While we try to keep up with it all, deciding what to highlight each week is a chore and fitting in the must-mentions often a feat of typographic gymnastics. The job gets especially tough when a bunch of stellar out-of-town acts converge on us around the same time. One of those stretches is just around the corner, with a diverse group of rock, jazz and international stars heading our way over the next 10 days or so.
Here are some of the highlights:
Soweto Gospel Choir, Page Auditorium, Feb. 1--A 26-member choir from one of South Africa's most famous townships during the antiapartheid struggle. Their performance at Duke on the anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins coincides with the release of their new record, the aptly named Voices from Heaven.
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Cat's Cradle, Jan. 27--One of the happy thoughts from the otherwise dismal '04 is that Augusta native (and James Brown acolyte) Ms. Jones and Brooklyn's Dap Kings have decided to make us a regular stop on their itinerary.
Ben Folds, Page Auditorium, Jan. 28--Ben's back, but so far no word on whether Bill Shatner's beaming in for a guest spot.
Bright Eyes, Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, Jan. 31--These guys are like Vanity Fair cool and have two records coming out a mere five days before the show.
Arcade Fire, Cat's Cradle, Jan. 28--Their Triangle debut at last year's Mergefest opener party blew folks away. The story goes that their Cat's Cradle show sold out in near-record time.
Blind Boys of Alabama, Hill Hall, Jan. 31--They just put out a record with Ben Harper that will send chills down your spine. Of course, just about everything these guys do is capable of that. The great thing about this show is that it's in Hill Hall at UNC, a venue that'll enhance the experience.
Jack DeJohnette Latin Project, Page Auditorium, Feb. 4--One of the greatest jazz drummers still at it and now teamed up with an all-star Latin ensemble.