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WEDNESDAY 1.5

Genghis Tron -- New York's Genghis Tron purvey a Mike Patton-esque brand of paint-peeling hardcore, Massive Attack-like beats, acoustic guitar flourishes, and more time changes than an around-the-world flight. Did I mention that all of the above usually present themselves in the course of the same song? If -- and this is a big if -- the band can pull off this sound on stage, I'll be highly impressed. But who am I kidding? I'm already highly impressed. RIYL: The Locust, Dillinger Escape Plan, Blood Brothers. With The Fugue and Cripes Almighty. Milestone (Davis)

Jason Isbell -- The youngest (and perhaps most talented) member of the Drive-by Truckers, Jason Isbell is well worth seeing on his own, especially when accompanied by little more than an acoustic guitar, cigarettes, and a cold beer. DBT songs like "Outfit" and "Goddamn Lonely Love" have made him a critical darling, but look for Sirens of the Ditch, out early next year on New West, to make him a full-blown roots-rock reverend. The Evening Muse (Davis)

THURSDAY 1.6

Spencer Acuff -- The Triangle-based quartet celebrates the release of their sophomore full-length, Chasing Windmills, 13 tracks of catchy if somewhat formulaic rock in the mode of, say, Guster, with some twang and Brit-pop accents tossed into the mix. The band recorded in Nashville under the watchful eye of producer David Henry (REM, Josh Rouse), and the result is a collection of radio-ready pop rock whose familiarity will comfort some and drive others to the bar. With Brother Henry. The Evening Muse (Schacht)

FRIDAY 1.7

Big Bill Morganfield -- Frankly, you've got to admire Big Bill for even giving the blues a shot, what with his father's name -- Muddy Waters -- and legacy prefacing everything musical he'll ever do. But Morganfield the Younger has emerged as his own successful bluesman, mining some of the same Chicago-based blues his father made famous while also wisely showing alacrity with a more jazz-based sound. He's also developed a strong live show, so this one should be a treat. Double Door Inn (Schacht)

David Childers -- Childers is playing a duo show with Modern Don Juans guitarist Randy Saxon this evening, but don't think that the singer-songwriter is taking it easy. Childers and the MDJs recently returned from a tour with the Gourds that included stops in the latter band's home state of Texas. Not only was Childers well received by the audience (standing ovations, we hear), he was also regularly invited to encore with the Austin rockers. And all you lucky bastards have to do is drive to NoDa! (Childers' show begins at 10pm.) The Evening Muse (Davis)

SATURDAY 1.8

Benefit for Animal Control -- Want to get your rock fix sated, get a CD, and help some little pups and kitties all for a measly 10 simoleons? Yes? No? (Speak up!) In any case, this show seems like a pretty good deal for a damn good cause. On the bill are Bellglide, Jason Scavone & The Noises 10, Black Market Radio and organizer Jason Hausman, who is playing with a full band. The compilation CD includes all the artists above as well as The Spongetones, David Childers, Poprocket, Rick Spreitzer and more (18 bands total, we're told). Neighborhood Theatre (Davis)

Conshafter -- This Virginia quartet lives and dies by the hook, including a website promise to "bitchslap" any and all "angst-ridden mooks, pasty emo milquetoasts, and processed pop-rock purveyors." Noble goals, to be sure, and their latest, last year's Fear the Underdog, was clearly intended to do just that. Whether the band or the record succeeds is open to debate. Let's just say a group like Ambulance, Ltd. would be a good model for Conshafter to study before they consider moving up to the heavyweight bitchslapping division. With local expert bitchslappers The Sammies. The Room (Schacht)

John Gorka/Shawn Mullins -- The baritone-voiced Gorka is one of those folk artists whose polish tends to detract from his innate talent as a musician. Gorka even spent time on the New Age-oriented Windham Hill label, calling to mind crystals and pyramid power rather than the rough-and-tumble of a typical old-school troubador./Atlanta-based Mullins spent a hard-working decade slogging through the trenches before the first single from his 1998 major label debut, "Lullaby," caught fire, eventually spending a month as the No. 1 single in the country. Mullins hasn't followed up with anything remotely as popular, returning to the more familiar regimen of endless touring and more intimate venues -- albeit with a few more fans, though probably not enough to avoid a probable future appearance on some VH1 "Where are they now?" feature. Spirit Square (Schacht)

The Verdict CD Release -- Chandler Martin, Jason Howie and company might not be recognizable names to most of the "Charlotte Rock Scene," (whatever that is) but the young band's chops are veritably smothered in a tasteful sauce of pop hooks, emo, and good old-fashioned rock songcraft. There's very little flash here, but lots of slow-burn heat that bodes well for their continued growth. Tremont Music Hall (Davis)

SUNDAY 1.9

7654 Stories -- This newborn trio of New Jersey noise connoisseurs' songs veer between deafening blasts of metal and slightly more gentle, math-y interludes -- at least the four songs on their Fall '04 demo leave that impression. The band prefers to characterize their sound as "a Mack truck being dropped from the top of the Empire State Building." Yeah, that's what I meant. With Boa Narrow and Ghost Town Law. SK Netcafe (Schacht)

Blind Boys of Alabama -- Practically an institution at this point, the multiple Grammy winners have been plying their soulful trade since 1937, and gospel hasn't been the same since. See our story in this issue. Blumenthal Performing Arts Center (Schacht)

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