Spirit of the Season and Other Holiday Shenanigans

· Monthly local music showcase series The Rivertown Music Club is about the giving spirit all year long, rotating different charities to donate cover charge money to from each event (they colle

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· Monthly local music showcase series The Rivertown Music Club is about the giving spirit all year long, rotating different charities to donate cover charge money to from each event (they collected $1,800 for local charities in 2004). This week, the series — hosted by local musician Kelly Thomas and her newly named band, The Pick-Ups — gets a little more personal, as proceeds from the RMC show at the BarrelHouse on Saturday go to the Max MacCormack Fund. Max is the 2-year-old son of late local drummer Red MacCormack, who played with Thomas in Second Sister and also provided the beat for local groups like Overdue and Medicine Hat. The elder MacCormack died from an accidental drug overdose in early 2002. This month's showcase features Nokturnal Aggression, The Whiskey Dicks and Denial. On Saturday, Thomas and Co. will also announce the formation of a recording grant for local musicians in memory of MacCormack. The Red MacCormack Memorial Recording Grant will give $500 to assist a local artist with an original recording project. To apply for the grant, send two or three songs on tape or CD, printed lyrics of the songs, an estimated recording budget and artist bio, Web site and contact info to The Rivertown Music Club c/o Kelly Thomas, 5344 Orangelawn Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45238. For more info, e-mail Thomas at [email protected].

· Some of the top names in local Heavy Metal perform Saturday at Sudsy Malone's for a benefit supporting Toys For Tots, the organization run by the U.S. Marines that collects gifts for needy children.

Among the bands slated to appear: Pain Link, Soul Casket, Pulse 8, Moot, Patchwork, Sinamatic, Wretched Guild, A Nervous Wreck and many others (Cleveland's In Winter and Disown are also on the bill). Showtime is 7 p.m. and attendees are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for free admittance. (Otherwise, there's a $5 donation/cover charge.) (soulcasket.com)

· It's a good lineup for a good cause on Saturday at the Southgate House as The Swarthy Band, Screaming Mimes, Katie Reider, Venus Mission, Kelp, Lovely Crash, The Whitney Barricklow Band and The Smittys unite for the "Festivus Maximus" concert benefiting the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati. Along with their original songs, bands are expected to kick in some holiday faves. Music starts promptly at 8 p.m. (festivusmaximus.org)

· The annual Steve Schmidt Organ Trio Christmas Spectacular returns this year for a two-night run, Monday and Tuesday at The Comet. For the free show, organ master Schmidt and his bandmates Scott Burns (sax) and Marc Wolfley (drums) are joined by singer Bill Caffie for a night of holiday Jazz. Music starts at 9 p.m. both nights.

· With the Target stores' decision to ban Salvation Army kettles, the charity has lost an estimated $75,000 in donations. Erlanger native Mike Due has pitched in to help, recording an instrumental CD of holiday music titled, Peace on Earth, which is available at the area SA Web site (swoneky.org) and at local record retailers Everybody's and Phil's. Due produced, engineered and played most of the instruments on the album; he calls the style of music "Acoustic Neo-New Age Art Rock." Proceeds from the disc will support SA services in Greater Cincinnati.

· Rob Ervin and the High-Strung Lifters have released their bid for "new holiday classic" in the form of their recent single, "Santa Drives a Truck," which gives Mr. Kringle a Peterbilt makeover in rollicking Roots Rock style. You can download the full song — which the band promises will be "a holiday classic beloved by people all over the world throughout generations" — at highstrunglifters.com.

· Beloved WNKU DJ Mr. Rhythm Man will again host a "Santalicious Platter Party" featuring holiday R&B and Soul music at the Northside Tavern. The free shindig goes down this Sunday at 7 p.m. (locals Shepherd's Pi plays live).

· Kris Brown, the former local musician who relocated to Texas three years ago, is coming home for Christmas. And, as is becoming tradition, he'll be doing a show, this time with his "Family Sauce" band. On Friday at Stanley's Pub, Brown offers what he calls his "first full-band presentation" of his music in Cincinnati since he moved, grabbing an all-star cast of local players to back him up, including members of Ray's Music Exchange, Rich Uncle Skeleton, The Ropers and Mike Wade's band. Brown also says that his new material — to be showcased on his upcoming release, The Hundredth Monkey — is straight-up Reggae, "as opposed to the 'every style under the sun' angle that Cincy people are more accustomed to with me." (familysauce.com)

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