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CL's picks for the week's best shows 

Athfest, Grand Funk Railroad, Little Brother

THURS/21

ATHFEST 2007 It's time again for the annual celebration of the music and art of Athens. More than 180 bands are participating in the '07 edition of AthFest, on the free outdoor stage and in the participating venues during the Club Crawl. Among the new and historic notables still untouched by corporate intrusion and clueless industry weasels (you know who you are) from the city made famous by the B-52's and R.E.M.: the Athens debut of pop supergroup Supercluster (11:50 p.m. Thursday, 40 Watt), featuring Vanessa Hay of Pylon and an all-super cast; the Jolly Beggars, the Squalls, Time Toy (10 p.m., 11 p.m., 12 a.m. Friday, Melting Point); Music Hates You and Southern Bitch (12, 1 a.m. Saturday, Caledonia). June 20-24. $15. Downtown Athens. www.athfest.com. -- Lee Valentine Smith

MINDY SMITH Now based in Nashville, this recovering Yankee is one of the best of the new crop of singer/songwriters. Her singing style is reminiscent of folkies such as Shawn Colvin and the McGarrigle sisters, but her writing is quite original and unique. This will be an entertaining evening. $20. 8 p.m. Eddie's Attic. 404-377-4976. www.eddiesattic.com. -- James Kelly

NO RIVER CITY, DAVID DONDERO, THE LONG KNIVES, GEORGIA FIREFLIES If they gave awards for hard work and effort in the music biz, NRC would be as big as Elvis. Its sincere Americana sound is finely crafted, and frontman Drew de Man's songs speak for us all. But it plays last on this overloaded bill. Four bands on a school night, my ass. $8. 9:30 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com. -- JK

FRI/22

JOE BUCK, CREECH HOLLER, DAN MAXWELL AND HIS BAND He's anti-Nashville and antisocial in general. That's right, Joe Buck doesn't worry about being PC, unless it means "pretty cool." And he is. He first hogged the spotlight as guitarist with Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, then as Hank III's wicked onstage sidekick, and now the hulking upright bassist brings his own badass "hellbilly punk" act to town. Creech Holler plays, then backs th' Buck up. Dan Maxwell And His Band opens the show. $7. 9 p.m. Star Bar, 404-681-9018. www.starbaratlanta.com -- LVS

GRAND FUNK RAILROAD Originally formed in 1969 in Flint, Mich., Grand Funk 2007 includes founding members Don Brewer on vocals and drums and bassist Mel Schacher, with Max Carl (.38 Special) and Bruce Kulick (KISS). Expect the hits and maybe a few new things. They're comin' to your town, to help you party it down. How many of you have the yellow vinyl 7-inch single of "We're An American Band"? $15-$45. 8 p.m. Mable House Barnes Amphitheatre. 770-819-7765. www.themhba.com. -- LVS

RAILROAD EARTH, THE WAYBACKS The musical melting pot is boiling tonight. Railroad Earth channels the Dead way more than they do the Bluegrass Boys, but the fans will be getting all swirly no matter what they play. The Waybacks are striking a similar vein, with a little bit more country thrown in. $20. 8:30 p.m . Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com. -- JK

SAT/23

NEIL HAMBURGER, DR. EL SUAVO Neil Hamburger holds the self-appointed crown of "The World's Funnyman" but he is anything but funny. His stand-up performances are a train wreck of bad jokes, very bad timing and just plain bad ideas fleshed out and allowed to flourish in an atmosphere of hipster anti-comedy. His shows are torturous, and that's the point. Australia's "premier parlor magician/DJ" Dr. El Suavo opens the show. $8. 9 p.m. Drunken Unicorn. 404-870-0575. www.thedrunkenunicorn.net. -- Chad Radford

THE ROSEBUDS While they've remained true to an indie-pop aesthetic, each album is an entirely distinct slice, from the classic Mersey pop of their 2003 debut, Make Out, through the reverb-heavy hooks of 2005's Birds Make Good Neighbors, to the synth- and bass-heavy, '80s darkwave that rules their latest, Night of the Furies. The Rosebuds are filled out with a bassist and additional guitarist for a beefier-than-usual live lineup that allows married couple Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp to concentrate more on their sweet harmonies. $12. 9:30 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com. -- Chris Parker

STEADY ROLLIN' BOB MARGOLIN The ex-Muddy Waters guitar sideman is also a sharp journalist who writes intelligently about the music he plays. He also keeps the fires of his deceased boss' sturdy Chicago-by-way-of-the-Delta blues alive on a seemingly nonstop tour. Working with a stripped-down duo allows Margolin room to roll steadily through covers and originals that recall old-school Windy City blues. It is music that is gradually becoming obsolete as slicked-up hard-rockers dilute the music's raw qualities. Margolin delivers with the dedication of a journeyman. $12. 9 p.m. Blind Willie's. 404-873-2583. www.blindwilliesblues.com. -- Hal Horowitz

STEVE MILLER Look under the seat of nearly any '70s Camaro and you're likely to find an 8-track tape of one of the Steve Miller Band's then-ubiquitous albums: The Joker, Book of Dreams or Fly Like an Eagle. Those massive hit records sealed his "classic-rocker" status, but his late '60s material didn't follow the chart-hit template and remain among his more interesting releases. Expect extended, blues-injected versions of his biggest hits tonight. $50.52-$78.60. 8 p.m. Chastain Park Amphitheatre, 404-733-5000. www.classicchastain.com. -- LVS

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