Flickerstick -- These alterna-rockers catapulted to fame after winning VH1's Bands on the Run showcase/talent show back in 2000. All the brouhaha landed them a major label deal that went sour after one release and a few months of touring. They're still kicking and looking for that elusive hit while reaching for the rock star in the sky. The band's melodic and punk laced power-pop remains fairly intact in the new E.P. To Madagascar and Back. With New August. Amos' Southend (Shukla)

David Grisman Quintet -- Grisman is a smashing mandolinist with a near legendary skill of lengthy, improvisation jams. Once upon a time he loosely lumped his bluegrass and roots music, infused with heaps of jazz sensibilities, as "Dawg music." Of course the name has stuck but Grisman's virtuosity has never been more effective than with last year's incredible recording Life of Sorrow. On that effusive outing, Grisman paired his mandolin with who's who of bluegrass and roots music, all perked up with sweet, old-timey harmonies. Neighborhood Theatre (Shukla)

Leisure McCorkle and the Empire of Sound -- Lee "Leisure" McCorkle, traveling troubadour of well-crafted platform-shoe pop, is returning home from an exhaustive tour of the United States, having logged some 10,000 miles over the last month or so. He calls the traveling party his "Set Phasers on Rock Tour," and will be celebrating his return by playing the Viz in what he says in a press release is his 1000th show since 1997 (Which, according to my math, would seem to indicate at least a show every three days since that time...hmmm). Ever the (evidently extremely) busy man, Leisure also has a new album almost ready for release, 5000 Light Years Beyond the Speed of Sound. With Maryz Eyez (who also will function as McCorkle's backing band), Second Sat., and Yates Dew + 3. Visulite Theatre (Davis)

Shinedown -- Shinedown could be a distant cousin of Alice in Chains, and one that sports a beefier frontman and a looser rhythm section. There's nothing immediately earth-shattering about their recent release Leave a Whisper, but there are enough catchy riffs to keep one from turning the dial and the gals swaying in the aisles. With Soil. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)

X-ecutioners -- Comprised of turntablists Roc Raida, Total Eclipse and Rob Swift (founding member Mista Sinista left in 2002), the X-ecutioners are self-described as "the overqualified but under-appreciated blue-collar superheroes of the new hip-hop." Committed to keeping the art of hip-hop DJing on the front lines of hip-hop culture, the band's mixing, scratching, body tricks and beat juggling still rank among the best work in the genre. Of course, all musicians need to sell records, so the band decided to drop a few names (Ghostface Killah, Slug, Cypress Hill, The Blue Man Group) along with the beats on their latest record, Revolutions, titled more for the spins it suggests than any hard-line philosophizing. With Northern State. Neighborhood Theatre (Davis)

Earth Wind & Fire -- A classic, showy R&B band that had some nifty tunes back in the 70s and their album from 2003, The Promise, wasn't particularly shabby either. Considering all the pre-packaged, over-produced R&B pabulum out there, EW&F's signature horn and multi-instrument rhythm sections' whirlwind of sound will blow away just about any contemporary, soulless, pretty boy crooner trying too damn hard to please the ladies. With Chicago. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Shukla)

NMX Showcase # 4 -- Another installment of Chuck Morrison's (MoRisen Records) local and regional talent showcase, this edition features the combined stylings of Tyre Fyre (hard guitar pop with plenty of crackle and hiss), The Sammies (high-energy garage rock with a post-punk twist), The Whigs (Athens, GA-based, and Unalaska (city in Alaska with 4,300 residents. Haven't seen the band yet). Visulite Theatre (Davis)

Oh What A Nightmare/Horse Thief -- With apologies to Hank Williams Jr., 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. Opening is Horse Thief, quite possibly the heaviest (and best) Charlotte band you've never heard (which is pretty damn hard, if you're within a couple miles or so). With Sunset Cemetery. The Room (Davis)

Thad Cockrell -- "Cuts like a knife" is an oft-used term to describe a singer's voice. Tom Waits' voice? A large fishing knife, with big, sharp teeth and plenty of edge. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the cowboy/Christian balladry of Thad Cockrell. His haunted tenor comes across as something more like a Bowie knife -- polished to a smooth perfection, but still plenty sharp enough to draw blood. Cockrell's touring behind his newest release, Warmth and Beauty, which is easily his best effort to date. The record features plenty of star turns from folks like Tift Merritt, Chris Stamey, Mitch Easter, and Caitlin Cary, but there's no doubt who leads this heavenly choir. With Chad Edwards. The Evening Muse (Davis)

Rising Lion -- Danny Dred, aka Rising Lion, lives the Rasta life and manages to write songs that would make the old school roots-reggae masters proud. His NYC outfit can also turn a trick or two in the confines of dub and dancehall. Its hot, socially conscious reggae for the mid-week doldrums and the band's fine cover of "All Along the Watchtower" alone is worth the price of admission. Double Door Inn (Shukla)

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