Lora Bidner, The Split bring holiday cheer to local venues

Before the gifts and Christmas dinner, you can be merry around town with performances by Amos the Transparent, The Split and more.

Before the gifts and Christmas dinner, there are plenty of musical ways to be merry

Ottawa-turned-Toronto songwriter Lora Bidner performs at The Black Sheep in on Thursday night. (Victor Ma)

Lora Bidner @ The Black Sheep Inn on Thursday, 8 p.m., $10

It's called To the North — and Lora Bidner's debut album does sound northerly. The songs are blustery and dramatic, with elements of folklore that lend them a forlorn, haunting feel.

An Ottawa native, Bidner studied music at Carleton University, where she honed her craft as part of their competitive singer-songwriter program. With her taste for epic build-ups and layers of piano and voice, Bidner stood out.

These days, she's living in Toronto and applying that cinematic flair to writing film scores. On Thursday night, she'll be home for the holidays and will play for a local crowd alongside Wakefield's Lindsay Ferguson.

Amos the Transparent @ The Black Sheep Inn on Friday, 7:30 p.m., $15

Amos the Transparent's annual holiday show happens Friday night at The Black Sheep Inn. (Pat Bolduc)

Some venues are choosing to take a well-deserved break over the holidays, at least when it comes to live music. But the Black Sheep Inn has a busy weekend planned.

On Friday, they'll host longtime folk-rock favourites Amos the Transparent as the band carries on its tradition of playing an annual holiday show. Expect to hear the band's moseying new single, Change My Mind, as well as some other fresh material.

And if the idea of driving to Wakefield and back isn't enticing, fear not. For $25, your ticket price can include a ride on a shuttle bus, with pick-ups at the Kanata Centrum and Ottawa City Hall, leaving you free to drink all the special eggnog you want.

The Split @ LIVE on Elgin on Friday, 9 p.m., $15

The Split gives holiday classics the vintage soul treatment on Friday night at LIVE on Elgin. (The Split)

If you're like me, Friday will be spent scrambling in and out of downtown stores in a desperate attempt to finish your shopping. Whether or not that's the case for you — but especially if it is — there are plenty of ways to unwind come Friday night.

At Babylon, a gang of rowdy punk Santas invades the stage for XXXMAS' annual pre-Christmas bash to raise funds for For Pivot's Sake. Meanwhile, over at The Rainbow, Suits 'n' Toques delivers seasonal ska for the benefit of the Ottawa Food Bank.

Then, there's LIVE on Elgin. They've got a night of soul planned, thanks to The Split. The band's core members are brothers Matthew and Curtis Chaffey — and lately, they've played shows as a duo with an electronic set-up.

Not so, on Friday night. Expect a seven-piece incarnation of The Split, busting out classic Christmasy tunes with vintage soul stylings.

Chime of Wrens @ The Record Centre on Saturday, 2 p.m., free

Tom Thompson's solo lap steel project Chime of Wrens plays The Record Centre in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. (The Record Centre)

Unless you've got the rare luxury of sleeping in on Christmas morning, you probably don't want to be out late on Christmas Eve. So with that in mind, The Record Centre is a win-win place to go on Saturday.

In the afternoon, the shop hosts Chime of Wrens — a solo pedal steel project from Tom Thompson of Still Winter Hills. Thompson's gorgeous instrumentals are sparse and rich at the same time, with his pedal steel ringing and resonating like a meditation.

The show is a family-friendly affair, complete with espresso and tasty eats — and if you're a super-last-minute Christmas shopper, you might even scratch a couple of vinyl-lovers off your "still to buy for" list.

About the Author

Jessa Runciman

Associate Producer

Jessa Runciman is an associate producer with CBC Ottawa, and an avid music fan and show-goer. You can follow her on Twitter @jessarunciman.