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Positively 15th Street 

A new Charlotte venue, plus other local music news

Seems like every month Charlotte loses another good music venue; thankfully, a new one seems to be revving up. The 15th Street Garage ("High Decibel Tune Ups," they advertise), located on, you guessed it, 15th Street, has a nice minimalist set-up and a large stage area, and the site is already beginning to book bands. On Saturday, January 25, at 7pm, the venue hosts Avec, One Six Conspiracy, A Goodnight Waiting, Mike Walker and My Epiphany. Log onto www.15thstreetgarage .com for more information.

The Charlotte Folk Society, in conjunction with the Charlotte Blues Society, is putting on something called a Blues Roots concert January 17 at 8pm at the Neighborhood Theatre. The concert features Piedmont blues great and NC resident George Higgs, as well as Scott Ainslie. Tickets are $18 ($16 for CFS and CBS members) and are available through the Neighborhood Theatre at 704-358-9298. For more information, contact Wanda Hubicki at 704-563-7080 or by email at phubicki@carolina.rr.com

Local indie-rockers Pyramid have been invited to Park City, UT, to play at a Sony Pictures Classics party at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. Two of the band's songs are to be featured on the upcoming soundtrack to All the Real Girls, the second feature from NC filmmaker David Gordon Green (George Washington). The soundtrack also features badasses Will Oldham, Sparklehorse, My Bloody Valentine and Mogwai. The festival runs January 16-26.

Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Chris Smith, formerly a Charlotte resident, will return to town on Wednesday, January 15, with an 8pm show at the Evening Muse. The stop is part of an acoustic solo tour Smith is doing throughout the Southeast.

Longtime Charlotte producer and engineer Mark Williams was busy in December. Williams co-produced the Demolition String Band with Rick Miller at Miller's Kudzu Ranch studio in Mebane, NC, with the band traveling down from Hoboken, NJ, for the sessions (incidentally, Demolition String Band guitarist Boo Reiner grew up in Charlotte). Williams then headed to Salina, KS, to record a blues album with a group of Muddy Waters' former sidemen. Bob Margolin produced the project for Telarc Records, while playing and singing with Pinetop Perkins, Carey Bell and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith (Charlotte's own Mookie Brill played acoustic bass and harmonica on a few tracks). According to Williams, this was a "live in the studio" project (no overdubs or remixing), which he then mixed directly to SACD, a new high-definition audiophile CD format.

Speaking of new, some local music veterans have formed a new act, Wojo Bragg. The band features Billy Queen, who has been with a band called Jacobs Dream on Metal Blade Records for the past couple of years; David McBee, formerly of Big Dixon and Shock Opera; Randy Williams, formerly of Citizen Cain and Metropolis; and Jeff Johnson. Check out www.wojobragg.com for more info.

The local band Voodou will be going back on the road this month with goth/industrial icon Chris Connelly. The band will be supporting their remix album Your Basic Evil Black Squadron, set for release this month. Folks can check out pictures of the band's recent "Ugly Spirits Tour" with Thrill Kill Kult and Cherrie Blue at www.pbase.com/voodou.

Lauren Brower of Lauren and Friends was recently awarded the "Visions of Hope" award given by the pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca. Brower was flown to San Antonio, TX, to accept the award. The band, sans Brower, recently had none other than Mayor Pat McCrory sit in for a song or two on drums at the uptown tree lighting.

Gastonia's Old House Studio recently hosted the Liberian Acapella Boy's Choir, who are in town recording two 10-song albums. All but one of the 13 members are orphans, and the group is scheduled to tour the US for one year, with proceeds being sent back to Liberia for relief and aid.

In other Old House news, Scott Jeffrey's Band just finished work on their album project -- check their web site for a release date (www.sjband.com). The Southern Tradition Bluegrass Band, Jester Fizz, Casual Havoc and VKC have all recently recorded at the studio.

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