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CL previews upcoming shows 

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 31

Jamie McLean Band The highly-in-demand session guitarist McLean is also a fab songwriter/crooner. His blues and roots-rock tells it straight, without any flash or pretension. McLean's recently released disc, American Heartache, gathers influences from the Black Crowes and Dylan to the Stones and inserts the McLean riffage. Many veteran musicians lend a hand on the new disc that's stacked with Southern rock, blues, funk and R&B. Double Door Inn (Samir Shukla)

The Sammies Ever since exiting the humid musical wilds of Wadesboro, N.C., a few years back, The Sammies (Frank Backgammon, guitar and vocals; Donnie Yale, drums and vocals; bassist Conrad Vacation and guitarist/keyboardist Bobby Freedom) have inspired purplish prose both locally and nationally, and for good reason: They're serious about not taking themselves too seriously. The band's excellent sophomore disc, Sandwich, is the sound of a band learning to dunk on a listener in the lane. It's got that same straight-outta-Athens-circa-'81, country-peppered/garage jangle quality – and, indeed, some of it was recorded and mixed there – as its debut, but doesn't mumble the punch line. Or, if you will, speak with its mouth full. Snug Harbor (Timothy C. Davis)

The Huguenots Throwbacks to a time when sweet melodies and chiming guitars were the order of the day, this Chapel Hill quartet's influences are written all over their vintage wear and vintage Rickenbackers: the Beatles and Kinks, with a touch of modern dandy-ism via the Strokes mixed in for currency. They've made a splash up in the Triangle with packed shows on campus and off, including a national appearance on Good Morning America. Part of the New Year's Eve extravaganza with The Sammies and DJ Animate. Snug Harbor (John Schacht)

FRIDAY, JAN. 2

Lil Wayne You have to hand it to Lil Wayne. When he was in the Hot Boys (kind of an iffy name in retrospect, no?), I never even thought him the best rapper in the band (see Juvenile and B.G.). Now, of course, he's arguably the biggest (and best) rapper in the world, excluding perhaps Kanye West, whose most recent album notably features, well, not much rapping. Thing is, he's got the talent to match his million-dollar personality, even if he does seem to go on cruise control from time to time in order to better collect a quick check. Some would even argue he belongs in the pantheon of Big and Tupac – I say, let's let him release a couple more (actual, non-mixtape) records first. Let's also hope he keeps his nose clean – dude's recorded enough over the past year to release about 37 records, and it'd be a shame for them to come out posthumously. Time Warner Cable Arena (Davis)

Mego Dirge Who says the Charlotte music scene doesn't rock? The trio formerly known as simply Mego, combine a variety of styles – Taproot, Nirvana, Helmet – into something of their own that isn't afraid to get heavy and rock your collective socks off. It's not the straight chord rock you might expect, these guys kick up the complexity a notch with riffs and something a bit funkier. Snug Harbor (Jeff Hahne)

SATURDAY, JAN. 3

The Hot House Hefftones The N.C. quintet swings, does the samba, dabbles in tango and takes the listener back to a simpler era of Dixieland jazz and lounge music. The dry and wry female vocals, brushed percussion, horns and strings run the gamut of American music – New Orleans brass, porchfront sing-a-longs and smoky jazz bar piano jazz. Quite an intriguing regional band. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

Order of Chaos The Charlotte metal quartet has been making rounds of local and regional gin joints with their melodic, hard groove metal. The blokes have tightened the wares over the last couple of years and are ready to pounce with the release and celebration of the new recording tonight. The double bass drums and guitars oughta keep the party hoppings. With Wicked Jones and Claiming Redemption. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)

Nicolette Emanuelle A gifted pianist and cellist (most notably in Buschovski), Emmanuelle's ASC grant-funded debut, Pinafore, dropped earlier this year, and resides between PJ Harvey's smoldering heat and Kate Bush's (early) off-kilter cool. You'll hear Tori Amos' and Fionna Apple's names tossed around as influences, too, but there's a good dose of Nick Cave's ethos in Emmanuelle's darker songs and literate narratives. With the Hothouse Heftones at the early show. The Evening Muse (Schacht)

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