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For a man that was half of the power grip in one of the most important bands in rock (and country) history, Jay Farrar is a catch-all for criticism. Sure, he hasn't plowed the same experimental rock earth that former Uncle Tupelo bandmate Jeff Tweedy has with Wilco, but he isn't Rod Stewart, either. When Farrar simply writes songs and sings them, he gets charged as too orthodox; when he toys with the process as on Terroir Blues, he gets branded as either pretentious or a jealous imitator of his former collaborator. But Farrar deserves big credit, especially in the wake of his charged Son Volt resurrection, Okemah and the Melody of Riot. The aforementioned Blues is simultaneously weird and rooted, and Son Volt's Trace is a near-perfect set of songs, anchored by deeper-than-surface lines that should placate (or at least occupy) some of Farrar's biggest naysayers. That's right, "too much living is no way to die." Tift Merritt--who previously toured with Son Volt's new axeman, Brad Rice--splits this fantastic bill. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Disco Rodeo in Raleigh. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door.

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