The holidays are here — and this weekend’s shows follow in that spirit. To begin, Matisyahu celebrates Hanukkah with his annual Festival of Light tour at House of Blues on Friday. A few years since the once-Orthodox reggae rapper shaved his beard, Matisyahu has broadened his sound into slicker rock directions on his latest album, Akeda, and he promises a duet with opener Judith Hill. She’s a powerhouse best known as a past contestant (who should have won) on “The Voice” and backup singer featured in the documentary “20 Feet From Stardom,” with her debut album due next year. Speaking of mainstream, Chris Issak channels his smooth baritone for a Christmas show at the Wilbur Theatre the same night. And over at the Sinclair, Boston’s latest synth-pop export Magic Man returns home to host an all-ages “holiday party” with friends Gentlemen Hall and the Novel Ideas. Here’s a jump to my recent interview with co-founder Sam Lee and here’s a clip of Magic Man live. And Northampton’s noisy indie-rockers Speedy Ortiz round out their three-week Friday residency at Great Scott.
If the holidays are a time for giving, there’s also a great cause at House of Blues on Saturday with Chadwick Stokes’ seventh annual benefit for Calling All Crows, an organization that unites musicians and fans in activist partnerships. In addition to the Dispatch/State Radio frontman, the night sports a full set from Brooklyn’s stellar art-pop group Lucius (featured on one song of Stokes’ broad upcoming solo album The Horse Comanche, which sounds mighty fine on advance listening) and an early slot for loop-savvy vocalist Julia Easterlin. Stokes will also perform at a pre-show reception for VIP ticket buyers, part of a weekend of Calling All Crows events. The same night brings the melodious husband/wife team of Johnnyswim to the Sinclair for a Christmas show. And over at the Brighton Music Hall on Saturday, Brazilian-born vocalist Bebel Gilberto returns in support of Tudo, her first studio album in five years, serving a more relaxed, less electronic extension of her bosa-nova roots.
Saturday and Sunday present another Christmastime tradition with multiple Club Passim shows by acclaimed Stoughton singer/songwriter Lori McKenna, who plays with her band the first night and solo the second night. In addition to penning hits for artists from Faith Hill to Hunter Hayes, McKenna sketches deft character studies on Numbered Doors, which Rolling Stone magazine listed within the Top 20 of the year’s best country albums.