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WEDNESDAY 2.11

The Sammies -- I first saw the Sammies opening for Patty Hurst Shifter at The Room about a month or so ago. The Shifter had the whole rock star look thing going on (cigarettes! Peg-leg jeans!), and certainly the more glittery regional resume. However, in my opinion (and the opinion of more than a few others that made it out that night), the Sammies pretty much stole the show, with a confident set of energetic post-punk that revived my faith in straight-ahead rock. It's jittery, jagged stuff, something like if Pavement covered the Strokes (or maybe vice versa). Frankly, it's hard for me to remember exactly what they sounded like, glued as I was to their set. I do remember that it was something of a revelation. (Guess I'd make a pretty bad prophet, huh?) With The Murdocks. The Room (Davis)

THURSDAY 2.12

Sage Francis -- Sage's Personal Journals CD, released a while back on Anticon, was a stone-cold stunner of a record and articulated his life and surroundings in much the same engaging, linguistically dense way Mike Skinner did with his "band," The Streets. Sage's latest -- the titanic Hope (done with his pal Joe Beats as "Non-Prophets") -- is even better, even as it seems to skewer somewhat the same crowd that buys his records. Francis is often lumped in with the whole "emo-rap" scene, and for good reason -- he can bleed a verse with marvelous aplomb. The difference is that Francis may dwell on an issue personally, but not in song after song after song like so many other eMoCs. Raw emotion is a great thing, but as Francis knows, it's all the more powerful with a little levity from time to time. With Joe Beats, Grand Buffet, & MacLethal. The Room (Davis)

FRIDAY 2.13

Two Dollar Pistols -- Hard-core honky tonk practitioners of the highest order, these Chapel Hill mainstays are an old school country fan's live dream. Leader John Howie, Jr. is equal parts Southern preacher and Las Vegas showman, with enough charisma and baritone to own any room he's in and a no-bullshit band to back it all up. Drawing on a deep well of George Jones and Merle Haggard influences, the Pistols honor traditional themes of love-all-shot-to-shit with their own modern, often hilarious take. Virtually impossible not to have good time. Stillhouse and Hick'ry Hawkins (solo) open. The Room (Schacht)

Luther Wright and the Wrongs -- Billing themselves as "guitar pickin' martyrs" (also the name of their last record), this Canadian six-piece gained notoriety (or infamy) by recasting Pink Floyd's The Wall in bluegrass tribute. There's more here than just a novelty act, however. They're also adept at unflinching, mince-no-words rock & roll, as the centerpiece of their last record -- "Broken Fuckin' Heart" -- suggests. That'll give you a pretty good idea of what you're likely to hear between "Comfortably Numb" and "Another Brick In the Wall." Local boys Abe Reid & the Spikedrivers open. The Evening Muse (Schacht)

Moonshine Still -- Georgia band applies three-part harmonies to a jam-mix of reggae, jazz, folk, and bluegrass. There's a light boogie feeling, and the band is particularly effective when it comes to laying down a spacey groove over jazz tones, while the keyboards add a layer of warmth. It's Friday night and if you're looking for a musically tight jam band, this is it. Opening for Barefoot Manner. Visulite Theatre (Shukla)

SATURDAY 2.14

12th Annual Johnson Valentine Bash -- Last year, Chris and Wes Johnson decided to move their popular Valentine's Day party to the Visulite Theatre, and turned the party into a fundraiser for RAIN (Regional Aids Interfaith Network). This year, the brothers' eclectic outlet Hardcore Lounge will headline, and ex-Dead keyboardist and local fixture Tom Constanten will open. In addition, Blue Collar DJ and DJ Redwiggler will perform, and lovers will kiss, and people will try and mack on people of the opposite sex with relative impunity (hey, it's a benefit!). Visulite Theatre (Davis)

Black Market Radio/New August -- Black Market Radio, which features Carey Sims and Andy Seets (Sound Of Mine), along with Jason Atkins (Wichita Caravan, Lou Ford), Derek Young (Jennifer Strip) and Chuck Lee (Cherry Bomb), certainly has the local bloodlines to succeed. It's melodic, radio-ready stuff, yet still has enough musical flourish (especially evident in Atkins' keys) to keep you from getting radio reflux. Also on the bill are their pals New August, which consists of Joe Auch, Patrick Boyd, Stacey Leazer (Sound of Mine, Muscadine) and Trey Walker (The Flyweb, Muscadine). Double Door Inn (Davis)

Devildriver / Moonspell -- Devildriver is the name witches give to the bells they use to drive away evil when casting their spells. Devildriver the band is Dez Fafara (Coal Chamber) and Co. casting a growling punk-metal spell. There's solid guitar crunch, pitch-dark lyrics and plenty of blasting drumbeats reminiscent of a stampeding herd. Moonspell are a Portuguese death metal band with gothic leanings that creates an eerie musical backdrop. Here, the vocalist sings more than growls, adding a melodic dimension. Opeth are also on the bill. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)

Murdercycle -- This hard rocking North Carolina band, featuring ex-members of Ublisch and Seducer, have no qualms laying down pulsing guitar lines and vocals skewed through the mic. Murdercycle's punk-core is built in the garage and let loose with a vengeance into the greater rock & roll realm. With Mirage & Shiver. Tequila Sky (Shukla)

Perspects -- Part of the Bloody Valentine (sorry, no "My") celebration, Perspects is a project of Detroit-based Ian Clark, a musician, producer and multimedia artist best known for his work on the Motor City's influential Ersatz Audio label. Punchy, analog synthpop, brooding vocals and live percussion highlight the sound. Clark doesn't align himself with any of the current trends in electronic/dance culture, and claims to take "inspiration from a wide, often unlikely, range of sources." Also on the bill: Grindle, Scott Weaver, Hope Nicholls. Mythos (Schacht)

Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder -- Bluegrass is Skaggs' calling card, has been for a quarter century and will most likely remain so for the rest of his career. Skaggs' super sweet vocals and the backup harmony provided by his band can perk up even the most staid surroundings. Skaggs' well-chosen covers -- "Cat's in the Cradle," for one -- and effortless runs through standards and plenty of originals showcase his wide-reaching range. The musicianship of his crew is second to none, making this outfit one of the must-see in this genre. Clover High School Auditorium (Shukla)

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