Friday, February 28, 2014

CLT folk vet protesting with rookie Iditarod runner

Internationally known Charlotte-based singer-songwriting folk veteran Si Kahn is currently in Alaska cheering on musher Monica Zappa, who is competing in her first Iditarod - the annual, long distance sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome. Zappa, 30, - a Wisconsin native whose parents were mushers - has teamed with Kahn's Musicians United to Protect Bristol Bay to raise awareness about the controversial proposed Pebble Mine project in the Southwest part of the state.

To mark Zappa's send-off Musicians United released a video for Kahn's song "Mushing for Bristol Bay" earlier this week (watch it above). He headlined a send-off concert in Alaska for Zappa's team Wednesday. The track is sung by Molly Ledford of SC's kid-friendly Lunch Money. She was also the voice of the `90s/early `00s Columbia dream-pop outfit Verna Cannon. 

An activist and organizer who worked with unions and communities throughout his parallel non-music career, Kahn has devoted much of his time to rallying musicians like the late Pete Seeger around the Bristol Bay cause. He released an album devoted to the project last summer. On it - as he did with his most famous track "Aragon Mill" - he makes protest music without being preachy. He instead focuses on the humanity and the stories of the people these issues directly effect. 

With North Carolina recently seeing the environmental impact of industry here at home - like the folks near Danville, VA who can't drink their water - I'd think we could relate with the argument that the proposed mineral exploration in Southwest Alaska could devastate the environment there. The bay is reportedly home to 46 percent of the world's sockeye salmon and "one of the world's last pristine estuaries." Sure a mine would bring tax revenue and jobs, but the concern is the plan to impound water, waste rock, and mine tailings behind earthen dams at the mine site. And if the water's ruined, the fishing industry will plummet there.

These issues are pretty new to me, but from what I've read about coal ash in NC and what I've learned about mountaintop removal mining in my home state of WV through a research paper my husband is doing, these concerns are founded (apparently my county is cancer central thanks to waste left behind by these mines). 

But I digress. You can learn more about Kahn's project and Zappa's rookie run here

Thursday, February 27, 2014

This week's hot concerts

The Letter Jackets/Tonk
Friday  8:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $8, www.visulite.com
The aptly named Tonk (who were conceived as a Ray Price tribute before branching out into originals) teams with fellow Raleighite the Letter Jackets, who are heavier on the folk-rock than twangy, pedal steel-colored honky-tonk. Both feature members of internationally known bluegrass band Chatham County Line.

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic
Friday  8:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $35-$40/VIP $65, www.amossouthend.com
At 72, the influential Kannapolis-born funk-father’s marathon sets may not be as endless, but he’s as active as ever on stage and off - releasing new music with Sly Stone, fighting for artist rights and music education and receiving an honorary doctorate.

Time Sawyer
Saturday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8, www.eveningmuse.com
The prolific newgrass/folk rock band (who moved to Charlotte from Elkins) celebrates the release of its fourth album “Disguise the Limits” with a sense of humor, heart, and charisma and, most notably, ear catching instrumental interplay far beyond traditional bluegrass and folk tropes.

Blowfly
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $10, www.snugrock.com
The original dirty rapper - a caped, masked hip-hop superhero of sorts whose risqué rhymes predate 2 Live Crew by decades - turned 75 on Valentine’s Day. Consider his economically priced CIAA-timed 75th birthday tour an alternative to downtown’s pricier parties.

Norma Jean
Monday  8 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $15, www.themilestoneclub.com
The veteran Georgia metalcore outfit has long played large venues like Tremont and Amos’, but fans have a chance to catch them in a much more intimate setting touring behind 2013’s dark, aggressive, groove and speed-driven “Wrongdoers.”

Shovels & Rope
Tuesday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15, www.visulite.com
The Charleston couple literally brought the house - or actually a giant disco ball - down opening for the Avett Brothers at TWC Arena on NYE. Now it’s the charming roots duo’s turn to headline with buzz-building, boot-stompin’, heartfelt, harmony-driven tunes.

ZZ Ward
Wednesday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $18-$20, www.visulite.com
The steadily rising Ward, who sold out Visulite in 2013, seems poised to become a premier, genre-blending pop singer-songwriter for the post-modern age by writing hip-hop savvy pop songs with rock and soul guts and singing with the maturity and tone of a British blues singer much older than her 27 years.

Houndmouth
Thursday  8:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15, www.visulite.com
What sets its debut “From the Hills Below the City” apart from a growing number of samey folk-rock acts is its ability to flit between big, psychedelic and gospel-tinged anthems and more intimate fare and co-ed vocals that range between Band of Horses-meets-Dylan and raspy, classic country.

