Thursday, October 23, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Branford Marsalis & the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
Friday  8 p.m., Dale F. Halton Theater, 1206 Elizabeth Ave., CPCC, $40-$65,
Two weeks after his brother Wynton’s Charlotte concert, as well as days before the release of his latest album, “In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral,” the elder Marsalis (he's 54) continues to explore classical music with orchestral Baroque pieces by Bach, Telemann, and Albinoni in a show he’s dubbed “Well Tempered.”

The Cowards Choir
Friday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8-$10,
Songwriter Andy Zipf - last here with this summer’s Parlor Sessions collective - took a new name (the title of an old release actually) and a fresh direction that he’s been honing in on for a few years. He celebrates the “Cool Currency” EP (his second under the new name) with Tom McBride and Thomas Pagan Motta (the also latter plays an in-store at Repo Record at 6:30 p.m.).

Junior Astronomers
Friday  9 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., Free over 21, $5 under 21,  
For the past six years founding members Terrence Richard and Philip Wheeler have been celebrating their co-birthday with a free live music blow-out starring - not only their own nationally-touring indie rock band - but a few of their friends. This year they are joined by Girl Pants, Wunderbeast, and Small Sanctions.

Hurray for the Riff Raff
Friday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15,  
While drawing mainstream attention with modern folk classics like “I Know It’s Wrong (But That’s All Right),” this New Orleans combo led by Puerto Rican banjo player/singer Alynda Lee Segarra and transgender fiddler Yosi Perlstein is championing feminism, non-violence, and LGBT causes with brazenly breathtaking and fun folk.

Joe Ely
Friday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $20, 
This year the revered Flat-lander and Lubbock songwriter published his first novel, “Reverb: An Odyssey,” and unearthed an unreleased album from the `80s. “B4 84” was possibly the first record ever recorded on an Apple computer and it surprisingly doesn’t sound dated.

Los Lobos
Sunday  7 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $34.50-$54.50,
The globally acclaimed Mexican-American band, which formed while in high school in East L.A. in the early `70s, celebrates its fortieth anniversary by revisiting its post “La Bamba” 1989 album “La Pistola y El Corazon” with an acoustic set of Tejano and Mariachi folk songs as well as its best loved hits.

Sunday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $52.91,  
The Grammy winning R&B singer and hit songwriter (Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable,” Rihanna’s “Take a Bow”) previews material from his upcoming 2015 album “Non-Fiction” (including current single “She Knows”) in an intimate club setting, while revisiting past hits like “So Sick,” “Closer,” and “Miss Independent.”

Wednesday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $22-$25/$75 VIP,  
Given the sudden injury and paralysis of singer Ryan Key’s pro-snowboarder fiancĂ©, fans might expect its new album “Lift a Sail” to be a melancholy one. Instead it’s an anthemic, grand guitar rock album reminiscent of Blink 182 and 311’s best, most expansive work with the only cry from fans being “more violin!” (The couple is now married).

Sarah Jarosz & the Milk Carton Kids
Wednesday  8 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $30-$35,  
Twenty-three-year-old roots wunderkind and recent New England Conservatory of Music grad Jarosz teams with the California folk duo who are also fellow Grammy nominees and her “Austin City Limits” episode partners. As a gather-round-the-mic trio, they demonstrate just how exciting the future of roots music is.

Thursday  8 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7,  
The Cleveland trio capture `90s guitar fuzz and lo-fi indie rock, but blend it with an almost classic folk-rock aesthetic while avoiding noise for art’s sake (that can muddle the meaning) with traditional structure and audible lyrics. It’s new album, “Moments of Matter,” which was recorded at Asheville’s Echo Mountain studio, is out Nov. 4.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Marsha Ambrosius
Friday  8 p.m., McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St., $38.02-$47.58,
On her recent sophomore album, “Friends & Lovers,” Ambrosius - one half of the British duo Floetry - wants to create the new soundtrack to your love affair. Shifting from baby making to grown and sexy and channeling heartbreak in between helped “F&L” nearly crack Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop slot (it peaked at No. 2).

