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WEDNESDAY 7.24

Moby / Azure Ray -- Listening to Moby's records of late conjures up spectral ends of the music rainbow; then again, the dance music innovator has always played by his own rules. The new record is no different, as the pieces can go from indie rock to bluesy-gospel tearjerkers to his flamboyant disc twirling dance music. The soothing ambient touches are ever present and by using different vocalists, Moby assures the old adage, wait a while and the weather (or, in this case, the band) will change. / Azure Ray, appearing courtesy of Athens, GA and the ultra-hip Warm Records, have a mesmerizing sound constructed with the help of Eric Bachmann (Crooked Fingers). Get there early for some legal, mood altering stuff. Also appearing is Dirty Vegas. Grady Cole Center (Shukla)

THURSDAY 7.25

Robert Randolph / James Mathus & His Knockdown Society -- Along with his Family Band, Randolph's star has risen in the jam and roots music circuits, and for good reason. The former "sacred steel" gospel all-star has Pentecostal fervor in his steel playing, but can also drop back and do a pretty fine Duane Allman impersonation -- all while sitting down, clad in his favored football jerseys. It's not a crossover music conversion on the level of say, Sam Cooke, but it's worth checking out. (Davis) / Jimbo's penchant for mixing old-time music with vocals grown in the Mississippi Delta gives all his projects a flair not seen much in today's world of rock & roll. Case in point: the wonderful Squirrel Nut Zippers that Mathus co-founded. On a break from the Zips, his side band is on the road enlightening the masses with their recent record that mixes scratchy blues, sparse rock and piano shuffles. Visulite Theatre (Shukla)

FRIDAY 7.26

Aqualads -- Aqualads The Aqualads are back, and gearing up for a few appearances this summer. The band has added two new members: Bob Nelson on guitar and Jeremy Holcomb on drums. The Aqualads Mach II likely have a bit more muscle than some past incarnations, but the band's deep knowledge of surf music (and culture) still remains evident in every pull of the whammy bar. With Phil Lee & The Sly Dogs. Fat City (Davis)

Blakrayn -- Blakrayn's performing tonight with one of its own members -- MC Supastition -- as the featured act. Supastition's releasing a new solo disc titled 7 Years Of Bad Luck. Blakrayn returns to the stage after a long sabbatical, keeping for the most part the same eclectic jazz-tinged, kitchen sink sound, augmented by the addition of new vocalist Rich Figureoa, who'll share the stage with Supa. The Hungry Duck (Davis)

Dickey Betts & The Great Southern -- The secret ingredient of the cookbook of southern rock and boogie -- no, it ain't fatty who-knows-what from a hog carcass -- is the definitive guitar work of Dickey Betts. The warm, steely riffs Dickey has been laying over any sort of rock, blues or country music over the last three decades seasons and livens up the platter. Betts' long tenure with the Allmans only scrapes the surface of a true Southern guitar great. His latest project is an all-acoustic set of tunes called Collectors #1 and there's sure to be big helpings off that record, as Dickey and band warm things up for Bob Weir's Ratdog and Phil Lesh & Friends. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Shukla)

Flyweb / Goldenrods -- After a long hiatus, The Flyweb are back in action. Singer Todd Busch unveiled some new songs at the band's last appearance at the Penguin Memorial Day bash, continuing a sustained level of accomplished, prolific songwriting over the last 10 years that likely can't be matched. A possible exception would be Benji Hughes of the Goldenrods, whose burnished voice and gold-dusted lyricism transform even the saddest laments into little monuments to the human condition. The best local songwriting bill you're likely to see this week or any other. Visulite Theatre (Davis)

Parklife -- The band has now been pared down to a duo after they recently parted ways with drummer Peele Wimberley (ex-Connells). The boys are pressing on, recording a new four-track EP and continually evolving the hard, moody pop they've been pursuing. Sam Clownie, half of Parklife, helped push Chapel Hill's Veldt to higher echelons with his added guitar during his tenure with the now defunct band a few years back. His guitar still sounds perfectly wound and up to speed, helping create American pop music the Brits wish they were playing. Opening for Bellglide. Mojo Restaurant & Spirits (Shukla)

baleen / Cookout -- Charlotte's own baleen, local avant-jazz shamans and organic electronic masters, play this show with another like-minded act, Cookout. The Mississippi-based band is a little more relaxed and instrumental than their Queen City mates, eschewing baleen's occasional Afro influences for more of a Chick Corea vibe. Good finger-snapping night of music, though. The Evening Muse (Davis)

SATURDAY 7.27

Ether Bunnies -- I've always been a sucker for sound collages. Melody is cool, hooks are pretty OK, and rocking out is fab, too. But give me a great disc of "in the know" musicians who spin, scrape, beat and do about anything to goad sounds out of instruments, and you've got a happy puppy on your hands. Ether Bunnies are one such group, taking bits and pieces of music into nicer territories. And hey, the Asheville-based band can make songs, too. Opening for The Houston Brothers. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

The Gathering of the Mullets II -- Featuring likeminded pro-mulleteers Djinn, Mindspill, Shiver, Brown 25, Bleed Christine & Myndflow (the latest to be inducted into the Mullet Militia), this show's theme is Heat Stroke 2002. Most of the bands on the bill sort of fit into the Heavy Melody school, a la someone like Sevendust; banding together as the Mullet Militia, they're working on creating their own scene instead of waiting for one to develop. To boot, only a couple of them have hockey hair. Tremont Music Hall (Davis)

Lake Trout -- Sheesh, two killer sound-weaving bands playing the same night (see Ether Bunnies, above). Listening to Lake Trout may bring squinting irritation to the non-adventurous sorts seeking plain songs. Leave pre-conceptions at the door as one of the finest de-constructors of sound in the music biz coax layer upon layer of jazz, rock, reggae, trip-hop and anything else that fits the mood into bastardization of sound waves permeating the room. The like-minded Interstellars are also on the bill. Visulite Theatre (Shukla)

WEDNESDAY 7.31

Travis Allison Band -- TAB are the classic sorta non-intrusive folk-blues-rock band. The acoustic sounds are pleasant and the lyrical slant hangs right there in the middle somewhere, not eye-opening but interesting enough. Kudos to them for work ethics, doing some couple hundred shows a year, pounding the pavement playing their hearts out and rolling down the road for more. OK, even though I can't put my finger on one, I know there's that all-elusive "hit" somewhere in their repertoire. Double Door Inn (Shukla)

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