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The guide to the week's concerts 

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Jake Shimabukuro, Whatever Brains, Rocket Cottage, Hammer No More the Fingers, Bambara, The Love Language, Americans in France, Sweet By and By, Tom Paxton, Jeff Hart Combo, Don Casual, Cursive, Man Man, Jordan Lake Music Festival

VS.: South Memphis String Band vs. Felice Brothers

INTRODUCING: The Tomahawks

SONG OF THE WEEK: The Gaslight Anthem's "Miles Davis & the Cool"


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The American mainland has long regarded the ukulele as a novelty (Thanks a lot, Tiny Tim), if not an afterthought for kitchen-sink indie rock orchestras (Sup, Beirut?). First flicking the four-string at the ripe age of 4, Honolulu's Jake Shimabukuro has developed a virtuosity that's garnered Hendrix comparisons by reimagining his instrument's abilities and image. To wit, his instrumental cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" has a few million YouTube hits. Along with tunes from Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin and Bach, he covers a couple other Beatles hits. But it's his tasteful, restrained originals that speak to his uke's eloquence. $22-$24/ 8 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


This pair of Raleigh razers shared the Slim's stage back in November, and they return for a second round of mutually warping song structures and audience ears: Whatever Brains writes pop songs that stick like the thickest taffy, but the quartet injects them with the weirdest flavors—straight noise, lossy garage fidelity, slap-happy punk and melodramatic glam. It'll shock you a bit when it hits the palate, but—having been held responsible for three of the area's best hooks this decade—it'll go down just right, we promise. Rocket Cottage is the razor blade to Whatever Brain's strange confection: Its bastard No Wave breed grinds through the senses, scraping waste loose with guitars that slice like knives and drums that turn them into nails. April leaves with a loud outro. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Stretching the definition of "local" to include Athens, Ga.'s Bambara, this latest installment of Tir Na Nog's weekly Local Beer Local Band showcase pairs the out-of-towner's early-'00s post-punk (comfortable in the Saddle Creek or Lovitt stables) with HNMTF's '90s indie (comfortable with Merge and Sub-Pop, with a shock of radio rock flair). But just as Hammer's sound seems to have arrived independently in such familiar territory, Bambara's brooding energy seems to have come from its own sources to get pretty close to, say, Engine Down. It's more like-minded than like-sounding. Similarly, Bambara's post-rock predilections match Hammer's self-stated (and oft met) goal to sound larger than life. Indeed, this pairing is about as complementary if divergent as they come. Free/ 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed

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A year ago, I bid adieu to my post as the head of Diversions, the weekly A&E section of The Daily Tar Heel. This year's crew signs off with a sixth installment of its biannual local music showcase, and—if they had done nothing right all year—all would be redeemed with this bill. The Love Language, now effectively functioning as the Triangle's "it" band, headlines with blunt-force garage-soul ecstasy. In effect, The Love Language roughs up the shiny-happy mod-pop of UNC campus faves, The Huguenots, who fill the bill's middle. That leaves Americans In France, one-third of the newfangled Odessa Records' debut coup. The Carrboro trio's bristling art-punk is an explosive, jittery counterpoint to the structured—if no less exciting—pop of the bands with whom it'll share the stage. But this is more than just a collection of three very good local bands. It's probably the best encapsulation of early-2009 Chapel Hill rock you could compile. Kudos, comrades. Free/ 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed


Redolent of the yellow sunlight slanting through the windows at the end of the day, Sweet By and By plays the type of bluegrass parlor music that lulls the kids to naps with a warm embrace. Shortly thereafter, though, the group creeps into a dance hall and keeps the floorboards shaking through the night. Combining a certain wholesome sincerity with fast living, the four-femme group performs an alluring balancing act between "come hither" and "piss off." The band kicks off the Bynum Front Porch Friday Night Music Series with vocal harmonies, fiddle and hypnotic banjo-picking. Between those proverbial parlors and the dance halls, Sweet By and By plays the front porch at 7 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey


Recipient of a 2009 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Tom Paxton has been a singer/ songwriter since the folk revival of the 1950s and '60s. With Pete Seeger's passion to preserve folk music and Woody Guthrie's unceasing pen, Paxton continues the tradition of broadsides, topical songs and calls for change and peace. Often pointed and funny ("I Am Changing My Name to Fannie Mae," reads one recent title), moments of clarity and truth hit with a refreshing hope for the future. Supporting Paxton's straight-ahead style of playing and singing, Chapel Hill musician Danny Gotham joins in the night's performance with lyrical guitar work. $26-$28/ 8:30 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey


