Well, of course you've seen it before. Onstage. On TV. On ice even. Mushrooms dance to its music in Fantasia. Barbie pays homage in a ballet costume (and an animated video, in case you were curious). But you decorate the tree every year too. Does that ever get old? Holiday traditions must be observed. So go observe George Balanchine's The Nutcracker at the Jackie Gleason Theater (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). For the 14th year, the Miami City Ballet presents mice brandishing swords, a young girl in danger, a brave nutcracker who becomes a prince, and the pageantry of the Sugar Plum Fairy. And for kids having visions of sugar plums, Nutcracker Sweets Parties will be held after matinee performances, providing sweets (naturally) and the opportunity to meet cast members for an extra $10. Performances take place at 7:30 tonight and 2:00 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets range from $20 to $60. Call 877-929-7010 for performance and party tickets. -- By Marlaina Gray
Big Bang Art Intervention
A boom clang opera? Eclectic contortions? Cult groovemeisters and industrial mantras? It can only mean one thing: a convergence of electronic music maestros in Little Haiti. The artists will be spinnin' platters, beltin' opera, and spewin' Shakespearean soliloquies. They'll cleave classical strains to electronica and blur the line between theater and music. Innovators Men Smash Atoms are headlining. The duo, created in New York City in the 1990s, is a fission of Necodemus and Anitra, multidisciplinary artists with roots over much of the planet. After making an art film here, the pair now make Miami their headquarters. Tonight they won't be alone. Opus Finis will pump up the volume and DJs Carlos Saint Germain and Dracula's Daughter will also be on hand. The Atoms shatter at 10:00 p.m. at Churchill's, 5501 NE 2nd Ave. Admission is free. -- By Victor Cruz
The organ seems more suited to scary Phantom of the Opera- type sounds than to anything jumpy by jazz-sters like Mingus, Evans, or Parker, or everything dissonant by classical composers like Stockhausen or Feldman. Except if you're A.J. Khaw. The Burmese-American, who is a pediatric resident at Jackson Memorial Hospital, loves to boogie down on the piano and organ, especially at the sonorous St. Johns United Methodist Church (4760 Pine Tree Dr., Miami Beach). There he'll perform a "Post-Modern Classical Organ and Piano Concert -- from Langlais to Mingus" tonight at 8:00. Admission is $15. Call 305-613-2325. -- By Nina Korman
Better in Blue
Legendary musician ages well
It's a little embarrassing to watch aging rock stars hopping around on a stage in tight clothes while playing music written for 20-year-olds. But for blues musicians, time adds a subtle richness that only improves on the music's potency, kinda like fine wine. And just like 60-ish bluesman John Hammond. Even though he came up from the Greenwich Village coffeehouse scene in the early 1960s, and not the Mississippi Delta, Hammond boasts impeccable blues chops. With his powerful playing on acoustic slide guitar and harmonica, and spirited vocals, he brings classic and forgotten blues tunes to life while calling forth the spirit of Robert Johnson (whom he's been called the white version of). Hammond has worked with all the bigwigs, from Duane Allman and the Band, to Dr. John and Bill Wyman. He'll perform with opening act Ray Bonneville at 8:30 p.m. at Main Street Cafe, 128 N. Krome Ave., Homestead. Tickets cost $25. Call 305-245-7575 for reservations. -- By John Anderson
Greg Stewart Jackson (above) was a big guy in many ways. Physically he once weighed more than 250 pounds, earning him the nickname "Chubby." A charismatic and talented bassist, he played with the Woody Herman Big Band during its heyday, introducing progressive forces like Neal Hefti and Ralph Burns into the group and punctuating tunes with an exuberant "Yeah!" He also owned a nightclub, hosted radio and TV shows, wrote and sang songs, and led bands. Zoot Sims, Duke Ellington, and Lionel Hampton are among the musical colleagues with whom he recorded. He packed a lot of activity into 84 years. In early October, cancer took his life. Tonight at 7:00 his son, Hollywood, Florida-based jazz drummer Duffy Jackson, will lead friends in a tribute concert for his dad at Coral Gables Congregational Church's Fellowship Hall, 3010 De Soto Blvd. Tickets cost $10. Call 305-233-6583 for details. -- By Nina Korman
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Caroling for God
War, human-rights abuses in Guantanamo, civil-rights infractions and police brutality in our very own streets. How do you raise a joyful noise for that? It's time to practice. One Two Three -- all together now -- HAAAAAA-LE-LU-YAH. HAAAAA-LE-LU-yah. So we're a little rusty. Don't let that stop you from faking it at the Civic Chorale of Greater Miami's annual Messiah Sing In starting at 4:00 p.m. (rehearsals start at 2:00 p.m.) at the First United Methodist Church of South Miami, 6565 Red Rd., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-667-7508. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez