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Our Picks for 12/15-12/22

A collection of noteworthy events for your enjoyment.



Tacos for Life Party with Strive Roots

thursday 15

Amalia's likes to go big, as we learned last year when the downtown Mexican eatery sponsored the enormous Cindo de Mayo street party that featured the sounds of Ozomatli and the screams of about, oh, 87 million people. Now, Amalia's is holding a contest that gives its winner "tacos for life" - meaning they get a free taco every damn day until they die. Local reggae and rock band Strive Roots provides the music to the announcement party. 7pm. Amalia's, 915 NW Wall St.

Christmas Kayak on the Deschutes River

friday 16

There are silly holiday traditions and then there are awesome traditions, and this event fits into the latter category. Head down to Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe and bring a fully decorated human-powered boat to guide down the river along with other festive paddlers. And you should probably wear an ugly Christmas sweater, too, because it's going to be cold out there. If you're afraid of getting wet or do not count yourself among the ranks of paddlers, line up along the river and check out this spectacle. Paddlers meet at 3:30pm, spectators can expect boats in the water by 4:30pm. Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, 805 SW Industrial Way, #6.

Empty Space Orchestra with White Orange

saturday 17

As we've told you over and over, Empty Space Orchestra is playing at the Silver Moon Brewing Co., every Saturday this month (with the exception of Christmas Eve of course. These guys need a vacation, too, people.). While you probably know all about the technical instrumental excellence of ESO, let us introduce you to White Orange, this week's opening band. The Portland quartet plays a dynamic, spacey brand of rock music that might remind you of Dinosaur Jr... or maybe even ESO themselves, but with vocals, of course. $5 at bendticket.com/$7 door. 9pm. Silver Moon Brewing Co., 24 NW Greenwood Ave.

Tony Smiley

saturday 17

We definitely fell in love with Tony Smiley this year thanks to his nifty work with loop pedals and other effects that allow him to become the 2011 version of a one-man band. But here's the thing: his music isn't hokey and it's not contrived at all, even if he is the only dude making all that sound. His songs range from indie rock to funk and this Holiday Extravaganza, as they're calling it, will be a nice way to ramp up for the upcoming festivities. 9pm. Players Bar & Grill, 25 SW Century Dr.

Handel's Messiah

saturday-sunday 17-18

We've given you plenty of Christmasy things to do over the course of the last few weeks, including some play recommendations in this week's Culture section. But let us fill you in on a classier, more high-minded holiday affair: a performance of Handel's Messiah by the Central Oregon Mastersingers, accompanied by an 18-piece orchestra, under the direction of Clyde Thompson. Watch our great local talent perform this timeless tradition. There are four shows this weekend, so you have no excuse for missing this. Saturday at 2pm and 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm. $18 at towertheatre.org. 2pm. Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall.

Brandi Carlile

monday 19

That's right, Brandi Carlile, arguably Bend's favorite out-of-town singer-songwriter, is coming back to town for the third time this year. But this time she's all on her own and playing a solo acoustic show. Check out the On Stage column for more about this Seattle-based songstress' sold out show. Secret Sisters open the show. Bring a toy to be donated to Toys for Tots. Sold out. 7pm. Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St.

Tom Grant Christmas

thursday 22

The jazz fever that has grasped a faction of Bend's population by the ears doesn't break for the holiday season, which is why the Jazz at the Oxford continues next week. This time, the Oxford brings to town Portland smooth jazz pioneer Tom Grant, who will tickle the ivories and croon his way into your hearts. Also appearing are Shelly Rudolph and Jackie Nicole. $35 at bendticket.com. 8pm. The Oxford Hotel, 10 Minnesota Ave.

The Blind Boys of Alabama

thursday 22

Hey there music fan, flip the darn page and take a look at James Williams' interview with the Blind Boys of Alabama, the legendary gospel group that's been touring the country for more than 70 years. This show is a holiday performance they're calling "Go Tell It on a Mountain." $35 at towertheatre.org. 7:30pm. Thursday, Dec 22. Tower Theatre, 735 NW Wall St.

Bingo (with Beer)

thursday 22

There's not a whole lot going on as we get closer and closer to the Christmas weekend, but if you can't get tickets to the Blind Boys, make your way to the Cascade Lakes Lodge for a jolly round or two of bingo... with a beer, of course. There are cash prizes and donations go to First Story, a nonprofit housing organization. 7pm-10pm Cascade Lakes Lodge, 1441 SW Chandler Ave.

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