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Five years ago, the Triangle didn't have a singer-songwriter friendly, coffeehouse scene. Now, we're definitely part of the East Coast circuit, and you can enjoy some fine, fresh-roasted beans along with original music in locally owned venues across the Triangle area. We're also experiencing, along with North Carolina's "Hispanic Baby Boom," an influx of Hispanic-owned and operated business including nightclubs, CD and video stores, as well as concerts and appearances by Latino artists. Just tune into one of the area's Spanish-speaking AM radio stations to keep up with latest shows and events.

Our rich alt-country scene, one that's been percolating since the early '90s, has gone on to produce a fine blend of nationally recognized artists, from Tift Merritt and Caitlin Cary to our very own (OK, he lives in Hollyrock now) Grammy-nominated--and close personal friend of Sir Elton John--Ryan Adams.

And increasingly, musicians and bands are turning to home studios to get their compositions captured for posterity. With studio gear becoming more compact and affordable, you don't have to wait for a label advance to start working on your "album."

So, whether you swing to the java jive, dance to the picante spins of Mexican sonideros or enjoy kicking back to the sounds of N.C.'s high-lonesome set, you'll find something to sink your teeth into in this issue.

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