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It's getting close to the time of year when music fans start to get that Year End Top Ten gleam in their eyes. My list is still coming together, but two albums that'll be hard to bump when the dust settles are Scott Miller and the Commonwealth's Thus Always to Tyrants and Duane Jarvis' Certified Miracle. Most of Tyrants is delivered at a blistering pace--including a garage-rattling run through The Brogues' nugget "I Ain't No Miracle Worker," and "Goddamn the Sun," two minutes of pure, loud, Nerves-style power pop. But Miller takes to the dirt road during the album's middle section, courtesy of the epistolary "Dear Sarah" and the nearly a cappella "Highland County Boy." Jarvis is one of those musicians' musician types--he's toured and recorded with the likes of Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, and John Prine--but folks need to realize that he keeps putting out fine albums of his own. Jarvis and his band Los Flacos share the bill with a solo-standing Miller this Friday, Oct. 19 at Fowler's in Durham, wrapping up their terrific American Music series for the season. Call 683-2555 for details. --Rick Cornell

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"The stage, she is the God-damnedest woman you ever saw," Neil Diamond says in the liner notes of his live opus, Hot August Night. "We're not a spoof band; we're a tribute band," says Jack Whitebread (pictured) about his legendary live musical project, The Neil Diamond All-Stars. Backed by a five-piece combo of local rock heavies, along with a posse of back-up singers, Whitebread's tribute to Diamond's legacy--he's been a fan since 1972, when he was blown away by his dad's copy of the aforementioned album--has made the band's few-and-far-between shows must-see events. Whitebread, who dug Diamond before, say, Saving Silverman brought the troubadour to a whole new audience, plays the rockin' numbers ("Cherry Cherry," "Kentucky Woman") and incorporates elements of Diamond's '80s live show. Whitebread's got a few special touches of his own (let's just say he's building the "catwalk" as I write). No-bull rockers Billy Joe Winghead open, along with the debut of Dave Quick's (Jack Black) new balls-out trio. It all goes down at the Cat's Cradle this Saturday, Oct. 20. Call 967-9053 for details. --Ron Liberti

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