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The guide to the week's concerts 

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Engines, Roman Candle/The Old Ceremony, Peter Holsapple, Chatham County Line

VS.: Mighty Lester vs. Mike Cross



SONG OF THE WEEK: Ghost to Falco's "White (K)night"


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A little band with an earth-rattling sound, the Reverend, brother Jamye and wife Breeze form the paradoxically named Big Damn Band. But power doesn't always come in numbers: This family resurrects and reconstructs the blues hammer of the Mississippi Delta and edge of the Eastern Piedmont Style with real grit and power. Check the slow stomp 'n' growl of "Boom Chank" for proof of power. $8/ 8:30 p.m. —Kathy Justice


The Chicago jazz world slides some of its best into town via Engines, a new outfit with a forthcoming record on the formidable label Okka Disk. As with many jazz artists, the group can be imagined through some of its artist's previous collaborations: There's Jeb Bishop on trombone (Jeb Bishop Trio, Brötzmann Tentet, formerly of Raleigh), Dave Rempis on saxophones (Rempis Percussion Quartet, Vandermark Five), Nate McBride on bass (Powerhouse Sound, Pandelis Karayorgis Trio) and Tim Daisy on drums (Festival Quartet, Dragons 1976, Vandermark Five). It's world-class jazz at Nightlight, folks. Recent retransplant from the same Chicago improv scene, Shannon Morrow, brings her Soundpainting Orchestra to start. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Toenes


If music were religion for Roman Candle and The Old Ceremony, The Beatles would be sort of like Genesis, the place from which all of the possibilities for magic and mystery and melody flow. Each band fills in the subsequent chapters with disparate, sometimes intersecting influences, from Roman Candle's Van Morrison-learned majesty and Oasis-borrowed melodrama to The Old Ceremony's Leonard Cohen-schooled ballads and Frank Sinatra-studied charm. Roman Candle splits its time and members between Nashville and North Carolina now, and The Old Ceremony seems to spend as much time on the road as it does at home: Still, two of the state's best bands. $10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


With his early '70s Rittenhouse Square bandmates Mitch Easter and Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple helped midwife the jangle pop renaissance. In the late '70s, the dBs reunited Holsapple and Stamey, setting the template for the combination of ringing, roosty guitar twang and glinting British Invasion hooks. With his high boyish croon, Holsapple helmed the dBs through Stamey's departure in '83. Despite knockout melodies and clever songs, they never broke through. After reconvening the original lineup for some shows earlier this year, they're now working on a new album. Tonight, hear Holsapple solo. $5/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker


One of the best songs you'll hear in 2008 is "Birmingham Jail," a weepy, narrative ballad about overcoming the oppressor, which falls just at the middle of Chatham County Line's forthcoming IV. It's a flashing gem of genre subversion, a classic folk structure backed by banjo, guitar, moaning fiddle, upright bass and perfect harmonies that push against Dave Wilson's empathetic croon as he sings about the quest for civil rights during George Wallace's Alabama reign. Beautiful, tense and powerful, "Birmingham Jail" is one of many reasons to start getting ready for IV. Tonight, CCL brings its friends down for a Christmas party. $12/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


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Saturday, December 15

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From: Raleigh
Since: 2002
Claim To Fame: Many miles

Oh, the stories they could tell. It's been that kind of year, in a good way, for eight-piece brassy blues band Mighty Lester. Its We Are Mighty Lester was named the Blues Foundation's Self-Produced CD of the Year, and it finished third in the 2007 International Blues Challenge. Then there were the festivals, label showcases, more festivals (including one in which it co-headlined with Southern soulman turned blues titan Mighty Sam McClain), even a live recording session on XM Radio. And the miles—more than 10,000 of 'em. It's safe to say that their sound—jump blues with Stax aspirations—is officially road-tested. At BLUE BAYOU CLUB. $7/ 9:30 p.m.


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From: The Appalachian Mountains, with a stop at UNC-Chapel Hill
Since: The early '70s
Claim To Fame: Many smiles

Oh, the stories he tells. Mike Cross is best known for his humorous songs, some that come close to entering the realm of novelty tunes. You can even get a cross-section collection that sports the knowing title Best of the Funny Stuff. But the whimsical, twist-ending storyteller is just one of Cross' musical personalities, along with fiddle and guitar hero, gifted balladeer and—well—natural entertainer. That said, folks will still be calling for "The Scotsman" when Cross is on his deathbed. And he, ever the crowd-pleaser, will no doubt be happy to play it one more time. At HOLLY SPRINGS CULTURAL CENTER. $20/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell


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12.13 WEMBLEY @ LOCAL 506

Neven Carswell spends most of his time exploring diverse beats with Durham's Regina Hexaphone, a band he says injects its breezy pop with a world-music eclecticism. But last year during some down time between recording the Hex, Carswell was able to begin easing himself into more familiar territory with Wembley, a band he describes as "pure indie-pop." Indeed, whether playing Shins-textured dream pop or brainy, guitar-centered melodies a little like Destroyer, Carswell understands the poetic punch of a hummable tune in Wembley. But he doesn't want this to be too familiar. "I know the structure of pop songs pretty well," says Carswell. "I'm constantly trying to break that structure, to tap into the unfamiliar."

Wembley is now a four-piece, and Carswell says the band's more into enjoying the experience than trying to turn it into a career: "We're all over 25 and have 40-hour-a-week jobs," he says. "We're never going to play Wembley Stadium." With Maple Stave and Noncanon. Free/ 9:30 p.m. —Kathy Justice


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Durham answered Tooth's call, and vice versa: Standing in front of a sweaty Coffeehouse crowd that had already ripped through 18 cases of free beer and who knows how many of its own by the time Tooth took the stage, Tooth frontman J-Me Guptill stared in consternation at the crowd, stammering thanks before turning back to his band. They sounded doubly ferocious in the dim spotlight, their crunchy, sludge-to-slam metal spawning a dense, hectic pit just in front of the stage. Another successful debut for a new Triangle record label (this time, Churchkey Records), and a strong showing from one of the area's best. —Grayson Currin

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  • Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Wembley, Mighty Lester, Mike Cross, more


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