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Charles Bissell, David Karsten Daniels
Local 506
Wednesday, Aug. 25

They've survived growing up in Jersey, making music in near obscurity for 15 years, and the demise of their label (Grass, which turned into Creed's label, Wind-Up), but then, last year, The Wrens released Meadowlands, an album that was critically lauded and chosen by Magnet as the album of the year. It's a wonderful, artful indie rock and pop album, with moments of delicacy and thunder. Frontman Charles Bissell brings it solo, and there's no suggestion what that may include, but given his work on guitar and vocals in the Wrens, it should be a great show. David Karsten Daniels is a member of Go Machine and plays weird, haunted solo music with plenty of subtle electronic textures. CP

Brown Mountain Lights
Bynum General Store
Friday, Aug. 27

If there's music drifting through Bynum's Friday twilight, it must be the General Store. And if it's three music-world vets up front swapping songs--both smartly written originals and wisely chosen covers--and coaxing honky-tonk, folk and rock to all play together nice, it must be the Brown Mountain Lights. Show starts at 7 p.m. RC

Saturday, Aug. 28

It's spelled right. That's a z, not a g, so don't be looking for no sex-change band. The Transzenders--rhythm guitarist/vocalist Gregg Bockover, bassist Letha Costin and guitarist Miles Costin--play a blend of jazzy blues/rock with religious overtones. Sounding like Joe Cocker leading Z.Z. Top, Bockover gets the amen corner on its feet and shouting hallelujah when he tears into "My God" from the trio's latest release, Sunny Side Up. When Bockover isn't busy in the lower registers, he's likely to unleash a falsetto that'd make Little Richard shut up. And that turns more than a few heads in the progressive churches throughout the Triangle where the band usually performs. GB

Danielle Howle, Django Haskins, Patti Rothberg
Local 506
Saturday, Aug. 28

It's a great night of solo performers running the gamut. Howle has a raw-edged folk sound that belies her indie rock roots in Lay Quiet Awhile, though she purveys everything from bubbling psych-folk to upbeat country and rumbling rockers. Haskins is a clever writer with a great pop-rock sense, drawing Elvis Costello comparisons for both his irrepressibility and smart lyrical turns. One-time Manhattan busker Patti Rothberg is a talented multi-instrumentalist who pens intensely personal and thoughtful music of great intimacy. CP

Russ Varnell & the Too Country Band
Pour House Music Hall
Sunday, Aug. 29
Raised on a hardcore country television diet of Hee Haw and The Porter Wagoner Show, Black Creek's Russ Varnell realized a lifelong dream when he traveled to Bakersfield to visit Hee Haw co-host Buck Owens. Owens befriended the young country singer and has invited him to perform with him and the Buckaroos on several occasions. "I sometimes think that my generation doesn't even know what a country singer is supposed to sound like," says Varnell, who is out to change that with his Too Country Band and through his own TV show that he writes, directs and the show he produces on Rocky Mount's WHIG -TV. This one giddy-ups at 7 p. m. GB

Sunday Showcase
Cat's Cradle
Sunday, Aug. 29

Kate Gregory and three ex-Laburnum principals are Bellglide, a Mitch Easter-produced keeper whose inherent jangle and catch is subdued by a shoegazer schooling that runs deep, constant and striking, a more friendly, orchestrated Shannon Wright that's as familiar with the annals of Chapel Hill as those of Athens. Catch them for $2 at the quasi-regular Sunday Showcase (which benefits Carnivore Preservation Trust) at the Cat's Cradle, along with Brian Walsby's Siberian. Spader, Can Joann, Direct Frequency, The Fashion Brigade, Shaker Maker and Dirty Five-Thirty round out this worth-it bill. GC

Teens debut Toby
When was the last time you got a chance to see the debut of a rock opera? OK, how about one written by two teenagers?

Stop by East Chapel Hill High on Friday, Aug. 27 or Saturday, Aug. 28 and you can catch the debut of Toby--a rock opera described by its authors as "a young man's struggle to find himself in the modern counter-culture."

The authors, Jorge Izquierdo and William Guzzardi, both 17 year-old seniors, have been working on Toby for about three years. They finished up their composing work this spring and have spent the summer getting it ready for stage.

The debut features performers, musicians and tech crews from Chapel Hill High and East Chapel Hill High (Izquierdo goes to CHHS, Guzzardi goes to East).

The two have decided to donate any proceeds from the show to a fund to support other collaborative student projects and to encourage students from both schools to work together on ideas.

Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults. Call 969-ARTS for reservations.

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