Doug McKean, doesn't sound as gruff as MacGowan did (who does?), but Boys From the County Hell ably capture both the rousing and mellow moments of the Pogues' music, plus the traditional Irish songs they cover. Like the Pogues, Boys From the County Hell make good use of mandolins, accordions, and tinwhistles. And like the Pogues, a Boys concert can become a rowdy, drunken good time in a hurry. They don't play out that often, so there are plenty of reasons to see their holiday show this week. For starters, you probably won't see them onstage again until March. — Ben Gifford
With Scar Lovers. 9 p.m. Thursday, December 23. House of Blues. Tickets: $13, $10 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or go to houseofblues.com.
X-MESS @ THE GROG SHOP
You got up early with the family, opened presents both heartwarmingly perfect and inexplicably crappy, and completed the genetic Christmas crawl from grandparents to aunts and uncles to blood relations that would require a licensed genealogist to confirm their link to you. You deserve a night out at the Grog Shop's annual X-Mess bacchanal, featuring HotChaCha's tough loveliness, Megachurch's two-bass-and-one-drum metal-political-religious sonic shitstorm, Clovers' guitar distortion-with-chunks of Pavement grit and grime, and the full-metal dinner-jacket assault of Born of the Yeti, a new band formed by members of Amps II Eleven and Stepsister. In addition to the spectacular soundtrack, there's free food, plenty of seasonal spirits, and stockings filled with gag gifts (some probably better than the ones under your tree). So nog out with your cog out and put your own personal X in this very merry X-Mess. With any luck, you'll be hungover by the chimney with care tomorrow. — Brian Baker
With HotChaCha, Megachurch, Clovers, and Born of the Yeti. 8 p.m. Saturday, December 25. Grog Shop. Tickets: $5; call 216-321-5588 or go to grogshop.gs.
HOME & GARDEN
The rich history of Cleveland's legendary avant-garage rockers Pere Ubu must include a chapter on Home & Garden, the revolving group fronted by Ubu's rhythm section of bassist Tony Maimone and drummer Scott Krauss. They were originally a studio-only project, formed after Ubu called it quits in the early '80s. But over the years they built up and declared independence from their old band's legacy. Home & Garden put greater emphasis on grooves, employing pop-speckled melodies and swirling progressive rock textures. They released a series of records and played out often. In 1987, Peru Ubu reunited, and the bands' lineups began to overlap. By 1990 it looked like Home & Garden were no more. But in 1993 Krauss left Pere Ubu and reignited Home & Garden with Maimone, ex-Vivians singer Diane Duncan (who died last year), and other local luminaries. The band continues to evolve and expand, and Maimone and Krauss will gather the latest version this weekend for their annual Old Home Night show, which features a bunch of other Cleveland faves.— Mark Keresman
With Kidney Brothers, Anton Fier, the Heathers, and Alejandro Escovedo & Miss Melvis. 8 p.m. Sunday December 26. Beachland. Tickets: $10; call 216-383-1124 or go to beachlandballroom.com.
JOE LOVANO's FAMILY & FRIENDS
Native Clevelander Joe Lovano pulled off a hat trick in this year's DownBeat Critics Poll, winning Jazz Artist, Group, and Saxophonist of the Year awards. The reedman brings his Family & Friends show to town on the eve of his 58th birthday. He'll be joined by his wife (singer Judi Silvano) and brother (drummer Anthony Lovano), who round out the "Family" contingent. Friends include some of Cleveland's brightest jazz talent: percussionist Jamey Haddad, drummer Carmen Castaldi, saxophonist Ernie Krivda, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, and bassist Dave Morgan. Lovano has played these special holiday homecoming gigs before — one even led to the recording of Lovano's Grammy-winning 52nd Street Themes album in 2000. So you can expect a loose set filled with the dizzying flash of the improviser's art. It's good to see that Lovano, who'll release the second record with his group Us Five next month, hasn't forgotten his roots. And it'll be good to have him home. — Matt Marshall
With Judi Silvano, Anthony Lovano, Jamey Haddad, Carmen Castaldi, Ernie Krivda, Dominick Farinacci, and Dave Morgan. 7 p.m. Tuesday, December 28. Nighttown. Tickets: $30; call 216-795-0550 or go to nighttowncleveland.com.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
The holidays are a time to reconnect with family, friends ... and your former rock band. "I live in Chicago, and I'm rarely back," says Bears singer and guitarist Charlie McArthur. "So it's a great opportunity to see everyone." The scattered Bears are just one of eight groups celebrating old local acquaintances at the Beachland's Home for the Holidays fest. (Afternoon Naps, Nights, Roue, Harriet the Spy, Kill the Hippies, Filmstrip, and Diamonds & Pearls are also on the bill.) Bands will play alternating sets in both the Ballroom and Tavern, spreading holiday cheer all night long. Expect to hear some new songs from some of the groups: Bears' last album, Simple Machinery, came out two years ago, so they're due for some fresh tunes. "We're 95 percent done recording," says McArthur, who hopes the album will be available in the summer. For now, he's in a holiday state of mind. "It was a fun time last year, and we want it to be even better this year," he says. "I hope to not be sick this time, so maybe I'll actually be able to stay on key while singing."— Keith Gribbins
With Bears, Afternoon Naps, Nights, Diamonds & Pearls, Roue, Harriet the Spy, Kill the Hippies, and Filmstrip. 9 p.m. Thursday, December 23. Beachland Ballroom and Tavern. Tickets: $8; call 216-383-1124 or go to beachlandballroom.com.
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