Thursday, February 28, 2013

This week's hot concerts

George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic
9 p.m. Friday, March 1, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $40-$60.
The NoDa venue’s outgoing management team kicks off its final weekend  of shows with the Funkfather himself, who is here for CIAA weekend. The club under new management later this Spring.
Bon Jovi
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St. $19.50-$189.50.
With its new album, "What About Now" set for a March 12 release, the veteran rock band returns to the arena for its "Because We Can" Tour. The tour's named for its new uplifting single which follows the motivational all-American pop-rock of the band's more recent work. 
Dropkick Murphys
8 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $38.
Best known for its contribution to “The Departed” soundtrack (“I’m Shipping Up To Boston”), this Boston combo still flirts with the angry punk of its youth while following its Irish roots with lyrically-driven, whistling group-shouted story songs that would sound at home in a pub or on the deck of a vessel crossing the Atlantic.
Bronze Radio Return/the Dunwells
9 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $12. 704-376-1446.
The next chapter of the current folk-rock revival brings more electrified touches and Dave Matthews-flavor to the group-sings (which, with countless TV placements, you’ve likely heard its single “Shake Shake Shake”). Its UK-based tour mates, the Dunwells, take a folkier, harmony-driven route.
Alexz Johnson/Charlene Kaye
6 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $15/$50 VIP.
Former Disney actress Johnson (“Instant Star”) joins forces with the Team StarKid guitarist/Darren Criss collaborator (and BFF) Kaye for a night of pop-rock that’s equally smart and infectious.
Cowboy Junkies
7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St. $24.50-$44.50. 704-372-1000.
The Canadian export plays material from its latest collection as well as revisits its seminal album, “The Trinity Session” - a beautiful and unusual-for-its-time collision of sleepy folk and psychedelic, swirling rock that garnered a rare four stars from “Rolling Stone.”
Holly Williams
8 p.m. Thursday, March 7, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$15. 704-376-3737.
She’s Nashville royalty - the granddaughter and daughter of Hanks Jr. and Sr. and half-sister of Hank III (who owns a trendy upscale boutique to boot) - but it’s her lived-in voice and ability to channel heartbreak while straddling folk songwriting and polished country that makes her’s a unique voice apart from her bloodline. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Go-go still present at CIAA after Brown's death

NC-native and D.C. go-go legend Chuck Brown's annual concerts at Amos' Southend had become a  staple of CIAA week until last year when Brown fell ill and was hospitalized two days before his March 2nd show. The show was cancelled and sadly Brown never really recovered. The Gaston, NC-native died a few months later at John Hopkins Hospital at the age of 75.

His absence doesn't mean that the musical style he pioneered won't have a presence at CIAA this year. D.C.'s Familiar Faces (pictured), which includes a few former Brown band members, represents the D.C. go-go scene along with a few other acts.

Familiar Faces consists of a collection of DC-based players, several from the D.C. band Rare Essence. It plays the 7th Annual Takeover Party Friday at Amos' Southend with fellow Capitol dwellers Black Alley who mix go-go's ever-present Latin rhythms and R&B vocals with hip-hop and rock on its album "Soul Swagger Rock Sneakers."

Familiar Faces then heads uptown to Picasso's for a performance Saturday with Sugar Bear+EU, the D.C. group responsible for what's probably go-go's best known mainstream hit outside of Brown's "Bustin' Loose" - the 1988 number one R&B and Top 5 Dance single "Da Butt." Joining Sugar Bear+EU is Suttle Thoughts, Da Mix Band, and DJ Daveed.

Tickets for both the Amos' and Picasso's shows are $40 each and are available here (Amos' tickets are also available at You can purchase a pass to both events for $65. Friday's event starts at 10 p.m., Saturday's runs from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

If you still can't get enough go-go, Saturday's Go-Go Allstar & All Night Party features players from Suttle Thoughts, Da Mix Band, the Backyard Band, and the Chuck Brown Band. It takes place at El Tucan Billiards (6701 N. Tryon St.) at 10 p.m. General admission is $25. VIP is $40. Find tickets to that event here.

(Photo courtesy of

Fantasia sets album release for April

Charlotte-based R&B singer and High Point native Fantasia Barrino will release her fourth studio album, "Side Effects of You," on April 23. The Grammy winning season 3 "America Idol" winner intriguingly refers to the album stylistically as "rock-soul." She co-wrote much of the record with Missy Elliott, Andrea Martin, Emile Sande, Sherrod Lambert, and Courtney Harrell. Elliott and Kelly Rowland guest on the track "Without Me."

