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The guide to the week's concerts

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: David Dondero, Jack Rose & the Black Twigs, Le Weekend, Savage Knights, Throw Me the Statue, Roy Davis Jr., Richard Bacchus & the Luckiest Girls

VS.: Prog Day vs. Raleigh Rumble

VS.: Steep Canyon Rangers vs. Carolina Chocolate Drops



YES, PLEASE

09.03 DAVID DONDERO @ LOCAL 506

David Dondero's one of his generation's finest songwriters, blending Randy Newman's coy wit, John Prine's homey charm and Townes Van Zandt's working-class wanderlust. His warbling tenor became a touchstone for Conor Oberst in the early '90s when Dondero led the Clemson, S.C., band Sunbrain. Since its break-up, he's released a half dozen albums loaded with smart, evocative songs about muggings averted with a wine key, lovers as spoiled fruit and hearts held in mercantile exchanges. A congenital wanderer (he's dedicated a song to highway civil engineers), Dondero espouses both the road's lonely freedom and his thwarted longings for a place to rest. With new Holidays for Quince artist Liza Kate. $8-$10/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

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09.04 JACK ROSE & THE BLACK TWIGS @ NIGHTLIGHT

Square-shouldered, with long, stringy hair and a sanguine countenance that suggests the hermetic study of a monastery or a cave, Jack Rose is a frightening acoustic guitarist. It's not the way he looks, though, as much as the way he plays: Combining technical proficiency that lets each note in every flurry ring clearly, learning that lets him shift from imaginings of old folk beauties to long-form tone studies, and innovation that lets those styles fit into music that sounds both familiar and foreign in a vaguely psychedelic way, Rose is a titan in a crowded field. The tone and articulation between Rose's fingers and his guitar's strings come from decades of toil, and each lick offers its own tale for interpretation. Tonight, he gigs with fellow Virginians The Black Twigs. Their collaborative LP—played simply and with plenty of spirit, and designed to resemble the American Primitive hallmark, John Fahey's Blind Joe Death—offers subtle turns on traditional tunes like "Little Sadie" and "Hand Me Down My Walking Cane" and Rose's anthem, "Kensington Blues." Not to be missed. With Zeke Graves. $6/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin

09.04 LE WEEKEND, SAVAGE KNIGHTS @ THE PINHOOK

This pairing promises a freewheeling night of rock and jazz dynamism, so labels kinda go out the window. Le Weekend—currently Matt Kalb, Bob Wall and Robert Biggers—has been toying with pop's playful complexity for a few years now. Their stop-start sensibilities work better in this framework than you might expect, considering they're not a metal or punk math-rock act. Somewhere Donald Fagen scratches his noggin. Savage Knights plunder straight jazz's carcass, looking for stuff they can use. They shift between noir death odes, mystifying, funky third-eye workouts and skronk rave-ups. 10 p.m. —Chris Toenes

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09.05 THROW ME THE STATUE @ DUKE COFFEEHOUSE

Throw Me the Statue is the creation of Seattle multi-instrumentalist Scott Reitherman, who sings his twisting, carefully bounding pop songs with a mix of weepy reserve and restrained exuberance. Appropriately, Creaturesque, his second LP, expands his clutch of instruments and textures—calliope keyboards, distorted bass, plunging rhythms—while limiting the flood-of-sound, Elephant 6-inspired aesthetic that tended to muddle his debut, 2008's Moonbeams. Each movement carries a bit more weight, and each note shows a bit more consideration. The result suggests Elvis Costello emerging through an indie rock swirl, washed by the sound but not overtaken by it. —Grayson Currin

09.05 ROY DAVIS JR. @ TALULLA'S

It's not every week Chapel Hill has a Chicago house legend playing in a small club on Franklin Street. But here it is: Roy Davis Jr. emerged from the second wave of Chi-Town producers. After many '80s stars of dance music, like Lil' Louis, moved, Davis, Jr. joined the ranks of Phuture, a production team based around DJ Pierre. Phuture created some of the most lasting acid house tracks, providing a margin between two styles of Chicago house. Davis, Jr recorded his first solo track, "20 Below," for the Jack Trax label, and his career continued to take off with a club hit in '98, "Gabriel." He describes his music now as "soul elektrica," soul and R&B music with an electronic base. Chicago's deep funk heart is certainly beating hard within his music. Marshall Jones opens. $10 ($7 advance)/ 10:30 p.m. —Chris Toenes

