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Benji Hughes / Secondhand Stories -- Hughes, playing all the holiday shows he can muster, gives you another chance to hear his peerless, dry (in the "wit" sense only) balladry before he pulls an LL Cool J and goes back to Cali. You'll laugh, you'll cry. (Really. Hughes' last show featured an epic dirge about Christian rock that had me spraying my Bud Light in hysterics. Then again, maybe it was the Bud Light.) Secondhand Stories are (grand simplification here, but we only have so much space) somewhat along the lines of a Talk Talk or Iron and Wine if they were signed to Thrill Jockey: soaring yet hushed, harmonically bell-clear and so analog-warmed that you forget all the digital whatseewhosits comprising the lush backing. The Evening Muse (Davis)


Lindsay Horne Band -- Being someone who's not averse to mining my own previous writings if I believe I nailed something right the first time, I stand by my assertion that Horne sometimes reminds me of a Southern-born Kate Bush, or maybe a slightly sassier Sam Phillips (not the Sun Records guy). That said, her sound is pretty much her own: painfully honest, spare, sensually charged and piano-driven in the classic jazz-diarist tradition. The Evening Muse (Davis)

One Amazin' Kid -- Contrary to the name's suggestion, OAK is actually a four-piece, playing anthemic, emo-tinged rock. They're led by former Hopesfall/Laurelei member Christopher Kincaid, and they just released their debut EP, Cherished Life, in October. The album recalls early emo acts such as Mineral and Rainer Maria in its watercolor textures and minor chord melodics. Tremont Music Hall (Parker)

FRIDAY 12.23

Alternative Champs -- The band's new Welcome to Fort Awesome is a perfect document of their live show, excepting perhaps the Jäger shots and audience catcalls: rock-solid musicianship backed by a wit that is sometimes desert-dry and other times drenched in potty humor. Going to see music that relies on humor as its meal ticket is often a dicey proposition. Luckily, the Champs roll sevens more often than snake-eyes. See our story in this issue. With McClintock Gs & RenElvis. Visulite Theatre (Davis)

The Extraordinaire's Reunion -- A reunion of this popular '90s Charlotte rock act who were led by Tom "Mookie" Brill, a Brooklyn-born transplant who's been playing rock and blues in area groups for almost 30 years. Most recently, Brill's been playing with blues guitarist Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin's traveling revue. Double Door Inn (Parker)

Holiday Party -- It's a regular hootenanny over at the Muse, as a stageful of local musicians lead a night of carols and seasonal favorites. Among the performers are terrific local indie popsters gogoPilot, gruff-voiced Americana performer David Childers, silver-throated singer Deanna Lynn and the Near Misses, among others. The Evening Muse (Parker)

SUNDAY 12.25

Contagious -- This power blues trio has been kicking up dust in the Carolinas since 1999. Their steady interplay obviously emanates straight from the heart and they segue back and forth between blistering numbers and slow ones with ease. Also catch them on the radio the same day, around 6pm, during the Smokin' Blues show on WRFX 99.7 FM. Double Door Inn (Shukla)


Zombie Gutz -- Zombie Gutz recently rose from the ashes of two regional melodic metal bands Four Have Fallen and Tomorrow Can Wait. The Gutz rock harder with revved up guitars and a growling vocalist looking for a fight. If you dig grind and hard core, then by all means stop by to see them. With Ten33. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)


The Derek Trucks Band -- The nephew of original Allman Brother Butch Trucks, the Southern-fried Derek Trucks is a hotshit guitarist in his own right and, since 1999, an integral part of the Allman Bros. Band. With his own group, Trucks and Co. concentrate more on blending jazz, rock, blues, Latin, Eastern Indian and soul music into a cohesive whole (see his last release, the excellent Soul Serenade, for a fine introduction). Put another way, it thinks globally and acts locally. See our story in this issue. Spirit Square (Davis)

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