The 13-track "Side Effects of You" features the lead single "Lose to Win," which is gaining airplay at Urban Adult radio stations this week. The album follows 2010's "Back To Me." She won a Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammy and an NAACP Image Award for its track "Bittersweet." For more on Fantasia visit

Country's Wayne returns for Kings Mountain fest

Kings Mountain, NC native Jimmy Wayne will return to his hometown in April to headline The Kings Mountain Music Festival at the Joy Performance Center. The festival, which takes place April 12 and 13, is hosted by Cherryville-based couple Darin and Brooke Aldridge (pictured, bottom), who lead an award winning bluegrass gospel band. The Darin and Brooke Aldridge Band will perform both Friday and Saturday.

Friday's concert includes performances by African-American gospel vocal group Men Standing for Christ and Gospel Music Association Hall of Famers the Kingsmen Quartet. Tickets are $20.

Saturday's events include a free afternoon concert with the Aldridges, Harvest, and Unspoken Tradition. Weather permitting the free concert will take place outdoors at the 100 block of South Railroad Ave. Saturday night's show with Wayne and the Darin and Brooke Aldridge Band is a ticketed event inside the Joy. Tickets are $25.

Tickets for both shows are available at The Joy Performance Center Box Office and "The Kings Mountain Herald," as well as online at or by calling 704-472-7762.

Wayne (pictured, top) grew up troubled and shuffled between foster homes in Cleveland and Gaston counties before finding a family in older couple Bea and Russell Costner. The formerly homeless teen finished school, went to college, and worked as a prison guard before departing for Nashville. There he worked as a songwriter before charting his own hits like 2008's number one single "Do You Believe Me Now" and the Top Ten "I Love You This Much." He's also a sought after speaker and author whose written about and speaks of his tumultuous youth.

Proceeds benefit the Green Banana Project, which helps needy families in Gaston and Cleveland counties.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Byrne at Belk following Bonnaroo

Alternative rock pioneer and musical adventurer David Byrne will return to Charlotte this summer following his appearance at the Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tenn. Byrne & St. Vincent (aka musician Annie Clark, pictured with Byrne above), who joined forces on 2012's Grammy nominated album "Love This Giant," will bring their big brass band to Belk Theater June 18.

The show promises unique choreography and an eight-piece horn section in lieu of a traditional rock band. and The former Talking Head was last in Charlotte in December 2008 for a terrific full band concert at Ovens Auditorium.

Douglas Young, VP of programming for Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, caught the Byrne/St. Vincent show at The Beacon Theater in NYC last year and called it his "favorite concert of the year."

The "Love This Giant" album has drawn raves from critics at NPR, "Time," "The New York Times" and a slew of others. You can get a taste of it here or tune into "Late Show with David Letterman" March 6 when CBS repeats the episode that the duo appears. I was hypnotized by their performance on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."

Tickets for Byrne & St. Vincent at Belk go on sale Friday, March 1. Call 704-372-1000 or online at (Photo credit Andreas Laszio Konrath/Sacks Co.)

Friday, February 22, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Tiempo Libre
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23, Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. $27.50-$72.50.
From the rooftops of its native Cuba to global sensation, the classically-trained Grammy nominated Miami-based septet collaborates with Charlotte Symphony Orchestra for a culturally adventurous Pops concert that merges Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban tradition with big orchestral sound.

8 p.m. Saturday, February 23, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10.
The veteran Charlotte punk band celebrates its 30th year in October and this show - with the “Eat More Possum” lineup playing the bulk of that 1992 album as well as material from its current lineup - will likely be its last until then. Guitarist Joe Young says of playing 23-year-old material: “I felt like I was 33 again.”

A Night in Rio: Brazilian Carnival Experience
7 p.m. Saturday, February 23, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $12-$15.
NoDa celebrates the music, dancing, food, arts and crafts of Brazil for the fourth annual Night in Rio. The popular cultural festival features elaborately costumed performers, samba and Bossa Nova, dance lessons, capoeira demonstrations and batucada drumming and dance.  

