By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Dec 01, 2004 at 5:21 AM

{image1}Now, I'm not one of those people who goes around acting as if "the holidays" should in fact replace "winter" as one of the four seasons, but it is officially December now, so I don't see any harm in indulging in a little holiday hoopla, especially if it is for a good cause. Last week David Fockel, Dianne Crowley and the rest of the Festival of Trees crew were more than just impressive guest bartenders at the Monkey Bar; they were serving up tasty drinks and donning little elf hats all in the name of promoting the Festival of Trees Gala on Dec. 7. The 25 decorated trees currently on display in the Wyndham Milwaukee Center Hotel will be auctioned off, with the proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. The evening includes cocktails, dinner, an auction and live music by Swing Nouveau. For more information go to

One thing that the holidays are always good for are the parties. The Milwaukee Art Museum's First Friday Holiday Party on Dec. 3 promises to be a fun way to dip into the season without having to dive in head first. From 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. you are invited to peruse the feature exhibition, "Masterpieces of American Art, 1770-1920," munch on free food from Coast, and listen to live music by The Orphans.

On Sunday, Dec. 5 get a haircut and then get some shopping done at Lovely salon in Bay View as it hosts its Holiday Celebration from noon to 4 p.m. Artists Stephanie Bartz, Anita Reed and Naomi Fugimoto will showcase their work -- everything from photography, sculpture, greeting cards and jewelry. Perfect for the art geek on your shopping list.

Making sure not to exclude Milwaukee's fine neighboring communities, the fourth annual Holiday Sculpture Walk at the Niemi Fine Art Gallery in Kenosha is this weekend, too. What's more festive than hot cocoa, bon fires and sculptures on a December afternoon? The sculpture gardens will be open Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. Visit for directions.

OK, enough holiday stuff. It's Wednesday night and you've got options. It's the first Wednesday of the month, so that means Redlight will be hosting its Asian Massive night. Bollywood, mango martinis, you remember. Or, if you're a lady who enjoys good music and free drinks, Wobblyhead DJs Bts.Wrkng and One.F are set to spin some records at Three. Gentlemen, you're invited, too; just no free drinks. Sorry.

If you missed Milwaukee's favorite hip-hop trio Black Elephant last week, which, to be honest, was a little hard considering they played four shows that week, you have yet another chance. Tomorrow night (Dec. 2) they perform at Eve, supporting the Running Rebels Fundraiser. Show starts at 9 p.m. Thursday night's rock options are equally as impressive, with a four-piece band from Norman, Okla. called Traindodge, playing with Dorian Gray at the Cactus Club. Traindodge's newest release, "The Truth," has the unique ability to take what it wants from the veritable pool of necessary rock components, combine and complicate them, and end up nowhere near where it started. It's melodic. It's gritty. It's almost ambient at times. Whatever it is, it's all there. And because of the unpredictable sonic diversity, there's no question this band will rock you.

Mad Planet welcomes Wisconsin trio The Obsoletes, featuring Justin Perkins and Tim Schweiger (ex-Yesterday's Kids) and Jon Phillip (ex-Benjamins). Take one part pop punk, one part melodic twang, throw in killer catchy harmonies and you've got one hell of a rock show. The Obsoletes play Thursday night with The Panic and The Silver Suns, and the show starts at 10 p.m.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”