Concert picks: El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Thomas Wynn, David Bjella and Hannah Sun

Concert picks: El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Thomas Wynn, David Bjella and Hannah Sun
Thomas Wynn | Photo by Mike Dunn

So things sure got surreal this year, huh? Reality's been so hard-scrambled that everyone's been forced to adapt like never before. Me? I've learned how to prep for surgery, become a first-grade teacher and developed a green thumb.

It's true what they say, though, tough times forge tough people. A lot of us lost a lot of things. We all got our First World bubble popped a bit and maybe, hopefully, learned the true difference between need and want. That's not a bad recalibration to make. And those of us who are still here are, well, still here. These days, that's something.

But when the basic becomes everything, the blessings are still there. So take full inventory of yours this season, draw a deep breath and give yourself some credit. We're still standing, and things will get better. Happy holidays, fam.


Remember: If you go out, respect everyone's distance, for all our sakes.

El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico's Mega Latin Christmas: A white Christmas is a nice, old-fashioned notion, but it's never really been like that down here south of the South. In clime and culture, our holidays still have that tropical heat, which means that sometimes salsa soundtracks our Navidad. And there's no bigger way to ring it in than with this legendary Puerto Rican orchestra. Dubbed "La Universidad de la Salsa" because it's produced so many stars in its nearly six decades of existence, this hallowed musical institution is as mega as it gets in salsa. Thankfully, the concert's another outdoor one at the Frontyard Festival. (8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, $55-$125)

A Not So Silent Night: If you're just gripped by a serious case of either cabin fever or bravery and absolutely need to get out Christmas night, then here's one for the beat heads. Taking over both Uncle Lou's and Grumpy's Underground, this Mills Avenue get-down will serve up a rhythm buffet of deep dub, glitch hop, house and breaks. The lineup features Sonica, Sketti, Afrodisiak, Brash, High Chi, Voodoo, Yobi, Djay, Mr. Tech, Tenstrip, Mysterious, DJ NOS, Greywolf and Dropster. (9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 25, Uncle Lou's and Grumpy's Underground, $5 before 11 p.m., $7 after 11 p.m.)

Thomas Wynn: From his intimate solo gigs all over town to the great songwriter roundups he's anchored as head of the Circle at Dexter's, Thomas Wynn is one of the region's most stirring and seasoned live forces with his soul-wringing Southern rock ways. This acoustic performance is Sanford's chance to get reacquainted with his music in the socially distanced beer garden at Celery City Craft. (7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 26, Celery City Craft, no cover)

Live at Timucua, David Bjella and Hannah Sun: If you're too sane to paddle out into the predicted tsunami of the winter COVID surge, well, who can blame you (save for some kook deniers)? So here's a good, not live, but safe option. It's an online rebroadcast of the 2019 performance at Timucua by accomplished local educator-performers David Bjella, a UCF cello professor, and Hannah Sun, a Stetson professor of piano. The show features a classical program of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff sonatas that's sure to be heady and consuming, and the broadcast is a donation-based presentation to benefit the artists — so give what you can to make their holidays. (7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, online through, donation)


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