Contributors: Grant Britt, Rick Cornell, Grayson Currin, Rich Ivey, Kathy Justice, Robbie Mackey

Wednesday, December 20

Chatham County Line, The Pour House

Let me take this opportunity to remind you about Chatham County Line’s Speed of the Whippoorwill, which came out way back in the spring, as you’re making those year-end Best of lists. Not that CCL gives a hoot (or whatever sound a whippoorwill makes) about such things, especially at this show. This night is about tipping a few, tapping into the season’s spirit of community, and getting your little world bluegrassed. $10-$12/ 10 p.m. RC

Thursday, December 21

Taz Halloween & Robert Griffin, Blue Bayou Club

She calls what she does avant-garde. Pianist and occasional accompanist Robert Griffin calls her the best singer he’s ever heard. For this gig, Taz’ll be taking a break from her grits-and-biscuit music to bawdily rearrange some standards. Prepare to be blown away. Free/ 8:30 p.m. GB

Sullivan, Yearling, The Brewery

For a large portion of the music-buying public (read: a whole lot of ’80s babies), Jimmy Eat World’s 1999 release, Clarity, is the most important album of all time. Whether or not you’re on board with that sentiment, the record certainly is a perfect emo schematic. Jimmy’s moved beyond small rock clubs, but kids still love that sound. Sullivan and Yearling still reverently trace the steps of Jim Adkins. Sullivan opt for dynamic swings, big guitars, cello accompaniments and breathy vocals on their Tooth and Nail debut, Hey, I’m a Ghost, while Raleigh’s Yearling make their six strings twinkle as they belt out birthday well wishes and Splenda-sweet melodies. $8/ 8:30 p.m. RM

The Countdown Quartet, Tir Na Nog

Unless purposely subdued for a funeral march or a somber soul ballad, horn sections tend to signify good times if not out-and-out party time. Countdown Quartet travels the good-time-rolling, soul-thrilling path with, appropriately enough, some French Quarter feel. So, yeah, think Rebirth Brass Band, but also think Memphis Horns and the Whole Wheat Horns. Think a whole bunch of groovy flavors. 9 p.m. RC

Friday, December 22

Guitartown Holiday Party & Food Drive, Hideaway BBQ

David Childers is the voice of pain. His songs sound like Charles Bukowski’s dreams narrated by Sleepy LaBeef, country-flavored folk that rocks using words from the heart that you can’t get out of your head. With Joe Swank & The Zen Pirates. $5/ 9:30 p.m. GB

Weekend Excursion, Nathan Asher and the Infantry, Lincoln Theatre

Back in the mid-’90s when Hootie was asking everybody to hold their hand and the DMB was stuck under the table and dreaming, seven dudes from Greensboro called Weekend Excursion got together to make doe-eyed acoustic rock of their own. They scored hits about pretty-boy heartbreak on Dawson’s Creek and MTV’s The Real World with ringing guitar riffs and fiddle finesse. Now, 10 years later, the dudes have gone their separate ways but maintain solid friendships that pull them into band status every blue moon. Reminisce before they go back into hibernation for another three years. Nathan Asher and his rowdy rockers the Infantry open the evening. $10-$12/ 9 p.m. KJ

Creativeimprovisationmas with Boner Machine, Nightlight

Tonight was supposed to mark the arrival of To Live and Shave in L.A., the unhinged project of former Pussy Galore contributor Tim Smith, featuring northern partyman Andrew W.K. Perhaps they cut themselves shaving, though, as the band had to cancel its tour, leaving the Nightlight cats to regroup and spike their own holiday punch. The unstoppable Cantwell, Gomez & Jordan is bound to break something (your sense of awesome notwithstanding), and the e(r/x)otica trainwreck Boner Machine plays its first gig in forever. Extreme Animals will crank the party volume to 12. 10 p.m. GC

Trip Rogers (early), Evil Wiener’s Christmas Show (late), The Cave

Consider settling in at the Cave for the night. The first shift belongs to Charlotte’s Trip Rogers, who in solo mode is a folk-leaning singer-songwriter in the way that the late Steve Goodman was a folk-leaning singer-songwriter. That is, a smart one. And while the long-standing Evil Wiener’s name makes them sound like the Winter Warlock’s sinister henchdog, their Christmas shows are stuff of legend. There’ll be candy, there’ll be carols, and there’ll be original rock songs that occasionally sound a little like candy-covered carols. 7:30 & 10 p.m. RC

Saturday, December 23

Mount Awesome, Bull City Records

The most common topographical band-name term begins with an M: Mountain, Big Mountain, Black Mountain, The Holy Mountain…. The list continues, but one thing can be said of the Sarasota duo Mount Awesome that can’t be said of the rest: Their name is MOUNT AWESOME, and that is a great band name. The actual music is mathy romp through minor-chord meadows of the mid-’90s. They sing, they shout and they do it well, but they’re going to have some serious inter-genre competition with Chapel Hill’s Hazerai. 9 p.m. RI

Noncanon, The Magic Babies, Powers, Kings

As if Raleigh’s incestuous and ever-evolving cast of rockers didn’t breed enough bands in 2006, Kings and its citizens smack the collective ass of two raucous newborns Saturday night: The Magic Babies and Powers. They feature members of some of your favorite past and present Raleigh rock groups and are joined by the “D” of DMVB (and once of Mothlight), Danny Vaughn, playing a solo set as Noncanon. 10 p.m. RI

Wednesday, December 27

Wes Charlton, Hideaway BBQ

Twenty-something Nashvillean Wes Charlton cites a dangerous pair of key influences: Dylan and (Jeff) Buckley. As a songwriter, he’s exactly what you’d expect, telling non-specific stories about characters who affirm some majestic great fight through their generalized dejection. But it’s Charlton’s believable voicesomehow strong and gentle, a ragged authenticity tagged to a pop sensibilitywhich suggests he’s not only got space to grow but a reason to do it. Raleigh’s Anthony Neffwho’s been venting his political frustrations into elegiac calls for empathyopens. $5/ 8:30 p.m. GC