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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Ben Sollee, Discovery, Roadside Graves, Kooley High, R. Kelly, Jonathan Byrd, Sally Spring, David Bazan, The Blow, Natural Science, Pinche Gringo

VS.: Harper & Midwest Kind vs. Keith Urban



click to enlarge Ben Sollee - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


There's aren't many singer-songwriters who lead with a cello, and there aren't many cellists who dare bend genres toward some mix of soul and folk. By some strange circumstance, though, Ben Sollee does both. Sollee's winning combination of musical chops and adventurous spirit led him to explore postmodern jazz, gospel, folk and beyond with the magnetic pluck and pull of his bow. On his sophomore album, Inclusions, out since May, Sollee doubles down on the musical lilt and lyrical wit featured on both his debut and Dear Companion, his mountaintop-removal awareness project with Yim Yames and Daniel Martin Moore. Expect to hear a Kentucky boy like you haven't heard before. Seattle duo Thousands opens. $15–$17/ 8 p.m. —Ashley Melzer


For the last four months, resident DJs Nixxed and The Biters and a rotating guest DJ have taken over Kings every few weeks to throw a new Raleigh dance night. They've featured some furious talent so far, but this month they'll take over mission control and bring down the house for Mission 005: Summer Space Camp. There'll also be an opening set by Raleigh DJ/ producer Holygrailers, whose sound Discovery organizers describe as "trip-hop; sliced up jazz steeped in fuzz, glitch and French house rhythms, saturated with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a music lover's first foray into the creation of that which he holds so dear." You can't make this stuff up, but you can dance to it. $3–$5/ 10 pm. —Ashley Melzer

click to enlarge Roadside Graves - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


From the anecdote-spitting, string-jamming video clips on Roadside Grave's website, one can safely assume that this band is inclined to get crazy. Vocalist John Gleason, for instance, recalls being accidentally urinated on after a night on the town with his wife to a howling response from a Metuchen, N.J., crowd. But Roadside Grave's repertoire, which includes a bizarre ballad for Liv Tyler, is energetic and straightforward, the sort of stuff to which you can click your heels. The Jerseyites boast a healthy dose of Americana twang, finding a happy melding of country roots and jam-band extensions. Free/ 7 p.m. —Nina Rajagopalan


Though the bulk of Kooley High has been Brooklyn-based for a year now—and a renewed apartment lease indicates there's no move on the horizon—the six-member hip-hop crew still holds Raleigh in its heart, having recently made the trek back home to perform at the Rise Up Raleigh tornado relief concert. True, there's hardly a shortage of opportunities to see the Triangle expats play locally, but the fruits of the constantly working group's labor—most recently, a new Charlie Smarts tape, DJ Ill Digitz's fourth mix and more progress on Rapsody's solo LP—means it always brings something new to the table. With Thee Tom Hardy and HaLo. $6-$9/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


Sooner than later, we might have to reconsider R. Kelly's past, personal failure and start recognizing, once again, the music he makes, specifically on his most recent LP, Love Letter. There's enough stuff on this album to make it séance-worthy, not to mention the way he taps into the tender souls of both Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson in previously unmatched ways. Just admit it; you've been dying to see "Kellz" in person, as you're a fan trapped between "I Believe I Can Fly" and "Not Feelin' The Love." We've all secretly loved this guy. R&B darlings Keyshia Cole and Marsha Ambrosius join him on this superb night. $50.35–$93.75/ 8 p.m. —Eric Tullis


A music-loving preacher's kid, Jonathan Byrd only ever wanted to strum the guitar and sing songs. Over time, he's turned it into a career, releasing a half-dozen albums of country-folk with traditional undertones (fiddles and banjos), though he's drifted into Townes Van Zandt-style Texas country, jangly folk and Southern-flavored rock (especially for 2006's This Is the New That). His latest, Cackalack, features one of his finest batch of songs, including the bluegrass morning-after ode "Reckon I Did" and the ruminative folk take "I Was an Oak Tree." Tender, dusky-voiced roots siren Sally Spring opens. $12–$15/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker


Though David Bazan once recorded under the band name Pedro the Lion, few singer-songwriters have stayed their respective course in the admirable way Bazan has. For more than a decade, he's questioned his faith and belief in everything, from himself and his God to his friends and his foes. All the while, he's generally clung to an unmoving three-piece rock deadpan, where the electric guitar goaded drums that marched and bass that plodded. The sound's provided an unmoving context and baseline, a zero that's allowed the Bazan faithful to evaluate his feelings about the world rather than his latest gimmicks for telling the same old woebegone tale. His latest, Strange Negotiations, is one of his best, full of the same unflinching personal investigations that apparently aim to make him as uncomfortable as his audience. The excellent Centro-Matic and Sarah Jaffe open. $10–$12/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

click to enlarge The Blow - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND

