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Back on the ball 

If there's one thing the Chapel Hill-Carrboro music scene can get behind, it's a benefit--especially when the show is to benefit one of its own. After a raid by state Alcohol Law Enforcement agents and Carrboro police, the De La Luz club is getting back on its feet, and its owner, Rick Ramirez, is finding support from musicians and Main Street neighbors.

On Friday night, live music will return to De La Luz with a benefit for the club and Ramirez featuring the Burlington, Vt., band RAQ, described as "aggressively improvisational." The doors open at 9:30 p.m., and concertgoers will want to drink up before they enter, as no alcohol will be served inside.

On Oct. 26, Ramirez was charged with two misdemeanor alcohol violations by the ALE and with three drug charges by town police, after officers and agents say they caught Ramirez selling beer without a license and then discovered about four pounds of marijuana in his club and home. Released on $3,000 bail, Ramirez returned to his Temple Ball gallery, which is home to the De La Luz music venue, to pick up the pieces.

Last week, Ramirez bounced back by re-opening the gallery and offering a "yard sale" of discounted poster art on his Web site, where sales and donations could be made via PayPal. In addition to this week's benefit, several other concerts that had been canceled after the arrest were rescheduled thanks to an arrangement with the ArtsCenter, which is across the street.

"We had collaborated before on the World Arts Festival," says Tess Mangum Ocana, who books concerts at the ArtsCenter. "We knew that we wanted to work together in the future. So he came to us," she says. "Carrboro's very small. There's no reason not to collaborate." The West End Theater holds 125 people, which is a little bigger than De La Luz. "It's like having a dinner party and instead of having it at his house, it's at our house because we have more space."

The "De La Luz Showcase" kicks off with Other Nature of Chapel Hill and Gomachi of Winston-Salem, who will perform at the ArtsCenter's West End Theater on Saturday, Nov. 22. The following evening, local acts Jennyanykind and Barefoot Manner will perform there.

"I'd told Rick that we don't get a chance to bring in many of these types of bands," Ocana says. "We get stereotyped as the Celtic, folky, blues venue. They have the happy, frog-dancing jam bands."

In an email, Ramirez said he was also planning on putting together three compilation albums comprised of the recordings of live performances De La Luz has hosted in its 11 months of existence. So far, seven bands have agreed to contribute to the project, including Jennyanykind, James Mathus Knockdown Society, Tim Stambaugh and Hobex, the band whose performance was interrupted by the raid. "Our goal is to have all three ready for release by the end of the year," he said. Sales from these albums would also go to benefit the space, he said.

Ramirez says he's grateful to everyone who's helping spread to word. A message on the Web site reads, "Thanks for you continued support and GREAT Vibes!!"

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