A Philadelphia rap group formed in 1987, The Roots' (pictured right) live shows are renowned for storming sets and a commitment to old-skool fun. Live drumming and human beat boxes like the band's Rahzel aren't the norm these days in hip-hop, and main rapper Black Thought's take on modern America, rhymed over bubbling bass, and snare splats, celebrates hip-hop virtues without surrendering to nostalgia. Catch them at 8 p.m. on May 4 at UNC-Chapel Hill's Memorial Hall. Local group Sankofa opens. Tickets are $16 for UNC students and $20 for the general public. Call 962-1449 for details. --Kyle Creason
You name it, and Peter Case has sung it. From folk (his first love as a teen in the late '60s in upstate New York) to punk and power pop with The Nerves and The Plimsouls, respectively, to the bluesy singer-songwriterly tunes of his recent solo CDs, Case's résumé is a diverse one. The musician's razor-sharp wit and love of American roots music propel his latest release, Flying Saucer Blues, out now on Vanguard. But, like many singer-songwriters, Case really shines during live performances. Hear him this Saturday, May 6, at Chapel Hill's intimate Skylight Exchange. And thank the good folks at 40 Acres for this, the latest in a series of intelligent, high-quality concerts. Call 933-5550. --Karen A. Mann
Travis, whose last album, The Man Who, was gobbled like Weetabix by pop-mad Brits, bring their next-big-thing Scottish pop to Cat's Cradle on May 7. The Man Who, released this month in America, made number one in the United Kingdom, elevating the Scottish foursome to the hallowed ranks of Oasis, the Verve and Radiohead. Singer-songwriter Fran Healy (an obvious Thom Yorke devotee) writes a catchy chorus, and the young and earnest band is said to cover Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time" with complete conviction. Also, as virtual nobodies stateside, they've got something to prove. For information, call 967-9053.
Geez, cocktail culture came and went before I chance to finish my Choctini. The Friends of Dean Martinez, from their '95 debut, The Shadow of Your Smile, proved you could be a retro instrumental band yet transcend the genre (see: Calexico). No longer on Subpop, their '99 Knitting Factory release, Atardecer, had only one original "Friend"--steel guitar player-songwriter Bill Elms. Melding surf twang, border music and spaghetti-western themes with a dash of Moog and Les Baxter, this "space meets desert" combo is worth diggin' on May 5 at Local 506. Call 942-5506 for details. --Angie Carlson
Durham's historic Greystone Manor will host the Mallarmé Chamber Players' gala benefit concert and champagne reception (pictured below) on Sunday, May 7, at 3 p.m. The concert presents a mostly Schubert program, along with an homage to the great composer by John Harbison, named November 19, 1828: Hallucinations in four episodes for the day of Schubert's death. The program was developed per audience demand, and features Penny Jensen, soprano; Brooks Smith, flute; Arturo Ciompi, clarinet; and others. Tickets ($40, $35 for season subscribers, $15 for students) are available in advance only from the Carolina Theatre box office, at 560-3030.