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In the clubs 

South Africa's Mahotella Queens (pictured), legendary practitioners of the funky, township-bred choral style known as Mbaqanga, will perform to celebrate the opening of the North Carolina Museum of Art's (NCMA) outdoor concert season. After years of backing the "Lion of Soweto" Mahlatini--their harmonies perfectly complementing the late singer's guttural vocal style--it was rumored that the Queens had retired. Now in their late 50s, the Queens (backed by a young, bouncy band) bring a lifetime of experience to their passionate shows, combining a mixture of traditional and urban styles, energetic choreographed performances and deeply soulful vocals. See them this Friday, May 19, 7:30 p.m., at the NCMA. Call 834-4000 for details.

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If you missed Guided by Voices' New Year's Eve extravaganza at the Cat's Cradle, here's your chance to see Robert Pollard and company play your favorites off Isolation Drills while paying homage to the King of Beers (that's Bud to you non-beer-savvy rubes). GBV combines the instincts of a monster classic rock band (think The Who) coupled with riffs more contagious than a mutant virus. Pollard's aurally pixilated, stream-of-consciousness lyrics complete the package--sort of like the sprinkles on your crunch cone. At this point in his rock career, Pollard has written a suitcase full of brilliant pop tunes (literally), and this version of the band (especially guitarist-songwriter Doug Gillard) are a musically accomplished bunch able to hang with their mercurial leader. Opening the show is Creeper Lagoon, whose new disc, Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday, is a bright collection of songs chock full of "doo do doos," ringing guitars and big choruses. Lyrically, it's clever enough to be fun without tweakin' your wrong nerve. Highly recommended. The bands perform Friday, May 18, at the Cat's Cradle. Call 967-9053 for details. --Angie Carlson

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