This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Swang Brothers, Bettye Lavette, Marcia Ball, Cool John Ferguson, Carlitta Durand, Abe Vigoda, Castanets, Free Electric State, The Love Language
EH, WHATEVER: Handsome Furs, Dri Cinnamon Band
VS.: Israel Darling vs. Woodwork Roadshow
ANNUALLY The Club Is Open Festival
07.10 SWANG BROTHERS @ BYNUM FRONT PORCH SERIES
"It don't mean a thang, if it ain't got that swang," posited Duke Ellington and Irving Mills, give or take a couple vowels. A list of artists that Carrboro's Swang Brothers (the well-traveled trio of Eric Peterson, Dave Quick and F.J. Ventre) find meaningful would be a tribute to crooners and rockabillies alike, a nod to both the atmospheric and the hopped-up: Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Gene Vincent, Jody Reynolds, Chet Atkins, Charlie Rich, Conway Twitty.... With Peterson's warm electric guitar tones complementing Quick's acoustic and Ventre's upright bass, swooning is also a distinct possibility. Pass the hat/ 7 p.m. —Rick Cornell
07.10 BETTYE LAVETTE, MARCIA BALL @ NORTH CAROLINA MUSEUM OF ART
Too bad that the Numero Group label has claimed "eccentric soul" for the title of its series of rescued recordings: The phrase perfectly describes the voice of Bettye LaVette. Over 40-plus years of soul singing, she's used that unique instrument to assume ownership of songs by the likes of Joe South, Neil Young, John Prine, Elton John and, on the new Change Is Gonna Come Sessions EP, Bill Withers and Sam Cooke. Deep in the corners of LaVette's voice you'll find the blues, a musical style wholeheartedly embraced by Marcia Ball and her Deep-South boogie-woogie piano. $9-$38 (kids 6 and under free)/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
07.11 COOL JOHN FERGUSON @ PAPA MOJO'S
Maybe Independence Day was last week, but it's not too late for some pyrotechnics, courtesy of the Triangle's resident blues guitar hero, John Ferguson. The South Carolina-bred Ferguson was raised on gospel, but that narrow early focus bloomed into interests ranging from blues and soul to Latin groove. His silky-smooth, high-octane licks bear the imprint of Chicago blues artistry, but Ferguson's got more than a smoking six-string to recommend him. He also boasts a rich vocal presence capable of going deep or staying with a steady baritone croon, worthy of R&B but with a fresh funky bite. The $10 show starts at 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
07.11 CARLITTA DURAND, M1 PLATOON @ PLAYERS
As members of the N.C. Central University-based hip-hop collective The Academy, vocalist Carlitta Durand and rap pack M1 Platoon have locked arms in their own local R&B/hip-hop pledge line for some time. But lately, even under the tutelage of 9th Wonder, it seems that M1's previous sub-terrain buzz has faded. Meanwhile, under the influence of Phonte Coleman, Carlitta's star stock has levitated and attracted awe from taste-making industry heads. If M1 Platoon wants the rookie hazing to cease, Carlitta may have to give up playing her big-sister, Snow White role and let the little B-boy, D.C.-native dwarves learn for themselves. 10 p.m. —Eric Tullis
07.12 ABE VIGODA @ NIGHTLIGHT
It feels like I spent every summer as a teen battling my parents over which crappy job I would have to endure. So when I saw Abe Vigoda for the first time last summer, I figured they must've convinced their families that touring as a rock band was an acceptable summer gig. It's not just that the dudes look young enough to be mowing lawns for scratch—it's also the dutiful way the quartet runs through their tropical-flavored post-punk. Music this tireless takes work, more than most kids would muster just to get an allowance (and maybe even more than any of their Smell-scene peers in LA could tackle, though The Mae-Shi might happily challenge them on that count). So even if Abe Vigoda's songs tend to blur together live (though less so now that they've followed up their debut LP, Skeleton, with the more expansive EP Reviver), you'll probably be hypnotized by the sheer effort involved. You might not expect the same from local antiheroes Whatever Brains—based on their recordings, effort seems less important than volume. But I'd bet their live set is as strained and sweaty as the fuzzy haze their records are gloriously drenched in. —Marc Masters
07.15 CASTANETS, FREE ELECTRIC STATE @ NIGHTLIGHT
Portland-based songwriter Raymond Raposa seems to be a born peripatetic: He left his California home at an early age and traveled the country by bus. He's since recorded alone in a Nevada hotel room, cut records in real studios with a litany of collaborators and wandered into and out of the loosely termed New Weird America cartel. Stylistically, the same holds for Raposa who carries an elemental, often elliptical folk-song format into strange lands like a duffel bag on his back—full-out drone trips, ham-fisted electronic jams, pure pulse-of-the-road ditties. Raposa's songs, performances and ideas are hit-and-miss, but he remains one of the most upredictable young minds on the hirsute side of Amerindie. Tour mate M.A. Turner and R. Clint Colburns' Cross aims for similarly spectral songcraft, psychedelic elements eroding a bedrock of blues-and-western writing. Durham's Free Electric State is the outlier here, in terms of both location and sound: The quartet favors mid-length rock anthems rigorously structured around charging rhythms and thick guitar tones, like a speaker cabinet of shoegazer records rattling loose in some dark dancehall. $6/ 9:30 p.m.
