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CL's picks for the week's best shows

WED/19

WAYNE HANCOCK, CAROLINE & THE RAMBLERS Hancock is a bona fide traveling troubadour, spending more time on the road than in any one place. His music captures the essence of his vagabond lifestyle, steeped in the heritage of Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, and Bob Wills. Caroline & the Ramblers are one of the cornerstones of Atlanta's redneck underground, celebrating the role of great women singers in music with pure aplomb and sheer talent. $12. 9 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com. -- James Kelly

THURS/20

ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Hugo Wolff, as of last month the newly appointed director of orchestras at New England Conservatory, leads the ASO in the "Symphony No. 5" by Dmitri Shostakovich, one of the composer's most popular works. Also on tap is the closet drama-inspired "Overture to Manfred" and solitary "Piano Concerto in A Minor" of Robert Schumann. American pianist Nicholas Angelich makes his ASO debut as featured soloist for the concerto. Program repeats Fri.-Sat., March 21-22. $10-$70. 8 p.m. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center. 404-733-5000. www.atlantasymphony.org. -- Mark Gresham

CINETROPE, THE NERD PARADE, A FIGHT TO THE DEATH If Populux was a type of music rather than architecture and design, it could easily describe the style of headliner Cinetrope -- bouncy, boomerang-throwing pop-rock focused around the airy vocals of Sharron Scott. The Nerd Parade deploys a sonic stew of reggae, indie post-rock-alternative and electronica that meld into an inventively infectious dance pop. The deceptively simple songs of show opener A Fight to the Death conjure a redux of Ennio Morricone's "old West" film scores touched by Eastern Euro-Mediterranean influences. $5. 8 p.m. The Five Spot. 404-223-1100. www.fivespot-atl.com. -- MG

JASON ISBELL It was surely a gamble leaving the relative security of the established Drive-By Truckers for a solo career, especially when Isbell wasn't exactly front and center for the rootsy Athens Southern rockers. But the move seems to have worked, as his first solo album has turned into a sleeper hit, allowing Isbell to fill medium-sized venues. Stripped down to an acoustic format in preparation for a European jaunt, this show will be a rare occasion to hear his material, old and new, in its most naked form. $15. 8 p.m. Eddie's Attic. 770-377-4976. www.eddiesattic.com. -- Hal Horowitz

LITTLE BROTHER This North Carolina conscious rap crew got love out of the box with props from ?uestlove and Guru for their debut joint, The Listening. It earned producer 9th Wonder (Jay-Z, Jean Grae) plenty of work, and the group a deal from Atlantic. But their excellent follow-up, The Minstrel Show, was hardly promoted, and last year rappers Phonte and Big Pooh split from both the label and 9th Wonder. In October, they unveiled Getback, which still features intelligent reflection à la A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, but rather banal production. For more on the A3C Hip-Hop Festival, see Vibes, p. XX. $30-$45. 8 p.m. CW Midtown Music Complex. 404-885-1365. www.centerstage-atlanta.com. -- Chris Parker

REACH FOR THE MOON Respected Atlanta mainstay Kodac Harrison takes his gruff but sensitive beat poet-soul-folkie shtick to the stage for a weekend gig of what is being called "an original evening of theatre." Harrison is joined by singer Kristin Markiton among others, and even interpretive dancer Erin Weller gets in on the artsy action. It's another example of Harrison pushing the boundaries of his rather distinctive genre and, based on past successes, should be an intriguing and classy evening. Repeat shows Fri.-Sat., March 21-22. $25. Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. 7 Stages. 404-523-7647. www.7stages.org. -- HH

TAYLOR HOLLINGSWORTH Hollingsworth served some time in the late-model version of Verbena, and his music exhibits similar appeal: Jagged peals of guitar chime with Stonesy rawk swagger and a garage-glam strut over a feckless, whiskey-soaked vocal sneer. There's a coiled, ready-to-strike energy to his music, delivered with coy indifference on the track "Damn Boy What's Wrong With You," sounding like the Georgia Satellites upon re-entry. It's off his forthcoming album, Bad Little Kitty. $12. 8 p.m. Smith's Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. www.smithsoldebar.com. -- CP

