The Benjamin Circle -- Turntables, cello, trumpets and flugelhorn are strange bedfellows indeed for a rock band, or even a post-rock band. The Benjamin Circle find a way to make suitable use of the above instruments along with guitar and percussion treatments for an eclectic spin. An intriguing show to relieve your mid-week doldrums. Double Door Inn (Shukla)


Peter Rowan / Two High String Band -- Rowan has kind of become a cult figure on the bluegrass circuit and rightly so. He's played with Bill Monroe, was part of Old and In the Way with David Grisman and Jerry Garcia, and most likely ranks fairly high on Doc's list of MerleFest regulars. Now he's put a new twist on things and released Reggaebilly, which Rowan recorded in Jamaica with authentic reggae artists (Chinna Smith, Squidley Cole, Robbie Lyn) as well as some homegrown pickers (Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Eddie Adcock). (Lynn Farris) / An obviously seasoned outfit playing traditional bluegrass with two guitars, mandolin and stand-up bass, all the while whittling away with hints of contemporary Appalachian boogie. A nice new record, Insofarasmuch, should be out in a few weeks and features guest spots from David Grisman and Vassar Clements. Get there early. Neighborhood Theatre (Shukla)

Snatches of Pink -- Once upon a time they were one of the catalysts of the now taken for granted Chapel Hill rock scene, getting loads of ink and record deals. Consider it luck of the draw for you and me that they're back after a seven year hiatus of the Snatches namesake while band members recorded and toured under the moniker Clarissa. Though Clarissa had more mellow moments, Michael Rank, Sara Romweber and company have brought back the mighty riffs showcasing the real Pink. They've got a rawking new record, Hyena, coming out on Charlotte-based MoRisen records. The Steeple Lounge (Shukla)


Baleen / Todd Busch -- One of those pairings that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, necessarily, but will no doubt be worth catching due to the sheer musicianship and eclectic worldviews shared by the performers. You never know what you'll get with a Baleen show -- free jazz, rock, any number of ethnic musics -- but you know the music will be created fresh right in front of your eyes. Busch manages to create soundscapes that contain all that (and probably more), even when he's just accompanying himself on a simple old acoustic guitar. Add in the fact that Busch shows happen very sporadically, and you have a show worth recommending. The Evening Muse (Davis)

Chris Duarte -- He doesn't need much coaxing when somebody hands him an electric guitar, and to be sure, the darn thing is gonna get a beating during the course of the gig. A torchbearer for the likes of Hendrix and Alvin Lee, Duarte infuses the blues with sensual linings to take it somewhere deeper into the psyche. He can turn a definitive and time-tested blues lick from sliding into potential dull repetition and crank out psychedelic rock that can enliven temperate surroundings, to say the least. Double Door Inn (Shukla)


AM Radio -- Taking cues from The Smiths to U2, AM Radio have a moody beat embedded in their modern rock that separates them from the pre-packaged alterna-rock hordes (whores?). A touch of new wave is layered with enough guitar crunch to keep rockers happy and popsters stretching their necks for a closer look with plenty of sing along lines. Like-minded comrades Rooney are also playing and both have new discs ready to hit the stores. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)

Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned -- If I were playing a word association game and Gideon Smith was tossed out, I'd probably have to cheat as three words really come to mind: southern-stoner-rock. Some might think it's a dated genre but Gid & the gang do it up right. They're a tight bunch with wailing guitar riffs thrown on top of a throbbing rhythm section. The Damned are often a rotating crew of rockers sometimes consisting of former members of Crimeseen 13 and God's Water. With Crank County Daredevils and Auto Magg. Fat City (Farris)


Danny Barnes -- Every now and then a musician comes along and moves music forward, even if in short, eclectic bursts. Barnes is a master of banjo and numerous other musical tools and takes bluegrass into quite a few new directions. It's all about the roots, with witty tales, pastels of down home colors and sheer, adventurous musicianship. He was one half of the punkgrass band the Bad Livers, and with numerous forays into soundtracks, teaching and composing, Barnes remains an unsung musical catalyst. (See interview with Barnes in this issue.) The Evening Muse (Shukla)


Chicken-Bone -- Pretty good roadhouse-style bluegrass here, nicely blending the classic 'grass of a Jim and Jesse with just a touch of the new stuff. The band's CD, Hickabilly Casserole, is more of the same -- solidly played, tasteful, and with just enough reverence that it never becomes too hokey. Something about the name sort of sticks in my throat, however. (Ba-dum-bum). Puckett's Farm Equipment (Davis)

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