07.15 THE LOVE LANGUAGE @ DUKE GARDENS
Duke's Music in the Gardens series has been a spiral of successes this summer: From The Rosebuds record-breaking, guest-filled performance to Dex Romweber Duo's triumphant homecoming following a run-in with gear thieves in Washington, D.C., the shows have been consistent smashes. As such, there's a built-in audience for these gigs: Wednesday night listeners who enter the garden gates with lawnchairs and picnic blankets in hand, even if they haven't heard the night's band. Here's betting that those attendees unfamiliar with The Love Language won't soon forget Stuart McLamb's love-weary, additive-addled tunes: "Stars" is a gorgeous soul-country shuffle with a hook that sounds like a sigh, while "Sparxxx" is a jittery blast of thin electric guitar, twinkling keyboards and back-up harmonies. That they're the most beautiful band won't weaken tonight's first impressions, either. $5-10/ 7 p.m. —Grayson Currin
07.13 HANDSOME FURS, DRI, CINNAMON BAND @ LOCAL 506
With indietronic duos beginning to outnumber payday loan centers, a question arises: Which is the bigger scam? In the case of Wolf Parade guitarist Dan Boeckner's Handsome Furs, 20% interest is a lot more than this husband-and-wife team could ever generate. Between the twitchy, repurposed '80s new wave synths with wafer-thin mechanical beats and the chunky anthemic guitar blasts lies an arty aesthetic too cerebral for the dance floor, fueled by discomfiting blare. With Dri and Cinnamon Band. $10/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
THURSDAY, JULY 9
Claim To Fame: Patenting the facial hair arrangement known as "The Gaza Strip"
Drumbeats sputter and stutter beneath frontman Jacob Darden's über-literate streams of memory. The rest of Israel Darling releases its pent-up energy in climactic bouts of gang vocals and crashing guitars, teetering on the brink of complete bedlam. The Triad quintet reigns it in, though, rotating back into hushed bedroom folk with haunting harmonies. With that well-paced plan, Israel Darling's variety presents tonight's knockout. Carrboro quartet Harmute's pensive indie pop is delicately adorned in just the right places. Also, The Proclivities. At NIGHTLIGHT. $5/ 9:30 p.m.
From: Columbia, S.C. via Wilmington, N.C.
Claim To Fame: Jokes about "woodwork" in vans
Built around mandolin, guitar and upright bass, Woodwork Roadshow eschews bluegrass and folk traditions in favor of acoustic pop-rock like South Carolina brethren Blue Dogs. Carefree jaunts such as "Say It All" and "Nothing New" are the Roadshow's strength, with memorable choruses that make the breezy ditties an ideal soundtrack to beach trips and cookouts. Their slower tunes are a good excuse to head to the bar or bathroom, though: The trio has a tendency to overemote such that—at its worst—the sincerity borders on schmaltz. Winston-Salem's Caleb Caudle and the Bayonets open with lonesome alt-country mourners. At THE POUR HOUSE. $5/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
THE CLUB IS OPEN FESTIVAL @ CHAPEL HILL
The Club is Open Festival returns for year two, stacked with many of the inaugural year's brightest spots and restocked with more of the area's top-shelf talent. Cat's Cradle soundman Rusty Sutton and his Rat Jackson bandmate Steve Oliva conceived the five-night festival last February as a reminder that, indeed, the bands and clubs of the area keep going even while the college kids are away. The festival sports a charitable recipient this year, too, with some support going to Duke University's Tisch Brain Tumor Center via CyTunes.org.
The shows begin on Tuesday, but Wednesday's bill offers a trio of returning bands—crunchy hook builders Hammer No More The Fingers, revved-up riot grrls Pink Flag and easygoing indie rockers The Pneurotics—and our first look at live music at Players on East Franklin Street. The show begins at 10 p.m.
The Cave hosts a grab bag Thursdays: There's Aminal's lush, homespun indie, The Dry Heathens' garage punk, and I Was Totally Destroying It's post-hardcore sideproject, On The Beach. The 10 p.m. show costs $5. The fun moves to Local 506 Friday for an unbeatable bill of supercharged rock from Red Collar, The Loners, Rat Jackson and A Rooster For The Masses. Magic Mike will open the $7 show at 9 p.m.
The finale comes to the big room, Cat's Cradle, on Saturday. The Future Kings of Nowhere, back in full-band form momentarily, joined by American Aquarium, Filthybird and Nathan Oliver. —Spencer Griffith