Downtown—It's beginning to look a lot like, uh, autumn. Which means, of course, that it's time for the 2008 WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas Parade—the 64th annual. The Greater Raleigh Merchants Association invented the parade to entice early holiday buying at the downtown department stores. Today, the stores are gone, but then nobody has any money either, so what could be better than a free parade that's billed as the biggest of the year between Atlanta and Washington, D.C.? Expect 115 floats, bands and marching groups and 50,000 watchers, weather permitting. Two highlights: Santa; and major league baseball's best story for the kids, slugger Josh Hamilton of Athens Drive High School and Texas Rangers fame.
Start time is 9:30 a.m. (10 on WRAL-TV) at the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary's streets. The 1.2-mile route jogs around the Capitol and ends halfway down Fayetteville Street. For more information, visit www.grma.org/parade.
For those who do have a little cash, the Carolina Christmas Show (www.carolinachristmasshow.com) holds forth at the Raleigh Convention Center Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 20-23, with the usual array of crafts and food creations. Admission is $6.50; $5.50 seniors; free, under 12. —Bob Geary
N.C. Symphony: Dvorak's Cello Concerto
Meymandi Concert Hall, Progress Energy Center—German cellist and former teenage string prodigy Daniel Müller-Schott joins the state's symphony for a performance of Antonin Dvorak's second (and only really notable) cello concerto. Written toward the end of Dvorak's life, after he had finished nine symphonies, the concerto is the work of a deeply nationalistic Czech composer who tempered moments of intensity with peaceful woodwind and brass melodies. Müller-Schott—known for his technical playing and ability to conjure the emotion needed to handle Dvorak—has previously approached the piece with musical patience and skill. Schumann's Symphony No. 2 and Aaron Jay Kemis' Overture in Feet and Meters round out the program. Tickets start at $37, and the music starts at 8 p.m. You may also hear the same program at Meymandi Friday night, too. —Margaret Hair
Aiden, Civet, God or Julie
The Brewery—All-girl garage punk quartet Civet blends the grimy throttle of early L7 with a riff-rocking proto-punk throb, highlighted by singer/ guitarist Liza Graves' feral growl. This kind of three-chord clamor will never sound that original, but Civet's loud and energetic stuff comes abetted by shouted harmonies. Headliner Aiden's gothic, mascara-ridden emo-pop pumps Alkaline Trio full of collagen. God or Julie rounds out the bill, and the show starts at 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
Lincoln Theatre—Charlotte-reared soul singer Anthony Hamilton accomplishes two important things on two of my favorite soul tracks of the year, Al Green's "Lay It Down" and his own "Cool": First, in his relaxed but acrobatically capable voice, Hamilton casts love as the ultimate sedative and the ultimate distraction. "Cool" excludes the rest of the world, mitigating the pragmatic anxieties of Hamilton's lover (money, work, friends, self-improvement) with this perfectly existential exhalation: "If you're cool, then I'm cool, then we're cool." Alongside Green, Hamilton eases the hook of "Lay It Down" out, inviting a lover to relax and enjoy the thrill: "Lay it down/ Let it go/ Fall in love."
Second, Hamilton acts as the honey-voiced unifier on both these tracks. He sings with Green, augmenting his idol by not stepping on or over his signature warbles and vocal leaps, mirroring the track's organ in its exquisite supporting role. On "Cool," his love lesson sets up a hilarious verse from Mississippi rapper David Banner, in which he dispels outside expectations so completely that he hopes to pick his girl's nose and dandruff. Hamilton returns to his homestate a month before the release of his sixth album, The Point of It All. Tickets for the 9 p.m. start are $30-$50. —Grayson Currin