Jerrod Niemann
11 p.m. Saturday, February 23, Coyote Joe’s 4621 Wilkinson Blvd. $12-$15.
On his latest album, “Free the Music,” the “Lover Lover” singer proves his versatility on genre-pushing hick-hop and pop-laced country (the title track and “Get On Up”), traditional classic country (“Whiskey Kind of Way”), pop balladry (“Only God Could Love You More”) and horn-laced Tex-Mex (“I’ll Have to Kill the Pain”).  

Wayne Hancock
9 p.m. Wednesday, February 27, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $15.
For his first album in four years, “Ride” (out February 26), the rockabilly-flavored Americana guitarist and honky-tonk throwback channels his blues through the open road having taken up motorcycling following a separation from his wife, which gives the record a aura of freedom and sadness.

Donna the Buffalo
7 p.m. Thursday, February 28, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $22-$37. 704-358-9298.
A bison (see below) and a buffalo playing music across the street from each other? Sounds like a joke, but festival favorites Tara Nevins and company return with its signature mix of danceable Zydeco and Cajun flavored reggae and Americana.

The Last Bison
8 p.m. Thursday, February 28, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10-$12. 704-376-3737.
Culled from the same pool as Mumford and the Lumineers, this Virginia farmland outfit sounds more firmly rooted in colonial Appalachia and Irish folk music while it looks as if it might be part of a “Little House on the Prairie” cult in period dress. It’s lively mix of mountain and chamber music can certainly draw you in.

Mod Sun/Cisco Adler
8 p.m. Thursday, February 28, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $15.
The one time drummer for post hardcore band Scary Kids Scaring Kids is a rapper who calls his style hippy-hop and mixes electronic, reggae, hip-hop and rock for a sound that's in line with contemporaries like Mickey Avalon. Whitestarr/Shwayze’s Adler released his solo debut “Aloha.” It also rides a similar lazy summertime vibe. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

NC music book preview and photo exhibit Friday

Of all the concerts I've attended in Charlotte over the past 17 years there is one person I've run into more often than anyone else - sometimes two or three times in one night at different venues. That person is photographer and videographer Daniel Coston. Coston has photographed countless live performances, as well as many bands for their cds and press photos. His photos have been published by national music magazines as well as local publications. This winter "People Magazine" and several others published photos of Paula Broadwell that Coston took just days before her scandal broke.

Regardless of his other successful endeavors, music has always been at the heart of his work. Friday he'll preview his upcoming book "North Carolina Musicians: Photographs and Conversations" with a photo exhibit at Charles Holloman Productions in Southend (2301 Distribution St.). The above photograph of Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs at Merlefest 2006 is one of 140 featured in the book. Coston reports that the book, which is due out on NC-based McFarland Publishing in May, also features interviews with NC musicians and covers all genres.

Coston, who co-authored a book about the Double Door Inn a few years back, has another project in the works for a Spring release. "There Was a Time: Rock & Roll In The 1960s In Charlotte, And North Carolina" will focus on the 1960's rock scene and is co-authored by Jake Berger. A chapter will be included in an upcoming issue of "Ugly Things Magazine."

Friday's event begins at 6 p.m. C.R. Rollyson, bassist for Charlotte rock band the Sammies, reports that he and his band mates as well as other Charlotte musicians will be in attendance, so the likelihood of spontaneous live music is certain. To find out more about the event click here. To find out more about Coston's work, check out

Monday, February 18, 2013

VH1 "Metal Show" hosts stand up Wednesday

Comedians Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson appear at The Comedy Zone Wednesday through Saturday this week (February 20-23). If you're a music fan you know them best as co-hosts (along with Eddie Trunk) of VH1 Classic's "That Metal Show."

While the focus of their standup is comedy, music is never far from their hearts which is apparent when they're debating what Sabbath record rules or which guitar solo is superior. "That Metal Show" sparks fun debates about music, but I also like that they interview artists that you don't see anywhere else on cable. I recently saw Doro (Pesch, formerly of German metal band Warlock, who I loved as a 12-year-old girl) in an episode. They've had many of my favorites - almost all the original members of Guns n' Roses including a rare lengthy chat with Axl Rose, Lemmy, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, and on and on. Even the acts I know little about are interesting. I used to only catch it in the middle of the night, but I recently discovered that it airs mid-morning as well. It's a beacon while I'm pedaling my bike at the Y (I think I'm the only one not watching cable news, Lifetime, "House Hunters," or some configuration of "The View." Ugh).

