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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Hopscotch Holiday Dance Party, Jon Lindsay, Wylie Hunter, Backwoods Payback, HearNC Music & Film Festival, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Luminescent Orchestrii, Naked Gods, Borrowed Beams Of Light, Left Outlet, Scott Miller, The Debonzo Brothers, Strand Of Oaks

VS1: Cory Branan vs. Steep Canyon Rangers

VS2: Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion vs. Hall & Oates



YES, PLEASE...

click to enlarge The Music Tapes - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND

12.01 HOPSCOTCH HOLIDAY DANCE PARTY @ TIR NA NOG

Tickets for Hopscotch III will have been on sale for only a matter of hours, but the festival's already kick-starting itself with a blend of talent that is half local/ half national, idiosyncratic and approachable, and bolstered by a worthy cause. The Music Tapes' restless, ragged chamber pop opens; expect some Christmas carols. Local upstarts T0W3RS and The Toddlers offer omnivorous indie pop and restless Americana, respectively, before Omaha's Depressed Buttons launch into a kinetic electronic dance party. Also, $1 raffle tickets will provide one lucky winner a free VIP pass to the September festival and benefit Dan and Letha Melchior, local artists and musicians faced with a daunting medical bill for Letha's cancer treatment. (Note: Hopscotch is owned by the Independent Weekly, and Music Editor Grayson Currin is its co-director.) Free/ 8 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed

click to enlarge Jon Lindsay - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

12.01 JON LINDSAY, WYLIE HUNTER @ SLIM'S

Offering his best Captain Obvious impersonation, busy Charlotte-based musician Jon Lindsay says, "I get bored easily and love experimenting." Lindsay's made a name for himself being in three places at once—namely, on keyboards for Benji Hughes, sharing frontman duties for The Catch Fire and turning the keys in his own solo career. Now, when most people will be winding down their year, Lindsay's just getting started, with a fall tour, the release of The Catch Fire's debut record (Rumormill) and a new seasonal solo EP (Could It be Christmas?). "I picked what has been thus far the busiest, most stressful (and also very rad!) year of my career to get into even more stuff," he admits. "When it rains ... it snows, in this case." Chapel Hill's anthemic Wylie Hunter and the Cazadores open. $5/ 9 pm. —Ashley Melzer

12.01 BACKWOODS PAYBACK @ CASBAH

The riff, a simple repeated melodic phrase, is a foundational element of heavy metal, but it's been mutated, warped and redone dozens of times since the likes of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple forged the tradition. Backwoods Payback, of Westchester, Pa., doesn't go for tar-tempo doom-drones or frenzied firestorms; rather, the band's heavy groove-oriented hard rock is more in line with Clutch or Danzig. This riff-centric approach is complementary to the slate of openers, though: From the psychedelic infusions of Chapel Hill's Bitter Resolve to the fuzz-burdened blues riffs of Durham newcomers Church of Wolves, tonight, the riff rules. Also, Virginia's Akris. $5/ 9 p.m.—Bryan C. Reed

12.01 HEARNC MUSIC & FILM FESTIVAL @ CAT'S CRADLE

Encouraging collaboration across media forms, HearNC pairs musicians with filmmakers and delivers the best results in a concert setting. This year's bill again showcases the sterling voice of Bibis Ellison, complementing it nicely with the raucous, pan-everything parties of the aptly named Holy Ghost Tent Revival and the serene, ruminative songs of Animal Alphabet. With Stranger Day. $10–$12/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

12.02 CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS, LUMINESCENT ORCHESTRII @ DUKE'S REYNOLDS THEATER

This Duke Performances presentation pairs two acts working in different parts of the traditional music world. Durham's own Carolina Chocolate Drops revive the string music of black musicians from more than a century ago. Their approach has an archival tendency, giving new life to old sounds without really updating them all that much. Still, their spirited attacks on guitars, banjos, washboard and an array of antiquated instruments are energetic in a way that never seems aged. New York's Luminescent Orchestrii makes gypsy punk that injects rock energy into Eastern European sounds. They feel at once familiar and foreign. $24–$52/ 8 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence

12.02 NAKED GODS, BORROWED BEAMS OF LIGHT, LEFT OUTLET @ SLIM'S

No Jams, the debut LP from Boone band Naked Gods, trims the excess of the band's live shows, essentially meaning that their tendency to aim for Built to Spill now touches down somewhere between Blitzen Trapper and My Morning Jacket. These songs are interesting if not always excellent, indicative of a band that's found and toned its sound but that's still looking for its songwriting focus. That's OK; the flashes of brilliance on No Jams are of the indie rock-renewal variety and should not be overlooked. Charlottesville's Borrowed Beams of Light make fitting bedfellows, with strange songs that dance around hooks before driving them deep into the wall. The mightily outlandish and outlandishly mighty Left Outlet headlines. Also, Niche. $5/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

