Chicago chiptune rockers I Fight Dragons keep the quest for fun going with this weekend's Lincoln Hall show. // Courtesy of I Fight Dragons

Sound check: I Fight Dragons, Shemekia Copeland, Side Street’s Jingle Bell Jam, ‘Luminare’ and more


Primary songwriter and Glenview native Brian Mazzaferri once told me I Fight Dragons was born “from a sense of epic possibility.” And the band’s joyful and celebratory catalog captures that still-sparking sense of wonder. Fans can catch the fivesome’s infectious chiptune-permeated rock when I Fight Dragons plays its annual preholiday show at Lincoln Hall this weekend, joined by rhythmic alt-pop band Flugel and synth-inspired indie pop from August Hotel. 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. $17-$20.

Shemekia on stage

Blues singer extraordinaire Shemekia Copeland brings tunes from her recent fearless album release “Done Come Too Far” to an intimate performance at Chicago’s City Winery this weekend. 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago. $38-$55.

Christmas classics

The Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, will overflow with holiday spirit as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Chorus share traditional Christmas carols, festive holiday hits and the audience favorite “Christmas in Chicago” during six performances of the “Merry, Merry Chicago!” concert over the next week. Ticket prices, which start at $49, vary by date and seating. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16; 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20; 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22; and 1:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23

Blues-country fix

Samantha Fish, one of the most acclaimed blues guitarists of her generation, heads to Chicago’s Park West for a night of fiery blues mixed with contemporary rock. She’ll also be joined on stage by Jesse Dayton, a country-punk staple with whom Fish is releasing a new album early next year. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago. $26.50 for general admission.

Pete Ellman’s Christmas

The Pete Ellman Big Band celebrates a big band Christmas with a program of jazzed-up holiday favorites and standards at The Venue, 21 S. Broadway Ave., Aurora, to start your weekend on a musical note. $20-$25 (plus $5 if purchased at the door the day of the show). 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16

Side Street’s Jingle Bell Jam

Tap into your love for music and the spirit of giving at the Side Street Studio Arts’ Jingle Bell Jam fundraiser this weekend. On the concert side, local artists What To Do, The Daisy Heaves, The Subterraneans and Ceruleum take the stage at the studio. SSSA is also partnered with Pink Slip Zine for a winter coat drive and fundraiser to benefit PADs of Elgin and Mutual Aid DuPage, as well as a canned food drive to assist Food For Greater Elgin during the holidays. 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at Side Street Studio Arts, 15 Ziegler Court, Elgin. $10, $5 with a donation brought to the show; purchase at the door or online at

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

Chip Davis’ music, talented artists and multimedia effects combine for a spectacle featuring fresh spins on classic carols at the Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont. $39-$95 at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17


Schaumburg native and longtime Dennis DeYoung and Mannheim Steamroller keyboardist John Blasucci returns this weekend, bringing his “Luminare” concert — holiday music, high-energy rock and a little festive razzle-dazzle — to the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles. Buffalo Grove native and Huntley musician Pino Farina is also part of the package, as he joins the tour on guitar and vocals. $39-$79 at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17

Carpenters Christmas

Debbie Taylor and a seven-piece band bring the best of Karen Carpenter and her crew as Top of the World plays a lovingly crafted tribute show to The Carpenters this weekend at both the Des Plaines Theatre, 1476 Miner St., Des Plaines, and the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles. In addition to silky classics “Close To You,” “Yesterday Once More,” “We’ve Only Just Begun” and many others, the band will also give a nod to Christmas with some holiday favorites. 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Des Plaines Theatre, $29-$49 at; 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Arcada Theatre, $29-$69 at

Trans-Siberian concert

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents the holidays with a side of heavy metal as it plays two shows at Rosemont’s Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim Road, on its “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” tour. Tickets are $29-$119.50. 3 and 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21

• Brian Shamie is a Daily Herald multiplatform editor and local music junkie. Email him at, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter (@thatshamieguy) or Instagram (@chicagosoundcheck).

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