Thursday, Jan. 22, 9 p.m.
Dr. Eugene Chadbourne is a musician's musician--a man who can turn a rake into electrified mayhem or blast out a bebop-from-hell version of a country and western ballad. As one of five people who saw him end a Shockabilly set in 1984 with a solo performance of Dylan's "Positively Fourth Street" with a bird cage on his head and only a vibrator and a handheld guitar pickup for accompaniment, I can attest to his ability as an innovator, mad professor of sound and entertainer.
If you want to explore his world dial up www.eugenechadbourne.com (the titles in the discography alone are worth the visit). If you want to see his latest tour then pop into Nightlight for one of the eight stops in his statewide Chadfest extravaganza. At each stop, Chadfest will highlight some of the fine musical twists and turns the good doctor has taken. Plans for the set in Chapel Hill include a solo set and tribute to Thelonious Monk. Locals Ian Davis, David Menestres and Carrie Shull will be assisting in the operating room. --Kirk Ross
The Rev. Billy C. Wirtz
Saturday, Jan. 24
Brothers and sisters, it's time once again for the heavenly strains (and heavenly strange) of the Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, director of the First House of Polyester Worship and Horizontal Throbbing Teenage Desire And Our Lady of the White Go-Go Boot, the Lord of the 40-watt Undulating Bubbling Lava Lamp Apocalyptic No Pizza Takeout After 12 Shrine of the Rick Flair Rasslin' Jesus Achy Breaky Interfaith Love Tabernacle. In other words, get ready for low-down boogie-woogie and high humor from the former Chapel Hillian, who's rarely in town these days to lead worship at the altar of rhythm and blues. So see him while you can. Amen. --Richard Hart
Audubon Park, Razzle, A New Dawn Fades
Thursday, Jan. 22, 9:30 p.m. $5
Audubon Park stands out in the newer crop of local pop-rock bands because their love of the hook-filled number is a perfect foil for little forays into dissonance, so that when your head's bobbing to the catchy tune, a crunchy guitar workout is screeching underneath it. The men in Razzle may have equal love for Maiden and math rock, but usually the bottom-heavy punch in the stomach rock thud wins out. With openers A New Dawn Fades. For more info, call 969-1400. --Chris Toenes
My Morning Jacket
Wed., Jan. 21, 8:45 p.m., $12
It seems to be a simplistic question, one hardly worth asking at all. But how exactly does Jim James record his vocals? Surely, James--the guitarist/frontman/songwriter /vocalist/producer/genius behind Kentucky's My Morning Jacket--uses a microphone like most everyone else in the world. There is, however, something fundamentally different about the James approach. His voice sounds as though it's recorded in a tiled bathroom and then re-recorded from mammoth playback monitors plopped somewhere in the Grand Canyon--booming and commanding, but somehow aloof and observant like a voiceover for some spaced-out, epic guitar part in a Daniel Lanois record. What James is capable of, though, goes beyond microphone selection and engineering experience: James' voice never gets lost in the rock n' roll reaffirming mix that his completely competent band has mastered, but instead it projects old, sincere soul that sails alongside virtuoso riffs and relentless basslines. In a sense, Jim James paints pictures with the words he writes and the songs he sings. My Morning Jacket--persuasive guitars, snap-stick drumming, conclusive codas and all--animates those, rendering one of the best picture shows you will ever hear. This may just be the best young rock band in America. For more info, visit catscradle.com or call 967-9053 --Grayson Currin
Henry Rollins Spoken Word Tour
Wednesday, Jan 28, 9 p.m. $20
Henry Rollins has something to say. And if you're anywhere within earshot of the Lincoln Theatre next Wednesday chances are you'll hear it. The buff former singer for west coast punk icons Black Flag has branched out even more lately. Last year, he was involved in projects that ranged from modeling for a character in video game to recording a track for a Waylon Jennings tribute album to help out Alejandro Escoveda. Raleigh is an early stop on Rollins' latest spoken word tour and it's just before a show in D.C. With all that's gone down in the past few years Rollins should have a lot on his mind.