It's an amazing week for music. On Friday, Nov. 9, South African jazz singer Dolly Rathebe (Nelson Mandela's favorite singer) will give a special concert, From Africa, with Love, at Duke's Reynolds Auditorium. Rathebe's in Durham as a Biddle/Sieman's Fellow at Duke's John Hope Franklin Center, where she's assisting in working on her biography. Call 684-4444 for details.
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings return to the Cat's Cradle this Saturday, Nov. 10, followed by both offshoots of indie poobahs Pavement: Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks appear Sunday, Nov. 11, and Preston School of Industry play Tuesday, Nov. 13. Call 967-9053 for details.
Go! Room 4 in Carrboro features Philly's Aspera (pictured) Wednesday, Nov. 7. Aspera's second full-length, Sugared and Feathered, features dream-time tempos and oddly constructed ditties hung with gauzy snippets of noise and retro-synth percussive flourishes, all afloat in canyons of reverb. Worth checking out.
Singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston also comes to Go! Room 4, Friday, Nov. 9, on the heels of his sixth album, Right Between the Promises--more wry takes on love, life and all the foibles contained therein. Call 969-1400 for details.
Post-rock stalwarts Burning Airlines, featuring in-demand producer J. Robbins, swing back to the Triangle this week. These vets have a post-rock pedigree most young bands would die for, and the depth and knowledge of musical history to back it up. Their most recent disc, Identikit, features Robbins' intelligent, pointed lyrics, coupled with turn-on-a-dime musical precision, with enough hooks and melodies to please even old-school rockers. Catch them this Friday, Nov. 9, at Kings in Raleigh. Call 831-1005 for details. --Angie Carlson
Put matter-of-factly, Tim O'Brien is a talented, versatile, well-traveled musician. Growing up in Wheeling, W.V., he played in bluegrass, country and rock bands, eventually forming Hot Rize and its honky-tonk/swing alter ego, Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers. Among the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist's solo albums is Red on Blonde, a collection of Dylan songs given bluegrass and old-time makeovers. His '99 release, The Crossing, shifted the spotlight to Celtic music and its influence on American folk styles. The new Two Journeys picks up where The Crossing left off, and will bring O'Brien and the original Crossing band to Raleigh's Stewart Theater this Friday, Nov. 9. Call 515-1100 for details. --Rick Cornell
Englishman Martin Simpson has taken his generously melodic finger style and slide acoustic guitar and powerhouse voice to work with English folk-rock giants June Tabor, the Albion Band, Steeleye Span and Richard Thompson. For the past dozen years, most spent in the states, he's collaborated with his Irish-born spouse, songwriter Jessica Ruby Simpson. Yet he has also found time to play with blues veterans and Indian musicians. The Friends of World Music sponsor Simpson in concert this Friday, Nov. 9, at 8:30 p.m. in the up-close-and-personal setting of Chapel Hill's Skylight Exchange. Call 787-2798 for details. --Art Menius