12.03 SCOTT MILLER, THE DEBONZO BROTHERS @ BERKELEY CAFE

In the '90s, Scott Miller led one of the best bunches of hooky roots rockers, the V-Roys, before they broke up after two studio albums for Steve Earle's E Squared label. (They're reuniting at least briefly to support their new Sooner or Later compilation.) Miller's subsequent work continues that thread, vacillating between ragged country-inflected rock reminiscent of the Replacements and strummy traditional country, folk and blues, with a greater emphasis on the latter. Over the years, Miller's honed his already ample gift for catchy riffs and infectious melodies. $15/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

12.05 STRAND OF OAKS @ LOCAL 506

If Philadelphia's Strand of Oaks were simply a stripped-down singer-songwriter type of deal, that'd be just fine—Timothy Showalter has the kind of haunted and quivering voice that perfectly complements his somber folk stylings. However, as 2010's Pope Killdragon illustrates, Showalter's not content with strumming and warbling his way through an album. He'll gladly make room in his somber meditations for prog-friendly squeals of synthesizer, or simply put down the acoustic and make like a super-heavy psychedelic rock band. Somehow, all these moves don't sound out of place. He isn't the first folkie to let his freak flag fly, but Strand of Oaks does it with rare success. With Calico Haunts. $8–$10/ 9:30 p.m. —David Raposa


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

CORY BRANAN

From: Southaven, Miss.
Since: 2000
Claim to fame: Lucero pal

Reared where the Mississippi Delta meets Memphis, Cory Branan is an underrated, punk-assisted alt-country singer-songwriter sporting a touch of the blues. At least he's benefitted from guesting Lucero's "Sweet Little Thing" and Ben Nichols returning the favor on both of Branan's records. Equally adept at wearing his heart on his sleeve via bedroom folk ballads as he is mashing the pedal to the floor on rowdy barroom rave-ups, Branan's heartfelt, detail-driven tunes are at once intimate, honest and a bit humorous, with a way of getting ingrained in listeners' heads that seems unintentional but unavoidable. With Red Collar's J Kutchma. At CASBAH. $8/ 9 p.m.

VS.

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND

STEEP CANYON RANGERS

From: Brevard via Chapel Hill
Since: 2001
Claim to fame: Steve Martin collaborators

Born on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, Steep Canyon Rangers are an accomplished contemporary bluegrass quintet that has received no small boost in popularity and recognition thanks to hooking up with banjo-playing comedian Steve Martin at the 2008 Mountain Song Festival. Since that initial collaboration, Martin has toured and recorded an album with the Rangers, resulting in the ensemble being awarded this year's IBMA Award for entertainer of the year. But the Rangers are no slouches apart from Martin: Skilled pickers, vocalists and songwriters in their own right, the good-natured fivesome is plenty charming to boot. With Greg Humphreys of Hobex and Dillon Fence. At CAT'S CRADLE. $15/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7

SARAH LEE GUTHRIE & JOHNNY IRION

From: South Carolina via Massachusetts
Since: 2000
Claim to fame: Guthrie's musical family and their own striking harmonies

It's hard to know what to make of this married duo. Both Johnny Irion and Sarah Lee Guthrie have released solo albums, and together they've released a children's album. They had but a single studio LP together (six years ago) prior to their latest, Bright Examples. It opens up their sound dramatically, taking their spare country-folk toward a blend of '70s Laurel Canyon folk-rock, jangly power pop and Brill Building pop. It's a warm, inviting album fueled by bright melodies and a sturdy pop with a rock backbeat. This is proof of their ample talent to accomplish just about anything. With Curtis Eller and Amanda Jo Williams. At PINHOOK. $8/ 9 p.m.

VS.

HALL & OATES

From: Philadelphia
Since: 1970
Claim to fame: Blue-eyed soul masters and pop superstars

We come not to bury the Philly duo. Yes, their music's been mass-marketed more successfully than Velveeta, and it still clings like cellulite to the synapses of any '80s music listener. But don't hate: The prototypical light-and-dark duo (think Fred and Barney) gave classic Philly soul a pop sensibility by evoking contemporary styles from soft funk ("She's Gone") and fusion ("Maneater") to new wave ("Private Eyes"). They've scored enough platinum and gold records to destabilize world markets, even if they've never won a Grammy. Their greatest sin is fashioning melodies so irresistibly catchy that self-decapitation seems the only cure. Love or hate them, they're masters at what they do. With Mutlu. At DURHAM PERFORMING ARTS CENTER. $48.50–$100/ 7:30 p.m. —Chris Parker

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