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The duality of the American South (bullwhips cracking/the sky's always blue) and the mythology surrounding Lynyrd Skynyrd are a couple of lofty topics, but Athens, Ga.'s Drive-By Truckers tackle them both with the dead-on directness of Skynyrd's three-guitar attack, on their ambitious two-disc Southern Rock Opera. Patterson Hood--he'll be the fella in the middle telling stories under a truckstop cap--is a naturally charismatic front guy, especially when testifying how arena rock saved his teenaged ass as he introduces the marvelous, autobiographical "Let There Be Rock." Hood and company will turn Humble Pie into a combination roadhouse and cathedral of rock 'n' roll on Thursday, Dec. 6. Call 829-9222 for details.

DiamondDiamondDiamondIt wouldn't be the holidays without a Cat's Cradle homecoming show by Chapel Hill's own ambassadors of good-'n'-greazy sleaze, Southern Culture on the Skids. You know they'll be pulling out all the stops--Mary Huff'll be puttin' on her finest wig hat, Dave Hartman will be dressed to the nines (although he cuts a fine figure in his "Mama Tried"-emblazoned ribbed undershirt), Cousin Krispy'll put on his Sunday-go-to-meetin' overalls and guitar legend Rick Miller might even don his Captain Stubing (Love Boat) hat. Climb aboard, y'all, they're expecting you, this Saturday, Dec. 8 in Carrboro. Call 967-9053 for details. --Angie Carlson

While certainly no strangers to the Triangle music scene, an appearance by D.C. electro-rockers Trans Am (pictured) is still cause for celebration. Currently in the midst of recording their seventh album at their own National Recording Studio, the band has taken a break to hit the road and promote the release of the new collaborative EP with frequent tourmates and shredding metal-harmonizers par excellence The Fucking Champs. Titled Double Exposure, the record has all the six-string sorcery you'd expect from such a tag team, but the effort manages to balance the pyrotechnics with excursions from the pastoral to the futuristic, all held together by the aesthetic of grandeur that has informed much of both bands' work. While Trans Am won't be performing material from the EP, they'll be previewing material from their upcoming full-length. The songs continue to chart the propulsive, vocoder-enhanced landscape they began to explore on 1999's Futureworld, and the dance-floor anthem "Party Station" shows the band bringing its groove craft to new heights. Hear the boys wring absurd amounts of bass from the Kings P.A. on Wednesday, Dec. 12 (with Rye Coalition and The Oxes). Call 831-1005 for details. --Grant Tennille

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