Courtney Barnett/San Fermin
Friday  8:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Ellizabeth Ave., $15, indie darlings with upcoming albums on the horizon. She’s an Aussie folk-pop songwriter whose wordy, detailed lyrics, bluesy guitar, and lackadaisical delivery are smartly charming. He’s a Yale educated Brooklyn band leader that brings his compositional strengths to pop music.

Jeffrey Osborne
Saturday  8 p.m., Dale F. Halton Theater, CPCC, 1206 Elizabeth Ave., $44-$65,
One of the strongest `80s balladeers this side of Luther Vandross, his classic R&B hits range from L.T.D’s “Back in Love Again” to his own “You Should Be Mine (the Woo Woo Song)” and “On the Wings of Love.” Also expect jazz-inflected tunes from his latest album, “A Time For Love.”

Kip Moore
Saturday  8 p.m., Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., $20-$25,  
The Platinum selling country artist behind “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” headlines CMT On Tour 2014: Up in Smoke with Charlie Worsham and Sam Hunt. After scoring three No. 1 singles from his 2012 debut, he promises more material from his upcoming sophomore album including, of course, current single “Dirt Road.”

Sons of Bill
Saturday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12,
The Virginian roots rock act with a literary bent has as much in common with R.E.M. and the Replacements as it does country and folk music. A couple of Charlotte fans are so confident in its fourth album “Love and Logic” that they’re offering refunds to concert goers that come out and don’t dig the show.

Steep Canyon Rangers
Saturday and Sunday 8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $17-$28,
The Grammy winning Brevard bluegrass band (who moonlights as comedian Steve Martin’s backing band) continues to evolve musically while firmly rooted in tradition. The group makes a weekend of it - first with Chapel Hill’s Mipso on Saturday and with fellow Brevard resident, singer-songwriter  Shannon Whitworth on Sunday.
Shakey Graves
Sunday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12-$15,
Actor Alejandro Rose-Garcia (“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” TV’s “Friday Night Lights”) carves out a second career as an acclaimed folk musician whose gaining ground nationally. Esme Patterson, formerly of the Colorado-based band Paperbird, serves as the opening act and help out on vocals during his set. She appears on his album, “And the War Came.”

Tuesday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $25-$35, 
With the September release of all five of its major label albums on vinyl and reissues of three of its album on CD, the bulk of the Americana veteran’s 1997 lineup (Gary Louris, Marc Perlman, Tim O’Reagan, Karen Grotberg, and Kraig Johnson) hit the road to play material that hasn’t been played live in a decade.

Chris Eldridge and Julian Lage
Wednesday  8 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $13-$15,  
The accomplished acoustic guitar duo (who both play 1939 Martin guitars) brings together twenty-six-year-old former child jazz prodigy Lage and the Punch Brothers’ second-generation chamber-grass master Eldridge (his dad was in bluegrass great the Seldom Scene) who wow with finger-picking improvisations and flowery, lyrical playing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NoDa serves up food (trucks) and free music this month

Each Thursday in October CLTure and Pure Pizza present the NoDa F.A.M. Rally in the parking lot at Chop Shop. The food, art, and music event takes place between 6 and 9 p.m. and includes live music, DJs, and food trucks.

DJ Smitty will spin Thursday, October 16. He'll be joined by Pullman Strike October 23 and by the Cameron Floyd Band October 30. Oskar Blues Brewery, Pure Pizza, Cuzzo's Cuisine, and the Art of Baking will be serving food and drinks and other local businesses are part of the party.

It's free and family-friendly. Follow @NoDaFAMRally on Twitter for more information.

Songwriter and humorist Antsy McClain will play inside Chop Shop that night as well. Tickets for the concert are $19-$35. The show begins at 8 p.m. Check out for details.

Politically-minded NC musicians roll out new music in October

As November's mid-term elections near, the politically-minded musicians of the NC Music Love Army are rolling out a new EP every Tuesday in October. Yesterday saw the release of "My Body Politic" by Love Army co-founder Caitlin Carey and Shirlette Ammons.

