CASTLEGATE celebrates Christmas, Celtic style, with a series of appearances this weekend, beginning at 9 p.m. in the Peopleart Coffeehouse Series in Network of Light, 224 Lexington Ave.
The acoustic group, which is re-releasing its 1989 holiday cassette, "Down in Yon Forest," goes on to perform at 4 p.m. Saturday for the in-store concert series at New World Records, 512 Elmwood Ave., and at 2 p.m. Sunday in the oldest building in Western New York, the French Castle at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown.
THE QUAKES, the locally based rockabilly trio with a worldwide reputation, just finished another successful European tour. Now that they're back, however, they're sick of what they've been playing for the past couple months and want to try out something different. That's what will be shaking at 11:30 p.m. in an all-ages show in the Cabaret, 255 Franklin St. Opening are Billy Legal & the Respectables.
THE 7TH SONS plan to chart a new musical course after the first of the year, so they're bidding farewell to their repertoire of '50s and '60s inspirations in three appearances this month. The first comes at 11 p.m. in Marshall's, 1678 Main St., in a night billed as a "Rock & Roll Barbecue," where proprietor Marshall Glover debuts his new Texas barbecue menu. Dry Bones shares the stage.
JOHNNY LYTLE has been a world-class jazz vibraphonist for three decades (in the '60s he was known as "Mr. Vibes") and has always had plenty of friends here. A few will join him at 10:30 p.m. in the Blue Note, 1677 Main St., notably percussionist Emile Latimer, guitarist Greg Millar, bassist Billy Owens, saxophonist Marvin Patterson and drummer Jimmy Willis. Lytle will be back same time Saturday.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION is a reggae band from a place not normally known for reggae bands -- Nashville -- and for good measure they pepper their rhythms with enough roots rock to reach rock fans as well as the reggae crowd. No strangers to Nietzsche's, 248 Allen St., the sextet returns for another visit at 11 p.m.
CABO FRIO, the Rochester jazz fusion group, played the Marquee at the Tralf not long ago, but here's betting that their show at 10:30 p.m. in the Lafayette Tap Room, 391 Washington St., has more of a roadhouse R & B flavor.
KARMA SUTRA ends a three-month hiatus at midnight when they open for Null-stadt in the Continental, 212 Franklin St. This will be their first appearance since singer Andrea DeGolier's recovery from throat surgery.
NIGHTLIFE, the big jazz band led by Dr. Jim Mabry, helps the WKBW-TV cameras record holiday greetings for local servicemen in the Persian Gulf in a free show at 2 p.m. in the second-floor conference room in Canisius College's Activities Center.
Also performing will be comic clown T.C. Hatter, who's featured this weekend at the Comedy Trap, magician Brian Kahle and folk singer Jerry Raven. Families of servicemen will get to videotape Christmas messages for the troops in Saudi Arabia.
CHAUTAUQUA HOLIDAY SAMPLER is a radio variety show recorded live and conceived as a Western New York version of Garrison Keillor's popular "A Prairie Home Companion." Taping for rebroadcast on Fredonia State College's WCVF-FM takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Adams Art Gallery, 600 Central Ave., Dunkirk.
Filling Keillor's role as singing host is folk singer and Fredonia college professor Dan Berggren. He'll introduce such local performers as the Newton Street Irregulars, playing old-timey music; holiday songs by Fredonia Vocal Jazz, and storytelling by Mac Nelson. The show will air at 8 p.m. Dec. 19, with repeat broadcasts Dec. 23 and 24.
A MAGICAL CHRISTMAS is the latest dinner-theater creation of singer and director Ann English. Starring magician Bill Dunn, it also includes Glen Redd and pianist Jackie Jocko with Joe Peters and Ms. English. Dinner's at 6:30 p.m., show's at 8 in Jocko's Supper Club, 3875 Broadway, Cheektowaga, with reservations at 683-1997. The show will see additional performances Dec. 19 and 23.
THE POSIES are another product of Seattle's burgeoning rock scene. A pop-rock band with strong harmonies and a debut album on Geffen, they appear at 10 p.m. in the Cutting Edge Series in the Marquee at the Tralf, Theater Place. Opening are Consorting Angels.
HIRAM BULLOCK, noted New York City session guitarist known for his work on "Late Night With David Letterman" and "The David Sanborn Show," brings his band to the Marquee at the Tralf at 9 p.m.
THE CONTINENTAL, 212 Franklin St., throws its annual holiday benefit show for its next-door neighbor, the Grace & Hope Mission, at midnight, with five bands -- the Quakes, the Pinheads, Scary Chicken, Sponge and Monkey Wrench -- promising to include at least one Christmas song in their sets.