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Charlie Robison, Casting Crowns and Billy Joe Shaver 

THURSDAY 8/11

GEOFFREY CANADA
1 p.m. Statehouse Convention Center. $25, $100 for group of up to six.

For the last two decades, Geoffrey Canada has led Harlem Children's Zone, a massive project in New York City that aspires to break the cycle of poverty by offering charter schools and preschool, parenting workshops and health programs for impoverished families. Canada is a superstar of the school reformer movement, and he figures prominently in the film "Waiting for Superman." While I've only seen bits and pieces of the film, it seems that its basic thrust is that the future could be rosy and every child could get a great education if only we got rid of those awful teachers unions. I am also generally suspicious of any film praised in the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal as a "stunning liberal expose of a system that consigns American children who most need a decent education to our most destructive public schools." Nobody is questioning that millions of American kids are denied a decent education. But all the merit pay, standardized testing and busted unions in the world can't compare to solid parenting, a stable home life and safe neighborhoods. A book signing will follow the lecture.

FRIDAY 8/12

CHARLIE ROBISON
9 p.m. Revolution. $12 adv., $15 door.

The last 10 or so years seem to have been transformative ones for Charlie Robison. After debuting in the mid '90s, he signed with Sony/Columbia and released several rollicking albums that had one foot planted in a hardcore honky-tonk tradition and the other in Hammond-heavy, Allman Brothers-style Southern-rock. Many of his earlier tunes were a bit on the raunchy side, exploring the evergreen themes of girls, partying and hell-raising. By 2008, his marriage to Dixie Chick Emily Erwin had ended, and though the split was amicable, Robison's pain was evident on his most recent album, 2009's self-produced "Beautiful Day." Unlike other divorce albums – "Hear, My Dear" or "Blood on the Tracks" – "Beautiful Day" sounds wounded and real and without indulging bitterness. On "Down Again" he recounts the roller coaster feeling familiar to anyone who's been through a bad break-up, while the soaring guitar sounds like a liquor-loosened Richard Thompson stumbled into the studio, grabbed a guitar and let it rip. Robison is cut from the same stained denim cloth as fellow Texas troubadours Robert Earl Keen (who plays Revolution Sept. 16) Pat Green and Jack Ingram.

AMASA HINES
10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $6.

New local band alert! Amasa Hines is made up of Joshua from Velvet Kente plus the dudes in Romany Rye, those being Judson and Josh Spillyards, Whitman Bransford and Ryan Hitt. They're joined by Norman Williamson on saxophone and, every now and again, trumpeter Rodney Block. Romany Rye is the band that includes California singer Luke MacMaster, and pursues a very shaggy, flannel-y, CSNY kinda vibe, heavy emphasis on the Y. Velvet Kente, you already know, right? If not, well, what's the hold-up? Anyways, Amasa Hines is named after the Spillyards' great-great grandfather, and got started when the guys were all just hanging out and jamming. Now, they've got a steady gig at Ferneau on either Friday or Saturday when the Romany Rye guys are in town. With one song already in the can, Amasa Hines is eyeing a return trip to the studio to get another song or two to fill a 45. Headliners Graham Wilkinson & The Underground Township will play more reggae-ified, bro-friendly jams than you can shake a Bob Marley lighter at.

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