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Spot Check

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SPOT 8/27, BOULEVARD CAFE Spot's got the cred 30,000 younger genre hoppers would kill for: good thing indie musicians don't get their reps the same way gangbangers do. He spent the 80s producing a lot of the bands that made that decade tolerable--the Minutemen, the Meat Puppets, Husker Du, Black Flag, the Butthole Surfers, the Misfits--and since '86 has lived in Austin, where he's been a sideman for fellow punk refugee Alejandro Escovedo, all the while immersing himself in traditional Irish music. On the few tracks I've heard from his forthcoming Unhalfbaking (to be released by Upland, a new imprint run by former SST manager Joe Carducci), he plays mandolin and banjo like a motherfucker. This is a free show. DIDO 8/28, DOUBLE DOOR The slick, lite tech beats and sweetly insubstantial crooning on this English songbird's debut, No Angel (Arista), travel the middle of some middle of the road between Beth Orton and Enya without the, uh, personality of either. It'll probably make some chick flick a fine sound track. ROGER ENO & LOL HAMMOND, Hans Joachim ROEDELIUS 8/28, EMPTY BOTTLE British musician Roger Eno has never outrun his big brother's long shadow--and with his dreamy, landscapish electronic washes, it's never sounded like he was trying terribly hard. Brian and Daniel Lanois produced his debut, Voices, in 1985 and he's progressed in a straight line since, even as Brian veered off in other directions. His latest release, Damage (Thirsty Ear), is a collaboration with Lol Hammond, half of the noted production and remix team Drum Club. Opening this show is Hans Joachim Roedelius from the legendary German space-rock group Cluster, which collaborated with that other Eno in the 70s; here he'll play solo. CAPTAIN HERO 8/29, THURSTON'S Spirited punk-pop boy bands are as much a feature of the Chicago landscape as Vienna Beef stands. There are always at least three or four pretty good ones around, and a much larger number of unsavory ones. Captain Hero, one of the former (not too whiny, easy on the Cheap Trick, and lots of spiky shearing guitar that makes me feel sentimental), is about to disband: guitarist, singer, and cosongwriter Chris Blisset is moving to New York. This is a sort of last blast--with guest appearances by members of Blisset and Matt Uremovich's former band, Voodoo Buss--as well as a release party for their new EP, Best Seat in the House. BERBER 8/30, EMPTY BOTTLE This local quartet released their debut, Lower Goes the Roof Beam (Monocle), last year to zero fanfare, but they deserve a chance to grow. I don't know if the title is a conscious Salinger reference, but the association is there in other ways too: singer-songwriter Michael Justin Cummins sounds like a wry, precocious 15-year-old even though he's in his early 20s, and though the band's droll, off-kilter harmonious pop is nothing you haven't heard before, at its best it taps some fountain of youth, a la the better Elephant 6 releases. RONNIE DAWSON 8/30, FITZGERALD'S Dallas native Ronnie Dawson had an early burst of promising proto-rock 'n' roll fame in the late 50s as a skinny, stray-puppy-looking teenager with a high, desperate voice that sounded like it was still changing--with all the hormonal urgency that implied. After the regional hits "Action Packed" and "Rockin' Bones" (revived much later by the Cramps), he was signed to Dick Clark's Swan label, but got dropped soon after, when a payola scandal scrambled Clark's plans. Dawson never recovered his momentum, but maybe time is on his side after all: still relatively youthful for his veteran status, he never had a chance to become an embarrassment, and by all accounts he's still got the rhythm in his rockin' bones. --Monica Kendrick

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