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Now hear this: CMJ has 1,200 bands, 80 venues

Greg Dulli embarks on his first solo tour

Greg Dulli embarks on his first solo tour in the fall of 2010. Photo Credit: Sam Holden / Sub Pop Records

During CMJ Music Marathon week, music pours out of even the most unexpected places.

That doesn't even include the 1,200 or so bands at the 80 venues that are part of the five-day event that wraps Saturday. Hotel lobbies become concert venues, as do delis and basements. The music of Phoenix, who headlined Madison Square Garden last night as part of the festival, is pumped into the air by a merchandise truck like the jingle that calls children out to get ice cream.

Here are some early highlights:

SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING HOT

Greg Dulli rolled through songs from throughout his career Tuesday at the Bowery Ballroom, as well as unveiling a handful of songs from the upcoming Twilight Singers album due next year. At a Dulli show, there's no doubt who the center of attention is, though the crowd couldn't help wildly singing along to the Afghan Whigs' "66" and "Summer's Kiss" and he even encouraged it for the Twilight Singers' raucous "$40." "I need you to be more Queens, less Manhattan, on this one," he said, asking for more applause. "More Nassau County."

DISCOVERY

She Keeps Bees, a Brooklyn-based duo that sounds a bit like White Stripes fronted by Cat Power, made quite a splash with its showcase at Bowery Ballroom Tuesday night. Singer/guitarist Jessica Larrabee's bubbly, lighthearted personality was adorable, while her blues-tinged, powerhouse vocals on "Gimme" were stunning. (They showcase again today at 4:30 p.m. at the Cake Shop.)

PARALLEL UNIVERSE

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For years, the day parties and auxiliary showcases - which are not officially connected to CMJ but take place at the same time - have grown exponentially. This year, there are live shows in the Ace Hotel lobby. There are Levi's Fader Fort showcases Friday and Saturday. And Pitchfork has even gone so far as to create the #Offline Festival at the Brooklyn Bowl, where dozens of bands will perform Thursday night, Friday and Saturday. As if there weren't enough choices already.

PLAYING AROUND

One of the few growing areas for the music industry is its involvement with video games, both with soundtracks and as the center of the game-play in the Rock Band and Guitar Hero series. CMJ wanted to help musicians learn how to tap into that revenue source and sponsored a mini-conference, CMJ Play. "I wanted to have a whole day of positivity," said Sam Howard-Spink, NYU assistant professor of music business, who leads CMJ Play. "I've been to a few CMJ conferences and that's not always the case."

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