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Paul Shaffer, drag queens, a Britpop Christmas and other stuff to do this week

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Robcat, center left, and Jose Pancakes, center right, will play the songs of Damon Albarn, Thom Yorke and others at the Bunkhouse.
  • Las Vegas Writes Author Reading & Conversation

    The theme of 2017’s Las Vegas Writes series is Back to Where You Once Belonged: Las Vegas Writers Weigh the Power of the Past. Vegas-based writers Dan Hernandez, Sarah Jane Woodall, Noah Cicero and T.R. Witcher will read from the anthology at the free Writer’s Block event. December 21, 7 p.m.–C. Moon Reed

  • Paul Shaffer & The Shaf-Shifters at Cleopatra’s Barge

    Life has been a bit slower for Paul Shaffer since his Late Show With David Letterman bandleading duties concluded in 2015. But it’s not as if the composer and multi-instrumentalist has retired. He released an album earlier this year and popped up to perform on both Stephen Colbert’s and Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night shows in recent months. Now he has honed in on his first real Vegas gig, a nine-show “mini-residency” at Caesars Palace’s Cleopatra’s Barge with his hard-hitting funk and pop band, the Shaf-Shifters.

    “I’ve kidded about this type of performance, the Las Vegas lounge, as have all of my contemporaries. It’s so anachronistic, especially when we were coming up in the rock ’n’ roll era, wearing blue jeans to do Saturday Night Live instead of tuxes,” Shaffer says. “But now I am kind of fulfilling my destiny … and I’m absolutely tickled to do it.”

    Expect to hear some storytelling stacked between layers of rhythm and blues, with Shaffer nodding to Vegas lounge greats of the past like Louis Prima, Sam Butera and Sarah Vaughan. “I want that feeling, as if the guys from the Rat Pack might drop by after their shows to go onstage,” he says. “There’ll be songs from my idols and the people that inspired me. Right now I like the feel of a mini-residency, like The Who did [at Caesars Palace]. I’m thinking of myself as sort of a shorter Pete Townshend.” December 21 -January 6, 8 p.m., $49-$149. –Brock Radke

  • A Drag Queen Christmas at House of Blues

    Know what could use some fierceness? “White Christmas,” “Santa Baby” and, frankly, anything else Macy’s plays over its PA in December. Lucky for us, eight former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants will apply their sass to holiday favorites for this year’s Drag Queen Christmas tour, hosted by Trinity Taylor. December 22, 7 p.m., $23-$53. –Mike Prevatt

  • Continental Classic at Orleans Arena

    College basketball tournaments have become a full-on holiday tradition in Las Vegas. The Classic returns to the Orleans Arena for a two-day, eight-game hoops marathon. The participants are San Francisco, Duquesne, Southern Illinois, Radford, UC Davis, Lamar, North Carolina A&T and, yes, those rivals from Reno. The action tips off at noon Friday. December 22 and 23, $43-$98. –Brock Radke

  • A very Britpop Christmas at Bunkhouse Saloon

    Blur. Oasis. Radiohead. The Stone Roses. If you find yourself listening to those blokes on the regular, head Downtown to catch local indie musicians like the Robcat Allstars, Aaron Archer, Joshua Ellis, Trevor Jones and Jose Pancakes paying homage to some of their favorite English rockers. December 23, 8 p.m., Free. –Leslie Ventura

  • Saqi at Brooklyn Bowl

    Crafting celestial sonic experiments is Luke Solman’s forte. Better known as SaQi, the self-described “mad musical scientist” hones in on his sexy, chilled-out and soulful electronic sound with this month’s release, Temples in the Sky, out on Jumpsuit Records. SaQi weaves in various influences: hip-hop (“Honey”), downtempo electronic (“Dreamtime”), world music (“Radhika Stava”) and more. From the opening title track to the album closer—a remix of the beautifully haunting Louise Lodigensky song “Rites of Passage”—the underground producer and trumpet player isn’t afraid to take risks or shun convention. If his enticingly warm and evocative LP is any indication, you won’t want to miss him when he takes over Brooklyn Bowl with multi-instrumentalists Russ Liquid and Taylor Aglipay to perform live renditions of tracks from Temples in the Sky, plus other, deeper cuts. With Ultimate Fantastic. December 23, 8 p.m., Free. –Leslie Ventura

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