"There isn't a lot of gratification if you're looking for big bucks or glamour, but if you've got a ton of great songs to play, it can be rewarding," wrote Michael Kurtz on the back of Jeff Hart's The Singles: 1961-1990, speaking of the music biz and Hart's place in it. "And that is exactly what Jeff Hart has: a ton of great songs." In the nearly 20 years since, the Durham-based roots-pop singer/ songwriter has rewarded local listeners by adding to that quantity. Check his Glances from a Nervous Groom for proof. Fellow Durhamites Dom Casual are gradually building their stockpile of neo-garage tunes. 10 p.m. —Rick Cornell

click to enlarge Cursive
  • Cursive


While the departure several years ago of Cursive cellist Greta Cohn produced a more streamlined live rock attack harking to the edgier sound of its early days, the band's recordings have become increasingly baroque. Like 2006's Happy Hollow, its latest, Mama, I'm Swollen, piles on instrumentation, adding strings, brass and woodwinds to the wide-screen arrangements. The album surveys a variety of styles, from chunky indie rock to pulsing, somewhat overwrought tunes reminiscent of Tim Kasher's The Good Life. Kasher's still one of indie's finest lyricists, with a thoughtful self-consciousness that avoids navel-gazing indulgence. Even if Mama feels cluttered and unfocused, this band's still sharp and loud live. Speaking of clutter, Man Man opens. Also, Andrew Jeffrey Wright. $16/ 9:15 p.m. —Chris Parker


In its second year, this cross between an upstart music festival and a car show aims to raise funds for the Save Jordan Lake project (, which aims to reduce pollution in the man-made 14,000-acre reservoir. Bucolic roots music abounds for the Saturday and Sunday festivities, which stretch over stages on front porches and in barns: Saturday highlights include Tommy Edwards' Bluegrass Experience and guitar ace Cool John Ferguson, followed by No Strings Attached and Tony Williamson's fraternal bruegrass order on Sunday. One-day tickets are $10; two-day passes are $15 when purchased in advance. For directions to Apex's Jordan Lake Farm and to purchase tickets, visit —Grayson Currin

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From: Mississippi
Since: 2008
Claim to fame: New & old old-fashioned music from down south

This is the sound of Greil Marcus' old weird America as imagined by young-ish normal (as much as that's possible in the music world) Americans of the South. You can imagine these guys—bluesman Alvin Youngblood Hart, Zipper Jimbo Mathus and North 'sippi Allstar Luther Dickinson, seasoned pros all—listening and learning at the knees of Will "Son" Shade of the Memphis Sheiks and Gus Cannon while dreaming of jug bands and Hill Country blues. For a taste (the trio's New Moon Jellyroll Freedom Rockers, produced by Luther's legendary daddy Jim, remains unreleased), check out Hart's spirited, syncopated take on the trad "Deep Blue Sea" on last year's Recapturing the Banjo. At the THE ARTSCENTER. $15-$18/ 8 p.m.


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From: the Catskills
Since: 2006
Claim to fame: New & old old-fashioned music from up north

This is the sound of Greil Marcus' old weird America as imagined by young normal (as much as that's possible in the music world) Americans of the North. You can imagine these guys—three brothers Felice plus Greg Farley and the wonderfully named Christmas Clapton, frisky relative newcomers all—listening and learning at the knees of Robbie Robertson and '66 Bob Dylan while dreaming of speakeasies and harbor lights. For a taste, check out this bit from their irrepressible "Frankie's Gun," delivered with train-heist precision: "Spit make a fender shine, Frankie you're a friend of mine/ Got me off a bender after long-legged Brenda died." With Willy Mason. At THE BERKELEY CAFE. $15/ 9 p.m. —Rick Cornell



Yet another new group to spring from the burgeoning Orange County collective that's produced acts Max Indian and The Sundowners, The Tomahawks is Cameron Lee (Bright Young Things, Thad Cockrell), Charles Cleaver (Tripp, Firehouse Rhythm Kings), Nick Jaeger and Jeff Crawford (both of Roman Candle, Max Indian).

Taking its "sneaky name" from one of several dummy real estate corporations used by Walt Disney to buy up land for what became the Disney World plot, the quartet drew material from Jaeger's back catalog and Crawford's next solo record for its four-song EP, Like a Horse on a Beach, released last week. Americana-flavored vintage pop tunes with a bouncy amble offer glimpses of Max Indian and match the Carter Gaj-led troupe in simple, singable hooks. The next EP (planned for late summer) and follow-up full-length will showcase collaborative writing from the four-piece. While the drum stool's still spinning—James Wallace and Dale Baker played on the recording, and Mark Simonsen and Matt Damron have sat in for live sets—Jaeger and Lee take on the bulk of guitar duties. Crawford mostly sticks to bass. Cleaver holds down the keys. As each of the four contribute vocals, don't be surprised if you find yourself chipping in by the second chorus. With Max Indian and Boxbomb. $5/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


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