Blind Guardian To be honest, we're not crazy about Blind Guardian's latest album, A Twist of the Myth, which, for all its power-metal trappings, occasionally conjures unpleasant flashbacks to Survivor's earnest anthems and Foreigner's choir-abetted choruses. Also, we could do without the German group's woodland-minstrel ballads. Still, Blind Guardian, like Iron Maiden, provides enough spectacle and volume during its performances to transcend any set-list ciphers from a lackluster current release. Blind Guardian shows deliver aurora borealis—caliber light displays, flashy guitar-solo wizardry and mass-singalong segments that replicate the band's cloned-army vocal overdubs. Selections from the group's thrashy early albums keep the concerts from becoming too oppressively whimsical, fantastical or Renaissance Festival-esque. Blind Guard-ian's grandiose presentations convert even cynical headbangers, penetrating their protective armor like a jousting lance. (with Leaves Eyes; 8 p.m. at House of Blues; $20-$48; 407-934-2583)

Disney Presents The Lion King Not as painfully obvious as a preschool Hindu diagram of "The Circle of Life," but more obvious than, say, the taupe of Sir Elton John, Disney's The Lion King roars into town this week for a monthlong stay. It arrives with about as much bite as a piece of hard candy in your theater-loving grandma's clutch purse. Hakuna matata? Bless you. Anyway, in this touring production you won't find any Broadway A-listers, but given that the whole thing is layered in ridiculously elaborate costumes, "modern" choreography and a soundtrack we all know the words to already, it shouldn't matter much. Director Julie Taymor's warm milk has already earned her a Tony (for the Broadway version, natch), so one needn't wait for Guffman. Just mind your meerkat manners and "feel the love tonight." To fade. (8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, through Jan. 14 at Carr Performing Arts Centre; $56-$76; 407-849-2020)


Trails End Florida Cow Culture Celebration Forget reindeer, an animal that's never roamed these parts of the country. It's cow culture that's rich in Central Florida, but you hardly ever step in it anymore with all the city slickers killing out the cow industry and building condos. Rest easy, though, our state department of agriculture has funded the little-known Florida Cow Culture Preservation Committee, which has been busy for two years planning the Cracker Cattle Drive. More than 500 horses plus riders, buggies and wagons corral Dec. 5 at the Whaley Ranch in south Osceola County, and then move out the next morning with 500 cows supplied by the Seminole Indian Tribe for a primitive, no-frills cattle drive that'll require sleeping on the ground and dumping in the woods, if you know what we mean. At the other end of the line, there will be a celebration just a-waitin' the hard-riding travelers, with a full day of cow-culture music, storytelling, crafting and rolling in the grass. The general public is invited to the all-day immersion in our precious cow resources. (8 a.m.-midnight at New Silver Spurs Rodeo Arena in Kenansville; $10; 352-429-0100;

Song of the Lodz Ghetto Our city sorely lacks Hanukkah activities that are open to the public, though private celebrations are many. The Jewish Community Center, however, has chosen this excellent program to celebrate the season, partnering with the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida. Brave Old World, a four-man touring klezmer and new Jewish music band, performs Song of the Lodz Ghetto, a 15-years-in-the-making musical project that the band released in CD format last year. The captured music encompasses rare street and cabaret works dating back to Nazi-era Poland. Similar to slave songs during the Civil War, the pieces contain both uplifting and satirical messages. The musical-theater performance balances jazzy entertainment, remembrance and celebration. (7:30 p.m. at the Harriett and Hymen Lake Cultural Auditorium, Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando, Maitland; $20; 407-645-5933)

Fifth Annual Santa Stumble If you asked Santa for a cheap night out in downtown Orlando then you must be on the "Nice" side of his list this year, because your wish has been granted — a couple of weeks ahead of the big day. Kris Kringle has collaborated with the Orlando Social Sport Club for the fifth year to present the Annual Santa Stumble. For $10 (RSVP's are a must), participants get one free drink from Chillers, the Lodge, Latitudes, Dragon Room and Antigua. Stumblers are asked to dress up as their favorite North Pole characters to add to the inebriated holiday spirit, but Scrooges who refuse will not be excluded. Check-in time is 7 p.m. at the Lodge. (7 p.m.-1 a.m., starting at the Lodge; $10 with R.S.V.P., $15 at the door; 407-896-9510,


Rasputina The first time we saw Rasputina, it was at a barbecue joint in Texas. There they were, three alarmingly pale young women in dirty-looking Victorian underwear, nestled in a SXSW-sanctioned corner of Stubb's, playing their cellos and harmonizing about things that were creepy. We fell in love but thought that this display of musical peculiarity had only about a year of survival in the homogenizing world of "alternative" music. Ten years later, Rasputina is still around, though founding member Melora Creager is the only link to the original lineup. We loved them then because, like Ultra Vivid Scene's Kurt Ralske, we pegged 'em as unique and enchanting musicians. We love them now because Creager has persevered through a decade of multiple label changes, roster shifts and stylistic permutations, all without sacrificing an ounce of her musical vision for the sake of marketability. (8 p.m. at the Social; $15; 407-246-1419)

Christmas on Steel Drums Does listening to the same Christmas songs played on the same instruments year after year get boring? Are tunes about Jack Frost and ole St. Nick too predictable and not raising those jaded spirits? Well, here's some relief: the Christmas on Steel Drums extravaganza at Lake Eola Park, presented by the Caribbean Cultural Association. This spiced-up holiday shindig is topped by the traditional Christmas songs played on steel drums along with a few Caribbean standards. New Generation Branches Steel Orchestra and the Orlando Power Stars Steel Orchestra are slated to perform, and St. John the Baptist Episcopal Choir and Ayanah Vegas will sing. (4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. at the Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola; free; 407-246-2827)


Zappa Plays Zappa See our full story here. (7 p.m. at Hard Rock Live; $35.50-$57.50; all ages; 407-351-5483)


IsWhat? No offense intended to the many fine hip-hop acts and techno DJs who have graced the Phat-N-Jazzy stage over the years, but this is the kind of stuff that's suited to the long-running night. Rather than glossy acid jazz or downtempo cocktail clinking, IsWhat? brings the rollicking, righteous attitude of the '70s free-jazz/soul-jazz movement to bear on experimental hip-hop grooves. The resulting beats & bleats are organic and fiery. IsWhat? may not be good for dancing, but this unlikely Cincinnati trio — bass, saxophone, MC — brings an altogether different kind of party. (with Mama A.Free.Ka; 9 p.m. at the Social; $10-$12; 407-246-1419)

Contributors: Jonathan Cunningham, Jason Ferguson, Amber Foster, Billy Manes, Andrew Miller, Susie Orr, Lindy T. Shepherd

Contributors: Jonathan Cunningham, Jason Ferguson, Amber Foster, Billy Manes, Andrew Miller, Susie Orr, Lindy T. Shepherd

Contributors: Jonathan Cunningham, Jason Ferguson, Amber Foster, Billy Manes, Andrew Miller, Susie Orr, Lindy T. Shepherd

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