If you're hoping to see a band tonight in these parts, your choices are pretty, well, choice: Aside from traveling acts playing the usual suspects (Mogwai and The Twilight Sad @ Cat's Cradle; Napalm Death @ Volume 11; Starfucker and DJs @ Local 506), five strong local bills put the tunes in unusual places:
The Rosebuds/ Midtown Dickens/ Lost in the Trees @ Golden Belt, Durham: Music at Golden Belt begins with a perfect suite of three: Raleigh's The Rosebuds return from tour well-rehearsed as a four-piece, and its first show in Durham since last year's Troika set will support this benefit for the Durham Arts Council.
In the opening slots: Lifetime Durham residents and best friends Catherine Edgerton and Kym Register founded Midtown Dickens as a duo, but—after a strong debut called Oh Yell!—expanded into trio form and, now, into quintet form. The band's forthcoming sophomore effort, Lanterns, seems to pull away somewhat from the "cute" factor that distracted from the songwriting merits of Oh Yell!. Look for Will Hackney on mandolin with Midtown Dickens, and a late bill addition, Chapel Hill's luxuriating Lost in the Trees. Again, $12 cost at the door benefits Durham Arts Council. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the music begins at 9 p.m.
Music on the Porch @ UNC's Love House and Hutchins Forum: Presented again by The Center for Study of the American South and organized by Schooner frontman Reid Johnson for the second consecutive year, this four-songwriter bill gathers Heather McEntire (Bellafea/ Un Deux Trois), Adam Price (The Mayflies USA/ Hundred Air), Lee Waters (Lud/ Work Clothes) and Eric Roehrig (Sorry About Dresden/ Erie Choir) for shared songs and stories about decades spent in the South. Only McEntire was born in N.C. (and in Green Creek, so barely), but all four musicians have become an essential staple of the local music community, both through own their tunes (since writing this, Price's "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" has re-inserted itself in my head) and their actions (McEntire's worked at most of the record stores in town; Waters is familiar from OCSC and his time behind the drumkit for The Rosebuds, Portastatic and many more). The free show starts at 5 p.m.
Big Fat Gap @ Carolina Inn: UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Inn (211 Pittsboro St.) renews its popular Fridays on the Front Porch series with the local pickin' and singin' collective Big Fat Gap. Returning from several appearances and collaborations at Shakori Hills last weekend, Big Fat Gap is bound to do what it does best—pass songs around a microphone or two until an old tune's theme has been twisted into surprising new shapes. Beware the fleet hands of Bobby Britt, a tall fiddler who glides across the strings with brilliant ease, turning a song's shape into a malleable little trinket. The free show begins at 5 p.m., and you can catch it same time/same place every week until Oct. 16.
Annuals/ Lonnie Walker/ Cougar Magnum @ N.C. State's Lee Field: According to N.C. State, this Earth Day event is limited only to Wolfpack students and one guest (way to harsh the April mellow, brah). But, if you've ever been to this kind of event, you can likely imagine getting in should be about as hard as finding an on-campus parking spot after 5 p.m. The show starts at 6 p.m. with the truly questionable bar rock of Cougar Magnum (but those dudes probably have the best god damn logo in music), and Terpsikhore bros Annuals and Lonnie Walker take over shortly thereafter. You've probably heard it by now: Big, cascading indie rock (with more ambition than arrangement) that sometimes drops into smart country ambles. If you get in, there will be free food. And if you have trouble getting in, drop this Earth Day-savvy line: "Our Mother Earth is inherently without borders." Works every time.
George Higgs/ John Dee Holeman @ LongView Center on Moore Square: Our Andrew Ritchey on tonight's show: "George Higgs and John Dee Holeman play Piedmont blues. Born during the Great Depression and living through the Jim Crow South, Higgs and Holeman are elder statesmen of the form: Higgs, 79, grew up on a farm near Speed, N.C., and his sun-burned voice growls with the years behind him. Harmonica duels for the spotlight with his irregular picking-versus-strumming technique. Born in Orange County, Holeman, 80, made a career as a heavy machine operator, though now he carries on the lineage of Blind Boy Fuller, amplifying his solemn sound through the electric guitar. Thanks to his high, nasal vocals, he's been awarded both a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage fellowship and a North Carolina Folk Heritage award. SOOTS, based out of Raleigh Charter High School, pairs with the Music Maker Relief Foundation to keep the tradition alive through these two Tar Heel treasures. All proceeds from the $10 tickets go to Music Maker, which works to support elderly roots musicians and is celebrating its 15th year of such. Doors open at 7 p.m."