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The Alabama Shakes at the New Daisy Theatre

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One of the buzziest new bands of 2012, the Alabama Shakes finally make their Memphis debut this weekend. I got to see the band live this spring at Austin's South by Southwest Music Festival, about a month ahead of the release of their debut album, Boys & Girls. The band's concept — a contemporary, low-key, garage-rock take on Aretha Franklin at Muscle Shoals — is surefire and one that immensely likable lead singer Brittany Howard embodies. A young African-American woman with a big voice and a bigger smile, the glasses-wearing Howard gives off the onstage vibe of an Everygirl morphing into a star. Her voice, while nowhere close to prime Aretha, of course, has more growl to it, more blues and rock elements that might make Etta James and Janis Joplin truer antecedents. But her band is not Chicago or San Francisco. It's full-on white-boy soul and swamp rock descended straight from the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, tradition. And the band's rootsy sound and matter-of-fact interracial dynamic evokes Southern antecedents from Muscle Shoals and Stax to the North Mississippi Allstars. Howard owns it, and her band also looks and feels the part, especially the wiry, diffident guitarist Heath Fogg and chubby, easygoing bassist Zac Cockrell. The Alabama Shakes play the New Daisy Theatre on Friday, September 28th, with Fly Golden Eagle. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25.

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