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In the clubs 

If you missed the last hip-hop freestyle contest at Cat's Cradle, don't worry: You can join the next round this Friday, Jan. 21. The same folks are organizing this weekend's Duel of the Iron Mics. Sixteen contestants will "battle" each other in one-on-one rounds. Each contestant will have to rap about a topic of their choice (usually about how wack their opponent is) and then a topic of the judges' choice. As organizer Eddy Winstead says, "this is where the freestyle art really comes in." A panel of five judges will decide who takes home the $175 prize. In between sets, local hip-hop artists Mass Kon, Set Camp, J Gunn and DJ Deluxe, and DJ Jay-Yu will perform. Call 967-9053 for show time. $7.

If you prefer alt-country to hip-hop, you simply can't miss demigods The Bottle Rockets (pictured below) at The Brewery in Raleigh on the same night. Call 834-7018. Make a full night of it, and catch locals Milagro Saints at Lakeside Lounge before the show. Call 833-6557. --Karen A. Mann

If you haven't heard the oft-sampled, pioneering funk of the Meters, you're not alone. Hugely respected through the late '60s until '77, the Meters defined New Orleans funk and hit the R&B charts with laid-back, butt-shakin' instrumentals like "Cissy Strut" and "Look-Ka Py Py." Although critically acclaimed, the band never really crossed over into mainstream success. The Meters, produced by Alan Toussaint, also played on records by Lee Dorsey, Dr. John and other legends. Former member Zigaboo Modeliste has drummed with Keith Richards (the New Barbarians) and performs regularly in the Bay Area (Zigaboo Modeliste and the Aahhkesstra), while guitarist Leo Nocentelli also lives and gigs on the West Coast. Since '93, founding members Art Neville (of the Neville Brothers) and bassist George Porter Jr. are keepin' the funk alive and road-worthy with the funky Meters (pictured below). Get your groove on and get funkified. Be at the Cat's Cradle Tuesday, Jan. 25.

For a night of countrified female singer-songwriters, check out a rare Chappie show at Local 506, Friday, Jan. 21, featuring the mega combined talents of Whiskeytown's Caitlin Cary (currently at work on a solo album) and Hazeldine's righteous Tanya Lamb. This is a don't miss event. Tift Merritt and the Carbines headline the evening. --Angie Carlson

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