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The American Plague A trio from Knoxville, TN spews forth punk rock; there are plenty of high fives with Motorhead, Stooges and Ramones, along with raw 70s glam sentiments. It's basically a case of yelling, "One, two, three!" into the mic and kicking in fast and furious American rock & roll with all the bone-crunching that goes with it. The dudes have been busy playing with many outfits, including Jaw and Undead, but clearly have an agenda of their own. Wednesday, January 16, Fat City. -- SS

Biohazard Summarily dumped from their label in another binge-and-purge, Biohazard is back with a brutal-meaning-good new record, Uncivilization, out on the smallish Sanctuary label. Guests include the Rob Halford of the 21st Century, Pantera's Phillip Anselmo, members of Slipknot, Cypress Hill, Agnostic Front and loads of others. Just why the majors would let go a rap and metal-infused band -- not to mention one that basically helped to invent the genre -- is beyond me. Go see them regardless, and don't worry about it. They sure don't. Tuesday, Tremont Music Hall. -- TCD

Sean Costello This dude is convincing when playing the blues and downright good for someone who probably never really tasted the blues. The youngster offers believable licks, requisite smoke-thickened vocals and spiffy compositions. His latest offering is Moanin' for Molasses (Landslide Records), and while it may not be the future of blues, he certainly embodies someone who understands the genre, rather than painting by numbers. Saturday, Double Door Inn. -- SS

Django & the Regulars Pretty cool trio from NYC, led by Django Haskins, who play chunky, perky rock & roll. I can taste Elvis Costello (his 80s pop persona) mixed with a late model of The Jam in the blend. The rockers and mellow tunes enhance each other nicely, while their latest recording, Laying Low and In Between, is worth the trouble of tracking it down for a listen. Also on the bill are Red Letter Day and Halcyon. Friday, The Evening Muse. -- SS

4th Ward Songwriter Mike Shannon leads this Charlotte quintet of power popsters who are celebrating the release of a nifty new disc this evening. Wonderland is the new platter of tunes served up with crunchy hooks, keyboards that enhance rather than annoy, and a surprisingly original take on harmony-filled melodic rock. Mike's shared duty of vocals with other members gives the whole thing a broader range. Jill Austin Band will open the show for an ample double bill of local talent. Saturday, Fat City. -- SS

Juice New Orleans' ensemble describes itself as a psychedelifunk combo. Uhhh, what that translates to is a basketful of soulful R&B laced with plenty of funky grooves to get the dance floor shaking. There are just enough forays into jazzland to give a distinct New Orleans vibe to the sound (without unnecessary showy pyrotechnics) and plenty of down to earth, road-hardened musicianship. Oh, did I mention the show is free? Thursday, Visulite. -- SS

Jane Monheit Here's a diva in the making, under 25 years of age, who has the music world buzzing with predictions of greatness and career potential, and who's making a rare super-small appearance in Charlotte at the Afro-American Cultural Center. No, not Ryan Adams. Jane Monheit's the name, and jazz cats like Ron Carter, Jay Leonhart and others are lining up to play with her, and jazz writers are soiling themselves comparing her to Ella Fitzgerald. Of course, that's a little out of line (the really good ones like Fitzgerald are such a revelation you can't compare them to anybody, after all), but Monheit is one to watch, with a lovely burnished phrasing that sounds years older than she looks. Friday, Afro-American Cultural Center. -- TCD

Ellis Paul Paul's a Boston-area folkie (ain't they all?) who doesn't so much paint pictures as turn out nice little character sketches that for the most part avoid turning into those grotesque caricatures you can get done at Carowinds and Six Flags and the like. His latest, Sweet Mistakes, saw the Farrelly Brothers nab the title track for their Charlotte-based movie Shallow Hal, placing him on a soundtrack including Sheryl Crow, Shelby Lynne, PJ Harvey, Lucinda Williams and Neil Young. How'd he get this gig? Why, he also had a song in the Brothers' forgettable misfire Me, Myself & Irene. Not a flashy chap, Paul's a nice guy who gets by on the basis of his songs, which folkie listeners seem to eat up. Which is refreshing, of course, but not altogether exciting. Saturday, Neighborhood Theatre. -- TCD

The Spongetones If you're a longtime (read: older) Charlotte music fan, you already know who these guys are, and I'm not going to insult your intelligence (no more than normal, at least). If you're a longtime Charlotte music fan and don't know who these guys are, you probably prefer to spend your weekends at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center (read: really older). If you're a young'un, I'll try to fill you in quickly. Comprised of Patrick Walters, Rob Thorne, Steve Stoeckel and Jamie Hoover, the 'Tones are likely the longest-running band in Charlotte history, and more than likely its most successful. Earnest, pop-barbed songwriting, Merseybeat hooks and harmonies, and folk music finesse are their calling cards, and they've been handing them out for over 20 years now. Kurt Loder once wrote 'em up in Rolling Stone, and people used to want to buy their sweat. I'm not kidding. Friday, Double Door Inn. -- TCD

The Suicide Machines / Catch 22 The Machines have honed their sound to pure power-punk pop over the course of four records. The latest disc, Steal This Record (Hollywood), is at once catchy and continually rocking. With their chosen moniker, it's hard enough to attract radio attention, but the outfit blasts on defiantly and the music world is all the better for it. / Catch 22 are like-minded pals of the Machines and never steer too far from the party with their harder take on ska. Saturday, Tremont Music Hall. -- SS *

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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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