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WEDNESDAY 2.6

The Breeders -- The Breeders touring once again isn't quite the same as Michael Jeffrey Jordan coming back to the NBA to play with the Washington Wizards, but it's close. A key influence of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and a host of others, the band is one of the last "true" alternative bands (along with Sonic Youth and the Flaming Lips, to name a couple) still out there today. Like MJ, expect a few rusty spots, but also some Coach Phil Jackson zen-like moments of crazy bodhisattva brilliance. Not to mention the fact that Kim and Kelley Deal may be the coolest sisters in rock history (certainly more so than Shelby Lynne and Alison Moorer), and the band's "Cannonball" has the greatest bass line since Yes's "Roundabout." Cat's Cradle, Carrboro (Davis)

THURSDAY 2.7

Freeloader -- So what we have here are folk-country ballads and Counting Crows mixed with John Prine-styled storytelling poured over laid-back rock. This trio from NYC does a pretty good job of keeping trends and cliches at bay, although it seems their only record, Custom / 10, takes a bit too long to get into a groove. To be sure, guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Scott Sinclair has the threads for solid songwriting and in the end you get quasi-original rock. With Memphis Quick 50. Double Door Inn (Shukla)

Spitvalves -- The oft-played genre of ska gets a heavy workout when the Spitvalves crank up the guitars to create their own version of skacore. The horns and itchy guitars get your head shaking and before you can blink your eyes, a hardcore blast drags you involuntarily into the pit. The tight 7-piece band, out of Orlando, manages to make it all sound fun. Fat City (Shukla)

FRIDAY 2.8

Lake Trout -- The music created by Lake Trout can shift from ambient to Brit pop to spacey psychedelia to a happy hippy jam band sound within the confines of a record or live gig. A trip-hop break can lead to funky beats that slam back into hip-hop and leave you wondering where they're headed next. The good thing is you just want to tag along for the ride, because the genre hopping works and the resulting aura flows like sweet honey. Visulite Theatre (Shukla)

Michael Burks -- Sort of in the mold of a Bernard Allison, the Gibson Flying, V-wielding Burks is considered a future star on the blues scene. A past winner of the National Blues Foundation's Albert King Award, Burks' style is very King-like, a heady dose of slow blues and a few spicy up-tempo shuffles southern-fried with some tasteful usage of the wah-wah pedal. I know, I know. I said I would never use a food reference again in a review. Pretty good stuff, however. Double Door Inn (Davis)

Moonshine Still -- Many moons ago, I remember someone giving me a shot of some homemade rotgut that literally exploded in my head. My query of, 'What's in this stuff?' received a reply of, 'You don't wanna know.' Well, here's a band that distills a brand of homemade hooch with big heaps of reggae, sparse world rhythms and jamming rock & roll. Who knows what else winds up in the elixir? Hey, it's the Grateful Dead taking a vacation in Jamaica. It works pretty well in the long run, with the jams keeping up the flavor. Sidebar: They sport one of the coolest band web sites I've seen to date (moonshinestill.com). Ohio groove band Toast, will open the show. Mojo Restaurant & Spirits (Shukla)

Steve Kimock Band -- People who remember guitarist Kimock for his work with The Other Ones or Phil & Friends won't be completely surprised when they hear him with his own band. Some of that style can be heard in Kimock's original music, but don't expect a typical jam band. I'm sometimes reminded of Bill Frisell, Derek Trucks or old Larry Coryell, but Kimock's his own man. He creates a lot of different sounds with his guitars, and all of them sound personal. "Jazz fusion" comes close to describing it, with the emphasis on fusion. It starts with rock & roll and jazz, but it checks out blues, country, R&B and psychedelia along the way. Long instrumentals thunder forward with a driving rhythm, wander along behind a thoughtful guitar, or stretch out a pretty melody. His talented band, including Alphonso Johnson on bass and Rodney Holmes on drums, easily follows wherever he wants to go. Visulite Theatre (Brian Falk)

SATURDAY 2.9

Slaughter & the Dogs -- Wait a minute. Isn't this the band that opened for Sex Pistols back in 1976, when their current demographic wasn't even conceived yet? Punk bands, with the exception of Ramones (RIP) and Antiseen, aren't supposed to last this long. Actually, the Dogs, a quintessential British outfit that salutes the glam rockers who preceded the punk explosion, just released a slammin' new record, their first in 20 years. Their allegiance still lies in defiant teeth gnashing and guitars bashing, but the melodic blast of glamsters, specifically David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars, are never too far away. As a matter of fact, the new record, Beware of... (TKO), is dedicated to the late Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)

The Verna Cannon -- Slowcore is a fairly disgusting-sounding term, but it fits for what the Cannon crowd does -- though like the similar Cowboy Junkies, they seem to be moving away from the term with more psychedelic-fueled musings. Vocalist Molly Ledford's voice manages to come off as innocent and sultry at the same time -- she'll make you blush, but out of naked honesty as opposed to sexy, breathy posturing. The Evening Muse (Davis)

SUNDAY 2.10

Bob Dylan -- With apologies to Dylan's onetime Judaism, oy vey. What's a guy to write about Dylan that hasn't already been written some 10,000 times before? He's a national treasure, and likely one of the five or so most important figures in rock history. He's still putting out good (if overrated) work, including Time Out of Mind and his newest, Love and Theft. Truthfully, Dylan's best work has elements of both love and theft: a brilliant songwriter and unparalleled interpreter of others' work, he's quite frankly established a spot for himself alone in rock history, still making albums that count at 60. Long may he run. Cricket Arena (Davis)

TUESDAY 2.12

Jimmie Vaughan -- Brother of Stevie and once lead slinger in the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Vaughan was nominated for Grammy in 2001 for "Best Traditional Blues Album." The Austinite purveys a more traditional R&B-inspired style than his flashy brother did, but it's no less effective at carrying emotion from his hands to the listener's ears -- on one song, it's a river in which to drown your sorrows, on another, a baptismal fount with which to begin anew. Neighborhood Theatre (Davis)

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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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