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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: New Raleigh Holiday Party, 307 Knox Christmas, Big Picture, Mark Holland, Pinche Gringo, Chris Bryant, Adrian Duke CD Release, Jeanne Jolly

VS.: Clay Cook & Levi Lowrey vs. The Whiskey Smugglers & Gambling the Muse

VS.: Dex Romweber Duo vs. Larry Keel & Natural Bridge

VS.: Hobex vs. Southern Culture on the Skids



The Capitol City blog New Raleigh works more as an outlet for local boosterism than consideration of local politics, meaning that they've made nice with enough folks to throw a decent holiday party. Between the aggressive, jazz-backboned hip-hop of The Beast and the skittering, playful bop of Peter Lamb & the Wolves, the music should be kinetic enough to shoo the chill outside. Bryan Costello of Kid Future and Matt Douglas of The Proclivities and Small Ponds both offer solo sets (spiked, likely, with a seasonal tune or two), while Magic Mike Casey roams the crowd with his tricks and cheer. $8/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Drop by to join 307 Knox Records' and Dogstar Tattoos' "Machines and Vinyl" Christmas party. DJ Dude Femme will spin records while attendees drink Fullsteam Brewery beer or munch on sliders from Raleigh's new Slippin' Sliders gourmet food truck. They'll also be raffling off prizes including gifts from Dogstar and vinyl from the 307 Knox vault, which might include any number of selections from their impressive roster—Future Islands, Midtown Dickens, Dan Deacon, Gray Young, North Elementary and Birds and Arrows, just to start. 'Tis the season for sampling, after all. Free/ 7:30 p.m.—Ashley Melzer


Featuring members of The Never, Annuals and Lost in the Trees, Big Picture almost necessarily makes harmony-laden, richly layered psych-pop. The charming grandiosity is more ELO than Sufjan Stevens and, like both, displays a flair for sharp, super-sized hooks. The shambolic gait can get a tad trippy, but the journey's so seeded with melodic carrots, it's hard not to be led down the rabbit hole. One-man band Pinche Gringo shakes, rattles and rolls through primal garage and early rock with wide-eyed enthusiasm. Mark Holland, of Jennyanykind and Jule Brown, makes greasy, Southern soul that likes to groove and crackle. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker


Chris Bryant is a middle school teacher by day. By night, he's a singing/ songwriting continuing education teacher—once a month, anyway—courtesy of his Discovery Series shows. Bryant typically highlights the work of a musician who has influenced him (past spotlightees include Ben Harper, Amos Lee and Ray LaMontagne), but for this year-capping edition, the focus is instead on a genre of music that has provided much inspiration to many: gospel. With excellent spiritual records by Mavis Staples, Aaron Neville and the Triangle's own Jennifer Evans released in the last couple months, it's a timely musical topic. Free/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell


Gravelly vocals emote over New Orleans piano flourishes. Drums, sax and guitar pile on, and the music builds into funky blues. Adrian Duke recently moved away from the area, but he's coming back to release his latest album, Lazy Bones. A little Tin Pan Alley, a little Gershwin, the disc seems to start off as a collection of jazz standards. But Duke changes course by covering songs from Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel, complicating matters further with tunes made popular by The Drifters and Willie Nelson. It should be a mess, but Duke's yearning, heartfelt voice successfully stitches the patchwork of genres together with an unbuttoned sense of fun. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey

click to enlarge Jeanne Jolly - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST


"I melt over Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and the Andrews Sisters holiday records, but I can't replicate their honey tones," says Raleigh's Jeanne Jolly, who, along with Her Mistletoes and special guests Matt Douglas and The Proclivities, takes the Berkeley by wintry storm. Jolly, who'll also be showing off tunes from her latest EP, Falling in Carolina, may not sing like Ella, but she's got a plan in play for shaking out the spirit. "We'll be doing a Mary Chapin Carpenter original, and, of course, we'll rock out a Keith Richards-inspired version of 'Run Rudolph,'" she says. There's also more than a good chance she and Douglas will pair up for a song or two. "We have a little something up our sleeves." $10 / 8 p.m. —Ashley Melzer



From: Georgia
Since: Late '90s and early '00s
Claim to fame: Big-venue country music

Country music is made for arenas. With its tales of regular folks getting along as best they can and its sing-along choruses, a lot of space is needed for fist pumps and arm waves. The Zac Brown Band has taken quite a few amphitheaters by storm in the last year or so, and songwriter/ producer/ multi-instrumentalist Clay Cook is a member in good standing of that outfit—not to mention a past collaborator with the stadium-filling likes of John Mayer and Sugarland. And singer/ songwriter/ Cadillac Sky frontguy Levi Lowrey has gotten his taste of arena life while opening for the Zac Brown Band. BJ Barham opens this one. At THE BERKELEY CAFE. $10/9 p.m.



