Friday, Oct. 17, 9 p.m.
The title says it all; with some of the best hip-hop MCs working in the area teaming up for a night of soulful lyrical flow with crisp beats and production. Durham trio The Thyrday is fresh off an opening slot for Ludacris in Chapel Hill, while Soul Dojo Records cohorts Kevin H. Ill and Kaze are both ones to watch through '04. Lady MC Mother Nature kicks things off, with XDU's own DJ Chela No. 1 spinning records between sets throughout the night. It's great to see the Coffeehouse in full use again. Here's hoping there are more events there to come. Free with Duke ID, all others, $3. --Chris Toenes
Friday, Oct 17, 9 p.m.
They're traveling down the same highway to hell, but Hayseed Dixie's vehicle isn't the AC/DC's rock 'n' roll hot-rod. It's more like a pickup with the tailgate down and flappin' in the breeze. Guitarist and fiddler John Wheeler and the Reno Brothers--banjo player Don Wayne and mandolinist Dale, sons of legendary bluegrass banjoist Don Reno--were working on a newgrass project to be called the Kerosene Brothers back in 2000 when they took a break and got down with some AC/DC bluegrass style.
"Not that we thought it was a bad record, but when we made it, we never even thought it would be released," Wheeler said by phone from his Nashville home. "That wasn't why we did it--we just did it as a fun thing to do one weekend, mixing mountain music and rock. That was just the opposite direction of what we had originally set out to do, but things just kind of happen in mysterious ways sometimes."
The material is funny in this context, but it works. "You Shook Me All Night Long" becomes a country weeper. "Highway to Hell" with fiddle and dobro breaks seems like it was written for a hard-drinking bluegrass picker or country boy bent on letting fame and alcohol take him straight down the road to hell. Hiring a country hit man was never easier than by dialing the number disclosed in "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap."
After doing a KISS record bluegrass style and adapting rock classics including Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls" and Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever," the band took a rock approach to bluegrass, adapting traditional tunes to a newgrass style, returning as the Kerosene Brothers. Despite the humor in it, the band takes it seriously. "If we were a big old joke and we couldn't play, people would come and listen to two or three songs and say, 'ok I get it,' and leave," Wheeler asserts. "For two years, we've been able to have crowds stay for an hour and a half or two hours. It can't be because we're just a joke." For information call 821-4111, $8 advance, $10 day of show --Grant Britt
The Black Keys
GO! Room 4
Thursday, Oct. 16
Akron, Ohio's contribution to the recent surge of guitar-and-drums duos wanders back to North Carolina, bringing us their sparse, fuzzed-out blues worship. The Keys' latest release, thickfreakness (Fat Possum), is drenched in reverb and longing, a 21st-century blues riff workshop recorded in 14 hours straight. Dan Auerbach's vocals betray his age, infused with a rich timbre more akin to Fat Possum labelmates R.L. Burnside or Junior Kimbrough (whose "Everywhere I Go" is covered on thickfreakness), while his nasty, overdriven guitar riffs are in good company with Patrick Carney's tasteful, no-nonsense drumming. This promises to be one sweaty show. For information, call 969-1400, $10. --Finn Cohen