Holiday spirit and soul

Christmas is drawing near, and there are plenty of concerts and events to put you in the yuletide mood, including the Blind Boys of Alabama’s holiday show this weekend. The first version of the soul and gospel ensemble was formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939. Today, founding members Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter are joined by more recent members Bishop Billy Bowers, Joey Williams, Ricky McKinnie, Bobby Butler and Tracy Pierce. The group spent most of its 60-plus-year existence performing traditional gospel, but it eventually ventured into contemporary music with the 1992 album, Deep River. The album, which was produced by Booker T. Jones and features a “gospelized” cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Believe in You,” earned the group its first Grammy Award nomination. Subsequent albums like 1997’s Holding On, 2001’s Spirit of the Century and 2005’s Atom Bomb continued to venture into pop music territory. The Blind Boys of Alabama will perform songs off their 2003 Christmas-themed album, Go Tell It on the Mountain. The show starts at 8 p.m. Dec. 16 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, 1100 Nugget Ave., Sparks. Tickets are $35. Call 356-3300.