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The guide to the week's concerts 

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Hege V, Acid Mothers Temple, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Nicole Atkins, Fu Manchu/ Burning Brides, Blitzen Trapper/ Fleet Foxes, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby

EH, WHATEVER: Hotel Café Tour (Ingrid Michaelson, Bob Schneider, Cary Brothers)

VS.: Tift Merritt vs. Greg Brown


SONG OF THE WEEK: Brother Ali's "Uncle Sam Goddamn"


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If George Hamilton IV is the international ambassador of country music, then his son George Hege Hamilton V ("Heg-ee Vee" to friends) is the international ambassador of country-rock music, with fans on five continents. Consider yourself lucky that he still makes the Triangle—where he launched the proto-alt-country House of Tears—a stop on his world tour. $5/ 10 p.m. —Rick Cornell


The Acid Mothers Temple's extended family may be the most productive collective in the world: From the band's eponymous records to the solo projects and collaborations of its members, these Japanese psyche lords flood the market with quantities of variable quality. In 2006, for instance, two Acid members (Tsuyama Atsushi and Kawabata Makoto) toured with Ruins drummer Yoshida Tatsuya as the Japanese New Music Festival. During the trio's 90-minute set, they became seven different bands with seven different names, moving from heavy psych as Acid Mothers itself to using zippers, scissors and toothbrushes as sound sources. Admittedly, part of it was awful, but when these boundary transgressors find their wave, they're one of the best live experiences you can have. Earplugs suggested. Danava apes early metal influences with thin vocals and expected twists. $10-$12/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Ice Cube's cousin offers a West Coast take on De La, with quirky joints fueled by rubbery vocal rhythms. Whether contemplating couch-guests, biting the Monkees for "Mistadobalina," or forging a futuristic dystopia with Dan the Automator (Deltron 3030), his irreverent originality is vacuum-sealed. He's supporting new disc Eleventh Hour. $17-$20/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker

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After kicking around Charlotte with Los Parasols while attending the Queen City's UNC around the turn of the millennium, Atkins fled to Brooklyn, where she eventually donned the familiar baroque pop garb thrust on many female solo artists. Swathed in swelling strings and overwrought arrangements, Atkins keeps her smoky croon above water on last year's Neptune City, offering a slinky pop noir grace that transcends the theatrical treatments. Elegant pop divas are dime a dozen, but Atkins has a genuine charm. $8-$10/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker


Both bands boast stony metal sludginess thicker than the caked coating of mascara in Gerald Way's shower drain. The Brides have at times flashed a grittier garage-punk side, while Fu Manchu's remained steadfast in its appetite for hip-wading grooves and crunchy licks that are flash-fried. $15-$17/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker

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Fleet Foxes may be the best-singing indie rock band to emerge in the last decade: The band's Sub Pop debut sounds sweet enough to be a '70s album rock gem (Eagles could sing!), but those vocals float above exquisite day-glo touches and an enviable sense of space. If Grizzly Bear paints its songs with the tiniest brushstrokes, Fleet Foxes suggests similar detail with broad, deliberate, perfect sweeps of paint. New labelmates Blitzen Trapper are Portland polyglots, tacking together common touchstones like The Dead, The Band and Pavement with uncommon bravado. Equally capable of sounding like a lazy summer daydream as they are red-eyed and shaky urbanites on upper-and-downer cocktails, Blitzen Trapper moves in no less than six directions a set. They're almost all good. With Auxiliary House. $10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Hornsby's 1986 debut with his band the Range featured insipid schmaltz "Mandolin Rain," which out-wussed Billy Joel in MOR piano-man category. But shit happens when Huey Lewis produces your record, right? Since going solo in '93—after joining the Grateful Dead in '90—Hornsby's exploration into American roots music widened. He's explored country, blues and jazz, and he acquits himself nicely alongside legendary picker Skaggs. Their album's highlighted by a backwoods take on Rick James' "Super Freak." $40-$50/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker



The Cure's gloomy synth has ruined more musicians than Black Flag and King Crimson combined, providing the dyspeptic cornerstone for Saddle Creek's oeuvre and fodder for balladeering MOR artists ticketed for stardom by TV shows and movie soundtracks. Enter the Cary Brothers. Bob Schneider surveys mannered piano pop like Duncan Sheik to Mayer-esque roots-funk and rowdy bar band country rock with occasional moments of wry brilliance ("I'm Good Now") to balance the bland. Neurotic bespectacled Joni Mitchell-loving indie pop chick No. 7546 (approximate, mind you), Ingrid Michaelson, isn't as boho as Regina Spektor, rad as Tristan Prettyman, young as Sara Bareilles, or exotic as KT Tunstall, but ... wait, what was the question again? I'm bored. $13-$15/ 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker


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From: NYC, but late of the Triangle
Since: The late '90s
Claim to fame: Beloved in N.C. and beyond

Endorsement from respected country/roots artist: "I first heard Tift Merritt some years ago during a writer's night at a small club. She stood out like a diamond in a coal patch, and everyone there knew she carried a promise of great things to come," says Emmylou Harris. Since that sparkling writer's night, Merritt has lived up to that promise while reconfiguring her four-ingredient country-soul-folk-rock recipe slightly with each new release. Bramble Rose put country in the first slot, Tambourine moved soul there, and her brand new, France-born Another Country leads with folk. For more on that record, see page 15. Fellow great promisee Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek, but you knew that) opens. At the CAROLINA THEATRE. $21-$24/ 8:30 p.m.


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From: Iowa
Since: The late '70s
Claim to fame: Beloved in Iowa City and the back of the room

Endorsement from respected country/roots artist: Well, Iris DeMent married him, and that's a pretty strong statement. Greg Brown has stayed his course for years, combining gruff but brainy folk with country blues, letting rock lurk at the fringes—a Midwestern Malcolm Holcombe before there was a Malcolm Holcombe. He's a musician's musician, the musical equivalent of the comedian who the other comics admire from the back of the room. That point was made well by Going Driftless, a Brown tribute featuring DeMent, Lucinda Williams and others. Opening are Johnny Irion, Sarah Lee Guthrie, and those lovely spousal harmonies. At THE ARTSCENTER. $28-$30/ 8:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell


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03.12-15 N.C. @ SXSW

North Carolina's 20-plus band cartel at South by Southwest flexed quickly during the Austin music conference's opening day: The Old Ceremony backed Chris Stamey during the first local band show of the festival on Wednesday afternoon. Their take on "I Am the Cosmos" felt ironically big beneath a modest white tent west of Austin's downtown. Three hours later, The Future Kings of Nowhere lashed out against a small club's hot air with quick strums and a two-piece rhythm section that gave Shayne O'Neill's busted-love songs their best punch yet. Bowerbirds (who shared a bill with David Karsten Daniels), Megafaun (who shared a club with ex-bandmate Bon Iver) and Midtown Dickens (who played with FKoN) were all in attendance. Later that night, Colossus hung out in the streets with Birds of Avalon. Signs of a scene with national reach and strong local roots. For videos, thoughts and photos from five days of bands, beer and BBQ, see —Grayson Currin


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