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WEDNESDAY 12.3

The Talk / The Star Spangles -- The Talk play oh-so-catchy melodic rock, the sort that hammers home the notion that guitars will never go out of style. The recent release, No, You Shut Up (on Charlotte's MoRisen Records), showcases the raucous rock sound. The Star Spangles are upstate New Yorkers transplanted to the Lower East Side of NYC and have obviously soaked up the graffiti-strewn rock & roll agenda that's straight out of that late 70's pop-punk cauldron. The debut, Bazooka!!!, with the opening track containing "got my guitar, gonna be a star," seems pointed straight at the charts; they'll probably get there, too. A nice midweek double bill. The Room (Shukla)

Trip Rogers / Rick Spreitzer -- Rogers has been kicking around these parts for years and has given his music a moniker: Coffeehouse Combat Guitar. Loosely translated it means a mix of blues and classic rock sentiments egged on by the old guitar. His recent disc, Mainline, also opts for bits of southern boogie. Spreitzer is a Charlotte-based singer/songwriter leaning heavy on finely crafted tunes making the acoustic guitar sing -- and occasionally cry -- along. With Michelle Swan. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

THURSDAY 12.4

Ras Alan -- What initially sounds like run-of-the-mill reggae turns into something more solid upon closer aural inspection. It's Appalachian reggae as Alan manages to mix in touches of bluegrass and acoustic music layered over the unmistakable vibes of reggae. It works for the most part as gentle stories are told while the island vibe, as translated by a "Country Rebel," evoke positive vibrations. Alan manages to create a warm Rastafari aura in the cool mountain breezes. With Brother Bob. Neighborhood Theatre (Shukla)

FRIDAY 12.5

Dodd Ferrelle -- Georgia boy Ferrelle's been gaining something of a reputation recently for his rave-up take on gothic country-rock music, but recently he's been focusing his energies on a song cycle called Sweet Lowland, a group of songs inspired by his home base, Tybee Island and Savannah, Georgia. Ferrelle's last album, Always Almost There, was produced by Athenian legend David Barbe, who helped add a loose, pub-like feel to the proceedings. This record? Still has the pub-like feel to the proceedings, as long as the pub in question isn't too far from the local loch. As befitting its waterfront confines, this record is something more like a Southern-fried version of Mike Scott and The Waterboys. Indeed, Ferrelle even turns in a pretty dog-gone good cover of that band's "Fisherman's Blues," and elsewhere salts and peppers his catch with lots of ragged fiddle and percussion. The Evening Muse (Davis)

Moonshine Racers -- Their killer version of Bukka White's classic "Fixin' to Die" takes cues more from Bob Dylan's double-time version then the original Mississippi blues of White. The song fits just fine in Moonshine Racers' bluegrass agenda as the Charlotte-based band wet their whistle with classic country added to the hooch. The band is working on their debut recording, so you'll probably get a chance to hear a new tune or two. Smokey Joe's Cafe (Shukla)

Photek / TeeBee -- A major name in the Electronica world, Britain's Photek (aka Rupert Parkes) made a big splash in the early days of jungle (under a variety of names), and his music has always carried a creepy sense of underlying paranoia amidst even the calmest of beats. TeeBee, the Norwegian Torgeir Byrnes, is expert at contrasting eerie orchestration with heavily reverbed melodic tones atop a bed of pulsing rhythms. Mythos (Schacht)

SATURDAY 12.6

David Childers & the Modern Don Juans -- Folks ask me all the time what kind of music it is that I like. It's a hard question to answer, of course. Frankly, I can't think of a single style of music that I don't like, unless you're talking about some shitty Nashville Toby Keith-style Big Hat country. If pressed, I suppose I'd say I like any kind of music that's honest in its intentions, whether that intention is to make the listener (and/or performer) sad, or horny, or enlightened, or wistful. Additionally, I'd like to think that the piece of music was conceived without any concession to commercial concerns. If you make money, fine -- but be yourself. David Childers, the point of this oversized blurb, certainly fits the above criteria. Since his days with the firebrand Mt. Holly Hellcats on up to his very latest CD, Room 23, Childers has "kept it real" more than any 20 goofball gangsta rappers could hope to. Room 23, recorded at Reflection Sound Studios with Don Dixon (R.E.M, The Smithereens) might well be his best work ever. It lacks a little of the raw, low-down snarl of past DC records like A Good Way To Die and Blessed in an Unusual Way, but there's not a weak track in the bunch. The production grows on you, too. At first, you worry that Dixon may have tamed the great songwriting beast behind a little too much studio gloss, but by the end of the album, you realize that the whole thing was an illusion, and that the bars between you and the music are of your own construction. As Dan Patrick used to say on SportsCenter, "You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him." Room 23 certainly contains -- some of the best music I've heard all year, in fact. CD Release Party With Don Dixon and Malcolm Holcombe. Neighborhood Theatre (Davis)

DJ Craig Richards/Greg Pappanastos -- The Brit Richards makes a very rare appearance in Charlotte (his only East coast stop); when you've got a full-time gig at London's swank club, Fabric, people usually come to you. He's out polishing his mix of off-beat (not literally, of course) house, prog and break touches that he's recently programmed and mixed (along with Lee Burridge, as Tyrant) onto another Fabric compilation (due out in March). Local Greg Pappanastos opens. Tonic (Schacht)

Laura Risk & Paddy League -- Risk teases the fiddle into lands ranging from Appalachia to the British Isles as Celtic reels and jigs go barnstorming at country dances. She is a teacher and performer with a repertoire encompassing Scottish and Quebec folk traditions and has released several discs on Dorian Records. League is a multi-instrumentalist (bouzouki, concertina, mandolin) specializing in Celtic percussion and inventive rhythms. The duo will present a full-day workshop on fiddle, guitar and Bodhran (traditional Celtic drum) during the day and perform a concert in the evening. Sylvia Theater, York (Shukla)

Molly Hatchet -- The Erstwhile Molly Hatchet -- which is how I shall refer to them -- are back on tour, and releasing a record that consists of the band's biggest hits, re-recorded with a "newer, fuller" sound. Problem is, the Band That Would Be Skynyrd Or At Least The Current Incarnation Thereof hasn't a single original member of the original Molly Hatchet -- no Danny Joe Brown, no three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-dust guitar attack, and not even Jimmy Farrar, the wannabe who replaced Brown after his ill-fated move to start his own band (the creatively titled Danny Joe Brown Band). Some folks have categorized recent EMH shows as "like seeing a great Molly Hatchet cover band." (Insert own punch line here). Amos' Southend (Davis)

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