06.26 THE BLOW @ LOCAL 506

The last four years have ostensibly been a series of steady reinvention for The Blow, the simple pop syndicate of New York-via-Portland musician Khaela Maricich. In 2006, when the band released its most recent LP, Paper Television, Maricich was joined by Yacht's Jona Bechtolt. He's since left the band, and a new album is finally in the works with Melissa Dyne, an artist who, says Maricich, is more of a collaborator to the band than a member thereof. "Ask Me," a new song released in demo form earlier this month, shows that Maricich has lost none of her prepossessing subtle pop charm. Her work explores relationships and the endless neuroses they entail, a point underlined by the hilarious monologues she delivers during sets. $10–$12/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Raleigh's Natural Science headlines this night of dingy rock , but it's the second band on the bill that deserves your attention. Pinche Gringo is the one-man act of Greensboro's Josh Johnson, but his primitive blues-rock bests that of most full bands. With his amps stacked on steamer cases behind him, he slashes through jagged riffs that strain out all but the most aggressive bits. He yells into a drum mic that distorts his voice into a rabid bark, and the sound is intoxicating and raw. Natural Science offers a suitable cool down, as its classic-leaning indie rock lounges about on smooth licks and patient bass lines. Adam Thorn opens. $5/ 9 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence



FROM: Grass Lake, Mich. (by way of Australia)
SINCE: Early '90s
CLAIM TO FAME: Award-winning harmonica-sporting Australian blues artist

Peter Harper's enjoyed a prosperous career down under by blending his raw-boned blues rock with the didgeridoo, which imbued his music with an oddly haunted yet earthy air. His nimble baritone has a slick, self-possessed quality reminiscent of Robert Palmer. Though he's released more than a half-dozen albums in Australia, he's a relative latecomer to these shores, having released but a trio of discs for Blind Pig since 2005. He's neither a great player nor an arresting singer, but there's a casual warmth and ease to his modern blues that's quite inviting. Though he cites Muddy Waters as a big influence sonically, he's a lot closer to Robert Cray. At PAPA MOJO'S ROADHOUSE. $10–$12/ 9:30 p.m.



FROM: Australia (but New Zealand born)
SINCE: Mid '90s
CLAIM TO FAME: Pop-minded, chart-topping country-rock

Though Keith Urban was equally influenced by country and rock, it's those early Nashville influences that win out. He rocks enough to fit with country's present aesthetic, and he boasts the kind of good looks, tender croon and catchy balladeering that make him one of the genre's top-selling artists. But he's more than a pretty face: When Urban first moved to Nashville from Australia, he spent time as a session guitarist, a testament to his smooth playing. He also embraces Top 40 pop and its trappings from antiseptic production to drum loops, though the result is occasionally pretty generic music. Harper might be a better musician, but Urban's charm and pop stature's too much for him to topple. With Jake Owen. At RBC CENTER. $27–$57.50/ 7:30 p.m. —Chris Parker


click to enlarge Kairaba! - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


Senegalese musician Diali Cissokho hails from an impressive lineage of griot musicians that dates back to the 14th century. His mother and father both descended from generations of griots—a traditional role in West African villages that perpetuated the area's culture and history through a combination of singing and storytelling. Although he moved to the United States just over a year ago, Cissokho continues the familial and cultural tradition stateside through performances on the kora, a 21-string instrument made of gourd and cow skin that looks, sounds and plays somewhat like a mix of harp and guitar.

Cissokho, who has been playing the kora since he was 6, jokes that the instrument is his second wife. "It is a very spiritual experience," he says. "You can almost hear the years of tradition being passed from our ancestors—their stories, their experiences, their wisdom."

Though Cissokho has collaborated with worldly Greensboro funk unit The Brand New Life and frequently performs solo, Kairaba!—a name that represents peace and love—teams him with a quartet of likeminded, globally influenced Triangle musicians he met through his wife and other mutual friends. Together, the five-piece brings authentic West African traditions in music and storytelling (with both English and the Mandingo and Wolof dialects) through a framework of polyrhythmic percussion and cascading kora notes. Donations/ 7 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


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