Both comedians, who often appear together, visited Comedy Zone last year with friend and colleague Andrew Dice Clay. This marks their first visit as headliners. Tickets are $15 to $18. Show times are 8 p.m. Wed-Fri with an additional 10:15 show Friday. Saturday shows are 7 and 9:30 p.m.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sugar Glyder celebrates new album Saturday

Charlotte rock quartet Sugar Glyder celebrates the release of its new album, “The Eyes: They See” Saturday at Amos’ Southend. The album marks a milestone for the band as its debut for the ORG Music label (which releases vinyl reissues from famous folks as well as new material from punk stalwart Mike Watt and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea). From what I’m hearing concert goers should expect a full stage production - not just your average rock show - with props and projections that I expect might echo the above video for its single “Lost in the Woods” (which you can watch in 3D).

Although Sugar Glyder has evolved over the years, it was a bit ahead of the curve to start with.

I saw Sugar Glyder fairly early on playing Tremont’s Casbah stage in 2006 and it was a solid band even then. It’s knack for writing and arranging was accentuated by commitment and work ethic (which is sort of the subject of "Lost in the Woods"). That’s a combination that’s benefited folks like the Avetts.

It’s evolution from the well-produced (by local musician Kit Walters) self-released albums and EPs to a higher dollar, big city production seems more gradual and less ear-shocking than a band that’s jumped from homemade demo to professional studio. Its records already sounded professional, so I wondered how working with producer Steven Haigler (who mixed most of the Pixies’ output, Charlotte defunct hardcore band Hopesfall’s “A Types,” and Clutch’s debut) and mastering engineer Bernie Grundman (Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac) would impact this album. I don’t know how much of “The Eyes: They See” is a credit to their input, but the album is brimming with subtle details and dynamics amid its big hooks.

There are signature Sugar Glyder moments (and two tracks - favorites of mine - culled from its 2011 “Lovers at Light Speed” EP), but there are also some surprises. “Lady Touch,” for instance, jumps off the speakers with a sexy funk groove, Bobby Matthews' shifting disco-like backbeat, and a synthesizer (which guitarist Chris Rigo reports is also a synthesizer guitar pedal at times) that sounds plucked from a `70s AM radio before the track erupts into a more contemporary dance-rock chorus. At one point Daniel Howie’s voice scales the rafters, but it’s brief and subtle. No Mariah-style diva-ing here. It fits the mix. Subject-wise it’s their most adult track too.

Elsewhere the keys and guitar/synth remind me of `80s R&B. “Baxolectro” (which Rigo reports is named for the star the band purchased) bridges soul and Sugar Glyder’s signature rock with harmonies, those retro keyboard sounds, and this underlying melody that would be at home on a classic Babyface track.

The more traditional rock songs like “Campfire” do a good job of alternating between toned down verses that build into big driving choruses. I’ve always described Sugar Glyder’s work as grand. That means while it sounds at home in clubs (where they actually draw several hundred locally) it isn’t a huge leap to imagine its songs filling an arena. They're usually that big-sounding. I think that quality is both restrained on “The Eyes: They See” and at its peak. Comparisons to Muse, Coldplay and the Killers aren’t so far off. You can almost see those songs in the same settings that those artists perform in.

While original bassist Emily Aoyagi recorded the album with Sugar Glyder, she left the band in November. The new video features new bassist Robby Hartis of Lights, Fluorescent and My Captain, who jumped on board immediately for the band’s November tour. He should be a good addition because of his heavier rock background, his knack for writing and arranging, and his backing vocals.

You can catch Sugar Glyder and get a copy of “The Eyes: They See” before its national March 5 release Saturday. Tickets are $10-$12 via and at the door. Flagship and Greensboro’s Unifier open. 

This week's hot concerts

Grown Up Avenger Stuff
7:30 p.m. Friday, February 15, Amos', 1423 S. Tryon St. $8-$10.
There's really no one like this Charlotte alternative rock outfit, which celebrates the release of its latest EP, "Sparkleton" - a fitting follow-up to last summer's "Alive." The group veers toward the heavy side with unique arrangements and vocal lines and isn't afraid to experiment, but luckily those musical adventures never go awry. With S.O. Stereo and Chasing Pedestrians. 