"You Can't Tear Us Down" by Chapel Hill's I Was Totally Destroying It was released earlier this month. It also features members of Unifier.

Both include remixes and the I Was Totally Destroying It track is backed with a song by Lutie Cain. Both are available on the Love Army's Bandcamp page along with last year's full-length album, "We Are Not For Sale" and the remix EP of Carolina Chocolate Drops' Rhiannon Giddens' song "We Rise."

"Senator's Lament" and "Train Coming" will be released October 21 and 28, respectively. These follow the September release of co-founder and Charlotte pop songwriter Jon Lindsay's "Dear Mr. McCrory,"

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sons of Bill fans put money where mouth is

Rolling Stone may have put Sons of Bill at the top of its list of must-see fall country tours recently, but it didn't offer a money back guarantee. Leave that to two die-hard Sons of Bill fans calling themselves Fans of Bill.

Charlotte's Derek Farley and Carl Fochler are offering to reimburse anyone who attends a Sons of Bill show on the current tour in support of the new album "Love and Logic" and isn't blown away. Sons of Bill plays Visulite Theatre Saturday, October 18. 

It's a tall order and one I've heard thrown around by fans before. But none ever actually went so far as to put an offer out there in print. 

Farley, who owns a public relations firm, and Fochler, who co-owns NASCAR #77 team, are so confident in the Charlottesville, VA band of brothers and the strength of the new album that they are certain they won't have to follow through on the promise. 

If someone does want their money back they can direct message @fansofbill on Twitter for information on how to receive the reimbursement. Unsatisfied concert goers just need to provide a photo of their ticket stub.

"Our budget is zero because they are that good," said Fochler, who introduced Farley to the group when the two were roommates at West Virginia University. "Unless you're tone deaf or allergic to fun, you are in for a great night of music with our favorite band." 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Megan Jean & the KFB
Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,  
Halloween is the perfect time to catch this nomadic married couple who recently converted a cargo van into a “livable apartment” in order to spread their macabre but fun vaudevillian, gypsy folk-punk year-round. With theatrical songs populated by dancing skeletons, fortune tellers, and martians, they make fantasy poignant.

Chatham County Line
Friday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $17-$20,  
On its fittingly titled sixth studio album, “Tightrope,” the Raleigh quartet evolves further into the gray area of new acoustic, chamber rock, and folk-rock while never abandoning the traditional bluegrass anchors of banjo and mandolin that it built the band on over a decade ago.

USNWC Fall Finale
Saturday  4 p.m., US National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Free,
Following an obstacle trail race, the Whitewater Center closes its concert season with the recently reformed Canadian new grass band the Duhks who reunited with soul singer Jessee Havey (although original fiddler Tania Elizabeth is now touring with the Avetts). Bluesman Jamie McLean and fast rising Utah rock band Desert Noises also play.

Old 97s
Saturday  8 p.m., McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St., $26.28-$36.47,  
Ten albums in twenty years isn’t bad for a band whose frontman Rhett Miller has kept up a busy solo career. The country-rocker’s latest, “Most Messed Up,” is definitely more of a rocker charging ahead with loud guitars, punky furor, and balancing twang and distortion like the Replacements, whose Tommy Stinson makes a guest appearance.

Chase Rice
Saturday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $27.51,
On the heels of his first No. 1 album, “Ignite the Night,” the rising country star partly responsible for writing Florida Georgia Line’s hit “Cruise” returns to his old stomping grounds. The versatile Asheville-raised former University of NC linebacker and “Survivor: Nicuragua” runner-up also once worked at Hendrick Motor Sports.

Macy Gray
Sunday  9 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $27-$30,
The Grammy winning soul-pop singer released her eclectic eighth studio album, “The Way,” earlier this week. On it she delves into her existence as a single mother of three and spikes world blues-rock tunes like the single “Bang Bang” and the uplifting pop single “Hands” with bright energy and that signature raspy voice.

