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In the clubs 

Seems like ages since bluesman Robert Cray (pictured), has been in the public eye. Lauded, but also seen as a black guy who learned the blues listening to white guys who grew up listening to black guys, Cray's approach to the blues may be polished--slick even--but still masterful. For his latest disc, Shoulda Been Home (his 12th, if you're keeping track), Cray delivers five originals, mixin' it up with an Elmore James tune and a remake of the Stax classic, "Love Sickness." Cray and his band make a rare appearance at the Cat's Cradle this Sunday, Jan. 13. Also on the bill is guitarist Eric Bibb. Call 967-9053 for details.

DiamondDiamondDiamondOn Friday, Jan. 11, Kings in Raleigh kicks off its new Americana Music Series in conjunction with promoter Laura Brooker, who put on Fowler's Back Porch Americana Music Series during the warm-weather months. Brooker says this will be a monthly event. For you alt-country fans, Friday features Bloodshot recording artists Trailer Bride and longtime local music vet John Howie and the Two Dollar Pistols. Howie's done everything from play drums in Raleigh's Finger to recreating himself as a guitarist and old-style country crooner as frontman for the Pistols. Call 831-1005 for details.

DiamondDiamondDiamondThe Spirit of '77 show this weekend is an attempt to capture the spit and venom of a NYC punk dream bill circa the golden era of the late '70s, with bands playing tribute to The Ramones, The Heartbreakers, Blondie, Richard Hell and The Void-oids and Television. There will be no blinking racks of high-falutin' digital gear, no jam-band noodle-icious solos, just short, sweet, brutally concise rock anthems from the scene that Malcolm MacLaren copped to start the English "punk" movement. Bands feature members of The White Octave, Grand National, Superchunk, Snatches of Pink, Seven Mary Three and more. Get there early this Saturday, Jan 12, at the Cat's Cradle. Call 967-9053 for details. --Angie Carlson

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