Lee Brice
11 p.m. Friday, February 15, Coyote Joe’s 4621 Wilkinson Blvd. Sold Out.
The Sumter, South Carolina native made a slow climb with Garth Brooks covering his “More Than a Memory” in 2007 and his own “Love Like Crazy” spending a year on the country charts in 2010. He topped that with 2012’s No. 1 “A Woman Like You” and the album "Hard 2 Love."

Barb Wire Dolls
8 p.m. Friday, February 15, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. Free.
With over-the-top political songs and ample attitude, Isis Queen - the aptly named singer for this Greek punk trio - comes across as a mix of Avengers-era Penelope Houston (the late `70s punk band, not the comic book heroes) and Courtney Love at her peak. Concertgoers can be a part of the live DVD filmed during the show.

Sugar Glyder 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 16, Amos', 1423 S. Tryon St. $10-$12.
With its first label release, "The Eyes: They See" (produced by Steven Haigler who mixed most of the Pixies' output), the Charlotte four-piece outdoes itself pushing its already layered take on grand pop-rock with details like R&B-flavored synth, ample grooves, and tracks that move from funky and danceable to hard-charging. The official release is March 5, but locals can get the album at the show. 

Tia Fuller and John Brown Big Band
8 p.m. Saturday, February 16, McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. $29.50-$39.50.
The third installment of the Swing Jazz series features saxophonist Fuller who did two tours of duty with Beyonce before releasing her latest solo album, 2012's “Angelic Warrior." Now a new instructor at Berklee School of Music, she won't be accompanying Mrs. Carter this summer.

Shiny Toy Guns/The Dirty Heads
7 p.m. Sunday, February 17, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $30.50.
The L.A. electro-rock band return to their early synth-heavy sound (after a detour into guitar rock on 2008’s “Season of Poison”). Original singer Carah Faye is in tow for its new album, “III,” and its first Charlotte show since 2008.

8 p.m. Tuesday, February 19, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. Free.
This female-fronted trio seems attracted to the dark side with its arty, but still accessible heavy, emotional rock and stirring visual components, which seems fitting for an act from spooky historic Savannah. Yet Cusses’ sound mixes that element with a more modern feel that’s attracted MTVU, who picked up two of its videos.

The Ringers
7 p.m. Wednseday, February 20, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $20-$35.
Widespread Panic/Allman Brothers’ guitarist Jimmy Herring teams with jazz fusion guitarist Wayne Krantz (Steely Dan), prolific session and live musicians Michael Landau and Keith Carlock and African musician Etienne Mbappe to play material created for this new band as well as songs from their other ventures.

Mary Chapin Carpenter/Shawn Colvin
7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 21, Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. $39.50-$54.50.
This acoustic tour gives audiences a chance to catch the old friends sharing the stage and playing each other’s songs. While both had their share of hits in the country and pop worlds, respectively, they are also both rooted in the folk/singer-songwriter realm, which this format draws attention to.

8 p.m. Thursday, February 21, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $15.
The influential funk-rock outfit - which is still led by three original members - was finally paid apt tribute with the 2012 release of the “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone” documentary. Seeing them live its evident why artists like No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Questlove sing its praises. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

HRVRD previews label release

Charlotte rock band HRVRD released the video for "Flaming Creatures" Tuesday in anticipation of the February 19 release of its new album, "From the Bird's Cage." The album is the group's first for Equal Vision Records, whose roster includes Eisley, We Came As Romans, Say Anything, and Chiodos. The album is also the group's first as HRVRD. It was previously known as Harvard, but dropped the As for legal reasons.

Like its previous full-length, "The Inevitable and I," "From the Bird's Cage" was produced by Brian McTernan, who has recorded Circa Survive and Senses Fail.

The band embarks on a tour with letlive March 1 then joins up with fellow Charlotteans Junior Astronomers in Dallas to finish out the rest of the month. The closest that tour will come to Charlotte is its final night in Columbia, March 27.  To find out more on the band go here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Peter Rowan headlines local music, beer fest

The third annual North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival will take place in historic Rural Hill in Huntersville May 11. Influential progressive bluegrass musician Peter Rowan, best known for his work with David Grisman and Jerry Garcia in Old & in the Way, will appear with the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band. The bluegrass group does a combination of Rowan's originals as well as classic songs by the Carter Family and his former band leader Bill Monroe (Rowan was a Bluegrass Boy early in his career).

