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The guide to the week's concerts 

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: The Moaners/ The Trampskirts, Pride Parade/ Black Skies, Brightblack Morning Light, Dynamite Brothers/ Razpa, Amanda Palmer & The Danger Ensemble, Black Sheep, Electric Six/ Local H

EH, WHATEVER: Jay Clifford

VS.: April Verch vs. Catie Curtis vs. Amy Ray




Here's a double bill of few-frills rock: Chatham County duo The Moaners takes the top slot with grimy guitar that spins through distortion that hangs in the air like moisture, big drums that barrel like a downhill semi, and lurching melodies that creak with swagger. The Moaners' last album, 2007's Blackwing Yalobusha, was recorded at the old Money Shot Studios in Yalobusha County, Miss., with Squirrel Nut Zipper and Buddy Guy sideman Jimbo Mathus on deck. Nashville's Trampskirts takes a decidedly more punk-rock approach, the quartet's full-band fury raging like a swamp-rock Distillers. Donations/ 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed


Pride Parade carries the Athens, Ga., mantle of making perfect, smart and snarling rock music by a name that you don't generally associate with such. The quintet also shares its love of dynamics with Harvey Milk, catapulting from weepy adult blues during "Life of the Party" to slanted sonic assault without notice. If you love vintage Touch & Go stock or the sweep of Southern rock melodies mixed with mortar, come tonight. Chapel Hill's Black Skies headlines. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin

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Brightblack Morning Light recorded its third album, Motion to Rejoin, in the New Mexico desert, letting solar power run its microphones, synthesizers and organs. It's fitting, as the duo of Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes has long seemed disconnected from any sort of grid. The band's keyboard melodies pirouette and prance in their own time, the easy rhythm adding the loose vibes of soul and the gauzy microcosm of psychedelic rock. Like mid-period Spiritualized on horse tranquilizers, or Motown's best on a vision quest, Brightblack eases the subdued charm of a band content to let you get lost in its rare air. With Zomes. $8-$10/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


It's easier to put lipstick on a pit bull than pin down the Dynamite Brothers, playing its first Triangle show in a year. The trio wanders the stylistic landscape like Odysseus, sparking all manner of musical hijinks, from ragged garage-blues to jazz-funk, jagged post-punk and proggy blues-psych. The bro's shows are more fun than

Snakes on a Plane. Patrons are reminded to keep conversations to the weather and fashion: This band's so damn combustible, the slightest spark of insight could cause the joint to blow. Chapel Hill "Latincore" band Razpa opens. $5/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker


Amanda Palmer is the clangorous pianist and brazen singer of Boston duo The Dresden Dolls, who slowed its intense touring roll earlier this year. Her solo debut, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, was written and ready for recording two years ago, but—after receiving what Ben Folds says is the first fan letter he's ever written—she began working with Folds. They entered his Nashville studio, co-writing and recording the best album he's been involved with since The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. Shaped by splendid shots of verbal impudence ("Who needs love when there's Southern Comfort?") that come tempered by graceful moments of sentimentality, Who Killed Amanda Palmer? expands on the Dresden Dolls' lexicon properly and proudly. With The Building & The Butchers and Vermillion Lies. $18-$20/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

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Black Sheep—Dres and Mista Lawnge ("long")—is probably the only hip-hop group ever to pose with livestock for its LP's cover (see 1991's A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing). Also, did you know that Dres' son lives right here in Chapel Hill? Useful info, right? Well, how about this one? In the early '90s, the N.Y. Metropolitan Transit Authority filed a lawsuit against Black Sheep for an undisclosed amount of money. Apparently, Black Sheep never received clearance from the MTA to include the notorious party-lifting line "Engine, engine number nine/ on the NY transit line/ if my train falls off the track/ pick it up, pick it up, pick it up..." in its smash hit "The Choice is Yours." OK, so maybe I made up that last one. Check them out with Nice & Smooth in front of a live band, Orgone. This is a free Scion event; go to to RSVP. Doors at 9:30 p.m. —Eric Tullis

click to enlarge Electric Six - PHOTO BY ALICIA GBUR
  • Photo by Alicia Gbur
  • Electric Six


