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The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus' curriculum vitae ranges from lectures on "Why I put balloons in my nose" at the Tyler Art School in Philadelphia and on "The Circus and the Public Sphere" at Hampshire College in Massachussets, to performances at the Burning Man festival, street fairs and just about every dank bar in the country that will have them. The spirit of P.T. Barnum suffuses their performances, which they describe as "a vaudevillainous variety of cirkus, sideshow, and the burlesque." Their travelling show taps into the age-old tradition of the nomadic roadshow, and features fire eaters, sword swallowers, fakirs, Moorish blessing oils, and a presentation of small-press publications. "They have an Agenda and the Cirkus is the medium," reads the Bindlestiff's posters, pondering Deleuze. Like a brightly colored ball batted back and forth by two trained seals, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus bounces into Kings in Raleigh April 19, and April 22 at Local 506. Call 831-1005 or 942-5506 for more information.

DiamondDiamondDiamondBlue Note recording artist Harry Pickens has performed with some of the biggest names in jazz--Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson and Freddie Hubbard, to name a few--while vocalist Alexis Cole is a familiar face to local jazz aficionados. The pianist and vocalist, whose most recent CD collaboration is titled Very Early, will be performing an evening of jazz standards as part of the Quake Relief concert series, with the proceeds going to benefit India's earthquake survivors. (Cole has studied in India through the Jazz India Vocal Institute.) After the concert, check out the "Indian marketplace," where there'll be everything from traditional Indian henna painting (for your body, not your wall) to ethnic foods, music, stories and foods. The concert is Thursday, April 19, at 8 p.m., in the Community Church of Chapel Hill, and costs $10. Call 942-2050 or go to www.quakerelief.org for details.

DiamondDiamondDiamondImagine Tina Turner fronting a hybrid pack of rockers who combine the Detroit MC5-Stooges sound with a nod towards the hardest releases on the Stax/Volt roster, and you've got The Bellrays. The Riverside, Calif., four-piece, with lead singer Lisa Kekaula (who ain't afraid to let her freak flag fly--from a voluminous afro-puff 'do to full-on big hair) have weathered personnel changes to release Grand Fury, a follow-up to their punk 'n' soul debut, Let it Blast. You've got two chances to get down and dirty with the band: April 21 at Chapel Hill's Local 506 (an amazing bill featuring The Forty-Fives and Leadfoot) or April 22 at Kings in Raleigh. Call the Local 506 at 942-5506, or Kings at 831-1005, for more details. --Angie Carlson

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