Leverage Models
Thursday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $3, www.snugrock.com
If your Pandora or Sirius/XM station stays glued to the darker side of `80s new wave and early alternative - bands like New Order, INXS, and ABC - then the distorted, yet wickedly catchy synth-rock of Shannon Fields (Stars Like Fleas) makes a perfect precursor to Snug Harbor’s weekly Shiprocked! party.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Philanthropy only 2nd to rock for VA band

Most independent bands are too busy struggling to entertain the idea of raising funds for a charity outside of playing the occasional benefit concert or donating a track. But, Virginia rock outfit Melodime, who plays the Double Door Friday with Courier, is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of its new album "Where the Sinners & Saints Collide" to a non-profit organization it started called Now I Play Along.

Now I Play Along Too puts instruments into the hands of underprivileged children, orphans, and victims of disaster. It also offers those children music education. The band members were actually recipients of a similar program growing up, so Now I Play Along Too is, in a sense, coming full circle.

The album was funded via www.starrtsomegood.com (similar to Kickstarter) by fans who were aware that the proceeds from the album would go to this charity. The band raised nearly $40,000. There is quite a bit of information about the project on the funding page here including why the band decided to start its own foundation instead of donate to a established one and its members history of charity work in other countries.

"Where the Sinners & Saints Collide" - Melodime's sixth release - follows that same idea of uplifting and overcoming with a post grunge, Southern modern rock feel. It was produced by Rick Beato who has worked with NeedtoBreathe, Shinedown, and Crossfade and, like NeedtoBreathe, Melodime lyrically straddles the line between mainstream and Christian rock. You can learn more about the band here

Tickets for Friday's show are $8-$10. Music starts at 9 p.m. Now I Play Along Too is online here

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Damon Albarn's solo album & what it means to me


It isn’t news that having children changes you, but I was surprised how it changed how I listen to music and what music I pay attention to. Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz has a new album slated for April 29. It’s his first solo record. Last week BBC’s “Culture Show” premiered a documentary special on "Everyday Robots" - Albarn’s solo album (watch the video for the title track and first single above).

The 30-minute documentary, which you can watch here, is much more than that. It follows Albarn to the two distinctively different neighborhoods where he grew up - Leytonstone and Aldham. He talks about his early musical influences - playing a church organ on Saturdays and listening to gospel outside another church - and shares how his youth colors this new album.

Hearing one of his heroes talk about his youth and musical experiences and seeing that Albarn is a normal person bicycling through the countryside and taking the train to his old haunts, sets a positive, realistic example for my son. 

I was a Blur fan in the `90s. I saw them at Tremont in 1997. I even dragged my husband to see opening night of Albarn’s “Monkey: Journey to the West” opera during the Spoleto Festival in Charleston in 2008. That trip ended up meaning a lot to us, but I was never a fanatic devouring every album or every article.  However, Blur and the other bands my sons like - bands whose albums I owned and who I saw live, but didn’t consider myself a devout fan of - suddenly mean so much to me. I know much more Adam Ant than just "Stand & Deliver" now. Interviewing him and taking my son to see him was one of the highlights of our year. I also now know more about the Ramones, including who wrote individual songs and what the members were like off stage, than I ever did when they were alive.

A friend on Instagram recently asked for people to post their Top 16 life-changing albums. Blur’s self-titled album and The Ramones Anthology made my list because they’ve changed my boys’ lives. At five-years-old those two bands have shown my older son what it means to really love something, to know the albums, learn the songs, and to eventually go to the record store on release day and buy a copy of their new album (or, in this case, the singer’s new album). 

Those bands sparked an interest in music that goes beyond what I imagined at this age. Even with me loading up iPod Touches with hundreds of songs and albums, I didn’t realize where a love of music would lead them.

The eldest began reading thanks to Google searches for Blur and the Ramones. Their interest in bands has also given my children an awareness of the world outside their city, state, and country. They know Russia, Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and most of South America and Europe because bands tour there. When the Olympics premiered two weeks ago, my son identified more flags than my husband.  

Yes, those other bands I listed on Instagram still mean a lot to me - they shaped me. But when you as an artist make a child happy and encouraged and spur their creativity with your own and in turn ignite their passion for learning, it really means the world. 

What’s more, the songs in the documentary from Albarn’s upcoming album sound amazing, intimate and diverse. Like the Ramones with punk, Blur gets pegged a pop band, but the music and subject matter is often much deeper than those base descriptions suggest. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll stop there. But the film is worth watching even if you don't have a five-year-old to share it with. Click here to check it out.

