12 Can’t-Miss Concerts in Kingston December 2019

By Jordan Whitehouse

It’s a Kingston-heavy list this month, featuring Kasador, Oakridge Ave., The Mahones, and five other hometown favourites. Halifax pop artist Ria Mae is here, too, as is Long Island-born Lee Rocker, the double bass virtuoso of The Stray Cats. Plus it’s the holiday season, so there are a few special festive shows as well.

Photo: Dan Hannen

Avan Yu and Kingston Symphony

Sunday, December 1, 2019, 2:30 pm

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts

Concert pianist Avan Yu has been taking the country and the world by storm since the age of 14 when he debuted with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He went on to win numerous national and international competitions, play at Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House, and collaborate with the likes of Pinchas Zukerman and Yo-Yo Ma. In Kingston, he’ll perform Rachmaninoff’s first piano concerto. The Kingston Symphony will be there as well, performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.

Tickets: $10 – $50

Photo: Les Rats d’Swompe

Les Rats d’Swompe

Thursday, December 5, 2019, 7:30 pm

Octave Theatre

Based in Ottawa, this trio of artists is one of the few groups out there committed to the Franco-Ontarian folk tradition. As bass guitarist Martin Rocheleau has said, “We are trying to recreate the kitchen parties of our great-grandparents.” They started doing that with violins, fiddles, and acoustic guitars, but have since added electric guitar, drums, banjo, and mandolin. Taken together, that translates to live shows with a whole lot of wild, infectious energy.

Tickets: $13.67 – $22.02

Photo: Ria Mae Facebook

Ria Mae

Friday, December 6, 2019, 7:30 pm

The Mansion

Halifax pop singer-songwriter Ria Mae is touring Canada this fall supporting her third EP, “Stars.” It’s a follow-up to her Juno-nominated album “My Love,” whose first single, “Bend,” hit number one on the CBC Radio 2 charts for four weeks and landed in the top 15 of three Canadian radio charts. Ria will be joined by Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Talevski, who collaborated on the “Stars” single “Too Close.”

Tickets: $25

Photo: Tim Forbes Photography

Oakridge Ave. and Kiss the Fish

Friday, December 6, 2019, 8 pm

The Grad Club

These two up-and-coming Kingston alt-rock bands will share the stage for this special hometown show. Oakridge Ave. (pictured) is a three-piece band formed in 2013 and whose tight, indie sound is influenced by bands like Bahamas, The Weakerthans, and Lowest of the Low. Six-piece Kiss the Fish won Queen’s famous Clark Hall Battle of the Bands last year with their catchy blend of old-school blues, classic rock, and alternative. No doubt this show will give you a good sense of where the young Kingston rock scene is at right now.

Tickets: $10

Photo: Lee Rocker Facebook

Lee Rocker 

Thursday, December 12, 2019, 7:30 pm

The Grand Theatre

You may know Lee Rocker as the guy who played the giant upright bass with The Stray Cats, an American rockabilly band that sold over 10 million albums and had 23 gold and platinum-certified records worldwide. Now, though, he is out on his own, still with the big bass and still bringing a ton of energy with his band that plays old Stray Cats hits like “Sexy and Seventeen” and “Rock this Town,” as well others Rocker has performed with legends like Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and The Rolling Stones.

Tickets: $39.50 – $50.29

Photo: The Mahones Facebook

The Mahones

Friday, December 13, 2019, 9 pm

The Mansion

Formed on St. Patrick’s Day in 1990 in Kingston, this Irish punk outfit has released 13 studio albums, toured 35-plus countries, and shared the stage with Dropkick Murphys, Billy Bragg, Sinead O’Connor, Van Morrison, and many other legendary artists. You may have heard some of their songs in a variety of movies, including The Fighter. Toronto power-pop artist Taylor Knox will open the show.

Tickets: $15

Holy Wow

Saturday, December 14, 2019, 8 pm

Musiikki Café

This somewhat new Kingston rock trio is Kevin Bowers (guitar, vocals), Adam Hodge (bass, backing vocals), and Bonz Bowering (drums). Their sound isn’t easy to pin down, but they describe it as “dreamy Canadiana fashioned from America’s psychedelic coast that has some dark overtones from weird and swampy Louisiana bayous. It is pop music about bewilderment and joy that has just enough candy sheen to cover its own muddy tracks.”

Tickets: Pay what you can

Photo: Anthea Feaver Facebook

Anthea and The Feaver Dreams

Sunday, December 15, 2019, 8 pm

Musiikki Café

Another new Kingston trio, Anthea and The Feaver Dreams plays originals and covers ranging from folk to pop to new wave on the third Sunday of every month at Musiikki. Anthea Feaver’s finger-picking guitar stylings have their roots in the music of Dave van Ronk, Maybelle Carter, and Doc Watson, while Grace Dixon (piano) says her songwriting inspirations include Jonathan Cain, Paul Simon, and a variety of new wave artists. Haley Sarfeld picked up the upright bass in middle school and recently added the bass guitar to her repertoire.

Tickets: Pay what you can

Photo: SplashN’ Boots Facebook

Splash’N Boots

Friday, December 20, 2019, 6 pm

The Grand Theatre

Started as a class project while Nick Adams and Taes Leavitt were at Queen’s, Splash’N Boots has become one of the most successful children’s acts in Canada. Between 2014 and 2018 alone, they received five consecutive Juno nominations for Children’s Album of the Year. At this special holiday show, called “Jingle Boots – The Big Heart Holiday Show,” they encourage you to dress up in your favourite festive attire.

Tickets: $25 – $40

Photo: Kasador Facebook


Friday, December 20, 2019, 8:30 pm

Ale House 

Born out of Queen’s house parties in 2015, Kasador has become one of the hardest-working Canadian alt-rock bands going. In one two-year stint, for example, they played almost 200 shows. Those shows are all about high energy, which Will Hunter and Cam Wyatt bring with their duelling vocals and dynamic guitars, and Boris Baker (bass) and Stephen Adubofuor (drums) add to with their rock and funk roots. The band’s newest album, “Brood & Bloom”, was produced in part by Graham Walsh of Holy F*ck, and Rob Baker and Gord Sinclair of The Tragically Hip.

Tickets: $15

Cantabile Choirs

Friday, December 20, 2019, 7:30 pm + Saturday, December 21, 2019, 2 pm and 7:30 pm

The Spire

Kingston’s famous Cantabile has grown to include eight choirs and over 300 voices. Their annual holiday concerts — called “Wings of Angels” — have become a tradition for many Kingstonians over the years. Featuring traditional carols, winter songs, and world music, these shows are a great way to get into the holiday spirit. The matinee performance includes two of Cantabile’s youngest choirs and is a more lighthearted concert suited for young families. The evening performance is enhanced by candlelight.

Tickets: $15 – $27

Photo: Rob Donaldson

All Country New Year’s Eve

Tuesday, December 31, 2019, 5 pm

Little Texas Roadhouse Bar & Grill

If you’re any fan of country music, this is your New Year’s Eve ticket. The headliner will be Stirling, Ontario’s Rob Donaldson Band (pictured), who brand themselves as “new age honky-tonk” and are fresh off of finishing in the finals of the Next Country Music Star competition at the Havelock Jamboree. Local boy Jordy Jackson will be there too, playing a rocking set of covers and originals. The opener will be local up-and-comer Courtney Kane, who covers artists like Terri Clarke, Meghan Patrick, Maddie and Tae, and Dolly Parton.

Tickets: $25 (dinner included)