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Entertainment Highlights: A New Take on the Songs of the Holidays

  • Kathy Lowe will perform her own holiday carols at the Sunapee Coffee House on Friday. 			Courtesy 	photograph

    Kathy Lowe will perform her own holiday carols at the Sunapee Coffee House on Friday. Courtesy photograph

  • Judy Collins

    Judy Collins

  • Kathy Lowe will perform her own holiday carols at the Sunapee Coffee House on Friday. 			Courtesy 	photograph
  • Judy Collins

Kathy Lowe decided years ago that, as much as she enjoyed the spirit of Christmas carols, she was a bit tired of the carols themselves.

“There was something about the sound that was missing for me,” she said.

So the New London-based musician decided to write her own.

The 13 resultant carols became an album called Wishing for Peace. Soon after, they became the foundation of a holiday show Lowe performs every few years. This year’s “Christmas/Solstice Concert,” in which she will play guitar, dulcimer and drums alongside collaborating musicians, will take place at the Sunapee Community Coffee House on Friday.

“I’m a baby boomer age,” Lowe said. “I just sensed that a lot of folks are sort of tired of Jingle Bells and O Come All Ye Faithful, and kind of get inundated with the same songs.”

Contemporary Christmas tunes tend toward more easy listening, rock or folk, Lowe said. The songs she wrote hew closely to the familiar carol sound, full of flutes, bells and bright acoustic guitar. The lyrics fit the common themes of, Lowe said, “Santa Claus and Jesus and everything in between.”

Because Lowe’s songs are not embedded in the country’s consciousness like Christmas songs from singers such as Bing Crosby, she hands out song books at her performances so the audience can sing along.

The desire to devote time to traditional carols came from Lowe’s longtime love of the genre. Growing up in a family entrenched in Vaudeville and circus — and having an uncle who wrote his own carol, which became a family staple — turned Lowe into a fan of both old-time and new-school carols.

“We used to sing all the traditional carols all year long,” she said. “We’d be doing the dishes. We’d just be singing Christmas carols in July.”

Kathy Lowe will perform a “Christmas/Solstice Concert” at the Coffee House at the Sunapee Methodist Church at 7 p.m. on Friday. Admission to the coffee house shows are free; organizers pass the hat for donations for the musicians.

Best Bet

Judy Collins, a singer-songwriter with decades of experience who spent her early career in the 1960s New York folk scene, and had hits with songs such as Both Sides Now and Send in the Clowns, will play a holiday show at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre on Sunday. Collins will play folk versions of well-known holiday tunes as well as her own work. Tickets to the 7 p.m. show are $46.50 for reserved seating, and can be purchased from pentanglearts.org.

Looking Ahead

The April Verch Band, an Appalachia throwback group with a nomination from the prestigious Canadian JUNO Awards under its belt, will perform at Randolph’s Chandler Center on Friday, Jan. 17. The band, headed by Verch’s fiddle, dancing and vocals, will go on at 7:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $27 in advance and $30 day of show. They can be purchased at chandler-arts.org or by calling 802-728-6464.

Theatre

Northern Stage’s production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas runs through New Year’s Eve. It features the famous holiday song and the story of entertainers who come to Vermont to put on a show at a struggling inn. For show information and ticket prices, go to northernstage.org.

∎ Enfield’s Shaker Bridge Theatre will complete its run of Tom Dudzick’s Miracle on South Division Street on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The comedy tells the story of a Buffalo family who face a suprising revelation about a shrine in their yard. Tickets are $30 for adults, and reservations can be made by emailing reservations@shakerbridgetheatre.org or calling 603-448-3750.

Music

Alto saxophonist Richie Cole will perform as part of this winter’s Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon Series. This weekend’s performance is the last JOSA show of the calendar year, and takes place at 4 p.m. at Grantham’s Center at Eastman. Adult tickets are $18, and can be reserved in advance by calling 603-763-8732 or emailing bill.wightman@comcast.net.

Film

Billings Farm & Museum will show Wild Horse, Wild Ride, the latest in its 2013-2014 film series, at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The film chronicles 100 people in a contest to tame wild mustangs so they can be adopted. Call 802-457-2355 to purchase tickets, which are $9 for adults. Kris and Nik Kokal, brothers who participated in the contest in Fort Worth, Texas, will be at the screening.

Comedy

Nit Witz Improv and Valley Improv will team up for a one-time collaborative comedy show, the “Nit Witz Improv Holiday Special.” The show, which will feature various improv games, is at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Newport Opera House. Tickets are $10, and can be purchased from newportoperahouse.com or by calling 603-863-2412.

Dances

The Old Sam Peabody Band and caller Delia Clark will host a third Friday Contra Dance at the Little Theater in Woodstock on Friday. The three-hour dance starts at 7 p.m., with a dance workshop at 6:45 p.m. There will be a pot luck dessert break. Admission is $8 for adults, and by donation for kids and seniors. For more information, call 802-785-4039. The next dance will be on Jan. 17.

Bar and Club Circuit

Celtic music group Gypsy Reel will perform at the Windsor Station at 8 p.m. on Saturday, in celebration of the Winter Solstice.

∎ Modern rock artist Sean Wyatt will perform at the Salt hill Pub in Lebanon on Friday, starting at 9 p.m. On Saturday, local musician Brooks Hubbard and country-western group The Jandee Lee Porter band will play at the pub. All shows start at 9 p.m.

∎ Hanover native and singer-songwriter Derek Teichert will come back home on Friday for his debut at the town’s Salt hill Pub. The show starts at 9 p.m.

∎ Country-western trio The Dusty Gray Band will perform at Salt hill Newport on Friday. The next night, The Squids will take the stage. Both shows start at 9 p.m.

∎ Danceable rock group The Party Crashers will play at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland on Friday. The show starts at 9 p.m.

∎ Multi-instrumentalist Harvey Reid’s 8 p.m. show tonight at the Flying Goose Brew Pub in New London is sold out.

∎ Nashville recording artist Clay Canfield brings his talents to the River Stones Tavern in Quechee on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 8 p.m. He also performs at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock on Sundays, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

∎ Tom Yaz, a video disc jockey who has worked on various cruise ships, will return to the River Stones Tavern on Saturday to perform a 9 p.m. show.

∎ Karen Liot Hill will perform at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday, starting at 5 p.m.

∎ At Hanover’s Canoe Club, Bob Lucier will play piano tonight, followed by Bill Rosen on jazz guitar on Friday. Randall Mullen will perform old standards on the piano on Saturday, and David Greenfield will sing and play guitar on Sunday. And on Christmas Eve, Aden Evens, pianist and Dartmouth English professor, will make his Canoe Club debut. All music begins at 7 p.m.

∎ Bill Brink will perform at West Lebanon’s Seven Barrel Brewery at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

∎ Salt hill Pub in Hanover runs an open mic hosted by Chad Gibbs on Mondays at 7 p.m.

∎ At Salt hill in Lebanon, Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host an open mic tonight starting at 8.

∎ Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock. It’s on Mondays, starting at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit hosts an open mic on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Wednesdays, beginning at 8 p.m.

∎ Gregory Brown hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242. Send Highlights to Highlights@vnews.com.