Cello and tenor banjo are not typically thought of instruments that bring the funk, but Leyla McCalla pulls it off on her fantastic new album “Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes” (MusicMaker Relief Foundation). Between McCalla’s New Orleans and Haitian roots, sometime membership in Carolina Chocolate Drops and use of poetry by the late great Hughes, “Vari-Colored Songs” is a lovely polyglot fusion. Tuesday is the album’s official release date, and McCalla will perform that night at Pinhook in Durham. Grace & Tony open at 9 p.m. and cover is $10. See thepinhook.com for details.
• The Pixies’ ongoing ’90s revival tour continues Friday at Durham Performing Arts Center, with Cults opening. Also Friday, the equally venerable Big Head Todd & the Monsters play Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre, NC Music Love Army plays Kings in Raleigh (a benefit to raise money for the film “Teacher of the Year”), and guitar deity Cool John Ferguson blazes away at Raleigh’s Southland Ballroom.
• Also on the hot-guitar front, Jimmy Herring’s Ringers play the Lincoln on Saturday. JKutchma, Dragmatic and others play a “Rock for Larue” benefit (to help out an area toddler battling leukemia) Saturday night at Slim’s in Raleigh. If you like the aforementioned Leyla McCalla, chances are excellent you’ll also like Martha Redbone Roots Project Sunday at Carrboro ArtsCenter.
• On Tuesday, ’80s college-radio godhead Robyn Hitchcock opens a two-night run at Cat’s Cradle Back Room in Carrboro. African superstar Angelique Kidjo sings at Durham’s Hayti Heritage Center on Wednesday, the same night that America – yes, THAT America – plays Durham’s Carolina Theatre. And another fine and long-lived band from the alternative-is-the-new-mainstream era, Sebadoh, plays Thursday at Chapel Hill’s Local 506.