Sound Menu: CL's picks for the week's best shows 

FRI/26

DRIVIN' N' CRYIN' Kevin Kinney and Co. unwrap another year in their on-again/off-again, near quarter century run as Atlanta's finest purveyors of an explosive and unique country, folk and hard rock hybrid that never disappoints, especially in front of hometown fans. $20-25. 9 p.m. Center Stage. 404-885-1365. www.centerstage-atlanta.com. -- Hal Horowitz

TRIBUTE TO WRITERS WHO ROCK Doing what they do best, Eddie's has booked a slew of local acoustic acts to honor local music writers. Showing their appreciation will be Caroline Aiken, Kodac Harrison, and several other talented performers. Thanks, y'all. $12-$60. 8PM. Eddie's Attic. 404-377-4976. www.eddiesattic.com -- James Kelly

GWEN HUGHES Three-time CL Readers' pick for "Best Jazz/Swing Artist," Hughes is a versatile vocalist who naturally gravitates towards retro jazz. The scarlet chanteuse tours Europe in late January. Repeat performance the following night. $10 cover/$10 minimum. 9:30 p.m. Churchill Grounds. 404-876-3030. www.churchillgrounds.com -- Mark Gresham

SAT/27

NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS Guitarist Luther Dickinson reunites with drummer/brother Cody after his Black Crowes sabbatical for more bluesy, funky, jam happy boogie. The sound seeps up from the Mississippi swamps, resulting in roots music that celebrates its Southern origins without being shackled to them. $22.50-25. 8:30 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com. -- HH

SWINGING RICHARDS NOW, THE ALTAR BOYS The holidays present a perfect opportunity for defunct bands to reunite and have a good time. Everyone's in town, so knock the dust off the Rickenbacker and slop your way down memory lane. Just have fun. $10 advance +2 cans of food. 8PM. Smith's Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. www.smithsoldebar.com. -- JK

UNKNOWN HINSON, SYRENS OF THE SOUTH Country rock for the Twilight generation, hillbilly vampire Unknown Hinson offers ironic country-western, with dashes of rockabilly, lounge swing and whisky attitude -- when not voicing Early Cuyler on Adult Swim's "Squidbillies." $15. 9 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com -- Chris Parker

VERVE PIPE The proverbial one-hit wonder -- haunting suicide ode "The Freshman," with its Eddie Vedder-esque yelp -- they've released two more albums of supple alt-rock/pop, including 2001's fine Underneath, and frontman Brian Vander Ark has three solo discs to his credit. No cover. The Loft. 404-885-1365. www.theloftatl.com -- CP

SUN/28

HEATHER LUTTRELL From rolling acoustic rock ("Anything But Me') to gritty blues ("Wild Women Don't Get the Blues"), it's Luttrell's edgy emotive voice that marks her "from the ground up" style. A new album is in progress. No Cover. 9:00 p.m. East Point Corner Tavern. 404-768-0007. www.thecornertavern.com/eastpoint -- MG

FATBACK DELUXE Classic '40s-'60s "golden age" blues plus originals. Led by founder Chris Kramer and frontman Ira Malkin, this local Atlanta band, previously known as Georgia Jooks, was wisely given its current moniker late last year. No Cover. 8 p.m. Blind Willie's. 404-873-2583. www.blindwilliesblues.com -- MG

SOUND TRIBE SECTOR 9 The annual New Year's Eve homecoming stint (SUN/28 through WED/31) from these space jammers finds them upgrading their lights, sound and edgy psychedelic presentation. This tour supports an eclectic 2008 release many consider STS9's finest and most diverse album. $35-67.50. 7 p.m. The Tabernacle. 404-249-6400. www.livenation.com. -- HH

Tues/30-wed/31

COL. BRUCE HAMPTON & THE QUARK ALLIANCE, BLUEGROUND UNDERGRASS What better way to bring in the New Year than with two nights of funky acoustic space music? The Colonel and his pals know how to throw a party, with plenty of big surprises. $12 advance + 2 cans of food, $20 advance on Wed. 8 p.m. Smith's Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. www.smithsoldebar.com. -- JK

BAND OF HORSES, THE WHIGS Former Carissa's Wierd bassist Ben Bridwell leads Band of Horses over similarly richly textured indie pop fueled by jangling, swooning guitar melancholy. The dreamy psych-folk drift splits the difference between the Shins and early Death Cab for Cutie. Sold out. 9 p.m. Tues., Dec. 30. 10 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 31. Variety Playhouse. 404 524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com -- CP

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