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Snagglepuss turn in its Report

Black History Month features plethora of local events

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"Time is not a relevant factor in the world of Snagglepuss."

So says Snagglepuss member Scott Weaver, discussing the three-year wait for the Charlotte septet's third record, The Sound Report. The same can be said for the band's sound, a mix of 1980s new wave, Pylon-meets-the-B-52s' southern rock, and jazz and punk. The band's MySpace site cites an eclectic list of influences, among them Blondie, Can, Stereolab, the Talking Heads, Bow Wow Wow, Patti Smith, the Ramones, the Go-Go's, and James Brown.

"There are no rules," says Weaver, who also sings for Babyshaker. "It's very democratic that way -- if you want to add something to a song because you like dance music, you can."

Snagglepuss formed in 1999 and is fronted by singer and former Fetchin' Bones leader Hope Nicholls, whose vocal yowl is a distinctive Joan Jett-Kate Pierson blend. The band's other characteristics are the prominent use of saxophones, played by Nicholls and Michael Anderson, and John Morris' varied keyboard textures. The Sound Report was recorded by North Carolina mainstay Don Dixon, who also produced the band's first two efforts. Weaver calls it their "slickest" record yet -- "and by that I mean it was recorded in two studios (Mitch Easter's place and Reflections) rather than Hope's den."

The record also has a palpable political bent, which Weaver says reflects the Bush-era nightmare.

"As a group, we have never shied away from expressing our feelings or beliefs in that way," he says, "but we also don't mind having fun and being silly."

And that's best expressed by Snagglepuss' live shows -- part performance art, dance party and rock show.

"More than anything, we are dedicated to art as a lifestyle," Weaver declares.

Black History Month:

The Hardest Working Man in Show Business has taken his boogie down and odd peccadilloes to the Great Venue in the Sky, and James Brown's passing is certainly cause for lament. But he'd no doubt demand we honor his legacy by getting our groove on, especially in light of Black History Month. So with that mandate in hand, here's a partial listing of local February shows featuring African-American musicians.

On Feb. 1, former Blue Note recording artists Soulive appear at the Visulite, bringing their jazzy beat-driven instrumentals with them as they tour behind their latest, Break Out ... underrated reggae soul man Beres Hammond -- Jamaica's Marvin Gaye, if you will -- headlines a double-bill at the Neighborhood Theatre on the 2nd with Marcia Griffiths of The I Threes, Bob Marley's backup singers during his '70s heyday ... on the 9th, you can catch the world-famous Dirty Dozen Brass Band, one of Norleans' greatest exports, at the Visulite. Still going strong after 30 years, the band's timely re-working of Gaye's classic What's Going On helped keep the focus on its hometown's plight after the one-two punch of Katrina & Bush ... The Sisters In Soul tour hits Cricket Arena on the 14th and features gospel legend Shirley Caesar, neo-soul sister Angie Stone, and R&B singer Kelly Price ... Aston "Familyman" Barrett -- the riddims' bass fixture in Marley's legendary '70s reggae band -- brings the Wailers to the Visulite on the 15th ... Ex-Def Jam and current Atlantic Records' recording artist Musiq (ex-Soulchild) plays his classic, '70s-influenced soul at Amos' SouthEnd on Feb. 18 in advance of his new record this spring ... if you're in a more academic mood, there's a lecture on the origins of barbershop quartets and ragtime on the 27th at Jane M. Smith Memorial Church, sponsored by Johnson C. Smith University ... and on any given Sunday you can enjoy the Madison Clouds of Heaven trombone shout band at the Charlotte House of Prayer ...

Valentine's Day:

No better way to celebrate Valentine's Day this year than with cult favorite and former Modern Lovers leader Jonathan Richman at the Evening Muse; good luck landing tickets ... if you can't get in, catch the Anti-Massacre Valentine's Masquerade across the street at the Neighborhood Theatre, featuring the New Familiars, Poprocket, Ian Thomas, and the Breaking Laces, among others ...

Odds & Ends:

The fourth annual Fools Brigade Benefit, "Give the People What They Want," is a tribute to the Kinks this year. The benefit is set for March 31st at the Visulite, and features members of the Goldenrods, Les Dirt Clods, Snagglepuss, Buschovsky, Lou Ford, the Fence Lions, the Houstons, Riser and more. Proceeds will go to the Charlotte Charter Schools Music Program. Previous benefits featured tributes to Tom Waits and CBGBs punk era. Stay tuned to this spot for more information ...

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