Vanguard Christian-crossover alt-rockers Jars of Clay, Cornmeal, Verlon Thompson and more round out this week's Fab Five.

Vanguard Christian-crossover alt-rockers Jars of Clay, while perhaps never duplicating its mainstream success of the '90s, remains a vibrant and creative musical force. Need proof? Dig the band's latest release, Inland, which finds the quartet in fine form.

A December tour means Christmas music from the Jars as well, which means some eclectic instrumentation and a celebration of the season. (Yes, this show should have been on our Holiday Preview a couple of weeks back. We were aware JoC was coming, but not that they were billing this a Christmas show. Nyah.)

The Inland Christmas Tour, with opener John Mark McMillan, comes to Skully's Music Diner Friday, Dec. 13. Tickets are $20/$25. Visit

The tour benefits Blood: Water Mission. The band is also offering its song Fall Asleep through NoiseTrade to benefit Red Cross efforts in the Philippines.

OK, so the words Chicago and bluegrass might not exactly be synonymous, but that hasn't stopped Cornmeal from becoming more than a side dish on the plate of the roots music scene.

The five-piece from the Windy City starts with bluegrass and navigates a circuitous path through rock, folk, jazz and other forms.

Following a brief hiatus and some reconfiguration of the band's lineup, Cornmeal is serving up a hearty new dish.

Sample Cornmeal at Woodlands Tavern Friday, Dec. 13. Hocking River String Band opens. Tickets are $10/$13. Visit

Is it the interesting beats and loops or the often-profane lyrics about standard R&B/rap fare that have made Drake a multi-platinum recording artist? The Beat will choose to believe it is the former.

A delay in the start of Drake's Would You Like a Tour moved his Columbus show from October in the Schottenstein Center to Friday, Dec. 13, in Nationwide Arena. Miguel and Future open.

Tickets should be exchanged for comparable tickets at the point of purchase, if you haven't done so already. And you can still get yours, too, starting at $49.75. Visit

Verlon Thompson tells stories, plays the guitar and writes songs.

He does all of those things incredibly well.

He's one of those talents that just is happy enough to play out some and write Grammy-nominated songs for other folks. Good on him.

And good on you for checking out Verlon's Saturday, Dec. 14, show at Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza. Tickets are $15. Visit

Heffron Drive might not be as big-time as Big Time Rush, but it was Kendall Schmidt's short-lived band when he signed on for the Nickelodeon TV project. (Schmidt's Heffron Drive bandmate Dustin Belt played guitar for BTR.)

With the ending of Big Time Rush, Schmidt and Belt are back on as Heffron Drive, playing their own tunes and on tour for essentially the first time.

The tour stops at Skully's Music Diner Saturday, Dec. 14. Ariana & The Rose opens.

Tickets are $35/$50. Visit