Whitewater Center's sparkles and strums

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The U.S. National Whitewater Center, usually a place for rafting classes or adventurous business trips, actually has one of the better (if not more unique) music venues in the Charlotte area. All summer long, the Whitewater River Jam series has brought some family-friendly and blog-worthy bands to the side of the Catawba River.

This Fourth of July weekend, the Center is pulling a page out of its playbook and hosting three different nights of bands. Like the Memorial Day show, each night of the weekend finishes with fireworks and is absolutely free. In the tradition of the holiday, each band is a slice of American music. Expect blues, soul, and of course, Americana.

On the 2nd, Balitmore band Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit is coming to the Center and opening up the weekend. They've got the sound of Fender guitars and lyrics about love in Roosevelt Springs, and the sound is like a country-fied version of Bruce Springsteen. Riley Etheridge and Do It To Julia open.

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On Sunday night, the more outlaw side of country goes onstage during Langhorne Slim's headlining act. Slim's tenor cracks, and his sense of humor promises for a great show. Folksy and funny, he's one to celebrate America with. Check out his music video for "Restless." OverMountain Men and Holy Ghost Tent Revival are the openers.

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On the final day of the free festival (and the actual holiday), Anders Osborne croons and slides for audiences on the Catawba. If his long beard isn't enough of an indication of musical experience, his resume definitely makes the cut. After writing for Tim McGraw and Jonny Lang, this road travelin' storyteller made his own solo career. It was the right decision to make, and the Whitewater weekend has a powerful finale with Osborne's music. The New Familiars and Sol Driven Train will open.

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Since most venues (and everything else, including us) are closed on Independence Day, it's worth checking out the shows going on here during the weekend.

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