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This weekend brings a wealth of Americana music to the Triangle. Former New Grass Revival lead singer John Cowan visits The Brewery in Raleigh for a 10:30 p.m. Friday performance. With a killer band and a voice James Brown would die for, Cowan defines his own raucous space where bluegrass and rock meet seamlessly (tickets $12; call 834-7018). When NGR was creating new grass music in the mid-1970s, banjo giant J.D. Crowe was changing mainstream bluegrass forever with groups that included Tony Rice and Keith Whitley. Crowe and the New South continue to refine a modern bluegrass sound that you can hear at their 6:45 p.m. show at the Historic Garner Auditorium (tickets $16 in advance, $18 at door; info: 779-5672). Charlotte's Lou Ford, a rural pop band featuring exceptional songwriting, visits The Cave in Chapel Hill for a 10:30 p.m. concert on Saturday. Respected veterans of the state's Americana scene, Lou Ford proves hotter than ever with a powerful new lineup and glowing reviews for their recent second album, Alan Freed's Radio ($5 cover; info: 968-9308). --Art Menius

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