From: Carrboro
Since: 2007 and 2006
Claim to fame: Small-club country music

Country music is made for small clubs. With its tales of regular folks getting along as best they can and its sing-along choruses, you want to be jammed in as close together as possible for a sense of community. The eight-piece Whiskey Smugglers call on guitars, mandolin, fiddle, down-mountain-train energy and sheer numbers to put across their stories and get listeners to collide. Gambling the Muse, a comparatively compact five-piece, trades some of the rambunctiousness for atmosphere, resulting in Americana that you need to lean into a little more. In the middle of the bill, roots-pop trio the Pneurotics is country by association. At LOCAL 506. $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell


click to enlarge Dex Romweber Duo - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


From: Chapel Hill
Since: 1977
Claim to fame: Flat Duo Jets' primacy, which earned admiration from Jack White

Dex Romweber started at a young age, forming Crash Landon and the Kamikazes at 11 with his older sister, Sara. During a decade and a half spent fronting divine garageabilly combo Flat Duo Jets, Romweber earned the fandom of The White Stripes' Jack White, with whom he's since recorded. Romweber still keeps it in the family, though: Sara plays drums as the other half of his duo, which performs its dark, primal rock 'n' roll tonight with Dex's deep, cabaret croon in front. Swamp blues quartet Dynamite Brothers and punk-edged indie rockers Venables—both imported from Chapel Hill and beyond—open. At MOTORCO. $7/ 8 p.m.


click to enlarge Larry Keel & Natural Bridge - PHOTO BY POSITIVITY PHOTOGRAPHY


From: Manassas, Va.
Since: 1975
Claim to fame: Adoration from Keller Williams

Larry Keel started at a young age, learning the guitar at age 7 from his older brother, Gary, and his father, James. During half a decade spent fronting award-winning progressive string band Magraw Gap, Keel fell into the favor of Keller Williams, with whom he's since recorded. Keel still keeps it in the family, though: Wife Jenny plays bass as half of his Natural Bridge backing duo, which performs two sets of loose, longwinded newgrass tonight with Larry's fleet, flashy flatpicking and gruff, soulful pipes leading the way. At CASBAH. $15-18/ 8 p.m. —Spencer Griffith



From: Durham
Since: Mid-'90s
Claim to fame: Groovy, blue-eyed funk

This is one helluva Triangle grudge match. While Hobex hasn't been around as long as Southern Culture, leader Greg Humphreys, also of Dillon Fence, has, and his sonic craftsmanship's even more refined. There's enough sumptuous warmth in Hobex's arrangements to lull you, while deep, swaying grooves mesmerize. The haymaker is Humphreys' cashmere vocals, which are so smooth and inviting they could be the sexy tour guide of the Rock Hall's Motown exhibit. While many genuflect at the altar of Sam Cooke, Humphreys keeps it fresh with a strong flavor of Muscle Shoals soul. With DJ Logic. At THE POUR HOUSE. $10–$12/ 8:45 p.m.


click to enlarge Southern Culture on the Skids - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


From: Mebane
Since: Mid-'80s
Claim to fame: Canny social satire couched in twang and reverb

Hobex presents a fundamental matchup problem for SCOTS—they don't do the same thing. While both draw inspiration from Southern culture, their approaches are day and night. SCOTS' wry, animated country rockabilly can't compete with Hobex's smoky lowlight vibe because the moods are so different. It's Scotch versus beer. SCOTS' ace, however, is the wonderful theatricality and family atmosphere of the shows. Rick Miller's guitar playing is among the finest in the area, and Mary Huff's sultry alto adds a nice dimension. Yet, like "you say potato," they're both equally right, leaving us with a split decision. With Mad Tea Party. At BERKELEY CAFE. $15–$18/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker


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