Friday, August 29, 2014

Singer Carrie Marshall brings jazzy originals to Matthews Alive


Charlotte transplant Carrie Marshall is among the five songwriters featured at Matthews Alive's Songwriter Sunday - part of the Labor Day weekend family-friendly cultural festival's live music schedule. Marshall's latest release is "Home," which finds the singer-songwriter delving into original material written in the style of jazz standards. 

She's written and arranged "Home" in the cinematic style of Burt Bacharach or Cole Porter filtered through `70s AM pop, which today translates to easy listening, smooth jazz, and at times adult contemporary. It's classic, but it's also new. That's what's really exciting about "Home." Marshall has made the kind of record we don't hear often outside of artists like Diana Krall and Norah Jones. And "Home" is done extremely well with assists from producer/percussionist Jim Brock (Kathy Mattea), Van Sachs, Terry Peoples, and Mark Stallings. Marshall and this handful of co-writers and musicians have crafted an extremely polished, classic-sounding record in that style without making something that comes across as kitschy or retro.

Vocally it's obvious Marshall is capable of belting out country, pop, and gospel as well as the jazz and blues that fill her current repertoire. On "Home" she brings to mind contemporary jazz singers like Krall as well as some of the biggest voices of the `70s - Carole King, Carly Simon, Rita Coolidge, and a pre "Grease" Olivia Newton-John for instance. But while she shares qualities with those singers she carves out her own sound, while remaining stylistically versatile. 

"Sentimental Journey," for instance, is a nod to vocal groups like the Andrews Sisters with Marshall handling all the harmonies, demonstrating her range and versatility. More, please! 

The music throughout is subtle and Marshall's voice is lovely, but never over-the-top. You can clearly hear, for instance, each snare hit, cymbal shimmy and the low thump of walking bass on "Over the Moon." The fills are never showy on songs like "Carry On," a sunny, sing-songy track. "Don't Forget About Me" is a sultry samba laced with sax, piano, and guitar fills. There's a feeling of discovery and newness - as if she's observing places she's never been before or forcing a sunny outlook in the face of a new day - on songs like "Twelve Trinity Square" and "Carry On." 

Marshall isn't solely a jazz singer though. Knowing that, "Home" seems like it might be a self-imposed challenge for a seasoned singer-songwriter and music instructor to see if she could create a new collection that may easily be mistaken for jazz standards. If that was the case, she certainly meets the challenge. 

If you can't make the festival, Marshall plays the region frequently singing in hotels like the Ritz-Carlton, at regional festivals, and at Romare Bearden Park. You can view her schedule here

Music at Matthews Alive kicks off Friday at 6:30 with classic acts the Catalinas and the Tams. Saturday's lineup focuses on tributes to the `50s, `60s, `70s, and `80s followed by a headlining tribute to Bruce Springsteen. Sunday's headliner is country act Little Texas. Other performing songwriters Sunday are Aris Quiroga, Colby Dobbs, Randy Paul, and Casey Clark. Marshall plays at 3 p.m. 

The Carolina Voices and Bandstand Boogie close out the festival Monday with songs from the "American Bandstand" era. Children's entertainment is also on the schedule each day. For full lineup click here

For more on Carrie Marshall, click here

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This week's hot concerts


Blake Shelton/the Band Perry
Friday  7 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., www.livenation.com
It wasn’t so long ago (five years actually) that “The Voice” coach was still an opening act (for George Strait’s 2009 tour) despite five No. 1 singles. Today he’s an award winning celebrity. The Mississippi-bred opening trio doesn’t seem to have lost its momentum with its sophomore album “Pioneer.”  With Neal McCoy and Dan + Shay.


Bryan Andrew Wilson
Friday  7 p.m., 2XSalt Ministry, 1900 Queen City Dr., $5, http://www.2xsalt.org/
The former child gospel star, whose breakout performance was with the Mississippi Children’s Choir at age 12, is all grown up 20 years and a theology degree later. His new Top 20 hit “Turning Away” has drawn comparisons to John Legend. He also appears during 5 p.m. service at Generation One Church in Huntersville Saturday.

Punk Rock Picnic
Saturday  3 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $7, www.tremontmusichall.com
Charlotte punk has taken big hits this year with the deaths of Antiseen’s Joe Young and Rogue Nations’ Chris Peigler, but the loud, fast, local, and cheap spirit of punk rails on in acts like No Anger Control, Radio Reds, Drone, HU/LK, Dirty South Revolutionaries, the Stems, the Not Likelys, Pleasures of the Ultra Violent, Sick Sick Sick, You Me & Us, Claypool, and Dollar Signs.