Western Carolina's Acoustic Syndicate, Charleston's Sol Driven Train, funk outfit Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, jazz-grass quartet Milkdrive, and Asheville's Brushfire Stankgrass round out the roots music bill.

Of course the other attraction is the tasting. Over twenty regional and national breweries will participate and a limited number of tasting tickets, which includes admission to the festival, are available now for $25 here. Discounted tickets are available for designated drivers, evening only attendees, and children 15 and under. A variety of camping options are also available for an additional $12-$35. For more information visit

(Photo courtesy of

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lost and found. Stumbling across memories online

Clicking around YouTube this afternoon to entertain my two-year-old (who sings Sleater-Kinney's "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" much to my delight), I stumbled across a concert memory I'd almost forgotten. In May of 1999 (the clip says 2000, but that's clearly the Butchies, who opened that tour, on stage and I lived in Arizona in 2000) I had tickets to see Sleater-Kinney in Chapel Hill. Around 8 p.m. when my roommate's boyfriend, who said he wanted to come with me, didn't show up I left Charlotte and drove two hours by myself to a sold out show - not something I'd normally do. Luckily at the door I ran into a girl who I'd been a bridesmaid with the month before. I sold my extra ticket to her friend.

Just last week I was telling my husband that I'd seen Sleater-Kinney cover Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son." When I clicked on the video of the trio's rendition on YouTube I was surprised to find the performance of that song was actually from that same show.

What a treat to relive it. Watching the band frolic with members of the Butchies, Flin Flon and others on stage, it all come back to me. Although the sound sort of deteriorates, when they immediately roll into the first notes of "Dig Me Out" it's like I'm there all over again. I remember where I stood - center, midway, Corinne Tucker's tank top, the orange t-shirt I bought. I'm not sure, but that might be me whooping at the end.

The band broke up following its fine 2005 swan song "The Woods" (we saw that tour at Ziggy's in Winston-Salem). Guitarist Carrie Brownstein went on to "Portlandia" fame with S-K fan Fred Armisen and Tucker has released two solo albums. Janet Weiss remains a busy time keeper in groups like the female super group Wild Flag (with Brownstein).

My point? My husband complains about his memory, but you never know. Maybe a YouTube clip can jar your's and brighten your (overcast) day. You can watch the clip here. There's a blip of profanity, but I didn't even notice it the first time. Maybe you were there too. If you were lucky.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Jamie Laval Trio
7:30 p.m. Friday, February 8, Great Aunt Stella Center, 926 Elizabeth Ave. Free (donations accepted).
This award winning Celtic fiddler now makes his home in Asheville where he’s teamed with guitarist David Brown and bagpiper/flutist E.J. Jones. They bring the music of Scotland, Ireland, Quebec, Brittany and Appalachia to the Charlotte Folk Society’s latest Gathering.

The Slackers
8:30 p.m. Friday, February 8, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $15. 704-358-9200.
The prolific NYC outfit, who describes its music as “Jamaican rock n’ roll,” is going strong 17 years after its first release and continues to stretch the widely-held perception of post ska-punk ska and its boundaries while still respecting tradition.

Sixpence None the Richer
8 p.m. Saturday, February 9, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $15-$18. 704-358-9298.
With its hit “Kiss Me” and its popular covers of the La’s and Crowded House, Matt Slocum and Leigh Nash’s band became one of the first Christian acts to crossover to alternative pop radio. After a hiatus, the band regrouped in 2007. Five years later it released the new album “Lost in Transition."

6:45 p.m. Sunday, February 10, The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $33. 
After its highly successful 2011/2012 tour with Anthrax and Death Angel, cancer survivor vocalist Chuck Billy, guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick and company headline its own thrashfest following the release of 2012’s “Dark Roots of Earth.” With Overkill, Flotsam and Jetsam, and 4Arm. 

Corb Lund
8 p.m. Tuesday, February 12, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10-$12.
With lyrically amusing (and sometimes serious) songs like “Drink It Like You Mean It” and “The Gothest Girl I Can” this Juno winning Canadian songwriter topped the charts in his home country with his latest slice of old school-inspired honky tonk, “Cabin Fever.”  

Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds/the Wheeler Brothers

8 p.m. Tuesday, February 12, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $10-$12.
The petite powerhouse soul singer and her brass-driven funk band have been causing a stir with its tough and fiery take on a classic mix. She strikes somewhere between Tina Turner and Nikka Costa fronting a versatile funk band with bite.   

