Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pop-up show at Neighborhood Theatre Wednesday

Neighborhood Theatre announced Saturday that the Dave Rawlings Machine - the lower profile sister band to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings - will play two sets at the NoDa venue Wednesday, April 29.

The Dave Rawlings' Machine has featured guest star players like Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Old Crow Medicine Show's Willie Watson, and Paul Kowert of the Punch Brothers. With Rawlings' only Machine output being 2009's "Friend of a Friend," it's safe to say a Machine set is looser than a Gillian Welch show, where fans expect to hear certain tracks. The Machine is notable for its covers and standards, as well as Welch and Rawlings' original material.

Rawlings, who played Neighborhood Theatre in November of 2013 and with Welch last May, has been announcing shows on short notice. He played Asheville's Orange Peel and Haw River Ballroom in Saxapaw last week with about a week's notice. As of Sunday morning Charlotte's show has not been added to Rawlings' website, which only lists scheduled concerts through Tuesday.

Although Tickets for Wednesday's show are on sale here for $25 a piece. The all ages show starts at 8 p.m.

Friday, April 24, 2015

New Music: The Flatland Tourists

When I was a little girl most of my weekends were spent accompanying my father to "pickin'" parties where his bluegrass musician friends would run through the same 35 songs every Saturday night. Aside from the occasional "Rocky Top" (which they only played out of obligation to a request) or "Fox on the Run," I didn't pay that much attention unless an odd lyric caught my ear. I remember sitting on the top bunk in a one room cabin when I began to think about the double meaning of "What Am I Doing Hangin' `Round." I grabbed a nearby rope and feigned literal hanging to my dad's amusement.

While I enjoyed the company of many of my father's friends, I was indifferent to music that had nothing in common with what I saw on MTV, "American Bandstand" (which was still on in the `80s), "Solid Gold," or even "Nashville Now." What would have caught my attention as a 7 or 8 year old girl, was a killer female vocalist and an original catalog that expanded on the 35 standards I'd heard on a weekly basis for years ("Don't they get tired of those songs, daddy?").

I could imagine my ears perking up and running toward the stage if Waxhaw's the Flatland Tourists had turned up at one of dad's bluegrass festivals. Now, Americana music is in a much different place than it was back then. And the Union County quintet isn't a straight bluegrass band, although those elements mingle with blues, folk, and country. What would have caught my ear as a kid is singer Rachel Garcia, whose soulful, bluesy voice reminds me of Rosanne Cash with a touch of Janis Joplin, but she's really got her own unique emotive sound and phrasing. When she sings "Coffee in the morning and cocaine the bottle, ease my pain" during "The Only Thread," the catch in her voice projects ample pain without overplaying it.

Earlier this year two of its songs - "Cold Water River" and "No Work No Pay" - made Roots Music Report's Top 10 singles chart, which tracks radio play placing the band in the company of Ryan Adams and the Carolina Chocolate Drops' Rhiannon Giddens.

The EP kicks off with "Cold Water River," which boasts lyrical harmonica that provides a counterpoint to Garcia's colorful vocals. This isn't what mainstream country is today, but its easy to imagine the Flatland Tourists singing "Cold Water River" or "Our Time (Hallelujah)" on "Hee-Haw" or "Nashville Now" back in the day.

Guitarist Joe Williams and bassist Kevin Winchester (who is also a novelist) add lyrical color by switching to a more humorous tone with "Elvis at the Fast Fare" (which you can hear in the clip above). Imagine recognizing Presley buying jelly donuts at a gas station in Knoxville (which actually is kind of what I imagined happening to Adam Ant when he lived in rural Tennessee - no joke - in the late `90s).

You can check out the Flatland Tourists' self-titled EP here or here. It's available on iTunes as well.

You can also catch them live. The band will play two acoustic sets at Waxhaw's free Art Kaleidoscope festival Saturday May 16 at 2 and 4 p.m.; at Treehouse Vineyard in Monroe Saturday May 23; and open for Shovels & Rope at NC Music Factory's Friday Live concert series June 3 and at Double Door June 13.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Apache Relay
Friday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15,
The Nashville roots rock band took a turn toward lush `60s pop production and `70s country rock on 2014’s self-titled release. Boasting charismatic guitarist Mike Harris - a Mooresville native who met his band mates at Belmont University in Nashville - the Relay puts on a high-energy show that’s taken them from Bonnaroo to opening for Mumford.