Drake vs. Lil Wayne
Saturday  7 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $46.27-$146.42, www.livenation.com  
The two hip-hop giants, friends, and label mates’ backstories couldn’t be more different - from Canadian teen soap star to Grammy winner; from 14-year-old drop-out to music mogul - their pairing is certainly the biggest next to Jay Z and Beyonce and it’s actually coming here. Plus, Wayne claims retirement is in the cards so this tour could be his last.


Raheem DeVaughn
Saturday  9 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $30-$40/$50 VIP, www.amossouthend.com
The Grammy nominated self-proclaimed “Love King” is having  a particularly prolific year with his 2013 release “A Place Called Love Land,” which rides high on classic R&B balladry without going retro. Co-produced and partly co-written with likeminded crooner Ne-Yo, DeVaughn already followed it up with two free mixtapes in 2014.


The Fire Tonight
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5, www.snugrock.com  
On its latest release, “How Could Anyone Do This?,” the Southeastern indie trio collaborated with 25 guests to create an artistic rock record that’s disregard for musical categories echoes the freedom of early `80s MTV and is a bit like Flaming Lips whirring in a blender with piano poppers and hip-hoppers.

USNWC Labor Day Celebration
Sunday  4 p.m., US National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Free/VIP $45-$75, www.usnwc.org
Following two trail races and a relay race, the whitewater crowd winds down with boot-stomping Americana original Langhorne Slim & the Law, talented songwriter Joe Pug, and blues guitarist Lefty Williams, who kicks things off. The evening ends with fireworks.

Psychostick
Wednesday  7 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $12-$15, www.amossouthend.com  
Who said metal has to be humorless. This comic-rock four-piece approaches growled vocals, distorted riffs, and pretty much all lyrical subjects with a refreshing sense of humor. Its Blood, Guts and Sprinkles Tour promises new material from its upcoming crowd-funded album - its first since 2011.

Grouplove/Portugal the Man
Wednesday  7 p.m, The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $34.66, www.livenation.com
This arty alt-rock band - a collective of visual artists and musicians that met on a retreat in Greece - emits the sort of spontaneity and positivity of early Arcade Fire and was one of the highlights of this year’s Coachella Festival. It’s paired with like-minded free thinkers Portugal the Man.

Ghost Trees
Wednesday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free, www.snugrock.com  
The experimental, sax and percussion combo kicks off its month long Wednesday residency with the release of its latest album “The New Gravity” (which is available digitally and is limited to 250 clear vinyl copies). Friends from the Wm. B. Kennedy chamber ensemble help flesh out the minimalist duo feel on several tracks.


Local musicians turn Tommy's Pub into `90s emo hub Tuesday

Original Hopesfall drummer Adam Morgan and fellow Charlotte musician Buck Boswell of Hectagons and Appalucia are turning back the clock starting Tuesday, September 2, at Tommy's Pub. That's when they kick off "Nothing Feels Good - Emo Night in Charlotte" where Morgan and Boswell will spin their favorite emo records from the late `90s and beyond. 

"It's a genre that my co-host and I feel passionate about. The late `90's emo emergence played a huge part in our adolescent musical discoveries and shaped our future musical endeavors," says Morgan. "The bands and music coming out at that time hold a very special place in our hearts."

If you aren't privy to the musical sub genre, it's an offshoot of hardcore defined by its melody and confessional lyrics. Labels like JadeTree and Deep Elm specialized in the genre. 

"The idea behind Emo Night came from a friend of mine who runs the podcast Washed Up Emo, It's a great podcast that interviews band members from some of the greatest and most respected emo bands from the late `90s and even current bands that have that similar sound," explained Morgan. His friend co-hosts a similar monthly emo night in New York. 

This seems like the next natural step for Morgan who helped spearhead emo nights on Instagram where he and emo-loving vinyl collector friends share video of records and guess each other's picks. He also posts photos from his growing vinyl collection, which is heavy on emo, daily. 

I remember an old boyfriend explaining "emo" to me in the late `90s as if the genre gave normally masculine punk and hardcore guys permission to emote. The bands Morgan namedrops as candidates for emo night - Mineral, the Promise Ring, Karate, Cursive, Cap'n Jazz, Piebald, and Sunny Day Real Estate - are the soundtrack to that year with that old boyfriend. 