Friday, February 21, 2014

NC rapper releases EP in response to NC economy

Former Charlotte-based rapper Supastition released the "Honest Living" EP this week. It's available via his BandCamp page here under the name your price program. I say former because the NC rapper, who returned to hip-hop after a two-year break in 2012, moved to Atlanta in late November.

It's a shame that Charlotte's lost such a vital voice in hip-hop to the more lucrative music hub. Hopefully ATL will be a more lucrative home base not just for his music, but for his family and work life given the struggles he chronicles on the EP.

The "Honest Living" EP was inspired by Supastition's (aka Kam Moye) experience searching for work in North Carolina during the economic downturn. He says in the accompanying booklet the project is dedicated to the working class and was triggered when North Carolina became the first state to eliminate federal unemployment benefits in 2013. In the title track he writes of searching for work, tiring of life in a poor neighborhood, and the frustration and willingness to compromise (taking any job for instance while knowing you're overqualified) in the quest to give your family a better life.

"Two Weeks Notice" is sort of the flipside of that. It's about gladly taking the corporate gig with the cushy benefits with a smile only to realize later that your soul is being sucked dry by the monotony, the inability to relate to the superficial concerns of superiors, and the lack of creativity.

On the intro to the record the Greenville, NC-native simultaneously addresses how difficult it is for an independent artist to make it in the current music industry ("All I really wanna do is be able to do what I love and also, get back what I put into it") and the desire to support a family without creative compromise ("I don't have to make a living off of music 'cause then you start doing things out of desperation. I'd rather go to work everyday, feed my family, and make some dope s*** when time permits"). It's a lot wrapped in four lines.

The EP is incredibly easy to relate to. These are real problems facing real people. For those who are unemployed, self-employed, or just work jobs where insurance hasn't been an option things like 401Ks and making a dental appointment are far from the day-to-day reality. And for those, like Moye, who thrive on creativity in their work, there's real fear in taking a 9 to 5 job and abandoning your passion. Supastition raps about finding that middle ground.

Musically, "Honest Living" is engaging throughout too. It was produced by Supasition's sometime collaborator/German producer Croup. Together they create a canvas in the spirit of vintage hip-hop without sounding at all dated.

You can download the EP at the above link or for a clean version of "Honest Living" click here. You can get it for free, but take note of the title and consider what your own work is worth. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This week's hot concerts


ASG
Friday  9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $10, www.chopshopnoda.com
The underrated Wilmington psychedelic stoner outfit continues its run of quality releases with 2013’s “Blood Drive.” The sludgy Sabbathian riffs and poppy hooks writhe against epic arrangements and Jason Shi’s impressively gruff, but soaring vocals.

Tauk
Friday  9 p.m., Roux, 3306-A N. Davidson St., $7, https://www.facebook.com/rouxnoda
The NYC quartet bridges classic jam rock, fusion, and the modern indie-rock of bands like Explosions in the Sky with funk, jazz, and guitar-rock-laden instrumentals that leave little down time for ceiling gazing with arrangements that ring with purpose and direction.

Amigo
Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5, www.snugrock.com
The rocking Americana trio formerly known as Old Milwaukee celebrates the release of its superb debut album, “Might Could,” which ranks as the best new local album of the year - so far. With Pullman Strike and Roseland.

Tinsley Ellis
Friday  10 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $15-$17, www.doubledoorinn.com
The veteran Atlanta blues guitarist’s new album “Midnight Blue” sounds ready-made to score a “Sons of Anarchy” episode with its balance of gritty, hard rocking road songs, more traditional, heart aching slow burners, and motor revving Southern blues-rock.

Lyfe Jennings
Saturday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $30-$35/$65 VIP, www.amossouthend.com
The Atlanta R&B singer followed up his most recent prison stint (he rose to fame in 2004 after serving 10 years for arson) by returning to the stage and releasing his new album, “Lucid,” in October.

Flogging Molly
Saturday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $37, www.livenation.com
The Irish-American band has risen from tiny bars to selling out its Green 17 tour annually. It ends that run with a tenth anniversary Green 17 tour leading up to St. Patrick’s Day as fans anticipate the 2015 release of its next album.

Tattermasquerade
Saturday  7:30 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $8, www.tremontmusichall.com
Charlotte quintet Tattermask, who make melodic, female-fronted metal in the theatrical spirit of Evanescence with heavier blasts of double bass, host a Mardi Gras-themed anniversary party (its sixth) and invite fans to dress up and make their own (tatter)masks.

