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Nice to be seen 

Alejandro Escovedo sidles on in

He looked pretty good. It's hard not to when you've got a fresh suit, a reason to smile and a hell of a band.

Alejandro Escovedo has spent over two years more or less off the road, fighting back from Hepatitis C. So, between the stage and the packed house at the Cradle, there was a mutual feeling of "nice to see ya.

He played through a slew of favorites and some new material, stretching out with a band that included former Black Girls and Poi Dog Pondering violinist Susan Voelz and cellist and arranger Brian Standefer. He spoke of his fondness for our little region and gave props to Chris Stamey, with whom he recorded plenty over the years, and Caitlin Cary, who last year rallied local musicians to put on a local "Concert for a Friend"--a nationwide series of Alejandro benefits.

People who know him well say he's come back with a new fire. Anybody who stuck around for the encore last Saturday saw that when he launched into Neil Young's "Powderfinger" (with Thad Cockrell on backing vocals) and then got the crowd into the mix with a soaring version of Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes." The man is back. Carry the news. --Kirk Ross

Crunk bunk
Meanwhile, back in Raleigh, things couldn't have gone worse for the several hundred that shelled out $49.50 for floor seats at the Lil Jon show in the RBC Center. Just imagine the punch in the oh-so-crunk cojones LJ, glittering gold Crunk Juice goblet in hand, got when he stepped onstage to see a barely there "crowd." Jon--who arrived onstage an hour after two dismal openers and a no-show by G Unit's Young Buck--proceeded to encourage the scant crowd to leave, rapping/barking/howling, "If you scared to throw it up, get da' fuck out da club." Had I not been reviewing the show, I would have likely taken his advice, but I decided to endure the folly, eventually finding some satisfaction in an appearance by the eager, ambitious, aggressive Lil' Scrappy, who even scolded Jon after Jon grabbed his crotch and told the "big girls ... to come suck this dick." Minutes later, Lil Jon turned himself into the night's biggest joke, flubbing the second verse of good chunk of Ludacris' "Lovers and Friends": "Ruuuuudy Huuuuxtable ... Yeeeeeah ... Oooooookeh." Whatever, King. --Grayson Currin

Pin me
Mac McCaughan, Laura Ballance, Ron Liberti and Maria Albani are four of 16 artists who redesigned, reconstructed or deconstructed bowling pins for the Durham Music Festival's Pin Projekt. The pins will be auctioned off at Durham's Ooh La Latte Saturday night at 8 p.m. by The Torch Marauder and Billy Sugarfix. Proceeds benefit the festival.

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