Only a few weeks after the passing of founder Tommy Thompson, a North Carolina musical institution, the Red Clay Ramblers, makes an all-too-rare hometown appearance, performing at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro on Friday and Saturday nights, March 14 and 15. Formed in Chapel Hill 30 years ago as a revival old-time string band, the Red Clay Ramblers have scored movies and musicals, evolving into America’s premier whatzit band, blending hillbilly, ragtime, Celtic, original, and Broadway show music into a sound they pioneered. Tickets are $16 for the 8 p.m. concerts. For more information, call 929-2787. –Art Menius