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Over the past 35 years, Louisburg, N.C.'s Freddie Branch and the Singing Stars (pictured) have become known as one of the hardest working gospel groups around. During that time, they shared the stage with every major gospel group in the country and developed a reputation for putting on "house wrecking" shows. There's certainly much to recommend their shows, so the only question is: Why are they appearing at the Cat's Cradle? "Rock 'n' roll is nothing but secular gospel music anyway," says Steve Mann of Happyland Records, the Chapel Hill-based label that the group currently calls home (their latest Happyland release is called "Something Got a Hold on Me"). After all, Little Richard, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and George Clinton all had strong gospel roots, he points out. Bringing a gospel show to the Cradle shows rock fans where rock music learned its power and passion, and simultaneously brings a bigger audience to gospel music. If you don't know where to find this music in the black community, the Cat's Cradle show is an opportunity to hear some gospel jam in a place anyone can find. Freddie Branch and the Singing Stars share the bill with the Parkton, N.C.-based group The Gospel Four, a multigenerational country blues-based gospel group. Come experience the raw power of gospel music this Saturday, July 21. Call 967-9053 for details.

DiamondDiamondDiamondAlso at Cat's Cradle this week: The Scaries and Sorry About Dresden will be appearing with Late Night Television, a band formed by Matt Kelley, the founder and owner of Route 14 Records, based in Philly. Route 14 is one of those little labels that, through that strange sort of serendipity so prevalent in the music biz, has somehow become associated with the N.C. scene, releasing records by the Scaries, Sorry About Dresden and other N.C. bands like Strunken White. Come see the label mates bonding at the Cat's Cradle this Friday, July 20. Call 967-9053 for details.

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