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It’s really not fair to call Chapel Hill, N.C., an “unlikely music mecca.” The community that spawned Squirrel Nut Zippers, Southern Culture on the Skids, Ben Folds Five, and James Taylor is a vibrant college town, the home of thousands of students who might be as passionate about culture as they are about basketball. University of North Carolina alumnus Brendan James is the heir apparent to Taylor’s heartthrob singer-songwriter throne, a musician with big green eyes and freckles and ears that stick out ever-so-slightly. He’s more than just a pretty face, though. He’s a talented pianist and soulful vocalist, with a knack for conjuring a sense of intimacy at shows and making audience members feel like they’re guests in his living room. His facility with lyrics may be his strongest suit: Tunes like “Hero’s Song” and “All I Can See” are poetic and sensitive without being maudlin. Though he’s now based in Brooklyn, he’s still one of the reasons that per capita, Chapel Hill’s the most prolific music town around.
BRENDAN JAMES PERFORMS AT 8 P.M. AT JAMMIN JAVA, 227 MAPLE AVE. EAST, VIENNA. $12. (703) 255-1566.