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CL previews upcoming shows

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FRIDAY, DEC. 26

Mitch Easter He's arguably Dean of the Carolinas' music scene, and could coast by on his Sneakers/Let's Active catalog and production credits (R.E.M., Pavement) alone. But Easter is nothing if not still active – and that's not just an allusion to his current Let's Active cover band, Gravel Truck. He runs perhaps the state's premiere studio, Fidelitorium, and just released his first solo record – 2007's Dynamico – 18 years after Let's Active's swan song. His new one is chockfull of ringin' Rickenbackers and high-flying melodies straight out of an I.R.S. Records time capsule. If only all rockers aged as gracefully. With The Public Good (formerly The Popes) and Jacky Claiborne. Milestone (John Schacht)

SATURDAY, DEC. 27

Quench Guitarist Chris Love and the Atlanta quartet Quench spews hard rock from battered amps and drench listeners with both short, loud '60s-influenced bombast to long, blues-infused jams riding on a contemporary post-hardcore tip. The band's classic guitar riffs stride along with a steady rolling rhythm section that oughta keep bobbing necks warm and hair flailing long into the night. Also on the bill: Red Letter Blue and PPR. Milestone (Samir Shukla)

Blue Dogs The Charleston-based Americana roots-rock band Blue Dogs formed in 1987 and still rock with finely honed pop-, country- and acoustically-tinged songs. Lead vocalist Bobby Houck's voice seems to get deeper and cozier with age while the rest of the Dogs craft songs custom-made to warm up cold winter nights. The band recently released a new live DVD. Neighborhood Theatre (Shukla)

Alt Champs Laugh if you like – and, yeah, that's the idea – but Charlotte's reigning champion alternative rockers happen to be one of the city's tightest bands, equally adept at rocking the paint off the walls or a soul groove as deep as the folds in Barry White's belly. Throw in some Theatre of the Absurd and Vaudeville slapstick, and you get a potent formula for fun. In fact, a pretty good rule of thumb for you kids out there deciding who you wanna spend time with is this: If they can't enjoy a Champs show, it's even money they're a supercilious douche bag, and you should drop 'em like a smack habit. With Benji Hughes. Snug Harbor (Schacht)

SUNDAY, DEC. 28

Telltale Featuring Eric and Laurie, ex-Elevator Action, this NY-based trio has a firm ear toward slow-building shoegazer ethos where the guitars shiver and twirl and vocals float alongside. Setting aside their old band's power pop and garage rock, Telltale takes a more subtle and experimental approach and builds the songs one layer at a time, stitched with spacey, moody guitar effects. Snug Harbor (Shukla)

MONDAY, DEC. 29

North Mississippi Allstars Having recently seen two of the band members in "side projects" – I'm not sure the Black Crowes could be considered a side project – you have to assume that all the fire and energy that's been built up on the road with other outfits is going to collide into a big bang once they get back into the comfort zone of the down-and-dirty Southern rockin' Allstars. Visulite Theatre (Jeff Hahne)

Monday Night All-Stars The Monday Night All-Stars (bassist Rick Blackwell, percussionist Jim Brock, guitarist Joe Lindsay, horn player John Alexander, drummer Chris Allen, singer Charles Hairston, with assistance from Les Moore) have been holding it down at the Double Door Inn for some 13 years now. As a result, they're a well-oiled musical machine, despite their many cogs. They don't really practice (play with some dudes about 700 times, you develop a certain trust), they don't deviate from the game plan very often (a function of not practicing, as well as a nod to their fans – you go see a bunch of all-stars in the sporting world, you want to see everyone's signature moves, plus a few fireworks for good measure), and they're not exactly what you call flashy. They are what you can call damn good at what they do, and they're the single most-reliable regular gig in town. Double Door Inn (Timothy C. Davis)

TUESDAY, DEC. 30

The Avett Brothers In what's become an annual tradition, Charlotte's local boys made good (OK, Concord's boys made good, but we did used to call that big racetrack "Charlotte Motor Speedway," and it was in Concord) are returning to their old stomping grounds for a short, year-end residency. They've come a long way from the old days, to be sure: where once they played to sparse audiences of PBRgonauts, they're now getting audiences with folks like American Records guru Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, Slayer, Run-DMC), who'll produce their next record. However it works out for them – and a hunch says it'll turn out damn well – they've almost without fail done things the right way: They don't cheat the fans, the writers, the handlers, and perhaps most importantly, themselves. With Jason Webley and Auld Lang Syne. Belk Theater (Davis)

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