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Hopscotch IV -- it's on

Downtown Raleigh's music-festival season kicks into high gear this weekend with the fourth annual Hopscotch Music Festival, which is at a crucial stage of development. How this year's model performs will have a lot to do with the shape and scope of future Hopscotches, meaning that organizers are praying for fair skies and big crowds. And if you're wondering which of the 170-plus acts you should try to catch this weekend, we've got suggestions -- check those out here.

Also, yours truly will be participating in a panel discussion that’s part of the Hopscotch Cultural Series , “On the road – again: The realities of touring for a living.” The panel features a few other writerly types plus members of Future Islands, Mount Moriah, Pig Destroyer and Nightlands. That happens 3-5 p.m. at the City of Raleigh Museum, so come by and say howdy.

Meanwhile, Thursday's opening night passed agreeably enough, starting with Brooklyn's The Dreebs -- just another drums/electric-violin/guitar-with-crowbar power trio -- who opened with the most unsettling blast of noise I've heard in years. Once I was able to adjust to their wavelength, it was pretty cool. Following that, I caught bits and pieces of locals Kingsbury Manx (stately as ever, wish I'd heard more), Beloved Binge (spirited and adorable) and bluesman Ironing Board Sam (excellent, rocking a pink suit, although the overblown mid-set history lesson about his career that some dude got onstage to do was a major, major buzzkill).

Night one concluded with local heroes the Rosebuds playing their first show in two years by covering R&B singer Sade's 1992 album "Love Deluxe," which might be the least-likely pairing this side of red beans and chocolate. Given Rosebuds' scruffy indie-rock, you might have expected them to goof on "Love Deluxe" a bit; but guess again. Playing with an expanded lineup featuring Matt Douglas from Proclivities and Small Ponds blowing a godlike saxophone and flute, Rosebuds co-leaders Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp served up very earnest and straightforward versions of the album's songs, recital-style.

Check out our opening-night photo gallery. We'll be back with more as the weekend progresses...

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