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Old-time country music seemed to be headed for the kindling heap not too long ago. But thanks largely to the immense popularity and success of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack (which this month won the Country Music Awards Album and Single of the Year trophies without ever being played on mainstream radio), hillbilly tunes have made a comeback. Not that Dry Branch Fire Squad ever forgot them: The group has been pickin’ since 1976, when singer/mandolinist/humorist Ron Thomason, a Virginia native, started the band after spending some time with the Dew Mountain Boys. Dry Branch’s latest, Hand Hewn, is its 12th disc for Cambridge, Mass.,-based Rounder Records, andlike all the other Dry Branch releasesit crackles with energy and poignancy. Mandolinist Tim Finch’s Good Deale Bluegrass Shoppe in Deale, Md., gave his bandthe Good Deale Bluegrass Bandits name, but it’s veteran vocalist/guitarist John O’Dell who gives the band its undeniable stage chemistry. Dry Branch and Good Deale will perform (and though it’s probably too much to hope for, it’d be nice to see the Dry Branchers joined by D.C. resident Hazel Dickensas they are on Hand Hewnfor a performance of her classic “Black Lung”) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $17.50. (703) 549-7500. (Buzz McClain)