I teasingly called it whiny boy music back then, but I liked a lot of it too. I loved Lifetime and a lot of Cursive. I wore out Jimmy Eat World's pop crossover "Bleed American" and Sunny Day Real Estate's last album "The Rising Tide" (right, I know, no one picks that one). While the genre was predominantly made up of emotional men, it had a few angst-ridden women as well. My very favorite bands featured male/female vocal interplay - namely Rainer Maria and lesser known Whirlpool, which was a side project from Sense Field's Rodney Sellars. 

"Nothing Feels Good," which takes its name from the Promise Ring record (which Andy Greenwald's 2003 book also borrowed), will take place every first Tuesday of the month. Boswell and Morgan may be playing DJ, but "Nothing Feels Good" is no dance night - hence the name.

"It's a chance to come out and have some beers with friends while Buck and I spin some of those classic emo records," says Morgan. 

Music starts at 8 p.m. and there's no cover charge. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

This week's hot concerts


Kate Tucker & the Sons of Sweden
Friday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $10-$15, www.eveningmuse.com
With likeminded peers, this dreamy rock outfit is changing the sound of Nashville with a multimedia Kickstarter campaign for its new album “The Shape the Color the Feel” and a sound that’s Interpol-meets-Sundays or Cardigans with shoegazer guitars so fluid they sound like they’re underwater. With Christy Snow.

The Fresh Beat Band
Saturday  3 p.m., Carowinds Palladium, 14523 Carowinds Blvd., $44.07-$60.02, www.ticketmaster.com
Preschool parents could do worse than this peppy fictional band from the Nick Jr. series that’s built on positive pop music and hits on everything from country-western to Bollywood to hip-hop - the latter thanks in part to the group’s comedic secret weapon Twist (actor Jon Beavers, who shows up in the “Gotham” pilot).

Beat ALS Fundraiser
Saturday  4:30 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $10-$12, www.chopshopnoda.com
When organizer Christine Strzepek’s music fan mother Elaine Goslee died from ALS in 2013, her daughter created this annual event to raise and awareness for the cause. Acts include Trial By Fire (the Journey tribute), Ghost Pilot, Beyond the Fade, Butterfly Corpse, Fiftywatt Freight Train, Sidewalk Picasso, Fuse Band, Small Talk Assassin and Dust ‘n D Attic. Food trucks will be on hand.


Avery Sunshine/Kindred the Family Soul
Saturday  8 p.m., McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St., $32.50-$39.50, www.blumenthalarts.org  
There’s something refreshing yet familiar about soul singer Avery Sunshine, whose  sophomore album recalls classic soul greats and `80s R&B with a touch of jazz. The Atlanta duo (with guitarist/vocalist Big Dane Johnson) joins another equally accomplished pair in married duo Kindred.

Lil Debbie
Tuesday  9 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $12-$15, www.neighborhoodtheatre.com
The polarizing California rapper best known for her work with Kreayshawn in the female trio White Girl Mob and later with Houston rapper RiFF RaFF is clocking YouTube hits into the millions for her minimalist hip-hop while claiming to the press that Miley stole her schtick.


Jews & Catholics
Sunday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7, www.themilestoneclub.com  
If you’re hungry for the golden age of alt-rock (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur, Jr.) this Winston-Salem trio, who makes its Charlotte debut with new drummer Jay King, stirs up fuzzy, dissonant, unpredictable indie-rock that’s not afraid of a hook. Expect new material from next year’s 10th anniversary release. With Spirit System and Dinner Rabbits.

Blossoms/Andy the Doorbum
Wednesday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free, www.snugrock.com
The Charlotte indie-rock quartet, which sounds like a melancholy dream pop outfit filtered through a wall of aluminum mesh - beautiful, but uncomfortable -  finishes out its month-long residency with Charlotte’s own performance art guru, whose unprecedented June album release show made jaws drop. With the MoBros and DJ Cody.


Alien Ant Farm
Thursday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $15-$18, www.amossouthend.com  
Best known for tongue-in-cheek videos and 2001’s refreshing spin on Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” the California quartet returns with the ANTarchy in the USA tour and a long-awaited, new PledgeMusic-funded album, “Always and Forever,” arriving later this year. 


Yonder Mountain String Band
Thursday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $28.94, www.livenation.com  
Even if fans of the Colorado, progressive bluegrass combo aren’t in Charlotte to witness the improvisational noodling and nimble picking, they can stream the band’s set at the Fillmore as part of LiveNation and Yahoo’s streaming concert series - one of 365 aired on Yahoo Screen’s LiveNation Channel this year.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Motley Crue lights up PNC during first Carolinas' stop

There was blood, balloons, bubbles, babies, and a beheading - and that was before Motley Crue ever hit the stage during its PNC Music Pavilion stop Tuesday. The Crue, who signed a contract agreeing that this global tour would be its last, had more than a few new tricks up its studded leather sleeve. 

