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WEDNESDAY, AUG. 22

Mona Ray Charlotte indie rockers Mona Ray offer a mix of folk, jazz and acoustic-touched eclecticism that manages to expand the sound while gently coaxing sparse instrumentation. The layered addition of harmonica and piano, along with jazzy percussion, results in impressive songcraft. Also on the bill are Kirkley and Kenni Falls. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

Def Leppard It's not exactly a night for Aquanet, but it may require some torn, acid-washed jeans. The English rockers have been around since '77 and are continuing the nostalgia when they hit the Queen City. Their last album was one of covers in 2006. A new album is tentatively planned for spring of 2008. They may ask you to pour some sugar on them, but it's just a song, not a requirement. While you're there, can you tell me the difference between "Rocket" and "Women"? Also on the bill are Styx and Foreigner. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Hahne)

FRIDAY, AUG. 24

Memphis the Band Guitars twang and trip, the bass thumps and jumps, and the rhythm section of this Chapel Hill-based quintet rounds out the psychobilly and garage rockabilly with ease. Add a heaping helping of southern boogie and psychedelics and it all only gets better. Delta Rift will open. Puckett's Farm Equipment (Shukla)

Jackson Crossing Jackson Crossing, featuring former Marshall Tucker Band sax player Jerry Eubanks, is a southern blues jam band. The gents gather parts of blues, southern rock and lotsa deep jams for a combination that sets the stage for these veteran music twirlers to cut loose. Their muse is reminiscent of "Whipping Post" era Allmans and the Spartanburg, S.C., band mix it up with originals and thick covers such as the concert staple "Crossroads." Double Door Inn (Shukla)

Foxes that Fight Think of these foxes as a mix of experimental rock stitched together with spunky horns-driven ska. Foxes That Fight take cues from the improv traditions of a jazz band but are beat-oriented, or better yet, ska-driven. The Columbia, S.C., band is playing with the Voodoo Glow Skulls, Knockout, and Bums Lie. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)

Two Dollar Pistols Touring in support of their latest release, Here Tomorrow, Gone Today! (produced by SCOTS frontman Rick Miller), the Chapel Hill-based honky tonkers have been building momentum since their formation in 1996. They consider themselves a "country band that likes R&B, that likes rock 'n' roll, that likes rockabilly, that likes The Beatles, but not a rock 'n' roll band that likes country music." (Hahne)

Black Skies Our friends to the north in the Triangle are best known for a long tradition of indie rock -- at times quite memorable but just as often instantly forgettable. But the growing sludge rock movement percolating up there these days begins to demand equal billing. Black Skies mine the dark, Sabbath-meets-Melvins vein, and if they're not quite at the knife-tip, creatively speaking, as their Triangle brethren Caltrop, they make up for it with chest cavity-crushing rhythms and wicked riffage. Milestone. (Schacht)

SATURDAY, AUG. 25

Sea of Cortez Rodney Lanier's instrumental project plays evocative soundtrack music without the need for film, built on epic, multi-guitar noir-scapes reminiscent of Friends of Dean Martinez, and cross-cultural accordion-and-strings vignettes a la early Calexico or Devotchka. They don't get out as much as we (and probably they) would like, so take advantage and prepare for a memorable sojourn to musical points far and wide. With the always dynamite Dynamite Brothers. Snug Harbor (Schacht)

SUNDAY, AUG. 26

Stone Sour Stone Sour, featuring Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor, is less thrashy and more hard rock than those masked marauders. Taylor and company treat the band as more of a fulltime gig than a side project, so there's a cohesive musicality under the noise. Although not as visually entertaining as Slipknot, the alt-metal band continues to buff the melodic sheen with acoustic numbers like "Through Glass" and guitars-amped songs like "Made of Scars." With Sydonia. Amos' Southend (Shukla)

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