TIMES NEW VIKING, NAKED ON THE VAGUE, PSYCHEDELIC HORSESHIT, GOLD PAINTED NAILS Middle Ohio trio Times New Viking shrouds gorgeous melodies and irresistible pop hooks in a haze of lo-fi fuzz in a balance that evokes everything from Guided by Voices to No Age. Like-minded Siltbreeze acts Naked on the Vague and Psychedelic Horseshit follow suit with their respective takes on frazzled indie rock. Gold Painted Nails opens. $10. 9 p.m. Eyedrum. 404-522-0655. www.eyedrum.org. -- Chad Radford

FRI/21

BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA, MIKE FARRIS Even though the original members are slowly dropping out because of age and health, the Blind Boys still carry the power of the spirit in every show they do. Their unique takes on contemporary material are worth the price of admission. Reformed rocker Farris opens with his recently redeemed gospel-soul sound. $25. 8:30 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com. -- JK

THE GUTTER TWINS The contrast between the collaboration of former Screaming Trees' (Mark Lanegan) and Afghan Whigs (Greg Dulli) frontmen with the infamous Glitter Twins is neatly summed up in their snarky moniker. This dark, artsy, often experimental music with gothic-soul undertones gets under your skin and stays there. The singers trade lead vocals on solo and co-written material that would never be mistaken for anything by the Rolling Stones, yet rocks with a hypnotic, alluring intensity and groove all its own. $15. 9 p.m. Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre. 404-233-7699. www.ticketmaster.com. -- HH

TH' LEGENDARY SHACK*SHAKERS, WILLIE HEATH NEAL, COL. J.D.'S SEVEN SIGNS The *Shakers are a force of nature, and have a tendency to end the evening on the far end of the wild side. Deconstructed rockabilly with a bit of punk attitude thrown in -- fun, fun, fun. Honky-tonker Neal opens, along with the unknown Col. J.D. $10-$12. 9:30 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com. -- JK

PAPA MALI After two decades playing reggae with the Killer Bees, Mali figuratively returned to his native Louisiana roots, exploring the Delta blues, Creole soul and Southern rock of his early youth in Austin, Texas. Last year he released his second album of greasy swamp-funk, Do Your Thing, a wide-ranging affair replete with sizzling licks, phat grooves and loose-limbed jams that never get out of hand. He adds a sweet, R&B-inflected acoustic ballad, "Hallejulah I'm a Dreamer." He's even better live. $15. 8:30 p.m. The Melting Point. 706-254-6909. www.meltingpointathens.com. -- CP

SERAFIN STRING QUARTET, VEGA STRING QUARTET East meets West in this program, which includes string quartets by two esteemed Chinese-American composers: "Song of the Ch'in" by Zhou Long, and "Eight Colors" by Tán Dùn. The Serafin and Vega players join forces to perform the "Octet for Strings" by 19th-century Danish composer Niels Gade. Quartets by Franz Joseph Haydn and Claude Debussy round out the program. $20. 8 p.m. Emerson Hall, Schwartz Center. 404-727-5050. www.arts.emory.edu. -- MG

SAT/22

CHICKEN RAID 2008 This annual blues shindig honoring the memory of Atlanta's Mr. Frank Edwards and named after one of his tunes is a two-day affair that benefits various local blues artists. It is headlined by Beverly "Guitar" Watkins and gospel singer Essie Mae Brooks, but all the Northside regulars will be there, including Sean Costello, Bill Sheffield and Mudcat. The Atlanta blues and roots community is a small but dedicated group and this is the place to meet them. Continues Sun., March 23. For more info and updated performers check www.myspace.com/thechickenraid. $15. 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Northside Tavern. 404-874-8745. www.northsidetavern.com. -- HH

WED/26

RISING APPALACHIA, BITCH & THE EXCITING CONCLUSION Candler Park's Rising Appalachia has been traveling all over the world, sharing its primitive take on hillbilly music. Enchanting for a while, it can quickly wear thin. The Bitch is quite experimental, and seems to do whatever floats her boat -- minimalism, post-punk, whatever. It's all so cool, so radicool. $10-$50. 8 p.m. Eddie's Attic. 404-377-4976. www.eddiesattic.com. -- JK

Bands/performers/venues wishing to be included in Sound Menu's noted-acts boxes may send recordings, press material and schedules two weeks in advance to Creative Loafing c/o Rodney Carmichael, 384 Northyards Blvd., Suite 600, Atlanta, GA 30313, or e-mail information to: rodney.carmichael@creativeloafing.com. To be included in the listings only, e-mail venue and band schedules by Thursday at noon (for the issue that comes out the following Wednesday) to soundboard@creativeloafing.com.

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