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Leo's Invention -- Arizona's Leo's Invention provides extra pleasant pop music using plenty of acoustic treatments as well as electric. They're mood driven without pretentious melodrama and their harmonies literally pour out of the musical camaraderie into the listeners' collective ears. With Sycamore Grove. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

Todd Snider -- A disciple of John Prine, Ramblin' Jack and Jerry Jeff Walker, Snider got off to a bad start with me with his cute little ditty about grunge music some years back, but has since pulled his tongue out from his cheek a bit. His new live CD, Near Truths and Hotel Rooms, is an excellent introduction to the man's music (and between-songs storytelling), tailor-made for long summer drives to nowhere. Neighborhood Theatre (Davis)

Blue Epic / Elevator Action -- Any band that covers Neil Young with a sense of appreciation is OK in my book. The song in question here is "A Man Needs A Maid" and it closes out Blue Epic's recent EP Love & Hate (TVT Records). The young band manages to interpret the tune in their own voice without drowning out the original's classic sway. The group takes cues from The Cure, The Smiths and U2 while mixing in their own contemporary modern rock muse with an able frontman and moody guitars. (Shukla)

With a band name that simultaneously calls up images of the great 80s arcade game and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler circa Pump, what's not to like? The newest project from Eric Gilstrap (Borghal Rantipole) and his gal Laurie, EA are Charlotte's musical sweet tooth: equal parts Supergrass, the Buzzcocks, and Marc Bolan. In this terror-alert day and age, it sounds especially sweet -- as Tyler himself would say, "livin' it up as (we're) going down." With The Working Title. The Steeple Lounge (Davis)

Etheric -- Vocalist Christine Navarro, a yoga teacher here in Charlotte, is the frontwoman for Etheric. Her singing is the real deal -- she and her bandmates make use of the Garth Brooks microphones a good bit, usually because they're otherwise busy flailing around and pumping out the "new rock" -- but the band also evidences a desire to make the stage show one to remember, too (Navarro has said Etheric is her way of expressing yoga verbally -- if you've ever seen a live show, you know she does the physical thing pretty well too). Other things Etherical: The band will soon be recording a full-length live CD with Chris Kress from Charlottesville, VA (Dave Matthews Band's live recordings), and is soon to start pre-production work on a studio album also to be produced by Kress. With the likeminded Lo-Jack, who boast a slightly more pummeling take on their groove-rock. Tremont Music Hall (Davis)

Hashbrown -- Here's a band that sounds toasty enough on disc, but probably is a lot more fun after the proverbial few rounds of brewskies. They're funky and have enough itchy guitars, horn treatments and scratching to keep summer skeeters at bay. A mix of hip-hop, R&B and rock rounds out their groove. A couple of tunes from their Miles to Go disc could easily pass as soundtracks for car chase scenes from old TV shows like Starsky & Hutch or Baretta. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time... Time for another round. Fat City (Shukla)

Rick Holmstrom -- He threw some new riffs at traditional blues listeners with last year's Hydraulic Groove (Tone Cool), to say the least. The record has its share of steaming blues cuts, but hybrid elements of funk and electronic treatments are blended in and work to the listener's advantage. It's an expansion of blues with thick, vibrant chops, while the samples, loops and electronica give the word blues a whole new dimension. Holmstrom has played classic blues and R&B for years; this record gives him a new voice in the traditional genre. Double Door Inn (Shukla)

Waylandsphere -- Yeah, they're a jam band and when the groove is on, the tunes stick in your head despite efforts to keep them out. A familiar sound hits the eardrums while listening to their recent EP, but they do manage a catchy drift and the spacey underpinnings add to the vibe. Wilmington-based band Creekside will open. Visulite Theatre (Shukla)

Bob Margolin -- By now, most people know that Steady Rollin' Bob played with Muddy Waters. But what some folks might not know is the cast of characters (and darn good players) who are playing with him these days. On the harp is Carey Bell (Waters alumnus, too); on keys there's Pinetop Perkins; keeping the beat is Willie "Big Eyes" Smith (multiple Handy awards winner) and rounding out the ever-impressive line-up is guitarist Hubert Sumlin (who spent years backing Howlin' Wolf) and our own Mookie Brill on bass, harp and vocals, too. Nuff said? Double Door Inn (Farris)

David Lindley -- There's session players, and then there's David Lindley. A much-respected ringer, Lindley has played stringed instruments (doesn't matter which) on records by Bob Dylan, Terry Reid, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Ry Cooder, Warren Zevon, Rory Block and James Taylor, and he even sang the famous falsetto break on Jackson Browne's cover of "Stay." Lindley's touring now with percussion whiz (and Lindley doppelganger) Wally Ingram, with whom he plows through songs like "Meth Lab Boyfriend," "Catfood Sandwiches" and "Sports Utilities Suck, Hang Up and Drive You Blood Clot." It's goofy stuff, to say the least, but Lindley's musical chops (guitar, steel, saz and chumbus, Middle Eastern oud, and Irish bouzouki, to name a few) are no laughing matter. Neighborhood Theatre (Davis)

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