I've seen great Motley Crue shows (2005's Carnival of Sins Tour) and I've walked away from Crue shows disappointed (2008's Crue Fest). I was not disappointed Tuesday. The group was high energy pounding through a hit-heavy set with the aid of some of the most deafening, dynamic pyrotechnics to ever heat a stage. 
While rock legend Alice Cooper (above) relied on the aforementioned classic dead baby dolls and blood spatter as well as a towering monster ("Feed My Frankenstein"), a maniacal nurse (played by his wife Sheryl for "Ballad of Dwight Fry"), and that trusty guillotine, Motley Crue upgraded its 2014 show with an astounding amount of pyro, backup singers well versed in exotic dance, and a flame thrower strapped to Nikki Sixx's bass during "Shout at the Devil." The production was like another member. There was the gentle rain of sparks during "Without You," that insane flamethrower bass, and giant sprays of fire and alternating gusts of smoke that looked and sounded a lot like fire extinguisher spray (without the foam) used liberally. 

Newish Crue still had fans singing along during the opener of 2008's "Saints of Los Angeles." Covers of "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" and "Anarchy in the UK" went over as well as most of the band's originals and the guys seem to have fun playing them. 

Sixx took an uncharacteristic break from head banging and body builder poses to share Motley Crue's origin story. We all read "The Dirt," but a refresher was a fitting segue for a final tour. I was particularly interested in the music he and Tommy Lee bonded over during that first meeting. Punks may have spat at the notion of hair metal, but bands like the Crue and Guns n' Roses were as big on the Sex Pistols and Ramones' as they were Aerosmith and T-Rex.

At age 63 (and a decade older than all but Sixx, 55), guitarist Mick Mars' health has long been an issue. His illness (a debilitating form of arthritis in his spine and pelvis) and 2004 hip replacement certainly don't slow down his fingers. He seemed at ease though hunched and thin, working the stage in Frankenstein platforms. His guitar solo, which followed Lee's hip-hop and dance flavored drum solo (more on that), was a mix of haunted house psychedelics, fleet-fingered fret work, and noisy distortion. I wished I could have heard it more clearly. 

Clarity wasn't high on the priority list for either band - at least not close to the stage where distorted instruments and voices competed with each other. Lee later tweeted that it was the quietest show of the tour ("What happened? Did it sound bad?...too sweaty?" he asked). He obviously didn't hear the guy behind me screaming his name.


Vince Neil's signature cat-like wail did cut through much of the clutter. Although Neil still swipes at phrases and sometimes misses lines all together, his range was better than I remembered. Sure there were a few backing tracks beefing up the high part on "Girls Girls Girls" as well as the female singer/dancers, but he didn't rely on them. 

Lee didn't quite outdo himself with a rig he called the Cobra, which operates like a slower amusement park ride where his lighted drum set rotates as it is elevated on a rig that stretches in an arch above the stage. In an arena the rig extends into a rollercoaster of sorts that reaches toward the back balcony, but in a shed-style amphitheater it stops at the edge of the stage (see photo below). His samples-driven solo did speak of how far genres have blurred since his first spinning, airborne drum rig from the 1987 video for "Wild Side."
There's been a lot of speculation about the Crue's real reasons for calling it quits after this tour - from Mars' health to the members' dislike for one another - but the show didn't feel like four guys cringing through clenched teeth as they pointed out how fabulous the others are. They seemed to be enjoying it as "Kickstart My Heart" drew the show to a close with a possibly unprecedented display of pyrotechnics. It sounded like a war zone and I'm sure several fans walked away a little deafer.
If you missed Tuesday's show or want to experience it all over again, The Final Tour, which will stretch well into 2015, will stop in nearby Greensboro and Greenville, SC in October with Cooper (pictured above) and his band in tow. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This week's hot concerts



Juice Newton
Friday  8 p.m., Don Gibson Theater, 318 Washington St., Shelby, $26.50, www.dongibsontheater.com
In 1981 Juice Newton erased the line between pop and country with the Top 10 hits “Angel of the Morning” and “Queens of Hearts.” She charted and was nominated for Grammys in both genres (eventually winning in country for her 1982 Brenda Lee cover). After a quiet `90s the 62-year-old redhead returned still straddling pop and country.


