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Psych Rock

Musician mines "territory you wouldn't expect" at Jammin' Java.

<bt>Cole Guerra is a N.C.-based musician who is set to release his national debut CD, "Scarves and Knives," on Sept. 20. To promote the upcoming release, he will be opening for the Brindley Brothers on Saturday, Sept. 17 at Jammin' Java in Vienna. Guerra is also a doctoral student at Duke University and a psychotherapist. He recently answered some questions via e-mail on his way to play in Hoboken, N.J.

What's the band like you've got on this tour? Actually, the "band" is just me for the gigs prior to the CD's official Sept. 20 release — the Sept. 8 show at in Hoboken and the Sept. 17 show at Jammin' Java. Following the record's release on the 20th, however, I'll be touring with a four-piece band, with the sporadic solo show thrown in for good measure.

For the band shows, I'll be playing guitar and a bit of keys, and will be joined by Jason Botwick (guitar), Mark Simonsen (drums), and Pete Kimosh (bass). Of those three musicians, only Jason Botwick played on "Scarves & Knives." Jason has been performing with me for a few years now. Mark and Pete, on the other hand, just started playing with me this year.

What's your background? I was born in the Detroit area, and lived my first 18 years in Southfield, Mich. Then I went to college at the University of Michigan. I did a lot of theater acting growing up, so I moved to Chicago after college, where I spent a couple years doing various things, including acting. Then I moved then to Durham, N.C.

Describe your sound without naming other bands.

That's a good question, but one I always feel very self-conscious about answering. "Wistful alt-pop" might capture things a bit. ... I think my music is fairly melodic, but I strive to write melodies that veer into territory you wouldn't expect — something you could sing or hum along to on the fifth listen, but not on the first or second.

Biggest musical influences? From a chord progression standpoint, I used to be quite taken with British pop of the late '70s and early '80s, though I don't know the extent to which that rubbed off on my songs — bands like XTC, Squeeze and Elvis Costello.

Your bio says you are in the middle of a doctoral degree. I'm in ABD (All But Dissertation) mode, and have been for about two years. Things stalled out on that front as the music became more of a focus, and I took a leave of absence from the program. This year, though, I have to get back to making progress on the dissertation or Duke will compel me to bail on the program.

What are your future plans? At this point, I'm just hoping some people pay attention to "Scarves & Knives." As long as a few CDs sell and the critics don't uniformly pee on the record, I'll muster up another batch of tunes to record next year. As for touring, by mid-November, I should have hit most major markets once. I'd like to do a second pass in winter or early spring, prior to recording a follow-up record.

Cole Guerra opens for The Brindley Brothers, Saturday, Sept. 17, at 9:30 p.m., at Jammin' Java, 227 Maple Ave. E., Vienna. Tickets are $10. For more, call 703-255-1566 or visit www.jamminjava.com.