Patterson Hood
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 13, McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. $20. 704-372-1000.
Well known in the Drive-By Truckers for his writing contributions and the gruff, Southern vocals that help sell that band’s lived-it take on working class pain and drama, Hood goes it alone with his third solo album and more intimate concerts which still feature the Truckers’ Brad Morgan and Jay Gonzalez.  

Social Studies/Ramona Falls
10 p.m. Wednesday, February 13, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. Free. 704-333-9799.
The female-fronted San Francisco dream-rock quintet Social Studies curbs its desire to experiment on its new album, “Developer,” which is dark, layered rock that remains simultaneously direct and mysterious. Brent Knopf of indie-rock band Menomena’s side-turned-full time project, Ramona Falls (who should win a Grammy for its complicated cd design), glides on an equally interesting, dark synth-rock plain.

8 p.m. Thursday, February 14, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $17-$20.

This duo has made a name for itself on the electronic and jam scenes by executing a complex, entirely improvised live show and for its equally engaging visuals which has the band surrounded by a  lotus flower made of screens which serves as a backdrop for constantly morphing projections.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Former Charlottean co-piloting NYC buzz band

Ex Cops is the new band from former Hymns' vocalist/guitarist Brian Harding. Harding grew up in Charlotte before moving to New York to pursue music. It was there that he and fellow Charlottean Jason Roberts (now with Norah Jones' band) started the rootsy rock band Hymns. I adored Hymns' two albums and final EP, "Appaloosa" (I feel fortunate that Roberts handed me a rare physical copy at a show at Snug Harbor since my download became corrupted).

As sad as I was to see Hymns go following those three releases and tours with Sam Roberts and Ben Kweller, it looks like Harding is on to something with his new band Ex Cops (not to be confused with the Gwar mid-`90s uniform-clad side project X-Cops). The five-piece band that grew out of Harding and co-vocalist Amalie Bruun's (ex-Minks) home recordings appears poised for hipster buzz band-om. "Spin" named it one of the Best New Bands of 2012. Finicky taste maker Pitchfork gave its debut album, "True Hallucinations" (out now), a positive review. NPR featured its first single "James" in its All Songs Considered Podcast.

Sadly no hometown tour dates are on the horizon just yet, but Ex Cops is heading to SXSW and you can watch its new Jason Shaltz-directed video for "Separator" on Pitchfork.TV here. Its much simpler video for the track "Ken" is also on YouTube. (Photo credit: Micah Schmidt)

Scapegoat members go pop at Suite tonight

In the metallic/melodic hardcore band Scapegoat, Kit Walters and Spencer Bensch started making heavy music at an early age. Now well into their twenties the pair have taken an entirely new direction with the electro-pop act KIT. KIT plays Suite at The Epicentre tonight, February 6. Doors open at 10 p.m.

You can check out a track here.

Walters was 12 the first time he performed live with Scapegoat. Bensch joined five years later in 2004. At its peak it could draw several hundred fans locally, which is quite a feat for an independent Charlotte band. The group eventually toured Japan and released six albums, but following 2011's excellent "I Am Alien" Walters (who has also worked for other acts as a producer) and Bensch began focusing on pop music with an outfit called the New Renaissance.

If you dug the New Renaissance, who also played live occasionally, KIT is musically heading in the same direction. The pair's potential in their former band suggests that it just might go somewhere. I witnessed a very green Scapegoat early on. They were young and rough around the edges, but with each album showed progress and increasing musical maturity. By the time the band released "Zombie Dog" I found myself blown away by the arrangements and Walters' stellar production skills. You couldn't tell it was a homegrown effort.

The current group has spent a year planning and figuring out just how it wants to present itself in an increasingly crowded industry (hence the name change). So keep an eye - and ear - out. Seeing its first official live show could someday be something to talk about.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Review: Meow Meow purring through Thursday

At one point during Meow Meow’s opening night performance at Stage Door Theater Monday, the cabaret singer threw a leg over an audience member’s shoulder as he and two other men (also recruited from the crowd) awkwardly lifted her into the air. The crowd was in stitches as she twisted in their arms firing out instructions (“My face to the front,” “Turn me”).

