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THURSDAY 1.16

Drunk Stuntmen -- Last winter saw their van go up in flames in the middle of South Carolina. This year, The Drunk Stuntmen have a new van and a new record out, Ironhip. The latter's a relatively reliable sampler of their live show: Massachusetts-rooted Americana with a twangified, rockabilly edge and full-on feedback afterburners. Double Door Inn (Davis)

Regan -- Regan's one of those disciples of Dave Matthews: Virginia-bred, acoustic-inclined, and all about the Internet. She tours either solo or with accompaniment from various members of Agents of Good Roots, and she has connections with people from Dave Matthews, as well as David Lowery of Cracker and the Pat McGee band. She's a dainty blonde, which couldn't have hurt her rise. She's reminiscent, at least to these ears, of sort of a populist Shawn Colvin with TV-show theme "rock guitar" backing. Good voice, though. The Evening Muse (Davis)

Terrance Simien -- Simien's zydeco, tinged with R&B and soul and layered with richly textured accordion playing, is among the purest Louisiana has to offer. Simien's swirling sound makes for a lot of action on the dance floor, but he's much more than just a "live jukebox." His take on traditional zydeco mixed with other Southern roots influences produces a new, soulful brand of the famous traditional Cajun music that manages to stay faithful to the swamp while charting new waters. Simien's soulful singing suggests Otis Redding, and his songwriting suggests we may be looking at a future legend in the making. Spirit Square (Davis)

FRIDAY 1.17

Amy Ray -- Ray's solo debut, Stag, was often overlooked by critics when it came out, which is a shame. Listening to Stag up against the Indigo Girls, Ray's considerable punk influences became obvious, even if usually delivered with a more "mature" songwriting touch. Featuring The Butchies on a few tracks and a song slamming Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, the album is an unqualified, er, winner. Sorry. With The Butchies and Paul Melancon. Tremont Music Hall (Davis)

Blue Bambooza -- A nice, fresh addition to toe-tapping newgrass bands around the Carolinas. Their self-titled debut hit the streets recently and infuses traditional bluegrass with an eye toward contemporary compositional forays. They keep it honest by sticking with acoustic instruments and overlaying things with jazzy sentiments. It's a safe bet to describe them playing about as much acoustic Appalachian folk as bluegrass. Puckett's Farm Equipment (Shukla)

Mr. Drysdale -- The jingle jangle rock of Charlotte-based Mr. Drysdale doesn't swing in a hugely original manner, but it has the makings of a decent power-pop band. They obviously love REM and Hootie while adding gruffer, toasted vocals for a heavier sound. They've been floating around the musical space of the Carolinas for a few years and have a couple of releases that also show off their leanings toward classic rock. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

Paul Melancon -- Atlanta's Melancon swoons bittersweet pop without overtures to "Hey, dig me, I'm cool!" trappings. The new record, Camera Obscura (Daemon Records), is his second outing and lays on the Matthew Sweet-flavored pop rock full on. The track "Jeff Lynne" explains quite a lot, as it's a guitar-drenched musical tribute to Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra. This is probably the most likely record on Indigo Girl Amy Ray's record label with the chance of massive radio play. Opening for Amy Ray and The Butchies. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)

Scott Ainslie/George Higgs -- Ainslie dives deeper into acoustic and folk blues than most others in the genre. He's a teacher, performer, author (he's written an excellent book on Robert Johnson) and all-around blues chronicler who brings the Delta to your neck of the woods and plays smashing originals as well as choice covers using vintage guitars. His stirring version of "Death Don't Have No Mercy" is but one example. Tarboro native Higgs is a North Carolina treasure and longtime proponent of Piedmont Blues. He's played this style of acoustic blues accented by a harp for the better part of six decades! A don't-miss double bill co-sponsored by the Charlotte Folk Society and the Charlotte Blues Society. Neighborhood Theatre (Shukla)

Sean Costello -- Yes, he's a young white dude. No, I don't know the extent of the man's encounters with the blues. His latest platter, Moanin' for Molasses (Landslide Records), certainly evidences mucho technical chops, but I've always thought the true sign of blues greatness was in playing hardly any notes at all and still making the song swing. Costello's not there yet, but his fretwork is undeniable and ought to please anyone, SRV fans and older cats alike. Double Door Inn (Davis)

SATURDAY 1.18

Saliva -- Record mogul Lyor Cohen's attempts at broadening his hip-hop musical empire notwithstanding, I say this: not worth spit. With Breaking Benjamin. Tremont Music Hall (Davis)

SUNDAY 1.19

WSGE Radio Benefit -- WSGE (91.7 FM) is a glowing ember in the burned out fire of radioland. Based in Gaston College, the tiny station spews out eclectic music running the gamut of musical spheres. The station is non-commercial and owned by a small college, meaning a steady flow of moola is needed to continue its broadcasting and work. So get off your duffs and check out a posse of regional artists gathering to raise funds for the station. Just a few of the players include Delancey Street, Tesser, Gigi Dover & Bill Noonan, Contagious and many others. Puckett's Farm Equipment (Shukla)

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