09.09 RICHARD BACCHUS & THE LUCKIEST GIRLS @ THE POUR HOUSE

With his Luckiest Girls, former D-Generation guitarist Richard Bacchus trots out his old glam-punk riffs from time to time, but these days, he's mostly tempering his old band's snotty pop with a Westerbergian sense of melody and a touch of roots-rock crunch. Openers GST Cardinals are a no-frills U.K. quintet whose pub rock manages to touch on both punk and pop without being either. Like a mod-er Jam, GST Cardinals rely on eager chords and melodies hoisted like pint glasses to hit the sweet spot. They often do just that. 9 p.m. —Bryan Reed


SATURDAY, SEPT. 5

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PROG DAY

From: Chapel Hill
Since: 1995
Claim to fame: Discursive, mind-bending flights of technical proficiency exploring rock's more classical and ethereal regions

Progressive rock is the heady offspring of psychedelic rock, pursuing an artistic mien that explodes old blues- and rock-based structures in favor of grandiloquent musical statements and epic scope. At its best, it combines formal richness and an experimental explorative spirit-creating music that's strange, majestic and vaguely profound. Though reduced from the popularity of early '70s favorites like King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Yes, prog still boasts a dedicated cult and influence felt in the present-day experimental/noise scenes. In its quarter century of existence, Sunday headliners Ozric Tentacles have certainly opened some minds, enveloping listeners in trancelike, psychedelic fusion-funk and launching them into a supernova of sound, while Saturday's Italian headliner La Maschera Di Cera segues from dreamy delicacy to explosive multi-instrumental flights of fancy. It's only fitting that a prog festival continue for two days (not counting Friday's preshow at Local 506), lazing away the day on the really green grass of STORYBROOK FARM in Chapel Hill. For more, visit www.progday.net. $60-$100/ 10:30 a.m.

VS.

Dirty Johnny
  • Dirty Johnny

RALEIGH RUMBLE

From: Raleigh
Since: 2004
Claim to fame: Shiny chrome two-wheelers with leather jacketed vroom

Sorry, but sleek vehicles ridden by sweater-wearing babes and greasy-haired, tattooed jockeys in rawhide are infinitely more appealing than cerebral, moon-eyed Birkenstockers contemplating the ever-expanding universe. I'm shallow like that. Close to rock's bubbling source, the Rumble's old-school musical inspiration lies in the pileup of country, western swing and blues that rose with the Sun (Records) and remains rooted stylistically in perpetual adolescence. It beams nostalgia for when rock was young, wild and free. That kind of pretenseless innocence channels rock's hormonal rush, which ranges from rough and ready to slick and sassy, the twin flavors of Raleigh's rumble. Ohio quartet Dirty Johnny and the Makebelieves' raw-boned, bluesy garage-psych shakes, rattles and rolls like a semi without shocks descending Pikes Peak, while locals The Straight 8s feature hot-stepping, reverb-drenched twang that revs like a Bugatti and shines like "Blue Suede Shoes." For more information on the Rumble, which closes with this show, see www.tonup-nc.com. At SLIM'S. $7/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker


SATURDAY, SEPT. 5

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STEEP CANYON RANGERS

From: Asheville
Since: 2001
Claim to fame: Spit shining old music

The Steep Canyon Rangers play clean, polished bluegrass. Eliminating some of the harsher elements of the traditional high lonesome sound, the quintet sounds like a smooth luxury Cadillac with a longhorn hood ornament. The band first got together when the members were still college students at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Since then, The Rangers, who served as the backing band for Steve Martin in May, have not only preserved but added to the bluegrass tradition. Original songs, like the upbeat "Lovin' Pretty Women," would make Bill Monroe proud. Vocal harmonies provide structure as mandolin, guitar, banjo, fiddle and bass race ahead to tour the countryside. At THE POUR HOUSE with songs from the upcoming Oct. 6 release, Deep in the Shade. $8-10/ 10 p.m.

VS.

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CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS

From: Durham
Since: 2005
Claim to fame: Knocking the dirt off old music

The Carolina Chocolate Drops play rustic, jubilant Piedmont string-band music. The trio's combination of banjo, fiddle, guitar, percussion and dancing embraces the past, sounding like corn cobs, plank floors and oil lamps. Joe Thompson, one of the last black traditional string-band players, has guided the group in redeveloping the craft. The Carolina Chocolate Drops offer a voyeuristic window to a past where fast breakdowns and slow blues are thrown together on the front porch for good times, just as the sun goes down. At CAT'S CRADLE with quiet, contemporary folkie Greg Humphreys of Hobex and Dillon Fence, and Piedmont blues legend John Dee Holeman. $15/ 8:30 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey

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