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Family gathering

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This will mark the sixth consecutive year that Jon Shain (Flyin' Mice, WAKE, Jon Shain Trio) has hosted the Pre-Turkey Day Jam and invited some other home-standing musicians to join him in spreading Thanksgiving Eve joy while benefiting Raleigh's Helping Hand Mission. Shain and cohost David Sardinha from the Six String Cafe are going with the rarely encountered dual-song circles format, with one especially guitar-happy group featuring Shain, Cyril Lance, Greg Humphreys and Will McFarlane and the other sporting Sara Bell, Tom Maxwell, Mark Simonson and newlywed Lynn Blakey. Some cross-pollination between the two groups may very well ensue on the Cat's Cradle stage, where the Jam will be unfolding for the second year in a row. Music starts at 8, and tickets are $10. —Rick Cornell

Laval & Broder

Traditional Celtic and Scottish fiddler Jamie Laval wasn't even looking for a new musical soul mate. But, during the 2005 National Old Time Fiddle Contest and Festival, mandolin champion and fellow fiddler Ashley Broder came to his doorstep at a late-night jam. It was the musical equivalent of meeting the love of your life on a blind date.

"What I didn't realize when I first met Ashley ... was just what a damned fantastic musician she is. All I knew initially was that she was bags of fun and kept me thinking on a higher plane," says the champion fiddler on his Web site's tell-all recollection of their initial meeting. In fact, they only knew how to play one piece together, but it was the slow, beautiful "Tall Buildings." Laval and Broder traded off solos, feeding off one another's training.

Real sparks flew months later, but the two musicians had quite a bit to learn about each other's idiosyncrasies and musical styles. They rebuilt their approaches from the bottom up.

"Arranging music for two treble instruments has required rethinking most of the previous work I've done for other configurations," says Laval. "Starting essentially from ground zero, we set about teaching each other tunes and trying to emulate each other's styles, all the way blazing new terrain in the way of a duo concept."

Now, nearly a year and a half after their first meeting, the two have settled into familiarity, recording their first album in a small cabin in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia this past summer and now taking a cross-country roadtrip in Laval's Honda Accord. Together, they combine the old-world finesse of classical structures and the roots of traditional Irish, Scottish and bluegrass music. Laval and Broder will be at Duke University's Kirby Horton Hall on Saturday, Nov. 18. The music starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. —Kathy Justice

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