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Bel Air Saints / Mary Prankster Whew, I sure hope the stage at Mojo can handle this much attitude in one night! We all know the Saints like to strut their stuff loud and aggressively, as does the trio from Baltimore. But while the Saints tend to stick to more straight-ahead rock, the Pranksters mix things up a bit with their rowdy punkabilly grooves. Both acts also like to put on a show, so this pairing should make for quite the rockin' night. Recommended. Friday, Mojo Restaurant & Spirits. ­ Lynn Farris

Dan Bern Dan Bern's new CD, New American Language, is pretty age-old, truth be told. Bern's songs in the past have referenced Marilyn Monroe, Mother Teresa, Tiger Woods and Charles Manson. Language contains nods to Eminem, Britney, Leo and Keith Richards. Bern, God help him, is commenting on the American Tradition through symbolic touchstones, those archetypal figures that have gained the public's everlasting embrace. He uses them much as a bluegrass songwriter might use a ringing hammer or a mountainside, as a way to corral a certain emotion in the listener, a songwriting device whose inherent power and relevance prevents it from becoming cliche. In lesser hands, this would be a train wreck; at the very minimum, Todd Snider. Language works, however, despite the above. Bern sees his America like John Dos Passos, paying attention to the man behind the curtain, glancing behind the facade of celebrity and pride to see the poles holding them up. Bern doesn't need the joke-y pop culture references and linguistic flash to succeed. He does it simply for effect, confident that the substance contained underneath is the gold standard to back up the checks his mouth writes. Wednesday, October 24, Neighborhood Theatre. ­ TD

Carolina Rock Fest 2001 OK, step right up for a sampler of some up-and-coming and some established rockers of the region. The bands slated for this affair include Karma, Billarabi (funky groove-rock trio), The Sundowners (straight-on Stonesy rock), The Stiltskins & Bessie Mae's Dream (groovy, jazzy jam band). This gathering gives validity to the fact there is a rock "scene" in and around our fair city. Saturday, Visulite. ­ SS

David Childers / Duane Jarvis & Los Flacos A Childers show or a Jarvis show is reason enough to hit the pubs; a pairing of both is tricks and treats full of top-notch honky-tonk, stellar songwriting and good ole American music. Show your colors for these unsung heroes of North Carolina music. Saturday, The Evening Muse. ­ SS

Don Dixon After receiving a clean bill of health from the doctors following recent heart problems, Don Dixon's once again doing what he does best (besides producing records): playing live. This show will feature Dixon, along with Spongetone Jamie Hoover and percussionist Jim Brock, playing songs off his record Invisible Man, as well as a brand new record, Notepad #38, which is a collection of rarities and other tasty odds and ends. Recommended. Wednesday, October 17, Double Door. ­ TD

The Evoka Project Holding on to the upper rungs of the ladder of promising young bands, The Evoka Project are on the verge of becoming huge ­ or, let's say, they should be huge. Their pliant and tasty 4-track E.P. (produced by Mitch Easter and released earlier this year) has all the touches of cool Brit-pop with plenty of punches and an evocative frontman to round out the sound. Expect bigger things from this North Carolina band. With One Year Later. Thursday, Amos' Southend. ­ SS

Graham Parker & the Figgs The storied highway of Brit singer/songwriter Parker is too long to even begin in this blurb. His career spans from 70s pub rock and 80s new wave to confrontational folk-rock. Parker, on the verge of stardom in the late 70s, was sideswiped by the like-minded Elvis Costello and has since been plowing the fields with a steady stream of solid records for a loyal following. His acerbic, witty word power swings between cosmetic love to bitter squalls on the twists and turns of life. Parker has a big notch on the pole that marks those rare creatures known as songwriters' songwriters. Three-piece NY power-pop band The Figgs will back up Graham. Thursday, Neighborhood Theatre.­ SS

Janet Jackson Outside of the Florida ballot fiasco, Classic Coke and bottled water, Miss Janet has to stand as one of the biggest farces ever put over on the American public by a good marketing department. Hell, she paved the way for the Britneys of today way more than Madonna ever did (Madonna wrote good songs even as she updated her hairstyle/boyfriend/shocking activity of the moment): Her best songs were written by producers like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; she augmented that with pneumatic breasts and pretty fair if wholly unoriginal dance moves; and she artfully (that's the only time I shall use that word here) appropriated the good Jackson name (musically, I mean) to sell who knows how many millions of records. She's done some OK pop songs in a "best of the 90s" K-Tel kind of way, but to be passed off as she has of recent as some sort of "icon" or true artistic groundbreaker is not only misguided, it's ridiculous. With 112. Sunday, Charlotte Coliseum. ­ TD

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult Originally chosen as a title for a decadent indie film, MLWTKK instead evolved into the moniker for a band while the film was never made. The base duo of Buzz McCoy and Groovie Mann have, over the years, brought on a cast of characters, performers and general sleaze into a sound of heavy samples, disco, techno and industrial goth. Their over the top shows are fused by bombastic sound and sensory overload visuals, and the latest offering, Reincarnation of Luna (Invisible), updates the 80s style of sleaze, drugs and dance music with funky hip hop treatments. Tuesday, Tremont Music Hall. ­ SS

Merle Saunders With his ever-present leather cap, combat boots, tie-dyed shirt and Grateful Dead aficionados following him around, keyboardist Merl Saunders managed a nice little 30-plus year career out of his world fusion/jam music. His 1990 effort with lifelong friend Jerry Garcia, Blues from the Rainforest, was something of a breakthrough success ­ the keyboardist subsequently formed the Rainforest Band with guitarist Michael Hinton, bassist Michael Warren and drummer Vince Littleton. The band hit the road playing, on average, 200 shows a year, a figure that has diminished little in the subsequent years. As this sort of thing goes, Saunders does manage in enough world music/funky touches to keep the asses moving, but also enough serious musicianship to keep the big boys on speed dial. Friday, Visulite. ­ TD

Weekend Excursion The Weekenders are now down to a five-piece after the departure of violinist Mike Ferry, but no worries: Guitarists Jeff Foxworth and Chris Groch have stepped up to the plate and filled the void nicely. With its members' graduation from Appalachian State last year, the band has become more of a weeklong excursion, continuously making their way up and down the East Coast. Most recently, the guys played to a sold-out crowd at Chapel Hill's Cat's Cradle. Florida band Big Sky and newly signed act Jettingham are scheduled to open the show. Saturday, Amos' Southend. ­ Lynn Farris

Steve Young You may have read the excellent story on Steve Young (no, not the recently retired NFL quarterback) in the last Oxford American Southern Music Issue. You likely have heard some of his songs, if done by other artists: "Lonesome, Orn'ry & Mean," a signature tune for Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr.'s cover of "Montgomery In The Rain," or the oft-covered "Seven Bridges Road," most notably done by The Eagles. Young's got a new disc out, Primal Young, that shows there's a lot more where the above came from. This time, however, he's keeping them for himself. With the excellent-in-his-own-right R.B. Morris. Tuesday, Double Door. ­ TD

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