Kevin Montgomery / Cast Iron Filter -- Montgomery has that mellow, "riding through the desert with the radio on," 70s country-rock persona. No, Don Henley didn't change his name, and Montgomery holds his own with evocative tales of running off to California, suicide and torn-apart lovers, his sweet voice pulling it all off effortlessly. The savvy Montgomery releases most of his records in UK first before bringing them stateside. (Shukla) / Local purveyors of 151-proof Irongrass, the Filter has finished their new record, Falls of Rough, but is currently courting labels (and vice-versa) before deciding whether to release it independently or not. Never assume anything when it comes to the music business, but it seems likely they'll find a home somewhere, especially since early word is that Falls... is a quantum leap beyond past efforts. The Evening Muse (Schacht)

Cary Hudson -- Hudson, perhaps best known for his work with the popular Mississippi-based band Blue Mountain, has a brand-spankin' new one, Cool Breeze, set to come out this week on Black Dog Records (Satyrs, Beaver Nelson). Full of Hudson's live-wire acoustic guitar and aw-shucks country blues, it's perhaps the closest thing to a new Blue Mountain record as you're likely to find. Which, as the deposed Martha might say, is a good thing. With Ken Will Morton. The Room. (Davis)

The Darkness -- Talk about night and day. Depending on where you're standing, the Darkness' spandex-and-splits take on rock and metal is either great ironic fun or just downright annoying. Either way, the band's currently descending upon the United States quicker than you can say Spinal Tap. I say any band that counts Jon Bon Jovi as a hater can't be all bad. With The Wildhearts, who are probably still bitching about the low attendance at their last Charlotte gig. Grady Cole Center (Davis)

Kelly Keeling & Sun -- Here's a gig for lovers of rock vocals and guitars. Keeling has a storied career with stints in Baton Rouge, King Kobra, the Michael Schenker Group, the John Norum Band and others. Think 80s/90s hair bands, but give Keeling credit for his obvious out-of-the-ordinary songwriting prowess and a wide-ranging voice. He can play the guitar, too. Amos' Southend (Shukla)

Melissa Etheridge -- Etheridge's new romance is the driving force behind her new one, Lucky -- which should surprise no one since the raspy-voiced rocker's heart has been worn on her proverbial sleeve ever since she broke in 1988. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Schacht)

The Derek Trucks Band -- Trucks has proven he's more than capable of taking over the slide-guitar chair in The Allman Brothers Band, his tone and style fitting in perfectly while also managing to inject some creativity and energy into the sound. Some of the same things can be said of his solo work. Primarily playing slide, his guitar sounds a lot like it does in the ABB, and the blues songs could fit into any ABB set. He's interested in much more than just the blues, though, with sets including soul, jazz, reggae, Latin and even sitar-like Indian selections. Visulite Theatre (Falk)

King Johnson -- Not your average blues band, as the sax, clarinet, flute, trombone, and sousaphone parts will attest. The Atlanta six-piece adds layers of greasy, Big Easy-style funk to the traditional mix, too. With their '03 release, Hot Fish Laundrymat, the band earned comparisons with the North Mississippi AllStars, which should give you a decent idea of the direction they're headed and the sounds you'll hear. Double Door Inn (Schacht)

Arrested Development -- What gives with Speech and DJ Headliner and the gang? It's been so many years since this band has released an album proper that one has to wonder if they fell victim to a (ahem) Speech impediment. Still coasting (that must be some hill!) on the strength of their platinum-plus 1992 debut album, 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of..., the band is now challenging Axl Rose to see who can live longer off of a couple of hours' worth of songs (see the numerous re-releases and remixes of 3 Years at your local record store). Back in the day, the band's mix of soul and funk and hip-hop sounded pretty damn fresh. Here's hoping they used lots and lots of preservatives. Neighborhood Theatre (Davis)

Eastern Seaboard/Sea of Cortez -- Rodney Lanier's pedal steel-driven sextet conjures up vast, open-road instrumental soundscapes that pick you up like an auditory hitchhiker and drop you off in a distinctly altered frame of mind at the end of each ride. Like Japancakes with more heft, or Friends of Dean Martinez without all the spooky shit, this is one of Charlotte's more interesting ensembles. The Eastern Seaboard, featuring local horn-man Brent Bagwell (Pyramid), headlines (see our story in this issue). The Room (Schacht)

Graham Colton Band -- Calling all young gals! Colton, a dashing 20-year-old frontman, and his band play full-bodied alternarock with the requisite dry, pleading voice of the singer. The acoustic numbers are also catchy and if the quintet play their cards, er, guitars right, radio stardom is within reach. Yo, marketing departments, are you listening? Visulite Theatre (Shukla)

Tom Eure CD Release -- Local boy Eure has a new album he's releasing tonight, Let's Put It to Music, that he recorded with his friend Barbara Everitt in the Spring of 2002. Full of spot-on coed harmonies and Eure's tasteful acoustic guitar playing (and electric guitar playing, bass playing, drumming, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and piano), the album is a mellow melter, full of languid lamentation and easy shuffles. Special guests tonight include Shana Blake, Mike Strauss, John Dungan, Rick Spreitzer, Trip Rogers, and more. The Evening Muse (Davis)

Dickey Betts and Great Southern -- Still a rambling man, Betts now tours solo after being unceremoniously (and somewhat mysteriously) ousted from the Allman Brothers Band a year or two back. Expect some new Betts numbers at this show, along with famous Allman joys like "Blue Sky," "Jessica," and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." Amos' Southend (Davis)

Keb' Mo Band -- One of Mo's tunes is the apt "Perpetual Blues Machine," and his newest recording is Keep It Simple. What further description is needed of a blues master and historian who plays, lives and perpetuates classic and modern blues? Even Martin Scorsese tapped him for his celebrated documentary series The Blues. Dana Auditorium (Shukla)

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