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The Week in Arts and Entertainment: Christmas in Collinsville

A weekly roundup of events around Canton in art, music, theater, film, dance, comedy and more.

Christmas in Collinsville 2011

Scheduled events, many of them free of charge, during the ever-popular annual tradition, Christmas in Collinsville take place Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. and tomorrow from noon to 3 p.m. 

Tonight, businesses around Main Street will be decorated for the holiday season and open late, welcoming visitors and offering free champagne and other refreshments to those who've purchased a commemorative Christmas in Collinsville champagne glass either in advance or tonight.

Participating merchants include: , Lola & Me and (Bridge Street); and (Front Street); (River Street); , , , , , , , , , and (Main Street and Depot Street). 

Be sure not to miss Creative Kitchen and Bath's popular crock pots of hot, homemade soup along with their excellent champagne cocktails! 

Friday's events:

  • Champagne Walk, 6 to 9 p.m.: Begin at Blumen Laden; pick up a map of participating merchants and an engraved champagne glass for $10. 
  • Horse-drawn carriage rides, 6 to 8 p.m.: Start at the entrance to Canton Historical Museum. Local historian David Leff will point out places of historic interest during the ride. Donations appreciated! 
  • Town Tree Lighting, 7 p.m.: Gather at the museum entrance. 
  • Chestnut Roasting outside Gallery 101 Main.
  • Luminary Walk along Main Street with live music.
  •  Gallery of Trees and Holiday Boutique at the Canton Historical Society: Tour almost 60 holiday trees donated by businesses, civic organizations and individuals and enter the Teacup Auction for your last chance to win your favorite tree before Sunday's 4 p.m. drawing.  

Saturday's events: 

  • Horse-drawn carriage rides, noon to 3 p.m.: Start at the entrance to Canton Historical Museum. 
  • A visit from Santa Claus, 12:30 to 3 p.m.: Bring your family and your camera to the Collinsville Savings Society. 
  • Tree Raffle, 3 p.m.: Gather outside the museum for a chance to purchase $1 tickets to win the tree used for Friday's Tree Lighting Ceremony. Sponsored by the Canton Lions Club. 
  • Face painting at Lola & Me on Bridge Street.
  • Crafting fun for kids at D.A.N.C.E. by Kristin off Main Street.
  • Puppet Shows, showtimes 1 p.m., 1:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.: This year, the puppet shows are in the (first floor).
  • Christmas Carolers from Canton High School will be strolling Main Street.
  • Gallery of Trees and Holiday Boutique at the Canton Historical Society: Tour almost 60 holiday trees donated by businesses, civic organizations and individuals and enter the Teacup Auction for your last chance to win your favorite tree before the Sunday's 4 p.m. drawing.  

The weekend's activities are organized and sponsored by the Collinsville Merchants organization. More information is available at visitcollinsville.com

Collinsville Holiday Craft Fair

Also part of Saturday's Christmas in Collinsville festivities, the , organized by Collinsville resident crafter Bethany Kendrick, will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located inside the Old School House Building behind the on The Green at 7 South Street. 

Bethany, whose craft business B Cozy is one of the featured vendors, said, "Vendors include jewelers (copper, silver, beaded) and crafters of knit and crocheted goods, hair accessories including bows and feathers, pottery, a variety of ornaments, local maple syrup, candles, beauty products, children's books, puzzles, puppets, bags, stockings. There will be photography by Corey Tucker and items from Brazen Betties of Torrington, Imports of India, River City Art Center and so much more!" 

A percentage of the proceeds will be donated again this year to Interval House, a Hartford-based nonprofit organization. In addition, patrons may bring a non-perishable/canned food item for the Canton Food Bank in exchange for a free craft fair raffle ticket.

The craft fair includes live music provided by the musicians of Downright Music and Art along with their friends. The event is a festive opportunity to meaningfully support local artisans while completing your holiday shopping list with a wide selection of truly unique gifts. 

Crown & Hammer Restaurant & Pub

Tonight, commencing soon after the Champagne Walk and other official Christmas in Collinsville events end at 9 p.m., renowned Farmington Valley songwriter, vocalist and pianist Andre Balazs presents a show at the with his full band, Bipolar Jukebox.