Zydeco Ya Ya and Carolina Gator Gumbo
Saturday  8:30 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $8, www.doubledoorinn.com
Charlotte’s Carolina Gator Gumbo has long celebrated Mardis Gras by stirring up a rollicking Cajun party with dance lessons (which kick off the night again). This year it teams with its Asheville sister band (with whom it shares members) who makes swampy Zydeco and Cajun swing.

Mayer Hawthorne
Sunday  7 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $18-$20, www.amossouthend.com
The Detroit soulman expands well outside the retro playbook of his first two albums with “Where Does This Door Go,” which incorporates hip-hop, contemporary R&B, and classic rock influences like Steely Dan and Pink Floyd for his best collection yet.

Lake Street Dive
Thursday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $15-$25, www.neighborhoodtheatre.com
The New England co-ed quartet appears to have come out of nowhere to wow "Rolling Stone," "Letterman," NPR, and "The Colbert Report" with its blend of roots music, jazz, girl group vocals, vintage soul (think Clairy Browne or a more up Amy Winehouse), and impeccable musicianship delivered with the skill and chops that created stars before AutoTune.

Spiritual Rez
Thursday  9 p.m., Roux, 3306-A N. Davidson St., $7, https://www.facebook.com/rouxnoda
Its just-released album, “Whenever Apocalypse,” strums up images of sun-soaked beaches and poolside parties - although it hails from chilly Boston. The reggae rock outfit is more than sunny party music though with an ample funk and rock feel and a model-worthy singer/guitarist with soul-drenched vocals.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Avetts among Bonnaroo's 2014 headliners



JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com
Concord's the Avett Brothers, who first played a small, overstuffed tent at Bonnaroo in 2006, have graduated to one of 2014's headliners listed behind only Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White, Lionel Richie, and Vampire Weekend on the Tennessee music and arts festival's website earlier tonight.

The four-day festival takes place June 12-15 in Manchester, Tenn. Tickets go on sale February 22 at noon at www.bonnaroo.com.

According to the band's website the Avetts will help close out the festival on Sunday.

The lineup includes other Carolinas' acts the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Shovels & Rope, and California-based, Forest City-native Jonathan Wilson (who plays Visulite Wednesday night).

Others include Phoenix, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys, Frank Ocean, the Flaming Lips, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Damon Albarn, Kaskade, Neutral Milk Hotel, Wiz Khalifa, Cut Copy, Disclosure, the Head & the Heart, Zedo, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Broken Bells, Chromeo, Tedeschi Trucks Band, James Blake, Bobby Womack, Umphrey's McGee, Ice Cube, Ben Howard, Slightly Stoopid, Fitz and the Tantrums, Cake, Janelle Monae, Grouplove, Chvrches, Cage the Elephant, Die Antwoord, Amos Lee, Andrew Bird & the Hands of Glory, Mastodon, Capital Cities, Jake Bugg, Chance the Rapper, Dr. Dog, Yonder Mountain String Band, John Butler Trio, Little Dragon, City and Colour, the Glitch Mob, the Naked and Famous, Drive-By Truckers, Taran Killam, Phosphorescent, Washed Out, Danny Brown, Sam Smith, Warpaint, A$AP Ferg, Darkside, Seasick Steve, Lucero, the Wood Brothers, the Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar with special guests Billy Martin, Marc Ribot, DJ Logic, and Shazad Ismaiily, Pushat, Meshuggah, Polica, Dakhabrakha, Goat, ZZ Ward, Seun Kuti, Blackberry Smoke, Ms Mr, A Tribe Called Red, Hannibal Buress, First Aid Kit, Rudimental, Omar Souleyman, Okkervil River, White Denim, the Bouncing Souls, Greensky Bluegrass, Ty Segall, Sarah Jarosz, Vintage Trouble, Robert Delong, Typhoon, Cloud Nothings, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Valerie June, King Khan & the Shrines, Cherub, Banks, Break Science, the Black Lilies, Real Estate, the Lone Bellow, Caveman, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Jon Batiste, La Santa Cecilia, Clasixx, Allah-Las, Cass McCombs, Vance Joy, Haerts, J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Those Darlins, Lake Street Dive, Deafheaven, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, the Wild Feathers, the Preatures, and Blank Range.

As usual Bonnaroo will feature a handful of one-time superjams - Skrillex & Friends, Superjam "?," and the Bluegrass Situation Jam hosted by Ed Helms. Fans can also compete for the title of Funkiest Dancer at www.bonnaroo.com. The winner will perform on the main stage.

