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When legendary children's performer Ella Jenkins took a demo tape of four songs to Moses Asch of Folkways Records in 1956, he signed her on the spot. Four decades later, Jenkins has recorded more than 30 records and played on seven continents, including Antarctica. The 75-year-old's call-and-response method and her use of music from around the world have made her not only an infectious performer but an important figure in multicultural education. Jenkins will play for children of all ages on Friday, May 26, at 7 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre. Tickets are $10 and $6; call 560-3030 for details, or visit www.carolinatheatre.org.

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It's quite a rock weekend at the Cat's Cradle: Friday, May 26, critics' faves Sleater-Kinney return to town on the heels of their fifth album, All Hands on the Bad One (Kill Rock Stars). The bass-free trio--a melding of Corin Tucker's Poly Styrene-esque wail and the grounding harmonies of Carrie Brownstein--tackles everything from being a girl band in a boy-band world ("You're No Rock 'n' Roll Fun") to disillusion with the very scene the group helped to create. In "#1 Must Have," the musicians struggle with the way their girl-power ideals get co-opted by corporate rock's finger-on-the-pulse marketing sages: "Now who'd believe this riot grrrl's a cynic?" Tucker wails. Not me.

Saturday, May 27, former Squirrel Nut Zipper Tom Maxwell officially unveils the touring version of his solo project (two of his SNZ pals, Ken Mosher and Chris Phillips, are in the band) before taking it to the masses. Maxwell's debut LP, Samsara, is an eclectic and ambitious hybrid of influences that takes the listener across time lines and continents. (Chinese opera? Yup.) He promises to "pull out all the stops" for this hometown show. Seeing how Maxwell and his wife, Mel, are expecting their first little nipper this August, this will likely be the last hometown shindig for a while. Dexterville, the current project of the Flat Duo Jets' guitar madman Dex Romweber, heats up the crowd.

Atlanta, Ga.'s Daemon Records--a true, nonprofit independent recording co-op in these days of media conglomerates and uniformity--has a showcase Sunday night as part of Daemon's "Anniversary Tour 2000." Started by the Indigo Girls' Amy Ray, Daemon has successfully operated a community-based, artist-friendly record company for more than a decade with about 40 releases to date, such as the Ellen James Society, James Hall, the Rock-A-Teens and Mrs. Fun. Daemon's best selling record? An Atlanta cast recording of Jesus Christ Superstar (featuring Amy Ray and Emily Saliers as Jesus and Mary Magdalene, respectively)--a benefit project which has donated more than $60,000 to anti-handgun groups. The May 28 show features Danielle Howle (with the Tantrums), Lift, Three Finger Cowboy and special guests The Butchies and Tami Hart from Durham's Mr. Lady Records, which is co-sponsoring the showcase. Amy Ray hosts the festivities, and the word is that she intends to do more than just host, if you get my drift. (The Indigo Girls, incidentally, return to the Alltel Pavilion at Walnut Creek for a show on June 4.) Call 967-9053 for show time as it may start early. --Angie Carlson

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