Christmas shopping can be fun â€" especially when you dress up the shopping environment like a Victorian English town, make it feel authentic with roving, costumed entertainers, town criers and carolers, and fill it with beautiful handmade gift items and scrumptious food. Youâ€™ll get all that at the Dickens Festival at Stadium, a period-piece shopping experience in Tacomaâ€™s Stadium District Saturday, Dec. 8. Dickens Festival at Stadium concludes at 5 p.m. with the Stadium Jazz Band performance inside the First Presbyterian School gym, then pop outside for the lighting and a few carols to watch the tree light up in Norton Park at Division and Tacoma Avenue at 5:30 p.m. â€" Michael Swan
[Stadium District, Saturday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tacoma Avenue and Division, Tacoma, dickensfestival.net]
Historic Fort Steilacoom Museum Association is staging its annual Christmas at the Fort event this weekend. Travel back in time to Fort Steilacoom as it once was. Tour the candle- and lantern-lit quarters of Lt. Col. Silas Casey and soldiers of the fort as they and guests engage in Christmas merry making, conversation of the time, tree trimming, dancing to the tunes of a fiddler, and caroling. Special activities for children include hands-on ornament making. The gift shop has a good stock of books, toys and souvenir items for your Christmas shopping. â€" Steve Dunkelberger
[Historic Fort Steilacoom, Saturday, 4-7:30 p.m., $3-$5, $10 for family, 9601 Steilacoom Blvd. S.W., Lakewood, 253.582.5838, www.fortsteilacoom.com]
The Tune Stranglers
Comprised of Scuff Acuff (washboard, lead vocals), James Schneider (banjo), Eliza Welch (fiddle), Boom Boom â€œSweetsâ€ Levine (bass), and Rich Sikorski (lead vocals, guitar, ukulele), the Olympia-based acoustic unit incorporates bluegrass, country swing and vintage string jazz. All very accomplished musicians, they placed first place at the Northwest String Summit in 2006. As a live act, the zany quintet creates a relaxed atmosphere and probably wouldnâ€™t mind if you showed up to gig in your underwear or at least kicked your shoes off. â€" Tony Engelhart
[Ben Mooreâ€™s Restaurant, 9 p.m., no cover, 112 W. Fourth, Olympia, 360.357.7527]
I recently discovered that Tacoma band Oh Voices sounds beautifully soothing and content like a cool breeze on a sunny afternoon. The music sounds like friends standing arm in arm around an old-timey piano and an acoustic guitar, grinning ear to ear and singing together in harmonizing voices. It makes you want to sing along â€" or maybe thatâ€™s just me.
The band states its influences as the Beach Boys, Randy Newman, The Carter Family, Gillian Welch, the Beatles, Panda Bear and Debussy. But the comparisons theyâ€™ve been accused of encompass pretty much anything with harmony and a sweet, simple melody. â€" Angela Jossy
[Origin 23 Coffee, with Allan Boothe and John Nichols, 8 p.m., no cover, 3518 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.212.1503]
MORE MUSIC: In the clubs tonight.