Casino Entertainment

Holiday casino showrooms aren’t ho-ho-hum as in days of old

Brian Setzer and his orchestra are at Grand Sierra tonight.
Brian Setzer and his orchestra are at Grand Sierra tonight. The Associated Press

The period between now and New Year’s Eve used to find nothing but empty schedules in casino showrooms, with potential audiences much more focused on family and the holidays than on nightclubs. That, however, has changed a bit in recent years, and this week there are a few topnotch shows scheduled, one of them perfect for the pre-Christmas period.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra’s 13th Annual “Christmas Rock Tour” plays Friday, Dec. 23 at Reno’s Grand Sierra. Setzer moved from his rockabilly beginnings with the Stray Cats to form his big band in 1992 and has used it as a basis for holiday shows, plus seasonal recordings, more on than off since 2001. They have a reputation of being vibrant and joyous.

Setzer was an essential part of the swing revival in the early 1990s, along with groups like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and Squirrel Nut Zippers. The holiday concerts make sense as well because so many Christmas songs lend themselves to swing arrangements.

The latest album from the 19 members of the Brian Setzer Orchestra is “Rockin’ Rudolph.” (8 p.m.; $50-$88;

The second concert of special note this week is Beats Antique, whose latest album, “Shadowbox,” is its 10th to honor its 10th anniversary as a band. It was recorded in three locations, reflective of the group’s international flavor, especially heavy on the Middle Eastern. The show at the MontBleu Wednesday, Dec. 28, promises Indonesian shadow puppets, lanterns, dance, storytelling, and audience participation. (8 p.m.; $25-$40; Ticketmaster)

Also this week, ring in the new year early and in a big way with one of the best touring bands ever: Huey Lewis and the News. You’ll get a little blues, especially when Lewis takes up his harmonica, a whole lot of rock and roll (“Heart of Rock & Roll,” “I Want a New Drug,” “The Power of Love”), and even some popular a capella in every concert. Lewis is known to give more than expected, so don’t expect him to stick to a casino time schedule. (Thursday, Dec. 29; 8 p.m.; $85.50-$99.50;

Non-casino events

There’s plenty of festive happenings away from the casinos this week, primarily on the slopes with celebration of a so-far snow-rich season. All are offering family-centered activities like the Resort at Squaw Creek’s breakfast with Santa Friday-Sunday, Dec. 23-25 (8-11 a.m.) and its Kids’ Night Out New Year’s Eve bash.

Squaw Valley is featuring “Merry Days & Holly Nights” with its village transformed into the “Olde World, a good place to take a sleigh ride, through Saturday, Dec. 31. You can “Ski With Santa” at Homewood (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Saturday, Dec. 24) and Diamond Peak (Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). That same day, Granlibakken has a Christmas 4-8 p.m. torchlight parade.