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In the clubs 

Jim Watson returns to the Cave in Chapel Hill on Thursday night, Dec. 20, for his 16th Annual Christmas Special. That should easily qualify as a holiday tradition. Watson, a member of the Red Clay Ramblers for their first dozen years, now tours internationally with Robin & Linda Williams and Their Fine Group. His first solo album, Don't Tell Me I Don't Know, appeared in 1999. Call 968-9308 for details. --Art Menius

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It's old-home night at the Cat's Cradle this Friday when former Durhamite Johnny Irion returns to town with his wife and musical partner Sarah Lee Guthrie. Singer-songwriter Irion's recent release, Unity Lodge, is a solid slab of rootsy folk-rock, while Guthrie's songs carry on her famous family's folk tradition, with a little rock thrown in for good measure. Hobex (pictured) plays N.C.-style R&B and soul, and alt-country singer-songwriter Thad Cockrell (pictured below) will tingle your spine with his pure, gorgeous voice (his duets with Tres Chicas' Caitlin Cary can make you weep). Get down to the Cat's Cradle this Friday, Dec. 21 and catch up with old friends and favorites. Call 967-9053 for details.

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If you're sick of waiting for Santa's fat butt to squeeze down the chimney and inhale the cookies and milk you set out for him, head down to The Cave and spend Christmas Eve with the Two Dollar Pistols' guitarist and singer-songwriter John Howie. The Cave is one of the few places to cool your heels, have a beer and hear live music with their Christmas All-Star Love Bash on Dec. 25. For details, call 968-9308 or visit www.caverntavern.com.

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Also, on Christmas Day, it's Terry Anderson's All-Star Birthday Concert! at The Brewery in Raleigh. We're not sure if this is Terry's birthday or the baby Jesus', but the former Woods member, Yahoos crooner and longtime local musical fixture no doubt has a rockin' show planned. Call 834-7018 for details. --Angie Carlson

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    The Great Game and Two Trains Running; The Light in the Piazza; Celtic Concert Series; Two benefits at Cat's Cradle; Half-Cocked; Project Linus
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