JD Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers
Friday  9 p.m., Puckett’s Farm Equipment, 2740 W. Sugar Creek Rd., $8-$25, http://reddirtpromotions.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=658613
The Legendary Shack Shaker teams with upright bass playing wife Jessica, whose husky growl is a fitting counterpoint to his rockabilly soul style in this bluesy guitar-driven quartet that bridges Southern Culture, Memphis soul, and gritty electric blues that’s catchy enough for Black Keys’ fans.

Hillsong Worship
Saturday  7 p.m., Bojangles’ Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., $35.23-$50.73, www.ticketmaster.com
The Australian Christian music and worship giant puts on an elaborate arena spectacle of song and praise that’s on par with large scale pop tours. Named for its latest album, the 14-city No Other Name Tour features some of the performers, church leaders, and musicians that appear on the church’s recordings.

Amigo/Dear Blanca/Susto
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5, www.snugrock.com
If you think you know South Carolina, check out Sequoya Prep School’s Justin Osbourne heading up Susto with songs he crafted in Cuba and Charleston; Columbia’s Dear Blanca who make laid back indie rock on its Bo White-produced album “Pobrecito;” and locals Amigo, whose hook-writing, guitar slinging frontman hails from Clover.


The Ataris
Monday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $10, www.themilestoneclub.com
The classic line-up of the `90s/early `00s pop-punk band regroups after a 10 year hiatus to perform their million selling album “So Long, Astoria” (best remembered for its version of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer”) in its entirety - at the Milestone for ten bucks, which seems like a bizarrely good deal.

Motley Crue/Alice Cooper
Tuesday  7 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707  Pavilion Blvd., $25-$143.50, www.livenation.com
The Crue says it’s retiring after an uneven last decade during which they’ve been very very good or very bad. Set lists indicate a fitting 20-plus song sendoff predictably big on hits and  obligatory solos. Even at age 66 rock stalwart Cooper doesn’t disappoint with a consistent catalog and theatrical stage (horror) show.

3 Doors Down
Tuesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $52, www.livenation.com
After lineup changes that included bassist Todd Harrell’s dismissal due to vehicular manslaughter charges, the headlining, hit-making Mississippians push reset with an intimate acoustic club tour that includes aforementioned hits and covers of Garth Brooks and Metallica.


Old Crow Medicine Show/Shovels & Rope
Thursday  7:30 p.m., Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $38-$58.85, www.livenation.com
The newgrass cats responsible for turning a smidge of a Bob Dylan song into the modern standard “Wagon Wheel,” are back with the energizing new album “Remedy” (and another Dylan collaboration). The septet is paired with the pride of SC - fast climbing husband and wife Americana duo Shovels & Rope.


Mikaela Davis
Thursday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $6-$8, www.eveningmuse.com
If you’re looking for something you haven’t seen before the Rochester-based harpist and singer-songwriter drew attention on YouTube for gorgeous harp covers, but, although she’s capable of classical interpretations, her Martha Wainwright-meets-the-Sundays lilt and instrument of choice makes for unique indie-pop.

Miranda Lambert to play Belk Bowl FanFest

Award winning country music artist Miranda Lambert will be the featured performer as part of this year's 13th Annual Belk Bowl, Tuesday December 30 at Bank of America Stadium.

It looks like the yearly match-up between the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Southeastern Conference will be the only time Charlotte fans can catch Lambert live in 2014 without traveling. She plays Raleigh's Walnut Creek Amphitheatre on Thursday.

The Grammy award winner, who has also carries the title of Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association female vocalist of the year (five and four years running, respectively), will be a part of the free FanFest leading up to the game. The fan event begins at noon with Lambert's performance scheduled for 4 p.m. outside Bank of America Stadium on Mint and Stonewall. Kick-off is at 6:30 p.m.

"Miranda Lambert is a tremendous addition to this year's Belk Bowl Fan Fest," said Jon Pollack, Belk's executive vice president of sales promotion, marketing and eCommerce.

"She is an icon of Modern. Southern. Fashion, and is the perfect artist to help us celebrate the first year of our SEC/ACC football match up," Pollack added echoing the Charlotte-based department store's recent Modern. Southern. Style. campaign adopted for the store's 125th Anniversary. "We are thrilled she is joining us."

Tickets for Belk Bowl go on sale in October at Ticketmaster outlets and through participating schools. For more information go to www.BelkBowl.com.

(Photo by Randee St. Nicholas, PRNewsFoto/Belk Inc.)