The wide-ranging music career of Janas Hoyt (pictured) has included membership in the Indiana-based cult-fave ensemble the Vulgar Boatmen, and a stint as a singer with super Hoosier John Mellencamp. These days, the quietly charismatic Hoyt leads The Mary Janes, a chamber-roots outfit with a sound that blends rock, folk and haunted country--dueling violins are a specialty. The band's latest album, FLAME, ends by taking ownership of Tom Petty's "Free Girl Now," but its most compelling moment is a tale of widespread betrayal, titled "Bruises and Breaks." The song rocks like "Copperhead Road" and it's sung with grit and battered soul by Hoyt. Their show at Sadlack's in Raleigh on Sunday, Nov. 4, gives you the chance to see why bedazzled critics have mentioned names ranging from Hank Williams and Patti Smith to Chrissy Hynde and Fairport Convention in efforts to describe Hoyt and The Mary Janes. Call Sadlack's at 828-9190 for details. --Rick Cornell
Steep Canyon Rangers are a young Chapel Hill-based bluegrass band that's starting to turn heads with their fine pickin' and powerful harmonies. They even recently won the Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival band competition. In the Triangle, they helped start Tuesday "bluegrass night" at the Mellow Mushroom eatery in Chapel Hill, and they've released a debut album, Old Dreams and New Dreams, produced by founding New Grass Revival member Curtis Burch. The core of the band, originally from the mountains of Western Carolina, all met while attending UNC-Chapel Hill (the band members are all 25 or younger). While they've got a traditional old-time sound, they've got a high-energy performance style. They'll be at the Carrboro ArtsCenter this Friday, Nov. 2. Also on the bill are The Grass Cats, a five-piece playing bluegrass classics from the '50s and '60s and bluegrass versions of contemporary music.
On Saturday, Nov. 3, the ArtsCenter hosts the 4th Annual N.C. Songwriters' Co-op Finals. The not-for-profit organization (past performers include alternative folk artists Andy Kuncl and eclectic singer-songwriter Jonathon Byrd) sponsors mini-tours where they send groups of artists to play local venues, as well as a Web page and music workshops. Winners will receive cash and studio time. Call 929-2787 for details about the above events.
Sloan Wainwright, the youngest sister of Loudon Wainwright III and Rufus' aunt, is a powerful singer in her own right, with a warm alto voice (she boasts a five-octave range) and a truly unique style of enunciation. You've really heard nothing quite like it. Her songs are journeys of self-discovery, accompanied by keyboard, guitar and drums: classic folk with a jazzy sway that sometimes ventures into folk-rock. See her Saturday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. at the Community Church Coffeehouse in Chapel Hill. Call 621-1919 or visit www.communitychurchcoffeehouse.org for details. --Angie Carlson