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ANN RABSON -- Rabson has been playing and singing the blues since, whoa, 1962! She's a member of the rollicking female blues combo Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women and also performs solo and with various other bands. Her new record, In a Family Way, hits the racks this week and is a fine example of someone so comfortable in their environs as to make the music sound like unfettered breathing. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

GAELIC STORM -- This lively Celtic band is made up of disparate brethren of Irish, British and American musicians. Last Fall they released their fifth and most consistent recording, How Are We Getting Home?, featuring an appearance by famed folk-songstress Nanci Griffith. Fans of hip Irish music take note. Tyber Creek Pub (Shukla)


PIERCE PETTIS -- Pettis is currently touring on the strength of Great Big World, his fourth album on Compass Records. Live shows are usually an intimate collection of slow-burn bluegrass and R&B-tinged folk-rockers, all draped in the requisite Spanish moss (but sans the overly sugared, sweet-tea sentimentality that usually goes along with such acts). Good, sturdy alt/folk that doesn't talk down to the audience. The Evening Muse (Davis)


HOUSTON BROTHERS -- For those forced to concentrate intently when walking and talking, seeing the Brothers Faircloth as a duo again reminds us how unique an act they are. There's guitarist Matt, banging out chords and feed-back drenched solos while walking basslines in his shoeless feet; Justin lays down melodious keyboard with one half of his body and complex drum fills with the other - oh, yeah, they both sing, too, and their songs ain't exactly chopped liver. Late show, after Volatile Baby with Kelly Buchanon. The Evening Muse (John)

THE VON EHRICS -- Dallas, TX's Von Ehrics purvey a wicked little mix of country and punk that : and this is no small feat : doesn't short-shrift either genre. No bullshit here, except maybe when they're trying to get you to buy 'em another High Life. See our story in this issue. Milestone (Davis)

YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND -- Quickly becoming a favorite on the bluegrass festival circuit, Yonder Mountain String Band's jamband take on bluegrass is pleasant enough to these ears, even as it lacks something of the urgency that marks the best of either style of music. But man, the kids love 'em, and they even market their own belt buckles, drink coozies, and Nalgene water bottles. Somehow I don't imagine the Louvins ever doing such a thing. Visulite Theatre (Davis)


JET BY DAY -- Too angular and loud to be emo, and nowhere near as annoying as screamo, this Athens quartet owe a debt to Southern Rock's heroes, without reminding anyone of Skynyrd or the ABB. Beaucoup guitars and feedback highlight what is still a melodious core, though the songs do, on occasion, veer toward the latest radio fare. Their latest, The Vulture, is due April 5. With Blue Epic. The Room (Schacht)

MALCOLM HOLCOMBE -- Malcolm Holcombe's voice is a scratchy approximation of Tom Waits, and his songwriting ain't that far removed from ol' Tommy the Cat, either: a sort of Southern gothic version of the diner blues, accented by strummed and fingerpicked bluegrass and gospel flourishes. Whether growling a chorus or bringing things to a crawl with a careful whisper, it's hard to take your eyes off of him : and once you hear the way the man writes songs, it'll be hard to keep your ears away too. Rodi, Gastonia (Davis)

OTEIL & THE PEACEMAKERS -- Filling the same seat as legendary Allman Brothers' bassist Berry Oakley might be resume material enough for many musicians, but Oteil Burbridge also drove the Aquarium Rescue Unit's complex rhythms and brings funk, gospel and jazz influences as the Peacemaker's anchor. A seriously talented player. Green Light opens. Neighborhood Theatre (Schacht)

STEEPLE FAREWELL -- The last Midnight Mass for the church with the bar and stage for an altar. Featuring local stalwarts Etheric, Elevator Action and the Demon Squad (a local supergroup, of sorts), along with various eulogies and, of course, all the farewell toasts you can imbibe. The Steeple Lounge (Schacht)

THE VERNA CANNON -- It's the subtle joy in the melancholia and the tense energy tagged onto minimalist playing in The Verna Cannon's oeuvre that makes heads turn when the Columbia, SC, band plays. "Marching Through the Snow," their holiday MP3 posted on the website, is warm, yet mixes somber tones in its mirth. The group keeps the oft-missed Mazzy Star's torch lit. The Verna Cannon are, thankfully, working on a full-length recording to be released in the near future, a full five years since their last release. Also on the bill are The Virginia Reel. The Evening Muse (Shukla)


FLOGGING MOLLY -- The torchbearers for the Pogues, Shane McGowan & the Popes and maybe even the Dropkick Murphys, these youngsters are nothing short of extraordinary when it comes to blasting searing Irish/Celtic punk. Now with the latest rollicking recording Within a Mile of Home well under their belts, and global touring jostling the complacent, Flogging Molly will be a name dropped by younger bands. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)


THE EXIES -- Give the Exies credit for infusing that "something" which helps poke their guitar bombast above the din of myriad rock bands of late. Sure, drop Goo Goo Dolls and Stone Temple Pilots as a sketchbook for the Exies, but the quartet show respect for warm production values and cut the guitars loose with more spacey, fuzzed out amps than the aforementioned bands, especially on their sophomore release Head For The Door. Amos' Southend (Shukla)

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