Opening night wasn’t a sellout, but it wasn’t a bust either. Busts were a actually running gag. The singer positioned herself on the floor so she wouldn’t be distracted from her song by her own ample cleavage, but it was the busting of guts that was most common. Those gut-busting gags often involved help from an audience that was more than game to hold her microphone or rub her leg. In asking for assistance she worked with the crowd’s strengths (“Does anyone know French?” “Can anyone play piano?”). One guy played a bit of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” while her regular pianist set up the DVD player which he projected on to…well you just have to see it.

That’s the thing about such a funny and original one woman musical. You don’t want to give much away or you’d spoil the fun. Although wait until you see what she does for the burlesque number and how she wears her evening gown.

What you should know is Meow Meow is the alter ego of Melissa Madden Gray, an Australian actress and singer who is well known for her performances in London’s West End. As Meow Meow she won the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Prize in 2010 (the same place Blumenthal found the hilarious must-see mock rock duo Die Roten Punkte).

The quick-witted would-be starlet performs in a sparkly slip dress with heavy makeup and frizzed hair that makes it look like she woke up boozy. Although she comments on the show as its happening and even pops a few pills when her 17-minute timer buzzes mid-song, there’s never a real threat the show won’t go on. She tells of her breakup, her career highlights ("this off, off, off Broadway theater" is not one of them), and sings of love, loss, politics, and communism in a number of languages. There’s a lot of French, a little German, a bit of Japanese, and English too. She even covered Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees.”

One of the funniest things is her cues to the lighting crew, sometimes called out mid-song. While those aforementioned bits are all funny, it wouldn’t work if Gray couldn’t sing. She can. In fact her voice is quite moving at times.

The act is billed as kamikaze cabaret. If that means in-your-face, artsy musical-comedy, then it’s a good description. She’s bawdy and brash, but not offensive. You don’t have to know anything about cabaret or understand French to “get it.”

Still on the fence? The acts she’s toured and worked with might sway you - Amanda Palmer, Dresden Dolls, Pink Martini’s Thomas M. Lauderdale, and John Cameron Mitchell of “Hedwig” fame. 

With the Democratic National Convention here recently, there’s been a lot of talk in the last year about Charlotte’s quest to become a top-tier (or at least second-tier) city. One of the things that signals a city’s rise is its support for the arts and that includes avant garde entertainment like Meow Meow that’s all the buzz overseas or in NYC. Local promoters and bookers are doing a pretty good job of getting Charlotte this kind of edgy entertainment whether its EDM, world music or some difficult to describe send-up or stage show. For instance “Spank! The 50 Shades Parody” begins its run this week as well and unusual shows like Die Roten Punkte and Celebrity Autobiography have graced Blumenthal’s stages over the past few years. Support for these events varies, but it seems like things are moving in the right direction. Meow Meow has that kind of big city buzz.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Soundgarden, AiC, Bizkit play Carolina Rebellion

Reunited rockers Soundgarden and Alice in Chains head up the bill for the third annual Carolina Rebellion festival, which announced its lineup Friday. The two-day event, which took place in Rockingham last year, takes place May 4 and 5 and moves to Charlotte Motor Speedway's Rock City Campgrounds in Concord.

Alice in Chains will headline Saturday, May 4 with Limp Bizkit (bringing Hunter Huss High School's Fred Durst back to the area), Deftones, Three Days Grace, Papa Roach, Bullet for My Valentine, Halestorm, Asking Alexandria, Sick Puppies, In This Moment, Device (with David Draiman), Young Guns, Otherwise, Aranda, Tracer, and Monstro.

Sunday's lineup features Soundgarden (pictured), Rise Against, Bush, 3 Doors Down, Buckcherry, Volbeat, Hollywood Undead, All That Remains, Steel Panther, Pop Evil, Escape the Fate, Nonpoint, Thousand Foot Krutch, Red Line Chemistry, Heaven's Basement, and American Fangs.

Bands will perform on three stages and fans will have the opportunity to meet many of the artists in the autograph signing tent sponsored by f.y.e.

Weekend passes and single day tickets go on sale to the public Friday, February 8 at 10 a.m. EST at All are general admission. Weekend passes start at $99 (plus fees). Single day tickets begin at $59.50. Parking is included with admission. Discounted internet presale tickets will be available for $89 February 6 and 7. For access visit the festival's Facebook page or subscribe to its newsletter at

Discounts are also available for active military. Please visit for details on that along with information on camping, hotel, and VIP packages. Camping and hotel packages include admission to the Friday night pre-festival campground party.