Hardsoul Poets
Saturday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15-$17,     
No it’s not 1991 and that’s not a misprint. This unique 25 year reunion show of the popular Southeastern band that followed in R.E.M.’s boot steps, features both the original Wingate-birthed lineup and the second and final Charlotte-centered lineup, three of whom went on to found major label `90s/early `00s Americana outfit Jolene.

Brandy Clark
Saturday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $25-$35,    
Having co-written hits for country stars like the Band Perry (“Better Dig Two”) and Miranda Lambert (“Mama’s Broken Heart”), this Nashville songwriter saw her own star rise as a performer with a 2015 Grammy for Best New Artist as she continued to contribute songs to A-listers like Reba McEntire and Toby Keith.

Tim Barry
Saturday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $12,   
The former frontman of second wave (or third, depending on who you ask) Richmond punk legends Avail celebrates 10 years making acoustic folk music as worn, earthy, and raggedly real as his beloved band’s working class punk. He released his fifth album, “Lost and Rootless” in late 2014, but with a family at home is more rooted than ever.

The Seduction
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,    
This tight Wilkesboro quartet may be NC’s best kept hard rock secret since Valient Thorr. Like Thorr, it wears its `70s and `80s influences with pride. Its songs ride in on thirsty grooves that put the rock in rock n’ roll with punk ferocity and glam swagger and nods to Iron Maiden and Guns n’ Roses. With Unfortunate Gentlemen and Greevace.

Kid Ink
Wednesday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $25-$27,
With appearances at “Wrestlemania” and the upcoming “X Games” and the theme from “Fast and Furious 7” following the release of his collab-heavy third album “Full Speed” (Chris Brown, R. Kelly, and Usher), the heavily tattooed, hard touring L.A. rapper/producer is covering all bases promoting an album he describes as a social media, party record.

Tyler, the Creator
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $40.23,   
The controversial, beef-courting, L.A. Renaissance rapper has his hands in everything from production to directing to design, as well as heading up the Odd Future label. He kicked off his current tour at Coachella and on Tuesday celebrates the physical release of his new album, “Cherry Bomb,” which features the equally controversial Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Schoolboy Q.      

Seryn/Songs of Water
Wednesday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12,     
The strain of member and label shifts weathered by this Nashville transplant aren’t evident on the blissful new string and harmony-anchored album, “Shadow Shows.” Its aptly paired with NC’s Songs of Water, who share a chamber folk, gospel vibe with the headliner and will release its own new album in June.

Delfeayo Marsalis
Thursday  7 p.m., McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St., $25-$35,   
The brother of Brandford and Wynton Marsalis is yet another of the jazz dynasty’s musician sons, the innovative producer and accomplished trombonist pays tribute to Duke Ellington during a special edition of the monthly Jazz Room Series during Jazz Appreciation Month.

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Music: Tattermask

Charlotte has come a long way for women in rock. When I first moved here for college in the mid `90s there were a handful of established female rock musicians like Hope Nicholls, Violet Strange, and a few others. But, even though I worked at a record store frequented by musicians, I wasn't running into girls like myself that wanted to start bands. Winston-Salem's Squatweiler came the closest to what I was looking for, which was a Southern answer to angry, punk-fueled riot grrrl.

Today the city is rich in female rock musicians from the folks that run Girls Rock Charlotte, who are fostering the next generation of female rockers to bands like Something Clever, Grown Up Avenger Stuff, and Tattermask.

The aforementioned metal five-piece kicks off Revolver Magazine's Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock Tour at Tremont Tuesday. The lineup also features female-fronted bands Flyleaf, the Agonist, Fit For Rivals, Diamante, and Falling For Scarlet. Yes, the sexist nature of singling out these ladies as "hot" is noted given that there's no hottest guys in hard rock tour. But if you dig female singers like I do, then a collection of these bands on one bill is a good thing. I've had bands tell me they've sometimes been told by promoters that they already have a "girl band" on a bill, so they don't need another, which I think is absolutely ridiculous. I want to see so-called girl bands and I think a lot of other people do too.

