Cat's Cradle—Hugh Swaso is a name that ought to be familiar to even casual local music fans. Solo—or with any number of bands, like UNC campus faves Tripp, heavy psych-burners *SONS, preeminent Michael Jackson cover band Who's Bad or his (now defunct) blazing hard rock outfit Barbarella—Swaso has been the guitarist whose instrumental talent is bested only by his showmanship. Swaso's a versatile and able sideman, but it's always been obvious that he's a born frontman. With his new self-named trio, Swaso might have finally found something that sticks.
SWASO bridges its frontman's long-proclaimed pop predilections and melodic vocals with hard rock à la Queens of the Stone Age or Foo Fighters. Here, though, the melody leads, less like an alt-rock band trying to go heavy and more like a heavy rock band embracing accessibility. Swaso's guitar-playing proves a capable foil to his soulful vocals—a sweet/ gritty mix similar to Clutch's Neil Fallon. Bassist Jamie McFarlane and drummer Justin Holder buoy Swaso's vocals with polished harmony, offering a tasteful backing that rushes into the choruses and recedes for Swaso's oodles of guitar fills. Stranger Spirits and Robert Sledge and the Flashlight Assembly open the 8:30 p.m. show. Tickets are $5. See www.catscradle.com. —Bryan Reed
N.C. Master Chorale with Carolina Brass
Meymandi Concert Hall, Progress Energy Center—Voices play against each other in contrapuntal harmonies during Heinrich Schütz's setting of "Hodie Christus Natus Est." The North Carolina Master Chorale and Carolina Brass combine this afternoon, bringing the 17th-century composer's piece to a contemporary forum. Under the direction of Alfred Sturgis, the 170 voices of the chorale combine to a swell both strong and joyful in sacred hymns and recent carols. The smaller, 22-voice NCMC Chamber Choir and the velvety brass quintet of Carolina Brass perform holiday sets of their own. Tickets are $26-$36 for the 3 p.m. program. See www.ncmasterchorale.org. —Andrew Ritchey