Sound menu: Friday/1 

AHN TRIO -- All three sisters in the Ahn Trio made it to Julliard. And now they've made it into the big leagues, hailed by critics and audiences alike for their intuitive blend of piano, cello and violin, and their imaginative ensemble work. Robert Ferst Center for the Arts/Ga. Tech (Brown)

ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA -- See listing for Thurs., Jan. 31. Symphony Hall (Brown)

BETTER THAN EZRA -- New Orleans' least soulful musical export began life as a Dinosaur Jr. knockoff. Older, wiser and more pretentious, they now combine sounds from a cross-section of radio-friendly, faceless alterna-bands like Vertical Horizon, matchbox twenty and the Verve Pipe into a mildly intriguing, entirely undistinguished lump. Not awful enough to be offensive, their humorless, anonymous, sporadically tuneful songs are professionally bland. Roxy (Horowitz)

BUSTA RHYMES -- Busta Rhymes is the Mad Hatter of hip-hop. Ever since graduation day, this former Leader of the New School has set loose a string of stark raving singles that perfectly capture the paranoia, delirium and white-knuckle terror of life in this wasting Wonderland. But between his psychotic staccato tours de force, Busta lays distressing amounts of go-nowhere filler. The live setting gives Busta a chance to focus only on those more inspired moments of lunacy. Georgia State Sports Arena (Keyes)

CAKE -- Cake's got a great job. They play music that, in the grand scheme of all things radio-friendly, is pretty interesting (a quirky grab bag of pop, funk, mariachi, country and guitar rock), and they sell records doing it. Sure, modern rock radio blows goats, but Cake gives it a slight air of respectability with hits like their latest, "Short Skirt/Long Jacket." Tabernacle (Berkery)

CASWELL SISTERS, GARY MOTLEY TRIO -- Violinist Sara Caswell and vocalist sister Rachel headline the first of two nights of jazz at Emory, backed by the Gary Motley Trio. Both sisters have been recognized for their work at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Aspen, Colo. Sara was a featured soloist at the Sarasota Jazz Festival and a guest artist alongside Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops Allstars in Carnegie Hall. Rachel's credits include performances with the Billy Taylor Trio and Curtis Fuller. Performing Arts Studio/Emory (Powell)

FISHMOUTH FOOLS -- The Atlanta funk-and-blues six-piece -- featuring the Urban Shakedancers' Robert Paige and bass notable Charlie Wooten -- reunites for two shows this weekend. Northside Tavern (Sarig)

LARRY KEEL EXPERIENCE -- Flatpicking champion Larry Keel is no traditionalist. But his experiments in the bluegrass form stay true to the ethic of the genre's classic era. Rather than pursuing the hyper-technical angle of so many other newgrass performers, Keel and Co. reach for a raw, soulful approach to bluegrass fusion. Red Light Cafe (Hutchinson)

DANIEL LEE, CLAIRE & BAIN'S MAPLE YUM-YUM -- Two recent winners of Eddie's semi-annual Open Mic Shootout team up for this show, which also serves as a CD release party for Lee's new album, Illumination. Eddie's Attic (Sarig)

MACHINE HEAD -- See Record Reviews, p. 97. Masquerade (Kohler)

MOODSWING RECORDS WEEKEND -- The first night of the weekend-long showcase of fine bands on the roster of local indie-rock upstart Moodswing Records features instro/math-rock powerhouse Ocelot and Dropsonic, a band whose heavier inclinations have somewhat tempered in recent years as its melodic flair has emerged. Copa Vance and Rizzudo round out the bill. Echo Lounge (Sarig)

ROBOTIC STORM CLOUD, MINAMINA GOODSONG, I AM THE WORLD TRADE CENTER -- See Robotic Storm Cloud in Earshot, p. 85. Local rap duo Minamina Goodsong and Athens electro-pop pair I Am the World Trade Center are also on the bill. The Earl (Sarig)

ROCK CITY DROPOUTS, LUST -- A new local supergroup, the hard-rockin' Dropouts make their debut tonight with Shawn Christian (X-Impossibles) on vocals and guitar, Shawn Thacker (Truckadelic) on drums and Eric Smith (Grand Moff Tarkin) on bass. Opening the show is Lust, a delightful punkette trio whose clever songs taunt your eardrums with as much pep 'n' sass as their outrageous stage costumes tease your eyes. Star Bar (Nicoll)

RICKY SKAGGS, OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW -- Handpicked by the late Bill Monroe to lead traditional bluegrass into the 21st century, Skaggs has devoted this new phase of his career to carrying the torch. With a backup band whose virtuosity will leave you slack-jawed, Skaggs is the real deal -- Kentucky born and bred, with talent to spare. He has the voice, the chops and the charisma. Champions of long-forgotten morsels of truth seeped in the earliest folk traditions, openers Old Crow Medicine Show dabble in everything from Tejano to bluegrass with the graphic, glorious rootlessness of gypsys. Variety Playhouse (Kelly/Rowland)

BILL WHARTON -- One part seasoned bluesman, one part hot sauce connoisseur, "The Sauce Boss" Bill Wharton is known for his intense runs ... on the guitar. Occupying that rarely visited crossroads of music, cuisine and shameless marketing, the simmering slide guitarist whips up gumbo and pushes his own line of hot sauce at every show. Chip's (Hutchinson)

YOUNG ANTIQUES, HOT AUGUST KNIGHTS -- The Young Antiques and those Diamond-miners the Hot August Knights play a free show scheduled to begin just after the Cake show concludes upstairs. Young Antiques remain one of the city's most promising rock bands, and the Knights surpass the novelty stigma of a tribute band by impressively rocking out versions of Neil Diamond's best songs. Cotton Club (Smith)


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