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WEDNESDAY 1.14

The Dempseys -- A rockabilly trio, the Dempseys are either pure energy or gimmicky, depending on your point of view. Shows often end up in the audience, and musical instruments end up behind necks, or else played with teeth. The band plays a mix of covers and originals, and as such might not be a bad option for those folks looking to get out and cut a rug to something other than the (cue announcer voice) "hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s." With Theatre for Change. The Evening Muse (Davis)

Tyre Fyre -- Late last week, I got my grubby paws on an early mix of the Fyre's debut record, tentatively titled Let it Burn. First of all, cool title. It references Let it Be and Let it Bleed, and additionally shows the band's commitment to the overthrow of the music industry (OK, so perhaps the title doesn't really reflect that sentiment, but you can't blame a guy for trying). People who saw lead burner John Morris in his bands Electro-luxe and Come on Thunderchild will love this stuff: there's some 70s power-chord stompers, a little early 80s Lou Gramm, a sprinkling of Ron Wood and Ray Davies, and a nod or two to the Golden Age of Alternative. Bundle it all up with Morris' literate songwriting (to these ears, he's one of the best this town has), and you have the recipe for a rock inferno. With The Let Loose. The Room (Davis)

THURSDAY 1.15

Mosquitos -- NY City-based trio create an urban Bossa Nova groove that is contemporary, yet warm and cozy enough to transport the senses to the beaches of Rio. Brazilian singer Juju Stulbach's voice is reminiscent of tropical rhythms and Astrud Gilberto whispers. The guitar ranges from itchy rhythms to acoustic splashes while the rhythm section coasts along for the proper groove. Highly recommended. Visulite Theatre (Shukla)

Sauce Boss -- Might as well label the music of Sauce Boss (better know in the real world as Bill Wharton) "gumbo blues." The music is as funky as gumbo, with its myriad ingredients and spices. Wharton is a gumbo master of sorts and also markets a brand of his own hot sauce, surely created with hot blues licks as much as hot peppers. Overall there are funky blues, slow numbers, Rhythm and Blues, as well as quirky tunes dedicated to, you guessed it, cooking (check out Mama's Cookin'). Can't say I've had his gumbo, but with several records under his belt, Sauce Boss can definitely cook the blues. Wild Wing Cafe (Shukla)

FRIDAY 1.16

Dawn Kinnard / Etta Lea / Steep Canyon Rangers -- Out-Lucinda-ing Lucinda Williams? Well, Kinnard, a Pennsylvania native, would probably blanch at the comparison, but it's not without merit. Her self-titled debut, recorded in the basement of her dad's Baptist church, is a gorgeously crafted twangy ode to the Queen of Country Rock -- or at least it could pass as one, because Kinnard's lyrics carry some of the same emotional weight as Williams'. Kinnard's touring with the same band that expertly fleshed out her debut, and about the only thing one can fault the record for is that at eight songs it's far too short. With the multi-talented Etta Lea feeling right at home. (Schacht) / Hailing from Asheville, NC, the Rangers -- Michael Guggino on mandolin and vocals, Lizzie Hamilton on fiddle and vocals, Charles Humphrey on bass, Woody Platt on guitar and vocals, and Graham Sharp on banjo, guitar and vocals -- have recently played all the festivals that matter for a bluegrass band: Bean Blossom, Grey Fox, Willow Oak, Bass Mountain, Flat Rock, The Blue Ridge Harvest Festival and others. On the strength of such pickin', the band recently inked a deal with Rebel Records, who've put out work by Del McCoury, Ralph Stanley, Doyle Lawson and others. For bluegrass fans, this is a show not to miss -- you get to see the band up close and personal, and don't have to put up with all the PortaPotties and hippies with dogs wearing bandannas. The Evening Muse (Davis)

Donna the Buffalo / Jim Lauderdale -- Jim Lauderdale doesn't grandstand but rather has an elasticity in his lyrical agenda while getting deeper into the roots of hill country. His discography is nothing short of remarkable, deserving a bigger chunk of Americana popularity. Donna the Buffalo pluck musical forms off the American highways and by-ways for their own potent mix. Lauderdale and DTB collectively released a record last summer mixing up good old country music, bluegrass and even rockabilly, called Wait 'Til Spring. I, for one, can't wait. Neighborhood Theatre (Shukla)

Matrix / Hive -- The former guitarist in the hardcore DC outfit, Backlash, Hive turned to the tables a few years ago with strong results. Dipping deeply into the tech-step side of drum'n'bass, Hive's pace can be merciless, and his influences could range all the way from classic jazz to the Bad Brains' classic, "Re-Ignition." With UK veteran Matrix, a Virus and Metalheadz recording artist, another drum'n'bass proponent. Mythos (Schacht)

Vinx -- Vincent De Jon Parrette, Vinx to long-running music lovers, is a percussionist, R&B vocalist and jazz musician. That said, Vinx brings eclectic world rhythms and a mastery of the recording studio to the wider stage. Vinx came to light in 1990 with the first of three records on Sting's now defunct Pangaea label and has released a steady stream of R&B, jazz standards and world music-tinged records since then. Sylvia Theater, York (Shukla)

SATURDAY 1.17

Drive-By Truckers -- Somehow, this little Southern Rock band and their three-guitar attack have become one of the biggest critical favorites of the last five years, boasting a Q rating that would be the envy of any politician. Their platform? What they like to call "The Rock," delivered fresh, with loads of Faulkner-esque emotion, and the aforementioned three guitars. Southern or not, they're one of the better live shows you'll see this year...or any other. See our story on Drive-By Truckers elsewhere in this issue. Visulite Theatre (Davis)

King Johnson -- Atlanta's blues, roots-rock and gumbo-funk combo has been kicking up a "where's the party" jive for quite a spell now. Their most recent recording, Hot Fish Laundry Mat (Landslide Records), showcases the band's R&B vocals and beats to add a twist to traditional blues, while a dual-horn attack helps create jazzy accents. Double Door Inn (Shukla)

Oh What a Nightmare -- With apologies to Hank Williams, it appears that these country boys are not only surviving, but thriving. Taking a break from their popular incarnation as The Avett Brothers, Seth and Scott Avett -- along with pals Derek Young (bass) and guitarist Kenny Graham (guitar) -- have formed a new act, which sounds something like a mix of the brothers' last rock outlet, Nemo, crossed with Budgie and Black Sabbath. It's got all of the same energy you've come to expect from an Avetts show, however, even if it does have drums. With Black Market Radio. The Room (Davis)

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