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Lincoln re-opens 

Raleigh's Lincoln Theatre re-opened Sunday night after closing in May to add a balcony and renovate the club's interior. The balcony, which has been in the works since late 2003, pushes the Lincoln's capacity to 800, transforming the space into a club without a Triangle counterpart. Though the Lincoln's former capacity of 550 made it most like the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, such an increase puts the venue on an altogether new tier.

The club's literal new tier stands above the Lincoln's bar, 30-foot-square sides stretching towards the stage before angling off into identical 40-foot right triangles on either side. The black metal balcony is accessible by a stairwell beside the front entrance and another stairwell that extends into the audience's space below. Aside from additional painting and mounting speakers from the ceiling, the renovations--which include a new bathroom and a second air-conditioning system--are complete.

In fact, the balcony was ready to open Sunday night when Brooklyn's The Walkmen played a free show, but organizers from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.--who sponsored the show as a promotion for their Camel cigarettes--chose to close the balcony for the night, reserving it as a VIP area for opening bands Bobby Bare Jr. and Nathan Asher & The Infantry. The presence of the brand was obvious across the venue: Two spotlights projected the cigarettes' trademark camel above the stage, while a dozen glittering light fixtures with the same logo surrounded the club. For other less-addictive shows at the Lincoln, see www.lincolntheatre.com.

Durham reeds

New Orleans native and Durham resident Branford Marsalis will release Braggtown, the new record from his Branford Marsalis Quartet, on Sept. 12 through Marsalis Music, the label he began in 2002. The title refers to the Braggtown area of Durham, a working-class neighborhood centered on Roxboro Road since the 1920s. As he did with Harry Connick Jr.'s Occasion, Marsalis made the record by employing the natural atmosphere of the space at Hayti Heritage Center. The sessions spanned four days in the studio, plus six spent mixing at Marsalis' The Studio in the Country in Durham.

"It is a marvelous room, and you can hear the room, which enhances the sound. [Engineer] Rob [Hunter] and I decided to lean more on the room sound and less on reverb, so that the resulting album sounds like less of a production," Marsalis, a three-time Grammy winner, said in a press release. "Then we mixed everything to the drums, which made it all work."

The quartet--which includes bassist Eric Revis, pianist Joey Calderazzo and pianist Jeff "Tain" Watts--served as artists-in-residence last year from January to December at N.C. Central. For more, see www.marsalismusic.com.

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