We'd say that Trans-Siberian Orchestra's prog-rock-inspired holiday sound isn't your mother's Christmas music . . . if Mom didn't like TSO so much. The N.Y.C. group -- a revolving ensemble of players anchored by producer Paul O'Neill -- takes traditional Christmas songs, spices them up with some bitchin' guitar solos (most of the founding members played with '80s metalheads Savatage), and dishes them out with a side of pyrotechnics. "We like Christmas," says keyboardist and co-founder Robert Kinkel. "It's the one time of year when people are nicer to each other." The orchestra -- which puts 23 classical and rock musicians onstage together -- has released three Christmas-concept CDs since 1996, each more stuffed than the last. Says Kinkel: "It just seems natural to put this all together." Trans-Siberian Orchestra is at Quicken Loans Arena (100 Gateway Plaza) at 8 p.m. Friday and 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $32.50 and $45.50; call 216-241-5555. -- Michael Gallucci
Cosmic Candy makes no excuses for playing cover songs exactly the way you remember them. "Some bands play cover songs their own way," says bassist Brian Cowley. "They [want to eventually] play their originals. But we try to sound like the real thing." Since early last year, the quartet -- "'80s classic-rock kinda guys playing dance and funk with a 25-year-old singer up front" is how Cowley describes the group -- has crisscrossed the region, playing everything from David Bowie's "Let's Dance" to LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade." But you won't find the band in the same bar more than once a month. "I don't want to play the same three clubs in one neighborhood," says Cowley. "People won't drive from Lakewood to Beachwood to see a cover band." Cosmic Candy performs from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at the Avenue Bar & Grille, 9055 Mentor Avenue in Mentor. Admission is free; call 440-255-7030. -- Cris Glaser
Gone to Blazes
Tommy Blaze lives for marital conflict. In fact, he draws much of his material from it. "We have a 53 percent divorce rate in this country. Which means if you're not divorced, your spouse will be." He also shares observations as a single parent: "Most grown men dress exactly like a five-year-old boy." Blaze is at Hilarities 4th Street Theatre (2035 East Fourth Street) Tuesday through December 11. Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 to $18; call 216-241-7425. -- P.F. Wilson
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