The Secret Sisters
Sunday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $15-$20,  
Those who arrived early for Chris Isaak’s show at Knight Theater last winter caught the sublime, simple harmonies and charming banter of Alabaman sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers. Their T-Bone Burnett-produced sophomore album, “Put Your Needle Down,” is still rooted in tradition, but finds the vocalists breaking out as songwriters too.

Marketa Irglova
Tuesday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $20-$22,  
The actress and Oscar winning singer-songwriter (for “Once’s” “Falling Slowly”) hits town right after the musical version’s Charlotte run. She just released her second solo album, the ethereal “Muna” - a spiritual merger of folk, classical and world music built on layered vocal harmonies, European churches, and the search for self from within.

Nick Carter & Jordan Knight
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $52.91,
Having previously collaborated on the NKOTBSB tour, the boy band favorites (34 and 44, respectively) teamed up earlier this year for the very grown-up “Nick & Knight” album and now pair those duets with solo material and their group’s biggest hits.

Wednesday  8:30 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $18-$20,
With a new Cavalera Conspiracy album (“Pandemonium”) set for release in November, Max Cavalera is hitting the road for a short October run with his other longtime post-Sepultura band. His sons Zyon (who also plays with Soulfly) and Igor’s band Lody Kong again opens the show.

Lady Rockstars extends musical empowerment to grownups

Growing up - at least in the `80s and `90s - it was common for a male child to receive a guitar for Christmas. If it clicked with him he'd toil away for hours in his bedroom mimicking Hendrix and Jimmy Page and Kirk Hammett. But I don't think it was all that common for girls to receive a coveted Christmas ax.

I was lucky. My father was an avid music fan and bought me an electric bass for my thirteenth birthday. My bass teacher was in Charlie McCoy's house band on "Hee Haw." I could watch him on TV every week when he wasn't showing me fingerings for "Summertime Rolls," "Paradise City" (the first song I learned) and "Glamour Boys."

But a lot of women didn't grow up in an environment as nurturing of their rock n' roll dreams. I put down my guitar a long time ago (except when I was locked in my husband's band practice space for three hours and had to figure out how to entertain my kids recently), but some women never picked up an instrument at all.

There's still time. Next week some of the women involved in this summer's Girls Rock CLT launch a similar experience for adults beginning with six week bass and guitar course. Lady Rockstars classes take place at Cube NoDa across from Amelie's and begin Wednesday October 15 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. and again every Wednesday through mid November.

Instructors Kristen Borrelli and Krystle Sauls met through Girls Rock CLT this summer.

"After witnessing the way music transformed girls into self-confident rock stars at Girls Rock CLT Camp, we wanted to do the same thing for adult women," says Sauls, who teaches bass. "Our goal is to create a supportive and fun environment where women can come together, learn, and build confidence in themselves."

The first session is aimed at women 21 and over and wine will be served (free of charge), but if a demand is established another class for ages 16 to 20-year-olds is probable. Borrelli and Sauls also offer individual lessons for females of all ages.

Now one might think, "It's 2014, aren't women on equal footing in the guitar playing field?" And yes, we've made super strides since Nancy Wilson and Lita Ford. That said, I know when I moved here even though all girl bands existed, putting an all girl band together (which was truly what I would've preferred given my favorite bands) was fairly impossible. There were a handful of powerful female performers and band leaders in the area to look up to then, but I'm very proud of where young women in Charlotte have come over the years leading and playing in bands. That environment just wasn't where I was 20 years ago. I imagine there are still musicians out there looking for others to play with and others just wanting to learn to play.

How Lady Rockstars works is that each student chooses guitar or bass, which they can rent from Howren Music if they do not own one already. Students learn basic chords and technique and by the end of the first class can play a song. Bands, who choose a song to cover, are formed. The session ends with a public performance on November 22.

The class is $150 for new students and $190 for returning students (once the second session takes place). Reservations are required and tuition is due in full.

"Lady Rockstar classes aren't about being perfect. They are about realizing that everyone has it in them to rock," adds Sauls. "We want to inspire women by helping them understand they are capable of anything.

Learn more at or contact them at