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FRIDAY 4.5

Jump Little Children -- They play light and fluffy pop, but have a rootsy and moody sound. JLC have ping-ponged all over the music biz map and released a buoyant record last year called Vertigo. The maturity obviously shows in their most recent tracks, as the groove is solid. Visulite Theatre (Shukla)

Mike Mitchell Band -- Violinist and vocalist Mike Mitchell leads this Virginia band playing newgrass and pop Americana. There are plenty of laidback acoustic jams relying on classic rock sentiments, but rooted in a more Appalachian flavor. The lyrics have a down home and spiritual slant while the sum of the parts builds mellow backdrops for the voice. Puckett's Farm Equipment (Shukla)

The Ravelers / Vending Machine -- The cool, paisley rockers of our fair city are back with a new EP, Prom Queen. It's got Byrds atmospherics, however the combo sounds anything but dated and the rock, unapologetically non-trendy, keeps rolling. This show will celebrate the new record and the band deserves kudos for sticking around and continuing the mission. The psychedelic new track "Oh No!" could quite possibly become the first anthem of the upcoming summer. The Ravelers hit the stage at 8pm and the evening continues with a slew of cool regional bands, including Port Huron Statement and 4th Ward. (Shukla)/ The solo project of Robby Grant from Big Ass Truck, Vending Machine the band is sort of like vending machine the name: a choose-your-own-poison selection of lots of different lo-fi styles, catchy choruses a la They Might Be Giants, and loads of dings and whistles and cool noodly guitarwork. Nothing against Big Ass Truck, but I'd order from the Vending Machine any day. Figure a sober Bob Pollard without such an ungodly sense of melody. The Evening Muse (Davis)

SATURDAY 4.6

Babyshaker -- The Babyshaker posse keep upping the ante on their way up the proverbial ladder. The music rocks and the tasty record released a few months ago still occupies space in the multi-disc changer. Punk rock, healthy heaps of glam layers and a "preconceptions be damned" attitude when they hit the stage is what Babyshaker's garage rock is all about. White Chocolate is slated to open. Fat City (Shukla)

David J -- The former Bauhaus and Love & Rockets bassist returns. Expect loads of past J. faves, the odd tune from his past bands, loads of candles and the inevitable black-clad J. acolytes (though J himself sported a rather "flash" red shirt last time 'round). Last time out, J produced a four-track cassette of his original recording of "No New Tales To Tell," playing the thing almost in its entirety. It's that kind of homey, low-key feel that gave the gig's gathering its unique feel. Former local percussionist Kris Krull (ex-Come On Thunderchild) is set to help out on percussion. Visulite Theatre (Davis)

Doc Watson -- A North Carolina treasure, Watson's influence on flatpicking guitar is immense, and he was (and is) an inspiration to any folk artist who ever picked a tune post-1960. The man is a living songbook of American music styles, incorporating blues and country, even R&B, long before such things were widely accepted. In fact, Doc seems more energetic than ever, always handy with a story (often a little history lesson in American music), and has lately even thrown in the odd Bill Clinton impersonation (actually quite good, if you're wondering). Ever wish you could have seen Charlie Christian or Woody Guthrie while they were still alive? Watson's a talent of that caliber. Spirit Square (Davis)

King Johnson -- Heavy doses of New Orleans-style funk, flavored by a jazzy-blues groove, is pumped out by Atlanta's King Johnson. The album, Luck So Strange, released last year, cements the sound as it showcases the band's wares with gruff vocals and beats to add a twist to traditional blues. In the end, it's the dual horn attack of sax and trombone that separate and help define their sound. Double Door Inn (Shukla)

OutKast -- Normally, we don't review many out-of-town shows. This, though, is one of those. I said a few years back that, "OutKast could quite possibly be the best group in hip-hop today. Chicken-fried beats, inventive lyrics, and perfectly drawled phrasing all combine to make this not only the best rap group in the South, but one of the best groups, period. Not into hip hop? Pick up Aquemini and be converted. Southern rock didn't die, it just put on a pair of Pumas." Mind you, they've released another stone classic since then, Stankonia, as well as a greatest hits package. Until someone books 'em here in the Queen City, this is the best it gets. Hootie Hoo! Part of the 3 Rivers Music Festival. Congaree Vista, Columbia SC (Davis)

SUNDAY 4.7

Edwin McCain / Blue Dogs -- Let the beer flow, get the khakis pressed, and the baseball caps bent just so: here's a fest of the best of the rest of NuSouthernRock. Of the two, the Blue Dogs have the most bite, pun intended, while McCain strives for more sensitive emotings, with mixed results (though he does have a somewhat agreeable new album coming out soon). With the Bank Walkers (featuring a couple of ex-Cravin' Melon fellas) and Wax Gurus. Five Steps II (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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