The holiday season is a good time for reggae: peaceful vibes, happy tones and dreams of sunnier days. Sammy Johnson (aka Sammy J) brings his unique take on the genre to Santa Cruz this week in celebration of the 10th anniversary of his debut album, Prelude. Drawing on his Australian and New Zealand roots, the singer embodies his Maori and Polynesian heritage to create jazz-infused music that evokes gentle island breezes, moonlight strolls and falling asleep to the sound of waves. ADDIE MAHMASSANI
INFO: 9pm, Catalyst Club, 1101 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. $30/adv, $35/door. 713-5492.
SPANISH HARLEM ORCHESTRA
Founded by New York producer Aaron Levinson and longtime bandleader and pianist Oscar Hernandez, the high-flying Spanish Harlem Orchestra has recorded seven deeply felt and precisely executed Latin jazz albums. With three Grammy awards to their credit, SHO’s “Salsa Navidad” holiday show includes Latino/Spanish classics and some classic American Christmas songs in a salsa style. The holiday performance also features the Puerto Rican Christmas style known as “Aguinaldo,” along with some of their non-holiday original compositions. DAN EMERSON
INFO: 7pm & 9pm, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar St. $57.75/adv, $63/door. 427-2227
Patterson Hood, the man behind the alt-country band Drive-By Truckers, is on a solo tour. He speaks with a southern twang and sings with a voice steeped in yearning. His music is Wilco-meets-Bob-Dylan-meets-Appalachia, showcasing a fluidity and earnestness that can only come from an artist who has spent years honing his craft. Hood’s voice is insistent; he is not afraid to howl in agony when the moment is right, and his howl is so laden with feeling that it could call down the moon. JESSICA IRISH
INFO: 8pm, Felton Music Hall, 6275 Highway 9, Felton. $27/adv, $32/door. 704-7113.
In the punk rock world, it’s blasphemy for bands to stray from the three-chord path—unless that band is X. Exene Cervenka, John Doe, DJ Bonebrake and Billy Zoom have long earned the credit they deserve, not only as cofounders of the Los Angeles punk scene but as world-class musicians, songwriters and artists. And their live shows continue to be just as energetic and fun as ever; it’s hard not to sing along to every single song. They’re playing at the Rio this round, so the kids can slam dance up front while mom and dad kick back with a drink. MAT WEIR
INFO: 8pm, Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $37. 423-8209.
For the last six years, the high-fashioned, functioning outfit known as Hot Laundry has delivered hard garage rock via Detroit with a stop at Motown. Their live shows feature lead singer Janette Lopez with backup singers and dancers Ileath Bridges and Gena Serey shaking and swaying to the hard-driving, funky beat. Perfect for anyone who knows how to do “the Shake” and “the Watusi” or likes to pogo up and down like a mad lad. As an added warm-fuzzy feeling, this Friday’s show is also a charity toy drive, and attendees are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to make someone’s holiday extra special. MW
INFO: 8pm, Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
Ozomatli can do it all and often does. Their sound combines jazz, salsa, reggae, hip-hop, cumbia, and many other Latin influences with songs sung in English and/or Spanish. Fans of everyone from Jack Johnson to Buena Vista Social Club will have the time of their lives with Ozomatli. If Santana and Bob Marley performed in a supergroup with a rock ‘n’ roll drummer and a rapper, the sound would come close to what Ozo is dropping. JI
INFO: 9pm, Catalyst Club, 1011 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. $27/adv, $32/door. 713-5492.
CHRISTMAS WITH THE CHORALE
Come gather around the holiday hearth and enjoy the joyful spirit of the season. Christmas with the Chorale takes us on a musical journey through gorgeous music, from Ukrainian carols to renowned Renaissance compositions. “The Magnificat,” by 17th-century Austrian composer Heinrich Biber, highlights this swift-moving concert conducted by maestro Christian Grube, emeritus professor of choral conducting at the Berlin University of Arts. The musicians of the Monterey Bay Sinfonietta will join the Chorale. Celebrate the season with beloved music performed by one of the area’s top choral ensembles. CHRISTINA WATERS
INFO: Sat, 8pm, Sun, 4pm, Holy Cross Church, 123 High St, Santa Cruz, $30. 427-8023.
WESTERN STANDARD TIME SKA ORCHESTRA
It’s not every day that a 20-piece ska band comes to town and brings a bunch of friends. The dynamic supergroup Western Standard Time Ska Orchestra blasts into Moe’s this Sunday with featured vocalists Jesse Wagner (the Aggrolites) and Karina Denike (Dance Hall Crashers). The crowd is in for a jubilant night of Jamaican jazz fusion with this ensemble of West Coast ska legends, which includes past members of Beastie Boys, Gogol Bordello, Kingston 10 and Mobtown. The group will undoubtedly be performing some cuts off their recently released Christmas album, Bluebeat Holiday. Local soul virtuosos the Inciters will open. AM
INFO: 8pm, Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $22/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.
TONIGHT FOR TAMMI
Longtime beloved Santa Cruz vocalist Tammi Brown is facing the challenge of her life: a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. “Tonight For Tammi” will bring many of her talented friends together for this benefit to help deal with the costs of her treatment. Topping the marquee will be guitar and bass wizard Stanley Jordan, a past collaborator. Also playing will be gospel vocal groups Attune and Tanya Fitzgerald & the Broken People, singer James Durbin, bassist Polo Jones, the Lauren Monroe Band (featuring Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen) and Emmy Award-winning composer John Wineglass. DAN EMERSON
INFO: 4pm, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar St. $75. 427-2227.