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The American Plague A trio from Knoxville, TN spews forth punk rock; there are plenty of high fives with Motorhead, Stooges and Ramones, along with raw 70s glam sentiments. It's basically a case of yelling, "One, two, three!" into the mic and kicking in fast and furious American rock & roll with all the bone-crunching that goes with it. The dudes have been busy playing with many outfits, including Jaw and Undead, but clearly have an agenda of their own. Wednesday, January 16, Fat City. -- SS

Rory Block The multiple W.C. Handy award winner brings her rather traditional version of the Delta country blues to Charlotte, and blues fans shouldn't miss it. A fiery performer, she does what the best bluesmen knew and most new ones forget: She infuses the songs with a sexual crackle, slapping the guitar and spitting out syllables like every word contained a chance for redemption. Notable for her own work, she's especially important as an interpreter of standards, keeping (as Kasey Casem says) one foot on the ground while reaching for the stars. Or stardom, whichever comes first. A Bonnie Raitt for the 1st Century. Saturday, Neighborhood Theatre. -- TCD

Blueground Undergrass Vocalist/banjo player Jeff Mosier leads this earthy (and mired in tradition) bluegrass outfit from Atlanta that has its ears wide open for some intriguing forays outside the realm. Mosier has been an unrepentant promoter of traditional bluegrass in the region for years, and with the help of like-minded comrades in arms, pushes the genre envelope into welcome places. A solid new record, Newground, should help get the new year rolling to the sounds of true American music with hints of jazz, swing, country and blues, all weaving a web around the base of urban and rural bluegrass. Saturday, Visulite. -- SS

Elliott and the Untouchables Both Ends Burnin' is the new recording from this Columbia, SC outfit with a sound that harks back to early blues yet basically nails a 90s boppin' boogie feel. The end result is more of a band than a steamin' guitarist showin' off pyrotechnics. It's a good date band, not bad but not spectacularly original, either. They want you to get up and shake your rump rather than drown your sorrows in that big mug of draft. There's plenty of jump blues, along with toppings of harp, organ and sweat-drenched vocals; what more do you need on a Saturday night? Saturday, Double Door Inn. -- SS

Helicopter A Charlotte trio playing booming, math rock. Or is it a rock version of a left of center jazz improv outfit? You make the call, as the hip Helicopter lands at Cafe Bisous, featuring music scribe K. Johnson on bass and fronted by the chiming guitar cascades of Eric Krauss. It's all accented by a precise percussion attack, calling up images of a harrowing marriage of Fugazi and Velvet Underground. Opening for dynamic duo The Houston Brothers. Saturday, Cafe Bisous. -- SS

Jill Austin Band Austin's folk-treated acoustic pop has a delivery that tips its hat to confident and freewheeling artists such as Ani, although Austin's music has a decidedly twangier feel with her slightly right-of-gritty vocals that slide over the tight rhythm section and her own acoustic guitar slinging way down low. The Charlotte-based singer/songwriter released a nice, peppy album last year titled Come Out and Play. Saturday, Tremont Music Hall. -- SS

Buddy & Julie Miller / Steve Forbert / Scott Miller Buddy and Julie are as fascinating on stage as off, and that's saying a lot. Guitarist Buddy is probably the premier guitarist in the country today, and wife Julie's soulful emoting will make your heart drop. Together, they perform some of each other's songs, and their harmonies dance like two people in love, each following the other's lead. Which, come to think of it, they are. / From "New Dylan" to Americana forerunner to his current status as an important American voice, Steve Forbert has managed to break convention (and record contracts) with remarkable efficiency in the 25 or so years he's been on the scene. Always understated in delivery and otherwise, Forbert's dusty baritone has become one of the more recognizable voices in music (or at least it was, before Shawn Mullins started to use it). / Scott Miller and the Commonwealth's debut, Thus Always to Tyrants (on Durham-based Sugar Hill), is one of the finest releases of the year, whiskey-strong and snow-pure. Buddy, Scott might well steal this wonderful bill. Friday, Neighborhood Theatre. -- TCD

Rank Outsiders Gigi Dover and company still sound better than most of what's heard on Americana and AA stations across the country, but they have yet to get really considerable airplay outside of the Southeast US. The band's One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure and Checkpoint continue to be reliable listens five or more years after their respective releases. Always a good show, made even better here by the promise of hearing Dover's Patsy Cline-like warble reverberate through the intimate confines of the performer-friendly Muse. With Marly Hornik. Friday, Evening Muse. -- TCD

Red Animal War The band has a pretty good new disc out, Breaking In An Angel, a nice document of Pumpkins-like songcrafting. They're from the Charlotte-based Deep Elm label, meaning they are, for all intents and purposes, a band of the style dreadfully called "Emo." I'd say they're just a more-interesting-than-normal alternative pop band with guys who know how to play their instruments and scream in key. Did all right for Corgan and Co., if you'll remember. Plus, their lead singer and guitarist is named Justin Wilson. I gar-own-tee! With Moneybags Gram and Tokyo Machine. Friday, Tremont Music Hall. -- TCD *

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