Joined for this show by Dave Shuman on bass guitar, Dennis Fancher on guitar and Charlie Dye on drums, Andre leads a monthly gig at the Crown each "second Friday" that blends his original compositions with well-suited cover songs, all the while drawing from rock, jazz, folk and world traditions to create a sound all their own. 

Saturday night at 9 p.m., sultry-voiced singer-songwiter and guitarist Becky Kessler returns to the Crown, this time accompanied by Frank Brocklehurst on upright bass and bass guitar. 

A seasoned musician hailing from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Becky is a relatively recent transplant to Connecticut, where she's quickly gaining a fan base, especially among her fellow musicians. Her sets of original songs are often peppered with covers of songs by Morphine, Tom Waits, Nina Simone and other greats, creating an evening of music that ranges the full spectrum of emotions, especially the lusciously dark ones. 

Dish 'n Dat

Wednesday night from 7 to 10 p.m., Buddy Live entertains at Dish 'n Dat at the Shoppes at Farmington Valley. Bar Manager Myles describes Buddy as a one-man show by "a local cartoonist with a rumbly Johnny Cash-like voice..."

The Speakeasy at Gallery 101 Main 

The last monthly "Speakeasy" of the season at occurs Saturday night beginning at 8 p.m. Co-hosted by gallery owner and artist Doug Tubach with singer-songwriter Chris Sheehan, the event is designed as an informal celebration of our unique artistic community; the event is open to the public and intended for all ages. 

Along with Chris Sheehan, the musical line-up for the evening includes solo sets by bass guitarist John Cook and guitarists Con "Coyote" Doty and Ron Blake, followed by the usual "Collinsville Trainwreck Jam." In a tongue-in-cheek nod to his guest artists this month, the always clever Chris dubs the night's entertainment "Con, Ron, John & a Moron." 

Guests should plan to bring a snack to share. The event is casual and B.Y.O.B. The speakeasy's password, as always, is, "The pearl is in the river." 

Bridge Street Live and Tolly's 41

Tonight's show at features the Pontani Sisters performing Burlesque-a-pades "December Delight." Their famous 90-minute show features classic burlesque traditions from the '20s to the '60s. Visitors to the Christmas in Collinsville Champagne Walk are eligible for half-price tickets by showing your commemorative glass at the Box Office.  

On Saturday, the Show Biz Kids bring their critically praised Steely Dan tribute show back to Bridge Street. 

Jake Armerding, Mark Erelli and Lori McKenna have performed a special annual concert, “Under The Covers,” at Club Passim Harvard Square annually since 2004. On Sunday, they bring that show out of Cambridge, Mass., to Bridge Street Live for a rare special performance. 

Shows this week are all-ages with doors to the performance area open at 7 p.m.; showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are available at http://41bridgestreet.com/calendar/.

is open Wednesday through Sunday each week for dinner starting at 5 p.m. whether or not there's a show scheduled on a given night. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to try this new restaurant at Bridge Street before the business closes for the winter season after the Dec. 17 show. 

When the venue and restaurant reopen in March, look forward to riverfront dining, more events at brand-new Bridge Street Records and the typical full calendar of music and comedy performances at Bridge Street Live. 

Free Weekly Events

The popular Open Mic Night held at  Friday nights at 6 p.m. is hosted alternately by Eric Paradine and Con "Coyote" Doty. Call ahead or be early, as the sign-up sheet fills up fast.

Acoustic Open Mic Night at the Fireplace Cafe, hosted by singer-songwriter "GrimFacts" Ed Hoyer, Jr., continues each Tuesday starting at 8:30 p.m.

At , members of jazz band Swing 39 play as a trio on Fridays from 7 to 10 p.m., and return as a duo Thursdays from 7 to 10 p.m. On Saturdays pianist John Lomartra from Cromwell entertains from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The  hosts weekly Karaoke Nights on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9 p.m. 

 also has a weekly Karaoke Night on Saturdays at 8:30 p.m., although the event may change to Fridays. 

The Crown & Hammer is open on Mondays at 5 p.m. in celebration of of Monday Night Football with a special pub menu, and Trivia Night occurs each Thursday night at 9 p.m.

At Gallery 101 Main, artist Jim Koplar hosts an "Art Jam" on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For a $10 cover charge, art supplies and instruction are provided in a casual, supportive and fun environment.

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