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See & Do 

January 26 - Wednesday
The monthly Queen City Soulful Lyrics event is a fine showcase featuring the African American tradition of storytelling through lyrical performers, poets and spoken word artists. The event will be hosted by JC, the "lyrical poet." Tonight at 8pm at The Afro-American Cultural Center's Attic Theatre. Admission is $5 and AACC members are free. For further details call 704-374-1565. (Shukla)

January 27 - Thursday
Yes, it's those scrapping newlyweds, Samson & Delilah! Snatched piping hot from the Book of Judges, the Old Testament muscleman and his alluring nemesis are brought vividly to life by Camille Saint-Sans, one of classical music's most robust melodists. This is the duo that inspired the Gershwin brothers, the lovers that Hollywood, TV, checkout-counter tabloids, and American pop culture were built upon. You can imagine some pretty outrageous casting for this savage, sensual epic, so it's comforting to know that Mark Baker and Jessie Raven will star as the power couple at Belk Theater. If you remember, Denyce Graves tantalized us with one of the temptress's arias a few years ago in a recital with the Charlotte Symphony. Now you can wallow in the full spectacle, either comparing it with memories of the Graves gala or with her upcoming Met radio broadcast on March 5. Samson rocks the temple tonight and Saturday at 8pm with a 2pm Sunday matinee. Tickets are $10-$81. Call 704-372-1000. (Tannenbaum)

January 28 - Friday
La Rúa is Charlotte's hottest Latin rock band, and they've just spent six months in the studio putting the finishing touches on their debut release, Una Noche de Abril, the first Latin rock album entirely in Spanish to be recorded and produced in Charlotte. The quintet is comprised of members from Ecuador and Venezuela, and their live shows have earned them opening slots for heavyweights like Los Amigos Invisibles and Los Lonely Boys. Their show tonight at The Room is scheduled to begin at 9:30pm, with another local Latin band, Bakalao Stars, opening. Admission is $10, but $15 gets you a copy of their CD, too. For more information, go to http://larua.net/ or http://www.theroom.tv. (Schacht)

Before splitting up a few years back, the band Lou Ford seemed to have everything going for them. A rabid loyal following, boffo overseas press, international distribution, and even a write-up in the New York Times. Real life set in for a time, but now original members Shawn Lynch, Mark Lynch, Chad Edwards and Alan Edwards have reunited to once again bring their famed "rural pop" to the masses. The band plays the Steeple Lounge tonight. Call 704-333-5545 for more information. (Davis)

January 29 - Saturday
Claude Anshin Thomas went to Vietnam at 18 as a crew chief on assault helicopters. He received numerous medals, saw hundreds of people killed, and, in an all too familiar story, came back a mess. Post-traumatic stress was the beginning, leading eventually to drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness and emotional collapse. His turning point came when he attended a meditation retreat for Vietnam vets, an experience that led to Thomas becoming a student of Zen Buddhism and eventually, a monk. These days, the author of At Hell's Gate, a recounting of his experiences, speaks in the US and Europe on the causes of violence and offers alternatives. The founder of the Zaltho Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes peace and nonviolence, Thomas offers teachings on the healing of emotional suffering. In his words, "everyone has their Vietnam." At a time when American soldiers are returning home from combat, often injured both in body and soul, Thomas' message could be especially relevant. He will speak at Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church, 9704 Mallard Creek Church Rd., 7-9pm. Admission is $5. Call 704-455-5393. (Grooms)

January 30 - Sunday
One of America's most exciting new chamber ensembles, the Ying Quartet, comes to Dana Auditorium for a 3pm concert. Based near Chicago, where they've been the resident string quartet at Northwestern University, these intrepid young lions have also toured other Big 10 schools in their Midwest wanderings. Currently, they're on an Eastern swing, boasting some high-test Beethoven, Shostokovich, Arensky, Tchaikovsky, and Bartok in their fuel cells. They can get contemporary on occasion, having teamed with the edgy Turtle Island Quartet on the latter's 4 + Four album. Single tickets for this Queens College Friends of Music concert are $15. Call 704-337-2213. (Tannenbaum)

January 31 - Monday
Young piano hotshot Navah Perlman hooks up with the touring Prague Symphony in the latest entry in the 2004-05 Carolinas Concert Association subscription series. Perlman mates with the Czechs on Chopin's Piano Concerto #2 in F Minor. There are other delights, large and small, planned by the 70-year-old orchestra under the baton of their new principal conductor, Petr Altrichter. We'll hear Pavel Slezak's Ottonia for bass and orchestra, just to annoy the legions of blue-hairs in the house, before proceeding to Antonin Dvorák's New World Symphony #9 — eliciting sighs of relief and geezer satisfaction. Tickets are $25-$65 for this classy evening at Belk Theater. Call 704-372-1000. (Tannenbaum)

January 01 - Tuesday
It's not everyday that one of the greatest novelists in the world comes to the area, but hey, this is that day. British novelist Salman Rushdie, born in India, has had an enormous influence in the past two decades, breaking open the literary world's expectations and signaling, among other things, that it's once again OK for English language writers to come out of Iowa Writers Workshop limbo and actually use their highly active imaginations. Rushdie, as we know, had to go underground for several years while the Iranian mullahs had assassins out looking for him. Rather than capitulate, Rushdie has used his public persona to encourage and celebrate creativity, imagination and freedom of speech in an increasingly violent, repressive-religion-drenched world (and we're not just talking Islmists here, either, Commissioner James). Salman Rushdie will speak today as Davidson College's 2005 Conarroe Lecturer, appearing at 8pm in Duke Family Performance Hall. That's the good news. The bad news is that there are no more tickets available. (Grooms)

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