Mainstream rock, aimed at 14-year-olds, from punk- to rap-rock, is perpetually stalled in adolescence. That's why a band like The Darkness, with humor as sophisticated as that of Jeff Foxworthy, could sell. Electric Six and Local H aren't Bill Hicks or anything, but their sardonic and sarcastic ways do go largely overlooked. Electrix Six frontman Dick Valentine gives its garage-soul strut the Tom Jones, selling it like a Ronco pocket fisherman, while its trademarked irreverence begets a self-conscious comeback stab like "Gay Bar, Part Two." Hard rock duo Local H have come a long way since "Eddie Vedder," but mostly in mileage. Still sardonic after two decades, they're supporting Twelve Angry Months, where frontman Scott Lucas sings "only a groupie would ever want to love me." These bands' mainstream meters expired long ago, but their live shows are as good as their senses of humor. $12-$15/ 8:45 p.m. —Chris Parker



The former lead singer of local N.C. Art School grads Jump, Little Children, Jay Clifford traded in his old band's punchy blend of blues, classical and folk for solo singer-songwriter complacence. Clifford covers his breezy adult alternative with seductive vocal sauce, hiding a lack of substance with a style that's just underground enough to seem like an edgy take on Top 40 Mayer/Mraz fare. A mouth that once offered some fresh pop air now seems content issuing stale old stuff. $10-$12/ 8 p.m. —Kathy Justice

Wednesday, November 19

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From: Rankin, Ontario
Since: Early '90s
Claim to fame: Juno-award-winning fiddle prodigy often compared to Allison Krauss

April Verch released a pair of albums before even graduating high school, demonstrating her advanced skills and maturity. Though her playing often echoes the mournful rustic vibe of Appalachian country-folk (there's plenty backwoods in Ontario, too), she's hardly constrained by it: Recent albums have dipped into Latin, Celtic and Eastern European folk. Besides her vibrant, racing fiddle work, Verch is also a fine step dancer, which she'll unveil during the set, dancing jigs alongside her bandmates without missing a note. Indeed, the careening reels highlight her music, which tends toward the instrumental, even though she boasts an expressive if somewhat nasal alto. At HOLLY SPRINGS CULTURAL CENTER. $15/ 7:30 p.m.


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From: Boston, Mass.
Since: Late '80s
Claim to fame: Lauded queer product of the vibrant '90s Boston folk scene

Sometimes overlooked by those not ensconced in the heavily cloistered folk scene, Curtis' talents are readily apparent to anyone who takes time to listen. There are her lithe vocals—crisp and clear like a cloudless autumn sky—and her spirited, rootsy pop predilections. The tunes' effusive energy and hooky pulse avoid the coffeehouse dourness that afflicts so many lesser folk-based artists. Beyond that, her writing, while emotionally driven, is colored by everyday banalities like that of kindred spirits Dar Williams and Lori McKenna, skirting hairshirted drama for a more measured approach. Honest without getting righteous, it's eminently accessible stuff. At THE POUR HOUSE. $15/ 8 p.m.


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From: Atlanta, Ga.
Since: Early '80s
Claim to fame: Being the rocking half of hitmaking folk-pop duo Indigo Girls

After two decades of fomenting change through the Indigo Girls and her label, Daemon Records, Ray inaugurated her solo career with 2001's Stag. Even more uncompromising than the Girls, its brash politic is reflected in steely, keenly edged rock (half the tracks are abetted by the ex-Butchies). Ray's third album, Didn't It Feel Kinder?, is more inclusive (sonically and thematically) without compromising her activist attitude. Hooks flow more freely, and punchy rockers such as "Blame is a Killer" feel less threatening than prickly Stag paeans like "Hey Castrator." While neither as friendly as Curtis nor as traditional as Verch, Ray's smart, steadfast rock heart ultimately wins the day. With Jennifer O'Connor at CAT'S CRADLE. $15/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker



As they'd have you believe, Teh Vodak is both an up-and-coming rock band and a drunken mistake. The name, after all, is a misspelled tribute to the band's spirit of choice, and as they'd tell you, it stuck only after they misspelled it when starting a MySpace band profile. The truth is a bit more mundane. Teh Vodak formed from the (mostly online) meeting of Pink Flag's Betsy Shane and Blackstrap's Ben Donnelly. Oh, well: "If you wanna perpetuate the myth, I'm all for it," says Donnelly.

But the band's fabricated backstory fits the uninhibited rock sounds they're peddling. Donnelly's noisy, angular approach and Shane's pop propensities would never work together if both parties weren't up for (or under) some influence. "I think we end up with the sound that we're both going for," says Donnelly. More specifically, Wire's bristle, The Minutemen's jitters, and the pop-punk sugarbuzz of the late Be Your Own Pet, all parlayed through one drunken promise. With Alcazar Hotel and Joke & Jokes & Jokes at 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed


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