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Eugene has incubated more than its share of strong performers who either studied at the UO (the band Oregon, jazz singer Nancy King, Portland Cello Project founder Douglas Jenkins) or won early acclaim here (Robert Cray, Curtis Salgado) and moved on to greener pastures. This month brings a few once familiar faces back.

When watching competitive music shows like X-Factor or American Idol, you expect the contestants are upstart performers. Often this is the case. However, when Seattle-based pop soul-singer Leroy Bell participated in the X-Factor in 2011, the other hopefuls likely didn’t realize what they were up against.

The Del McCoury Band, Punch Brothers, the Steep Canyon Rangers and ... Betty and the Boy? Josh Harvey (vocals, mandolin, banjo, harmonica) is the first to admit surprise that Betty and the Boy are joining the first-ever Mountain Song at Sea, a “best of bluegrass” cruise from Miami to the Bahamas.

Three local up-and-comers will hit the stage Friday night and go head to head for the title of Bandest of the Bands.

After a six-year hiatus, punctuated by another well-attended St. Paddy’s Day at Luckey’s two years ago, Toad in the Hole is back and ready to prove that Celtic music and tradition is alive and well.

Woven Hand’s David Eugene Edwards plays a different kind of Christian rock. The former frontman of 16 Horsepower deals in biblical imagery, writing in the antiquated language of the Old Testament, singing in a dramatic, fevered and shamanic baritone that recalls Peter Murphy of Bauhaus, Andrew Eldritch of The Sisters of Mercy or Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees.

Fans of San Francisco-based folk-rock duo Two Gallants: Be sure you’ve listened to their 2012 album, The Bloom and the Blight, before heading to their Eugene show.

The tunes from the California-based band He’s My Brother She’s My Sister are so sun-drenched and punchy it will make you want to burst out your front door in skivvies, popsicle in hand, and declare to the neighborhood that “Summer is here!”

If you’ve ever uttered the words “turn that noise off,” go ahead and stop reading now. If you have any doubt about whether or not you like metal music, and if you don’t align yourself with the hardest of hardcore metal heads — there’s nothing for you here, just move along. OK, am I alone with the true thrashers now? Good.

In the past few years, Eugene’s Baroque music scene has blossomed beyond the annual Oregon Bach Festival. This month boasts a trifecta of early music concerts performed as closely to the styles, tunings and instrumentation of what the original composers intended.

Fallujah seems to be a band of contradictions. Ask a handful of metal fans about them, and you’ll get no consensus on what type of band Fallujah is.

When Carolann Solebello — one of the original members of the Americana trio Red Molly — stepped down in 2010, it was decision time for the other two women. Should they recruit a new member? Continue on as a duo? Call it quits?

Canadian songwriter Rachael Cardiello’s 2011 EP, One for the Wind, is a quiet little affair, featuring the classically trained violist’s expressive voice against sparse string arrangements, waltz time signatures, old world acoustic songwriting and classic cabaret atmosphere.

After hauling the tree to the curb and mentally recapping the last few exhausting weeks, a dose of folk music might be exactly what the doctor ordered. If the doctor was a merrymaking nomad, that is. 

There’s a certain sunny, sensual quality to Compassion Gorilla’s “gypsy fusion” beats that will vanquish the January doldrums and have you sashaying and samba-ing (can I get a one-uh-two, three-uh-four?) around the dance floor in no time.

When Jenny Scheinman draws her bow across her fiddle strings Friday, Jan. 4, she’ll be the least famous member of the trio she’s leading at The Shedd. The other two musicians have graced that stage often as composers/bandleaders themselves.

Go to a Casey Neill show and you never know what you might hear. One minute, he’s playing a Celtic-influenced folk song called “Paddy’s Lament;” next, an REM-esque country tune “Brooklyn Bridge;” and then, The Pogues-style punk rocker “Dancing on the Ruins of Multinational Corporations.”

On Saturday, Cozmic will open its doors to host the 11th Annual Dance for Africa Benefit Concert.

Dec. 21 has passed and we’re all still here! Time to celebrate another year.

Once upon a time, in the days when “greed was good,” anything homemade was synonymous with shabby. Growing up in the Reagan age, a stage filled with buckets, washboards, kettles, spoons and cigar box guitars would’ve seemed more at home on a street corner or back alley saloon.

The Floydian Slips’ Asher Fulero (keyboard, vocals) was “getting ready for the intergalactic mayhem” that some predicted for Dec. 21 when EW caught up with him.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of local favorites the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, seeing as they scored a major radio hit with “Zoot Suit Riot,” which was recorded right here in Eugene.

Covering local music in Eugene for a few years now, I’m frequently gob-smacked by the amount of talent in this town. And coming up at Sam Bond’s on Dec. 23 is a bill that showcases three of the city’s finest up-and-coming young songwriters.

Portland’s Brooks Robertson is one heck of a funky fingerstyle guitarist, and he’s bringing his act — two of them, actually — to Sam Bond’s.