Here are 17 musical, dance and visual diversions to kick off 2017

Start planning your next big night out
Posted at 7:00 AM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-04 07:00:20-05

CINCINNATI -- Once the Champagne headache has worn off and you've resigned yourself to going back to work after the holidays, the real work begins: planning your next big night out.

Luckily, the first three months of 2017 come gift-wrapped with plenty of musical, dance and visual diversions, from the return of one of country music's all-time biggest stars for a weeklong arena stand to a ballet reboot of one of the great legends.

Here are our picks for 17 great ways to kick off 2017:

Cincinnati Pops with Melissa Etheridge

(Jan. 8, Taft Theatre)

The Pops will back rock legend Melissa Etheridge for an intimate show at their home away from home in the midst of Music Hall's renovation. The Grammy- and Academy Award-winning "I’m the Only One" singer will bring her own conductor for a tour through her urgent hits and some classic covers.

Aaron and Bryce Dessner of MusicNOW.


(Jan. 12-14, Aronoff Center for the Arts and Taft Theatre)

The 11th edition of the eclectic music festival founded by The National guitarist/composer Bryce Dessner will feature one of its biggest names to date this year. Grateful Dead guitarist/singer Bob Weir kicks off the event with a gig at the Aronoff Center on Jan. 12. The hippie hero will be joined by the Campfire Boys, which features The National's Aaron Dessner and brothers Bryan and Scott Devendorf. MusicNOW will then move to the Taft on Jan. 13-14 for a mix of cutting-edge classical compositions, a collaboration between Dessner and Irish singer/songwriter Lisa Hannigan, "symphonic music and sound art" from Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Dessner's original concerto for electric guitar, "Wired."

MANHATTAN, KS - JUNE 23: Singer/Songwriter Dierks Bentley Headlines Day 1 at Kicker Country Stampede Manhattan, Kansas on June 23, 2016 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Kicker Country Stampede)

Dierks Bentley: What the Hell World Tour with Cole Swindell, Jon Pardi

(Jan. 19, Wright State University, Nutter Center)

The kick-off for "What the Hell Did I Say" singer Bentley's North American tour will find him sharing the stage with two younger up-and-coming country stars whom he said he tapped for their "great energy." Nine albums in, Bentley has established a rep as a reliable hit-maker, striking gold again this past summer on messy break-up tune "Different For Girls," a rocking duet with Columbus-bred Elle King. (

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 02: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood perform onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood

(Jan. 21-22, 27-29, U.S. Bank Arena)

This is the last chance to see Country Music Hall of Famer Brooks' tour with wife Yearwood, which will settle down in Cincinnati for five shows. The best-selling solo artist in U.S. history, Brooks has swept up nearly every award there is in country music, and this three-year world tour is smashing box office records, too.

Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox

(Jan. 23, Taft Theatre)

If you've watched one of Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox videos on YouTube, you've probably watched a dozen. The strangely mesmerizing clips, which feature a rotating group of singers covering pop hits by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and the White Stripes in jazz, swing and ragtime styles, have racked up more than a half-billion views to date. The weekly videos have taken PMJ around the world and led to collaborations with a number of former "American Idol" stars (Haley Reinhart, Blake Lewis, Melinda Doolittle), as well as more than a dozen releases.

Sara Watkins

(Jan. 26, Ludlow Garage)

You might recognize Watkins' name from her time as one of the founders of award-winning progressive bluegrass group Nickel Creek. But the scarily talented fiddler/singer also has released three solo albums -- including last year's acclaimed "Young in All the Wrong Ways" -- toured with Jackson Browne and the rock band the Decemberists, hosted "A Prairie Home Companion" and formed a bluegrass/jazz/folk trio with Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan (Crooked Still).

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez attends ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" Season 23 Finale at The Grove on November 22, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

"Dancing with the Stars: Live -- We Came to Dance"

(Jan. 31, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

Watching the stars hoofing on TV is one thing; seeing the flash and glamour of it on stage is quite another. The show's latest Mirrorball Trophy winner, gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez, will hit the Aronoff with her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, for a show that promises group performances, duets, contemporary numbers and original pieces created just for the tour. The lineup also features fellow Season 23 finalists Lindsay Arnold and Sharna Burgess, as well as Artem Chigvintsev, Hayley Erbert, Jenna Johnson, Keo Motsepe, Gleb Savchenko and Emma Slater.

IRVINE, CA - MAY 14: (L-R) Recording artists Jeremiah Fraites, Wesley Schultz, Byron Isaacs and Stelth Ulvang of music group The Lumineers performs onstage at KROQ Weenie Roast 2016 at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre on May 14, 2016 in Irvine, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for CBS Radio Inc.)