Tattermask recently released its "Carpe Noctem" EP. The 5-song collection includes the band's cover of Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" and four other original tracks. Tattermask specializes in catchy, hard charging metal with soaring theatrical female vocals reminiscent of Lacuna Coil and Evanescence. Obviously if they can cover Seal, they're a pretty versatile act and Amanda is a very capable vocalist.

The EP is stacked with memorable tracks. My favorite may be "Concern," which juxtaposes Middle Eastern guitar (maybe even sitar) with pummeling riffs and bass. "Better Off Alone" builds to a sing-along chorus while "Asylum" creates a menacing and haunting vibe that is fit for a horror movie soundtrack. It's capped with another memorable chorus and showcases the band's grasp of dynamics. Some metal bands just constantly hit you in the face with distortion and aggression, but it's the prettier, quieter parts that allow the heavier sections to rumble with even more force.

You can listen to "Carpe Noctem" here. And check them out early on Tuesday's bill. The show starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Tattermask seems like the perfect pick to open such a lineup. With talented players and a knack for writing and arranging, its on par with bigger national acts. Hopefully touring behind the EP will bring the group more national recognition.

(Photo: Scott Grube, Altered Ego Images)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Stuck Mojo
Friday  8  p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $17-$20,
Earlier this month frontman Rich Ward told “That Metal Show’s” audience that the recently reunited original lineup will record a new album. Its December hometown show at Atlanta’s Masquerade was its first with Ward, Bonz, Corey Lowery, and Frank Fontsere since 1998.

Blackberry Smoke
Friday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $31.08,
Over the course of four albums the Atlanta country-rock quintet has gained a reputation on the strength of its soulful live shows, riveting blues and Southern rock with nods to both AC/DC and the Allman Brothers that still manages to top the Billboard Country Chart. The Ben Miller Band and the Temperance Movement open the show. The latter is an on the verge act from the UK where it's already opened for the Stones.

The London Souls
Friday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12-$15,     
In 2012, guitarist/vocalist Tash Neal survived a hit and run car accident that resulted in two brain surgeries. Only now are he and bandmate  Chris St. Hilaire releasing the album they recorded pre-coma, but the mix of Thin-Lizzy-meets-funk, poppy Beatles, wailing Zeppelin and folk, soul and roots is worth the wait.

Stephane Wrembel
Saturday 8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $20,   
The French-born/Brooklyn-based guitarist is an incredibly nimble and fast picker with a light touch who flits between channeling Django Reinhardt and dividing his attention from Flamenco to rock. Wrembel, who performed his song from Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” at the Oscars, will play his latest album, “Dreamers of Dreams.”

Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel
Saturday  8:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$23/$32.95 VIP,
The former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, who replaced Randy Rhoads and played on “Blizzard of Oz” and “Ultimate Sin,” made headlines in late 2014 for admitting he was railroaded out of publishing royalties for the former. His first album with RDC is his first solo album since 2008 and his first output since 2009.

Guster/Kishi Bashi
Monday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33.05,   
It’s hard to believe this Massachusetts alternative rock outfit has been at it for almost 25 years. It’s latest doesn’t sound like a band that’s growing old. The “Evermotion” is a lush, moody pop-rock album that calls on shoegazing Brit-pop, electronic jam bands, and pastoral folk-pop. One man looping violinist Kishi Bashi’s live execution can hypnotize.     

Billy Joe Shaver
Monday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $20-$22,   
Last year the legendary Texas songwriter released his first album in six years, “Long in the Tooth,” with the help of A-list peers like Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, and producers Ray Kennedy and Gary Nicholson. By all accounts he hasn’t lost any of his ornery fire or his knack for creating hooky choruses and descriptive honky-tonk verses.
Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock Tour
Tuesday  5 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $20-$25,   
Flyleaf heads up this all female-fronted lineup, which feature “The Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock” according to “Revolver Magazine.” The Agonist, Fit For Rivals, Diamonte, Falling for Scarlet, and Tattermask - Charlotte’s answer to Evanescence and Lacuna Coil - thankfully aren’t just a bunch of pretty faces, but rock in equal measure.

The Woggles
Tuesday  9 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $8,  
Known for its rollicking live sets, the veteran Athens-GA garage rock n’ soul throwback is a staple on Sirius/XM’s Little Steven’s Underground Garage where frontman Mighty Manfred is a DJ. The band is also signed to Steven Van Zandt’s label and just finished a EP of R&B covers that will be released in late summer.

