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Beppe Gambetta -- An acoustic guitarist who plays good bluegrass and blues, which isn't exactly a rare commodity around these parts, except Gambetta is from Italy. His love of the all-American art forms is apparent in his picking technique and the wash of his fretwork sounds like it was born and bred in Appalachia. An acoustic guitar can certainly be sheer joy for the ears in the company of a master, and Gambetta fills that bill. He's a classically trained guitarist who is also a teacher and author. Extra points for the dude, who also has a cookbook out. Don't look puzzled, he's Italian for crying out loud. With Open Road. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

Robert Walter's 20th Congress -- Funk/jazz keyboardist Walter was smart enough to take a page from jazzbo compatriots John Scofield and John Medeski a few years back, and he's now reaping the benefits of expanding his audience. As more and more jazz musicians are learning, the jam band circuit is a nice fit: the audience is appreciative and loyal, knowledgeable about music, and willing to spend money. Walter's playing -- smoky, spiked 60s soul/jazz -- is a perfect fit in such digs, equally able to free the mind (and the ass, which, to hear George Clinton tell it, will inevitably follow). Visulite Theatre (Davis)


Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band -- On his new record, Carrier takes the established parameters of zydeco accordion and adds on rock, ska and even dance mixes to what he calls a "Chubby Party." Well, there isn't anything wrong with that and to prove his point the new record is even called There Ain't No Party Like a Chubby Party. It all works to his advantage, most of the time, as zydeco inherently lends itself to festive dancing. Barnes Recital Hall, Winthrop U (Shukla)

Malcolm Holcombe -- Holcombe's gruff, yet soothing voice and well-crafted songs are musically connected via folk and acoustic rock with plenty of twanging country. Cherish the fact that he's from North Carolina as he livens up the singer-songwriter genre with a deep moan that's alone worth the price of admission. His words, with the added comfort of a bedeviled guitar, are conversation pieces. Rodi, Gastonia (Shukla)


Al Stewart -- OK, so most of us know him by "Year of the Cat," a vaguely mystical folk song from the album of the same name. Along with "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" and "Brandy," it's one of those songs you know every word to even as you curse the day the guys that wrote the damn things (Rupert Holmes and Looking Glass, respectively) were born. But do know that Stewart has some other good vaguely mystical folk tunes too, and that he's actually a pretty damn accomplished guitar player. That said, bet on "Year of" for the encore. Sylvia Theater, York (Davis)

Cursive / Blood Brothers / Eastern Youth -- You have to like the idea behind Tim Kasher and company's new one, The Ugly Organ. Ostensibly, the record is a concept CD about...concept CDs. Despite Cursive's considerable hardcore roots, the record manages a sly sense of humor on a number of cuts and even augments the sheet-metal melodies with some fragile cello lines on a number of songs. Kasher's poking fun at indie rock from the inside on this one, a thrift-store Jonah with more than enough barbs to deflate that big white whale of pomposity. Better yet, he keeps his tongue firmly planted in cheek, knowing that everything he's saying about the industry could probably be said about himself as well. / As a name, Blood Brothers didn't seem to fit when I first read about them a while back. Then you see their live show, equal parts screamo, experimental jazz and metal, and you get it. Internal bleeding. Which, of course, nearly always makes listenable records. / Eastern Youth will probably go on second, but might be the best band on the bill. Hailing from Toyko, Japan, they play a vaguely dissonant brand of what we used to call "emo." Somehow, the fact that none of it's in English helps the band, to these ears. You get the passion behind what they're saying, and none of the maudlin sentiment. With Fin Fang Foom. Tremont Music Hall (Davis)

Japonize Elephants -- This will be a great show if your musical antenna seeks respite from the norm. The San Francisco-based Japonize Elephants revel in their sideshow carnival where Tom Waits and Kurt Weill lurk in the dark corners. They're a loosely defined string band playing early jazz, irreverent gypsy music and spaghetti western themes while unraveling bits of Middle Eastern and Asian music. They use tin whistles and other gizmos to create exotica and a quaint sound that redefines contemporary music. Tunes like "Chinese Hoe-down" should make for a rambunctious evening, to say the least. Highly recommended. With Jabberwocky. The Room (Shukla)

Smoke -- The stoner rockers from California are making their rounds through the countryside. Sure, there's plenty of drawwwwwwn out riffage and with a couple of brewskies, or other chemicals in yer system, they'll help tighten the jawbone further. Definitely not a top of the line thick riffs band, but vocal enough to lend 'em your eardrums for some noise infested fine-tuning. Don't confuse this band with the now defunct Atlanta band of the same name. Also on the bill are Dirty Power and Murdercycle. Fat City (Shukla)


Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets -- Texan Funderburgh is a solid player in the T-Bone Walker / Freddie King style, but you wouldn't know it so much by the publicity he gets (white blues guitarist "authenticity" backlash, perhaps?). Ironically, his counterpart/foil as frontman is Sam Myers, a veteran Delta blues harp player and singer (and former sideman for Elmore James). Together, the two fill any gaps in the sound, with Anson's soaring leads being grounded in Myers' rootsy baritone. Part of the Brews, Blues & BBQ Festival at the Charlotte Shout Celebration. Gateway Village (Davis)

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