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CL previews upcoming concerts (July 15-20)

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THURSDAY, JULY 15

Pepper The dub-rock trio from Hawaii will release its latest album this August, but that's not stopping the band from hitting the road early on a headlining tour. Having toured with 311 three times and on the Warped Tour in the past, they're now bringing it indoors to beat the heat. With Outlaw Nation. $20-$23, Amos' Southend, www.amossouthend.com (Jeff Hahne)

FRIDAY, JULY 16

Smashing Pumpkins For the better part of the last decade, Smashing Pumpkins has been the muse of guitarist/songwriter/vocalist Billy Corgan, the only remaining original membe. Corgan now pretty much operates on his mood of the hour, intentionally writing songs that linger. The signature guitar-riffing still permeates, but mysticism, strings, acoustic balladry and piano also weave in and out of the swirl. With Kill Hannah and Bad City. $40, The Fillmore Charlotte, www.livenation.com (Samir Shukla)

Mike Strauss Band Strauss has firmly established his songcraft while recording and performing regionally over the past several years. His Southern roots rock taps Warren Zevon on the shoulder and then strolls right on down country and blues byways. He's got a scrap band of regional music veterans backing him up, including Randolph Lewis, and his latest recording, Ideal Road, is solid throughout. Also on the bill: Truckstop Preachers. $10, Double Door Inn, doubledoorinn.com (Shukla)

Illicitizen Bands that meld together lots of styles of music are usually either A) lauded, more often than not if they're a younger band, and thus "reveling in their influences" or B) vilified, for not mastering a particular style. Illicitizen's Eric Cavanaugh, a Charlotte music scene veteran (The Blots, the vastly-underrated-at-the-time Frocky Jack) suggests a third paradigm: an open-minded bandleader who enjoys throwing his phonetical fishbasket into the sea and making dinner with whatever happens to come up. Not to further a food analogy, but think of it as cooking with seasonal, if not regional, ingredients, and putting together something that works: in this case, the songs themselves. Free, Keg & Cue, www.myspace.com/kegandcue (Timothy C. Davis)

John Mayer Since coming out of Atlanta some 10 years back, John Mayer has certainly cemented his place in the pop firmament – he's dated starlets a-plenty, compared his dong to David Duke, won Grammys and, along the way, actually made some decent music. He certainly has energy (and self-confidence) to burn, which leads to the seeming dichotomy of his recorded output – a yer-body-is-a-wonderland here, a blues trio record there. He's a ripper on guitar when he decides to be, but it's his pop work that will likely be his legacy. Think that sounds odd? Consider Eric Clapton as a career best-case-scenario, but then no one's ever referred to Mayer as God, much less sexual napalm. $36-$69.50, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, www.livenation.com (Davis)

SATURDAY, JULY 17

Ocoai This instrumental combo from the hills of Tennessee plow through epic shoe-gazing, moody, spacey, creepy even, dirges that regularly clock in over 10 minutes. Props to them for making it work, and the Neurosis and Mastodon influenced sound, splashed with contemporary psychedelics, is generally downright intriguing. With Machete! and Gruppe 36. Snug Harbor, www.snugrock.com (Shukla)

Cement Stars Apart, members of Cement Stars keep busy, whether it's the Olson brothers in Small Seas or Cody Hare making noise as Buckmaster. Collectively, though, the Charlotte band is a truly underrated act. With a sound that's familiar but fresh and as polished as anyone locally and lyrics that feel sincere, you'd expect some local love for the Nu-Gaze band – but seeing is believing. Catch them during the Outsiders Fashion Show with Buckmaster following. Dharma Lounge, www.dharmacharlotte.com (Mike McCray)

SUNDAY, JULY 18

Gov't Mule The music festival veterans have honed their "jamming" skills throughout the last decade and a half. They are touring relentlessly in support of their ninth studio album, By a Thread, released last October. Original members Warren Haynes, guitar and vocals, and Matt Abts, drums, keep the core of the band intact along with their signature Southern rock beats tinged with some groove and funk. With Jackie Greene. $19.50-$27.50, Road Runner Mobile Amphitheatre, www.livenation.com (Chris Triplett)

TUESDAY, JULY 20

Soul Night Soul Night is gaining steam in Plaza Midwood every week with hungry hipsters and R&B lovers coming together for some El DeBarge and Al Green while they wait on their sushi. You'll come to eat and drink, but watch, you'll stay for hours after you've cleaned the plate because of the music. Soul Gastrolounge, www.soulgastrolounge.com (McCray)

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