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MUDCAT -- Mudcat and Co. serve up one of the more eclectic batches of rock 'n' roll gumbo you'll find anywhere, recently adding trumpet player Mico (pronounced mee-koe) to the brew. Back from a European tour that included gigs in the Italian Alps, Paris and at the Lucerne (Switzerland) Blues Festival, the band is wrapping up the year with a series of local gigs and mixing down an upcoming live album, recorded at the Variety Playhouse in April. Look for special guests, including Cora Mae Bryant. Northside Tavern (Powell)

NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS -- This Memphis-bred three-piece toured non-stop for four years without an album, so when it finally arrived they had already generated a rabid word-of-mouth following. As the band that Jon Spencer wishes he could have started, the NMAS mix deep Delta blues of the R.L. Burnside/Son House variety, with concise early Allman Brothers-styled jamming and a spicy old ZZ Top attack, into a rugged, craggy groove as muddy and deep as the Mississippi itself. More than the sum of their influences, this music explodes with earthy passion and must be experienced live to be truly appreciated. Ancient Harmony open. Variety Playhouse (Horowitz)

PH BALANCE, JUSTIN HALE, MINAMINA GOODSONG, DJ T'CHALLA -- Tonight's final Mardi Gras-themed night at the Echo is fittingly in the hands of the Kaleidoscope, a 24/7 self-contained party. Tonight, the brightest stars of the multi-media collective gather to ring in the new year with good vibes and a modern urban mindset. PH Balance's Pam Howe will lead the assembled multitude in a soul-scrubbing session, joined by the hopped-up Justin Hale, the party hip-hop from the dual emcees of Minamina Goodsong and the spinning of DJ T'Challa. Echo Lounge, Dec 31 (Smith)

RENT BOYS, BELTONES -- The Rent Boys' New Year's Eve show will mark not only the end of the year, but quite possibly the end of the Rent Boys as we know them. The ultimate party band -- known to perform with midgets, strippers and bartenders on stage -- are as combustible as gasoline and just as toxic. A Rent Boys gig can cause riots and disturb the peace, so this could very well be the party event of the season. A good time will be had by all, whether you remember it or not. The Beltones will also help clang in 2001. The Earl (Smith)

TENDER IDOLS -- It's not rare at all that the Tender Idols play Smith's, but a free admission show on New Years' Eve is very hard to find. Tonight, those Anglo-luvvin' lads are supposed to be joined by some "special guests." Hey, it's free, so drink up. Smith's Olde Bar (Smith)

TRUCKADELIC, GARGANTUA -- That over-the-top Christmas Spectacular last week was just a warm-up for the craziness the country/punk wildmen of Truckadelic have in store for this New Year's blast. Opening act Gargantua are cartoonish heavy metal berserkers who create a frighteningly heavy bottom end to their sound by means of multiple bass guitars. Star Bar (Nicoll)

2001 -- A DISCO ODYSSEY -- Celebrates the new year with old school sounds, featuring Romeo Cologne's mix of favorite and obscure hits from the '70s. Tongue & Groove (Ware)

WIDESPREAD PANIC -- See listing for Dec. 30. Philips Arena (Ware)

MARK WILLS -- Many people in the country music scene in Atlanta feel as if they have watched Mark Wills grow up in front of their eyes, though the gifted Georgia native is now longer a newcomer. Since bursting onto the country charts in 1996 with "Jacob's Ladder," Mark has captured the hearts of music fans across America. With powerful No. 1 hits like "I Do (Cherish You), "Don't Laugh at Me" and "Wish You Were Here," Wills has clearly established himself as a soulful song stylist and loyal to his fans, country crooner. Cowboys (Forrest)

Also performing

9 LIVES SALOON: Dick Delicious, X-Impossibles, the Evils, Criminal Ways

BAYOU ROOM: Rythem Nation

BILLY'S: Karaoke

BLIND WILLIE'S: Sandra Hall, Houserocker Johnson, the Shadows

BLUE LAGOON LOUNGE: Hurtin' Bastards, Blue Velvets, Bogues and Friends

BRANDYHOUSE: "New Year's Eve" with YG

THE CHAMBER: New Year's Chocolate Party

CHECKERED PARROT: Spider Kelly Band

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