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The Blind Boys of Alabama , powerful voices who've performed as a unit since 1939 with their inspirational, R&B-flavored gospel songs, slayed the public and critics alike with their 2001 release, Spirit of the Century. While the group shook Triangle audiences with their a cappella performance at Durham's Carolina Theatre a couple years back, Spirit of the Century brought the singers into the studio with an array of journeymen musicians that included David Lindley on slide, Charlie Musselwhite on harp, along with Richard Thompson's rhythm section of drummer Michael Jerome and stand-up bass player Danny Thompson. With covers of sacred music by Tom Waits, Ben Harper and the Stones, the album is soulful and unmistakably Southern but with a truly timeless feel. See them Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Cat's Cradle. Call 967-9053 for details.

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Feel jaded about live music? Then check this out: Sylvain Sylvain with Red Planet and Jett Rink at Kings. Headliner Sylvain could be riveting or horrifying. He's got a new disc, (sleep) baby doll, which boasts a roster of first-rate talent. Whether he sucks or shines, the former glam rocker--once asked by Malcolm McClaren to come over and join a little band he was putting together called The Sex Pistols--is still a living link to one or rock's all-time coolest (and most influential) bands. The evening starts with Durham's Jett Rink, a newish punk/new wave band (the keyboard player's got a an old Arp synth and other fun toys) that performance-wise isn't afraid to go out on a limb: The singer, Viva, does an amazing Richard Hell-acious punk yelp while tangling his spare, 6 foot-6-inch frame around anything that gets in his way. Next up is San Francisco's Red Planet, followed by the ex-Doll himself. Get down this Friday, Feb. 15, at Kings in Raleigh. Call 831-0540 for details. -Angie Carlson

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