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Dance to the music 

Start another ironic chapter in the history of music in Raleigh. No sooner do Bickett Gallery and a wonderful cooperative of artists and musicians put together 23 HOURS, an ambitious, month-long show to capture the histories of art and music in the capital city, than a handful of neighbors and a tone-deaf City Hall (er, excuse me, Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex) shut down a key part of the show--the outdoor live music. The organizers went to the city and tried to make sure they'd gotten all the permits necessary, but apparently the bureaucrats managed to find one--the amplified outdoor music permit--that hadn't been suitably stamped five times and passed around in triplicate. So when neighbors complained, the music stopped.

Bickett's on the edge of the fashionable Five Points neighborhood, in an industrial area next to the railroad tracks, a short hop from downtown. It's too bad the city didn't think it was as important to help work out a compromise there as it was to hang up a bunch of purple banners from light poles downtown to celebrate the city's vitality. (Those were an outgrowth of the Livable Streets program that started out with residents focusing on bringing housing downtown, but somehow ended up recommending banners and construction of a new convention center.) Raleigh's leaders are happy to say they want to make the city more vibrant, but back down when it knocks on the door. One real estate agent celebrates downtown with a Web site that says "live, work, play." Just don't play outdoor music, I guess.

But if this week's music guide proves anything, it is that music and musicians are irrepressible. Russ Lane, an Indy intern and former entertainment editor of The Daily Tar Heel at UNC-CH, spent the summer compiling submissions from about 300 bands and music-related businesses. And he knows we barely scratched the surface of all the groups and kinds of music in the Triangle.

"I knew it was diverse, I just didn't know to what degree," he says. "Before this project, no one had tried to document the amount of music in the Triangle. People talk about the scene, and it tends to be this vague, amorphous entity. The list documents that there's a lot more out there than people realize. And there's a lot that's not on the list."

It's our first attempt to do this, and we hope it's a useful resource, whether you're a player or a listener. My biggest hope is that it will help people bring live music into their lives. A friend at the paper, a Zydeco drummer, wanted to convince me that live music transforms a party. He invited a few of his musician friends to our Mardi Gras soiree, and sure enough, the party took on another dimension. Some other friends searched around and found a killer R&B combo to set up in their living room and play for a 50th birthday party. Lemme tell ya, there's nothing like dancing to "Strokin'" played live in someone's house.

Until you get a chance to do that, there's still live music being played live inside at Bickett as part of 23 HOURS. Enjoy there or wherever, and let's hope that one day they can again take it outside.

More by Richard Hart

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