With an upcoming Ready Set album and a full-time job occupying his time, Ryan Pound has turned his chief booking and promotion duties at Bickett Gallery over to the tag-team of Ryan Cooke and Spader’s Mike Dillon. Pound still plans on booking a few shows each month at the Gallery and around Raleigh, but he says he wasn’t able to promote the several shows a week adequately at the Five Points space considering that it was a spare-time effort.

“Mike and Ryan sounded like they had more time to do it,” Pound said on a lunch break. “I think they’re trying to be the double-headed monster, and keep it moving forward.”

“I’m really impressed with the job Ryan has done so far, and I think the only real change would be to get some bigger shows and a few more out-of-town bands coming through,” Cooke says, confident that it can happen with a space as unique as Bickett. “It has a whole lot of character, and it’s a really good place to sit down and enjoy an amazing artist. In pursuing bands, we have to keep that in mind.”

Pound spent most of November trying to finish the Ready Set debut, recording with Travis Konkle at the Face Trap House before Konkle moved to New York earlier this month. The album will be finished in January, and a CD release party with the band’s current line-up–featuring Phon’s Dustin Dorsey, Utah!’s Anne Polesnak, artist Katrina Lamberto and Shadow of a Great Name’s Brian Donohoe–is in the works for early next year.

And in another Great Cover-Up success story, this year’s “Stone Roses” will be getting together to work out original material in January. The one-off Roses tribute band–which featured Pound, roommate Dave Hogan, Dragstrip Syndicate’s Erik Sugg and The Weather’s Charles Story–will recall that Manchester sound of the early ’90s for what Pound calls “a change of pace for all of us.” The Weather, if you remember, began after the band took on The Cars at a past cover-up.

Speaking of a change in pace, former White Octave and current STRANGE bassist Linc Hancock now is handling the booking duties at Martin Street Music Hall. Rob Farris–always busy with a job, the venue’s sound and production work of his own–will still help scout talent for the club, but Hancock sees this as a chance to build the reputation of Martin Street on a national level.

“I feel like there’s a lot of desire in Raleigh to see a lot of national and regional bands come through here that automatically drop into Chapel Hill,” says Hancock, who shares many of the club’s management responsibilities with his wife.

Already, Hancock has been building a base of local rock bands he considers the finest in the Triangle. Now, he’s working on a spring roster of touring bands that haven’t played Raleigh in quite some time.

“I want this place to be a good rock club, in essence. I think it’s a pretty adaptable type of space,” says Hancock. “I’m not trying to be an imitation of anything. I’m hoping to get the bands that have been going to the Cradle to also stop in Raleigh, and I’m open to all kinds of bands that I think are good bands.”

Several people have asked about a recent Pitchfork Media review of a band called The Strange, whose Nights of Forgotten Films earned a lofty 7.8 on the indie music web giant three weeks ago. The name of that band and its record–the debut collaboration between The Walkabouts and Croatia’s Bambi Molesters–are eerily (and strangely) similar to STRANGE’s upcoming debut, Things in Night, which is due on Pidgeon English in early 2005. But, never fear: STRANGE didn’t sneak its debut without mention. It’s still on the way.

The Quarantines
From all three vertices of the Triangle come The Quarantines, a contagious and nearly danceable trio that matches serpentine math guitars and drum patterns with Cure bounce, Pinback pop and Yo La Tengo fuzz. Drummer Dimitri Gudgenov and bassist Deen Freelon were high school bandmates in Durham before Freelon headed to college in California. While Freelon studied out West, Gudgenov went to NC State, biding his time in several short-lived outfits and cozying up the local scene.

Freelon (son of five-time Grammy nominee Nnenna) eventually returned to Durham, where he began writing and recording material with Chapel Hill guitarist and vocalist Ryan Dunlap. After an early, self-recorded demo of “Shallow!=Never” convinced Gudgenov that this was the band he had been waiting for, the trio began playing in February. Despite the band’s dispersion throughout the Triangle, most of its shows have come in Raleigh, something Gudgenov contributes to the downtown friendships he made during his time in college.

“In Raleigh, a lot of friends have helped me put shows together. Ryan at Bickett was an old friend, so he was a big help in getting us shows here,” Gudgenov says. “We’d get added on to some bills as shows would come up because we had friends willing to help us.”

If you didn’t catch The Quarantines at last week’s inaugural Martin Street Meet ‘n’ Greet, you have one more chance to catch them in 2004. They play Kings with post-rockers Cities and the dance-tastic Spader on Jan. 30. They’ll also keep Greg Elkins busy in January, as they plan to record another handful of songs to go with the first demo they recorded with Elkins this summer. Gudgenov hopes that, together, the two sessions can produce an EP worthy of some attention.