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Kevin Aviance This gender-bender model, dancer and performer toasts his vocals over left of center funk and loads of house rhythms. Kevin is more a moving and living stage prop, or an MTV dance video come to life, than a defined singer. But with the help of hip DJs and producers (Junior Vasquez, among others), who cares what the singer sounds like as long as the blasts of beats are pouring down? With a couple of dance hits under his belt, "Din Da Da" and "Rhythm is My Bitch" off Box of Chocolates (Wave Music), the crowd oughta start shaking booties as soon as he hits the stage. Monday, Mythos. ­ SS

Black Lagoon The band is currently in the studios with Steve Pugh recording their debut e.p., The Devil's Beatin' His Wife, which early pre-production demos suggest should be one to look for ­ interesting textural elements and a kind of desert exoticism like one gets from acts like Queens of the Stone Age (and a bluesy, PJ Harvey-like singer, no less). Appearing with the band will be Sama, a sort of Middle East-flavored outing, featuring local avant-garde fixture Carol Marley, Jason Tetter (it could be nothing/Black Lagoon) and a guest appearance by Dave from the Interstellars, replete with a troupe of belly dancers. Also appearing: Novasonic Down Hyperspace, visiting from Chicago. Saturday, Garbo's. ­ TCD

Blue Dogs Like Jakob Dylan fronting John Mellencamp's band, the Blue Dogs aren't going to blow you away with their chops, but the band does manage to rollick along pleasantly, figuring out that mid-tempo doesn't have to mean Hootie. The band's new live document, Blue Dogs and Friends: Live at the Florence Little Theatre, is a nice intro into the band's style, featuring solid originals and covers of John Prine and Mel Tillis, among others. The band's sounding better than ever, consistently evoking the Carolina landscape without resorting to faux country. Not to mention the fact that they're one of the few SC bands that doesn't sound exactly like the others. Tickets for tonight's show include food and beverage, by the way. Monday, Visulite. ­ TCD

Dillon Fence One of the most popular and hard touring "pure pop" bands to emerge from North Carolina are Dillon Fence. This gig is part of another one of their sporadic reunion mini-tours. Word has it there may be a new studio disc in the offing. Check these pages in the future for an update. There's some confusion on who's opening. Friday, Visulite. ­ SS

Juvenile Hot off of releasing the newish Project English, a sort of hardcore take on Nelly's Country Grammar, Juvey's a great Christmas present for all the Cash Money Records fans on your shopping list. Producer Mannie Fresh is probably the true star here, combining Master P's Beats By The Pound with Goodie Mob-style southern funk. Expect other Cash Money "millionaires" to also appear (no word on why they keep buying Bentleys, though. Haven't they been watching Master P?). Wednesday, Ovens Auditorium. ­ TCD

Living Colour A new year is about to dawn and a little reminiscing is in order. So, why not get reacquainted with one of the bands that helped seed the alternative rock explosion and black-rock movement of the late 80s? Armed with some of the most instantly recognizable licks and hits, Living Colour shook the white rock & roll establishment with searing leads, mixed with funk, hip hop and punk, for what was decidedly a fresh sound. The reunion tour (with all original members) should scrape up more than a few wistful memories of bruised ribs in the pit. No new material is in the offing, although guitarist Vernon Reid has been a guest on numerous records while singer Corey Glover and Reid have put out solo albums in the past. Friday, Amos' Southend. ­ SS

Lou Ford Charlotte's best and most consistent meat-and-potato rockers ring in the New Year at the Double Door Inn this week, for what should be an even more raucous show than usual. Somehow, someway, there's always some weird vibe-age at the Lou's Double Door gigs, and this one will likely be no different. New bassist Jeff Larish continues to shine as the band's latest pompadoured string-puller, and keyboardist Jason Atkins lends the Brothers Edwards some of the best keyboard playing in the area. The songwriting? You all know the songwriting, else they wouldn't have been asked to place such a high-profile gig in the first place. Good stuff. With Les Dirt Clods. Monday, Double Door Inn. ­ TCD

The Nighthawks For 25 years, DC's legendary Nighthawks have performed... and performed... and performed. They often play 300-plus club dates per year, and their shows feature the band's own rocka-blues-soul-billy concoction which regulars still flock to like a 50-cent draft. Harpist Mark Wenner is still in charge, and while the lineup has changed around a bit (currently a four-piece, I'm told), the sound is as confident and uncategorizably catchy as it always was. This is said to be a special 30th Anniversary Reunion show, featuring former members, surprises and loads more. Friday, Double Door. ­ TCD

Songwriters Night Jeff Williams, of now defunct Lodestar, has put together another fine evening of local latent. The loose gathering of musicians will feature a combination of solo and acoustic playing along with full band offerings. Slated to play are Williams, Lee McCorkle (Leisure McCorkle), Deanna Campbell (Violet Strange), Jay Garrigan (Poprocket), Justin Williams (Ginger Briscoe) and bands First Night on Earth, Bell Glide (ex Laburnum) and the Alternative Champs, among others. Previous outings showcased a casual atmosphere of a gathering of the tribes over belly up at the bar sentiments. High recommendation. Wednesday, Double Door Inn. ­ SS

The Stragglers Now boasting fulltime pedal steel player Joe Smith, The Stragglers, led by former Loafer's Glory member Woody Mitchell and pal John Wicker, continue to play a brand of jazz-inflected rootsy rock that sounds just as natural as you please. Imagine Chick Corea's bus breaking down in Black Mountain and you have some idea. Friday, Puckett's Farm Equipment. ­ TCD

WEND New Year's Show Seven Channels, a Dallas, Texas-based quartet, are pretty much like today's cable television: different in name, yet more of the same. Leader Kevin Kirkwood says alternative rockers like Sponge and the aggressive metal of Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood rounded out his formative listening, which ought to tell you all you need to know about 'em. Angie Aparo, once you get pass the gloss and polish, isn't such a bad songwriter, evidencing a nice melodic sense and catchy hooks. Shirtless bloke Rory Lewis might be the most bloated musician in town, shredding off solos as big as his ego until the sun comes up. Someone please turn up the AC before he arrives. Monday, Ibiza. ­ TCD *

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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