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Sweet sounds of Christmas will rock the house at Bistro Mezzaluna

Teri Rini Powers' powerful voice puts a lot of jazz and soul into traditional Christmas carols and seasonal favorites including "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman." Full of the holiday spirit, she'll be singing and playing tonight at Bistro Mezzaluna's annual Christmas caroling buffet on Hilton Head Island. For $25 per person, you get a delicious dinner buffet including chicken marsala, a carving station with spiraled ham, mini osso bucco, risotto, rigatoni with vodka sauce, bacon wrapped scallops and more. After dinner Rini Powers will be on the grand piano, joined by the audience. "We'll be singing every Christmas carol anybody ever thought of," Rini Powers said, adding that she hopes some of the community's "really fine singers" will come and help her lead the group. Many years ago, Rini Powers and a friend wrote an original Christmas carol which includes "the names of every guy we ever dated or married." She'll perform it at the sing-a-long at Bistro Mezzaluna. Homemade cookies and eggnog will be served during the singing, which usually lasts about an hour, said Bistro Mezzaluna owner Mark Sertl. The eggnog is "improved" with spiced rum, nutmeg and a touch of vodka, he said, but the tamer version of the traditional holiday drink is also available.

Entertainment is how Bistro Mezzaluna is heating up this winter, Sertl said. On Monday nights Rini Powers & Company leads jam sessions from 7-9 p.m. featuring local musicians. Continuing an island tradition that was started in the 1990s but fell by the wayside, the jam sessions allow talented local musicians to perform together. "We have some very fine musicians here, and we admire each other, but we don't get the opportunity to play together," Rini Powers said. "This is our chance." Members of the audience - usually accomplished musicians - sometimes join the musicians on stage. Well known musicians who have played at the restaurant since the jam sessions began include Lavon Stevens, Earle Williams, David Mastellar and Mark Husbands. Rini Powers plays the grand piano and sings alone at Bistro Mezzaluna on Wednesday nights, and she will also perform at the restaurant's New Year's Eve party.

On the menu at the New Year's Eve party is Bistro Mezzaluna's specialty appetizer Bada Bing shrimp, Italian wedding soup, and a choice of entrees including seared duck breast, filet mignon, lobster tail, a veal chop or Grouper Meuniere. Dessert choices include tiramisu, chocolate souffle cake with berries, or limoncello gelato. The party starts at 8 p.m. Rini Powers & Company will play from 8:30-12:30, followed by a DJ spinning what Sertl calls "rock n roll dance music." Tickets are $75 per person and include dinner, a champagne toast and party favors.

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