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THURSDAY 3.13

Avett Brothers -- Part sweetwater harmonies, part jug band, and 100 percent authentic, Concord's Scott and Seth Avett, formerly of Nemo, mix North Carolina traditional musics (Piedmont blues, bluegrass and roadhouse country) together into a sound that ought to have label folks sniffing like mad, if only they knew what the good shit smelled like in the first place. Check out their Country Was for a great primer. Fat City (Davis)

Aztec Two-Step -- The duo Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman have been collectively known as Aztec Two-Step since '71, and they've been proprietors of sparkling folk music for most of the years since. The show is great as a reference point of the singer/songwriter genre or for those interested in clean guitar picking, harmony and lyric-propped musicianship. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

Julius Bragg -- These rockers have the knack to crank out instantly hummable tunes. It's radio ready alterna-rock that's catchy and good, but nothing out of the ordinary. If you're looking for a party atmosphere with a danceable modern rock band, by all means grab the gal and go. Dixie's Tavern (Shukla)

Neptune/Galloway -- Boston's Neptune features all their instruments made and/or sculpted from scrap metal. Their self-described art-punk is evocative and downright funky, in the loosest of definitions. Charleston's Galloway projects an avant-garde musical swing that sinks into the pores and opens up all sorts of possibilities. Repeat listens are a must to understand their carnival of sounds. Galloway uses many instruments and machines as well as musically inclined pieces of everyday items while portraying a ragged sound tribute to their literary hero, Jack Kerouac. It's definitely one of the more intriguing shows this week. Fat City (Shukla)

FRIDAY 3.14

The Clarks -- Stripped down and dirty, The Clarks are like those bands that play everything like you'd expect, sing just like you've heard before, and spout lyrics that, while excellent, don't scream Bob Dylan -- even the songs are mostly about the usual suspects (beer, girls, lack of beer, lack of girls). What they do exhibit is sweat in droves and a meat-and-potatoes good show that sticks to the ribs. More bands of this genre could take a cue from The Clarks: a little less reinventing the wheel and a little more Asleep at the Wheel. Visulite Theatre (Davis)

Gruv Union -- These are local groovy rockers with gurgling bass and a hard rhythmic sound. Can't quite get my fingers around it, but they rock if you're lookin' to sway the bod while doing 12-ounce curls. Also on the bill are Extra Medium and Withstand. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)

The Spongetones -- The name Spongetones sums up this band pretty well. All the members are self-proclaimed sponges for the golden era of pop songwriting and manage to blend these lessons into their own music with laudable results. The tone part is obvious to anyone who's seen them: Guitars function more like paintbrushes, changing the mood or the drive of a piece with a simple flourish. One imagines that playing with each other for the last 20 years (musically, silly) doesn't hurt. Double Door Inn (Davis)

SATURDAY 3.15

The Interstellars -- The ordinarily moody (as in, mood-setting) Interstellars are pulling out all the stops for this show, which, appropriately, is at a theater. Much like the Bellglide/Pyramid/Hardcore Lounge show of a week or so ago, this show will feature an audio-visual element consisting of two projectors, a video mixer and camera, a computer, four VCRs, and effects processors. Expect some audience participation, and also expect to get there early to check out Bullship, a rather avant-garde new band featuring Elroy from the McClintock Gs and some other like-minded cats. Visulite Theatre (Davis)

Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers -- Once the axeman for the legendary Nighthawks, Thackery stands on his own feet when searing blues are in question. Having played practically every juke joint from coast to coast, Thackery and his comrades put the accent where it counts, making the six-string cry, whine and bleed. Blues-rock is Thackery's credo and he delivers with sharp licks and road-weary vocals. Double Door Inn (Shukla)

Quiet Riot -- When I was a younger fellow, a friend of mine lent me the Riot's Metal Health record, which was summarily nabbed by my folks in an act of parental censorship. In theory, it was because of the song "Love's a Bitch." However, in 2003, I'm pretty sure it was just to protect my ears from cheeseball lyricism and bad Slade covers. No matter. Folks are gonna check it out if they're inclined to such nostalgia. For me, it's a period I'd rather forget, even if the band did help get "heavy metal" on the radio... which, come to think of it, is another reason not to like 'em. They're harmless enough at this point, however, barring any unannounced pyrotechnics. Amos' Southend (Davis)

Snagglepuss -- Proof positive that getting married and having a baby and running a business and basically just being regular folks doesn't have to mean you stop making good records. Hope Nicholls and beau Aaron Pitkin have been musical linchpins in this area for a while now, and, along with a choice few other acts, have a lot to do with the fact that there is a music scene in Charlotte in the first place. The band -- multi-gendered, multi-racial and multi-aged -- composts all sorts of musical and life experiences into a unique sound that sounds completely new, even while borrowing cues from Nicholls and Pitkin's earlier work (Sugarsmack and Fetchin' Bones, most notably). In a town given to preprocessed entertainment, Snagglepuss' sound is always farmer's market-fresh, a colorful basketful of soul, punk, new wave and Southern fried skank. Tremont Music Hall (Davis)

TUESDAY 3.18

The Slackers -- Specializing in the "off-beat" rhythms of ska, the Slackers are a notch above when it comes to creating a top island flavor while speeding things up on the punk rock tip when the mood suits them. They create a funky vibe with hints of calypso and reggae, along with the usual "ants in the pants" ska moves. Fat City (Shukla)

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