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The Must List: Grupo Fantasma, the Tontons and more

December 26, 2018

1. Tontons return

It’s such a shame that as dynamic and hooky a band as the Tontons, fronted by the charismatic Asli Omar√, hasn’t broken into the big leagues. Her warm, jazzy inflections on top of the group’s alternately rockin’ and slinky guitars make for a dazzlingly unique combo. The upside of that downside is that Houston gets to keep the Tontons to ourselves and see this quartet, returning after some time off the circuit, blow the roof off a venue as intimate as The Heights Theater on Friday night. Black Pumas open.

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: The Heights Theater, 339 W. 19th

Details: $20; theheightstheater.com

Cary Darling

2. Highway 71 revisited

Austin guitar whiz Charlie Sexton was just here a couple of months ago, but only a few thousand people got to see him since he was doing duty in Bob Dylan’s band, playing coiled little guitar parts for some songs that existed before he was born. Sexton has been at it for decades and has that ability to take all styles of music and transform them into something tight and multifaceted. More than a decade has passed since he put out a record, but that doesn’t mean he’s hurting for stuff to play.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Heights Theater, 339 W. 19th

Details: $25-$35; theheightstheater.com

Andrew Dansby

3. Holiday fantasma

Grupo Fantasma does what it has always done well, creating big, brassy music that swings through funk and Latin jazz in equal measure. They’re not playing a NYE show here, but honestly all Grupo gigs have a sort of celebratory vibe to them. For those who don’t want to be out when the new year begins, this is like a pre-New Year’s show. With Nick Gaitan and Umbrella Man

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel

Details: $20-$23; warehouselive.com

Andrew Dansby

4. Around the world

The Revolution didn’t back Prince for too terribly long, but the music that came out of that time remains vital and beloved. Guitarist Wendy (Melvoin) and keyboardist Lisa (Coleman) along with drummer Bobby Z, keyboardist Matt Fink and bassist Brown Mark played here about a year and a half ago, and the evening was a joyful celebration of Prince’s work. This should be no different. And that it’s the night before New Year’s Eve will likely only add to the celebratory fervor.

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Where: House of Blues, 1204 Caroline

Details: $30-$70; 888-402-5837, hob.com

Andrew Dansby

5. Still shaking

Beloved singer and songwriter Shake Russell is well known in these parts, well beyond the songs he wrote for Waylon Jennings, Clint Black and Ricky Skaggs. He’ll do his annual New Year’s Eve show with Lynn Langham, Doug Gill, James Steinle, Ken Gaines and Wayne Wilkerson.

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Where: Anderson Fair, 2007 Grant

Details: $65; 832-767-2785, andersonfair.net

Andrew Dansby

6. In flight

Skyrocket! covers a lot of ground musically, but the Austin band’s sweet spot is the big dance songs from the 1970s. The group — which includes vets with Houston ties like Johnny Goudie and Trish and Darin Murphy — has become beloved for stirring up fans who still love the sounds of yesteryear played today. In addition to a Skyrocket! show on New Year’s Eve, this gig enjoys further celebration as the last one that will take place at the decades-spanning club Fitzgerald’s.

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Where: Fitzgerald’s, 2706 White Oak

Details: $50-$65; fitzlive.com

Andrew Dansby

7. Coming clean

Ernest Weatherly Greene Jr. goes by the more enigmatic name of Washed Out, and his dreamy, blissful electronic-tinged pop, often filed under the heading of “chillwave,” is like being submerged in a refreshing pool. He’s playing an all-ages show at White Oak Sunday night and, as some forgotten ambient band from two decades ago once proclaimed, “it’s time to lie down and be counted.” Mack & Miers open.

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main

Details: $20-$22; 713-237-0370, whiteoakmusichall.com

Andrew Dansby