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The Sibling Project, Chatham County Line, Tender Fruit, Midtown Dickens, The Never, Pinche Gringo, Chrome-Plated Apostles, The Dune Dogs, Big Fat Gap, Dexter Romweber vs. Tony Low Band, Evil Wiener Christmas Show, Black River

The guide to the week's concerts 



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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: The Sibling Project, Chatham County Line, Tender Fruit/ Midtown Dickens, The Never, Pinche Gringo/ Chrome-Plated Apostles, The Dune Dogs

VS.: Big Fat Gap/ Dexter Romweber vs. Tony Low Band/ Evil Wiener Christmas Show

INTRODUCING: Black River



YES, PLEASE

12.18 THE SIBLING PROJECT @ THE CAVE

When Lindsey and Danny Ranck—the real-life siblings whose project highlights this weeknight pop show—sing together, their just-off harmonies give crucial conflict to the duo's simple, effervescent keys/ guitar/ laptop setup. As such, their imperfections become the band's most appealing attributes—sour notes making for sweeter songs. With Cool Ethan and Hey Euphony. 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed

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12.19 CHATHAM COUNTY LINE @ THE POUR HOUSE

Yep, it's nearing year's end, and with that comes Top 10 time. Chatham County Line's dexterous IV, released at winter's end and falling somewhere between classic bluegrass and neoclassic roots-rock, definitely has a spot on my list. It's the sound of mountain springs, leaving trains and, on the standout "Birmingham Jail," man's cruelest acts. And IV could easily walk off with additional honors: Best Opening Song on an Album courtesy of the crystalline "Chip of a Star" and, narrowing the focus even more, Best Opening 30 Seconds of an Opening Song thanks to the buoyant stringed-instrument dance that sets "Chip" into motion. In past years, the wiry quartet has backed Robyn Hitchcock and Norwegian folk singer Jonas Fjeld; in '08, various members collaborated with bluesman John Dee Holeman and recently formed a rocking offshoot called the Jackets. Let's give Chatham County Line the MVP trophy and be done with it already. $17- $20/ 10 p.m. —Rick Cornell

12.19 TENDER FRUIT/ MIDTOWN DICKENS @ THE PINHOOK

With this Durham-bred pairing, Southern folk tradition hits a crossroads, diverting between Tender Fruit's sparse, fragile blues and the Dickens' Olympia-learned blend of Kimya Dawson twee and Appalachia. Both hit the same soulful core: Tender Fruit's Christy Smith (of the late, great Nola) creates heat with her bold but fragile voice, guitars alternately plinking and roaring behind her melancholic melodies. Midtown Dickens fills space with any instrument it can get its hands on, layering simple phrases into the warm vocal harmonies that drive the band's direct songs. Also, The Beast. 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed

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12.20 THE NEVER @ VINTAGE 21

Oscillating between sparkly, orchestral chamber pop and catchy indie, Chapel Hill's The Never snaps to life with a sonic boom, working through gently spun arrangements and wistful choruses to create audible parables of childhood dreams and adult fears that warm the heart and spark the ear. Sunfold (Annuals playing Kenny Florence's songs) opens with Lonnie Walker and On Photon. 9 p.m. —Kathy Justice

12.20 PINCHE GRINGO/ CHROME-PLATED APOSTLES @ LOCAL 506

CPA rumbles like the pit of your stomach after a dozen hours on the tarmac, forehead vein throbbing beneath a cool sweat. There's a steely, heart-racing seethe vibrating off Clif Mann's sinister slide, while harmonica wailing singer Hunter Landen presides as unflappable as Ironside and mouthy as Baretta. The group's Sancho Panza is Pinche Gringo, the one-man band of Josh Johnson, which shakes, rattles and rolls like a busted-up pickup in a high-speed pursuit with the police. The vaguely dangerous, primal blues drone emanates a smart-alecky punk spirit reminiscent of The Modern Lovers. $5/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker

12.22 THE DUNE DOGS @ BERKELEY CAFE

Aside from Terry Anderson's annual Christmas Day rock 'n' roll throwdown, this appearance by Ocracoke drunk 'n' swerving country-rock outfit The Dune Dogs may be the season's most functional party. After all, doesn't everyone have an uncle who, during the holidays, had rather go downtown, drink cheap whiskey and tell you about his debauched glory days than sit around and eat fruitcake? Or maybe you are that dude? Either way, these Outer Banks boys spout off about BBQ, state monuments, go-karts and getting drunk long enough to make you get way into the seasonal spirit(s). $8/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20

click to enlarge Big Fat Gap
  • Big Fat Gap

BIG FAT GAP/ DEXTER ROMWEBER

From: these parts
Since: Dex has been tearing it up since the Gappers were little and lean
Claim to fame: mountain music and mountains of music

Yes, North Carolina, there is a Santa Claus. And if you're an area music fan, you know him by the name Frank Heath, and this free show is one of his holiday season gifts. Big Fat Gap comes at you six-strong (more if frequent collaborator Michael Holland is along), wielding banjos, fiddles, mandolins and harmonies. In other words, the whole bluegrass package. The New Romans have a half-dozen members as well—not counting the dancers—and they build a framework that Dexter Romweber can climb inside to revisit the history of American song, from torch songs to show tunes, rockabilly to jazz. Gift received. With The Rafters. Free/ 7:30 p.m. At CAT'S CRADLE.

VS.

click to enlarge Tony Low Band
  • Tony Low Band

TONY LOW BAND/ EVIL WIENER CHRISTMAS SHOW

From: these parts (as long as these parts include Kernersville)
Since: Low was a Cheepskate before Wiener was even Disgruntled
Claim to fame: pop smarts and evil genius

'Twas a couple nights before Christmas, and all through The Cave, creatures were stirring, including a Mouse. (Come on, you had to know that was coming.) Among the early stirrers is the Tony Low Band, a three-piece led by singer/ songwriter Low, who co-founded the NYC-based, garage-popping Cheepskates in the '80s. These days, seasoned by the relative calm of Kernersville, Low's work is more introspective but no less melodic. The late shift will be handled by Billy Sugarfix and the rest of Evil Wiener, a bunch that has no room for calm, relative or otherwise. But there will be carols amid the restless rockers. Free/ 7:30 p.m. & 10 p.m. At THE CAVE. —Rick Cornell



INTRODUCING...

12.19 BLACK RIVER @ SLIM'S

Fronted by The Cartridge Family's bassist, CJ Irwin, Black River coalesced in August to liberate tunes Irwin had penned that didn't always find room within The Cartridge Family. "I just had a lot of songs I had written and, with The Cartridge Family, I didn't really have an outlet with everybody in the band writing," Irwin says. "I just got antsy and needed to play some guitar and get some songs out of me."

Those songs came out in a roar: Self-described as "an electric trainwreck," Black River sees Cartridge guitarist Joe Rechel laying down mean slide guitar over the clatter created by Irwin and the rhythm department of Bill McElvee and Edward Root, who also drums for Milagro Saints. Its darkened take on the raucous rock for which The Cartridge Family ("on hiatus," according to Irwin) is known reflects the name, taken for the river that flows through Irwin's Watertown, N.Y., hometown. With Proof and The Ghost of Saturday Nite. 10 p.m.—Spencer Griffith

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Thanks for the note, Amy. We've adjusted the text.

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