Thursday  2:30 p.m., N. Wilkesboro Community College,$50 single day, $155-$180 3 and 4-day pass, respectively; RV camping is sold out, but tent camping is available for an added $75, 
The annual 4-day music festival kicks off its 27th year with a strong opening night lineup featuring Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Scythian, Trampled By Turtles, Lee Ann Womack, and Hot Rize along with its alter-ego Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers. The Avett Brothers, Dwight Yoakam, Del McCourty Band, and North Mississippi Allstars are among the weekend acts.

21st Annual Speed Street Festival reveals music lineup

The 600 Festival revealed the live music lineup for its annual three-night downtown Speed Street fan fest leading into the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24. 

Now called Circle K and Kangaroo Speed Street Presented by Coca-Cola, Speed Street kicks off Thursday, May 23 with popular tribute bands Appetite For Destruction: The Ultimate Guns n' Roses Experience and Journey tribute Departure. The former is a seasoned Gn'R act whose lead singer looks and sounds like Axl Rose. The latter boasts a vocalist with stratospheric range on par with the real Journey's current lead singer. 

Friday offers country music fans a double header with Southern country-rockers Parmalee (pictured), who got its start in Parmele, NC near Greenville before heading to Nashville and Corey Smith, a live fixture in the Southeast for years. Smith signed with Sugar Hill Records in February and will release his tenth album, "While the Gettin' Is Good" this summer. 

Saturday, May 25 Craig Wayne Boyd and Dennis DeYoung will close out the festival. The seventh season winner of NBC's "The Voice" joins the co-founder of Styx. During his tenure in the band in the `70s and `80s, DeYoung wrote and performed classics like "Come Sail Away," "Babe," "Lady," and "Mr. Roboto."

Headliners begin at 8:30 p.m. Thursday and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

The Annual 600 Festival kicks off May 8 with over two weeks of free events throughout the area . Those include the "Movies on the Campus" screening of Disney's "Cars" in Kannapolis May 8; the Haulers on Union parade May 14; the Valvoline Little 600 May 19, which finds NASCAR drivers racing a fleet of GoPro Motorplex’s rental karts; and the inaugural PNC 5K run downtown Thursday morning at 8 a.m. followed by the Kids 600 Fun Run at 8:45. An awards celebration will follow the race on the Coca-Cola Stage at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  

The Circle K and Kangaroo Speed Street presented by Coca-Cola also includes appearances by NASCAR drivers and celebrities and exhibits from sponsors. To find out more click here

Monday, April 13, 2015

Shovels & Rope, Mississippi Allstars among Friday Live acts

The NC Music Factory announced its 2015 Friday Live lineup today. The annual concert series begins May 8 with Robert Randolph and the Family Band. Chris Cook and the Heartless Road Band will open.

The after work early summer concert series continues to evolve its lineup. What started as a mostly nostalgic `90s rock lineup now includes Americana and roots music, indie rock, and tributes as well as tried and true returning acts like Cracker, who ride the fence between `90s radio hits, nostalgic alt-rock and power pop, and roots-rock.

The popular Michael Jackson tribute Who's Bad, which does a great job of covering Jackson's career, will headline May 15.

Cracker follows the next week, May 22, with local opening act Temperance League.

New York indie-pop band MisterWives headlines May 29 followed by Charleston's Shovels and Rope, who sold out the Neighborhood Theatre earlier this year. Union County Americana quintet Flatland Tourists also play.

Another big blues and Americana name - the North Mississippi Allstars - head up the June 12 bill with the Josh Daniel and Mark Schimick Project opening up.

Friday Live regulars and longtime live favorites Cowboy Mouth return June 19 with roots-reggae band Of Good Nature.

Indie rock band Surfer Blood closes out the series June 26 with Knoxville's the Black Cadillacs.

Tickets have risen from $5 to $8 this year, but given the caliber of eclectic acts the price hike is warranted. Plus you'd pay way more to see all of these bands elsewhere. A season pass is available for $50. Proceeds also benefit the Greater Charlotte SPCA.

Tickets are on sale now at Friday Live takes place at the Fountain Plaza outdoors at NC Music Factory. All ages welcome, although note that not all neighboring Factory restaurants and clubs are family-friendly.