Lumineers/Andrew Bird

(Jan. 31, U.S. Bank Arena)

This is the first-ever North American arena outing (dubbed the Cleopatra World Tour) from the Denver folk rockers best known for their hits "Ho Hey" and "Ophelia." Along with England's Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers have helped spark an international explosion of interest in traditional folk sounds mixed with contemporary pop production.

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 16: Joe Jonas of DNCE performs onstage during Power 96.1's Jingle Ball 2016 at Philips Arena on December 16, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for iHeart)


(Feb. 1, Bogart's) 

Formerly chaste boy-band member Joe Jonas has enjoyed an unexpectedly huge second career with his funky dance-pop band, launching a series of quirky top 10 hits such as "Cake by the Ocean" and "Toothbrush." DNCE's mix of disco and indie rock has pushed Jonas well beyond the safe-as-milk hits he cranked out as part of his family band, the Jonas Brothers.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 21: Lauryn Hill performs live for fans at Palais Theatre on May 21, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Lauryn Hill

(Feb. 2, Aronoff Center for the Arts) 

The former Fugees singer ("Killing Me Softly) and solo star ("Doo Wop (That Thing)") has been crisscrossing the world with "MLH Caravan: A Diaspora Calling! Concert Series," a multi-artist event she has described as "a celebration of the many facets of cultural and artistic beauty throughout the African diaspora." Though the support acts have not yet been announced, previous dates have included world music superstar Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, as well as the Soul Rebels.

Cincinnati Ballet Presents: King Arthur's Camelot

(Feb. 10-12, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

With original choreography by artistic director Victoria Morgan, the legend of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere gets a reboot via thrilling choreography, puppets, projections and jousting that will have the whole family on the edge of their seats.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 15: Chris Rock attends the Tribeca Talks Directors Series: J.J. Abrams With Chris Rock at BMCC John Zuccotti Theater on April 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Chris Rock

(Feb. 16-17, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

It has been nine years since Rock has done a stand-up tour. It would be foolish to miss an opportunity to see the actor/comedian/producer and acknowledged best live joke-teller of his generation perform a whole new set of material. After honing his new bits in small clubs for the past year -- there was some kind of an election while he was working things out -- you can be sure the recently divorced father of two will have some deeply funny thoughts on the state of love and politics.

Winter Jam 2016

(Feb. 18, U.S. Bank Arena) 

The biggest Christian music tour in the nation has pulled together one of its strongest rosters to date, topped by tour founders NewSong and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Matthew West. Also on tap are family-friendly sets from the likes of King & Country, Britt Nicole, Tenth Avenue North, Sadie Robertson, Crowder, Thousand Foot Krutch, Andy Mineo, Colton Dixon, OBB, Sarah Reeves, Steven Malcolm and evangelist Tony Nolan. As always, the show has no pre-sale, with attendees asked to donate $10 at the door (if they can afford it).

The Art of Food

(Feb. 23-24, The Carnegie)

The theme of this year's extravaganza is the 1950s, with a renowned group of culinary masters testing their kitchen skills with recipes from the legendary "The Joy of Cooking" and updates of the era's classic TV dinners. The first night will feature larger portions, unique food offerings, a complimentary bar, a Maker's Mark bourbon tasting and talk, and space to interact with the visual artists who've also dipped into the iconic looks of the 1950s. The second night will feature 20 chefs serving bite-sized delights, a themed art show, performance artists and live music. - details_a0S61000003dnJUEAY

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Singer Adam Levine of Maroon 5 performs onstage during the 2016 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Maroon 5/Tinashe/R. City

(March 3, U.S. Bank Arena)

One of the purest pop bills you will see in early 2017 has to be this triple-threat show topped by "The Voice" coach Adam Levine and company. Towing a suitcase full of hits ("This Love," "Don't Wanna Know," "Moves Like Jagger"), Maroon 5 will come to town with help from rising pop soul singer Tinashe ("2 On") and R. City, best known for writing and producing Miley Cyrus' hit "We Can't Stop" and their own smash "Locked Away."

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 12: Singer-songwriter Norah Jones performs during the annual Mother's Day tea to honor military mothers at the White House May 12, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Norah Jones

(March 16, Taft Theatre)

Jones went back to the future on her most recent album, "Day Breaks," which harkens back to the signature jazz-meets-pop sound of her 26 million-album-selling 2002 debut, "Come Away With Me." The tour features the singer performing in various guises, from a stripped-down trio to a full-on band and solo at the piano.

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 24: Kathy Griffin speaks onstage at the 2016 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on September 24, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Kathy Griffin

(March 24, Taft Theatre)

No celebrity is safe when Emmy- and Grammy-winning comedian Griffin is in the room. The raunchy, tell-all stand-up is touring in support of her new book, "Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index," a catalog of her weird, embarrassing and hard-to-believe encounters with A-, B- and C-listers.