If you can't make it to the festival or want to check out some of the lesser known acts beforehand, many of the announced artists are playing Charlotte leading up to the summer festival.

Blackberry Smoke plays the Fillmore Thursday, February 20, The Naked and Famous play there Tuesday. Lake Street Dive plays Neighborhood Theatre next Thursday. ZZ Ward and Shovels & Rope play Visulite in March. St. Paul & the Broken Bones returns to Chop Shop in March. And Amos Lee headlines Ovens Auditorium in April.

Headliners Elton John and Lionel Richie both play PNC Music Pavilion in June and July, respectively.

Monday, February 17, 2014

One band's farewell is another's reunion

Charlotte rock band Fusebox Poet plays its final show April 4 at Amos'. But the radio-ready hard rocker's final bow will also mark the reunion of Livalie - the band the three members of Fusebox Poet (above) were in before their current band.

The April 4 concert will be Livalie's first time on stage since its farewell show in 2008. Fusebox Poet formed after Livalie (below) disbanded. Two of the sextet's songs were actually featured on Fusebox Poet's debut album. The members of Fusebox Poet announced on its Facebook and Twitter pages that the trio, who have played together since they were 16, is calling it quits.

All three members will join the original lineup for Livalie as well.

"We all grew up together and have remained close through our lives and present musical endeavors," says Sean Cody of Livalie. He reports Livalie will play its entire album, "A Perfect Compromise" at the show.

Tickets are $10 to $12 and are available here. Cairo Fire and Centennial will also play.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

This week's hot concerts


Pat Metheny Unity Group
Friday  8 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $39.50-$69.50, www.blumenthalarts.org  
Following this week’s release of the 20-time Grammy winning jazz-rock guitarist’s latest album “Kin,” he and his all-star quartet promise new material (which he says encompasses everything he’s done in his career) and old favorites from his 40-year career at its Knight debut.

Lettuce
Friday  9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St. $22, www.chopshopnoda.com
There’s much more flavor to this veteran Boston funk band than the name implies. Having honed its chemistry on stage (with only a handful of releases in over 20 years), its core features members of Soulive, while other members have backed Dave Matthews, Britney Spears, and the Game on the road. 
 
Johnson Brother’s Annual Valentine’s Day Bash
Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5, www.snugrock.com
The Johnsons have been raising money for RAIN (Regional AIDS Interfaith Network) for 22 years with this annual V-day concert - one of its rare yearly live shows. This year the group expands to eight members and welcomes veteran favorites Belmont Playboys with DJs Starseed, Godwin, and Jay Coop spinning between sets.

Chris Peigler Punk Party
Friday and Saturday  8 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $7 and $10, www.tremontmusichall.com
Charlotte’s punk community pays tribute to one of its forefather’s with 17 bands across two days, including the reunions of the X-Periment and surviving members of Peigler’s My So-Called Band, as well as local punk staples Antiseen, Dirty South Revolutionaries, and South Side Punx.

Black Joe Lewis
Saturday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15, www.visulite.com
The adventurous Austin guitar wiz is like the second coming of Hendrix and Sly Stone with a retro soul center and a punk edge. He’s also a live force who delightfully kicks through genre walls with ease and attitude on his latest album, “Electric Slave.”

Casket Girls
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $7, www.snugrock.com
Named for New Orleans’ early equivalent to mail-order brides, this dreamy Savannah trio combines fuzzy `80s and `90s shoegazer and thick contemporary electronic bass sounds with Bananarama-style harmonies and Dum Dum Girls-like sing-songy melodies for a weird marriage that actually works.

Wink Keziah
Sunday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $8, www.doubledoorinn.com
The Charlotte music stalwart can sound heartbreakingly pained on slower country ballads like “The Quiet Kind” and “Dead Man Walking,” but the twangy honky-tonk spirit is never far away on his new album “Cowbilly.”

Andrew Ripp
Tuesday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $10, www.eveningmuse.com
On the new acoustic album “Simple” the up and coming Nashville singer-songwriter, who wrote hits for Ryan Cabrera and recently received national exposure on “House of Lies” and “Entertainment Tonight,” recreates the intimacy and starkness of his live shows. With Judah & the Lion.

Jonathan Wilson
Wednesday  8:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12-$15, www.visulite.com
The Forest City-native and Muscadine co-founder is scheduled for US Festivals and a has a growing following in Europe. He makes excellent hypnotic, folk-rock in the laid back, `70s Laurel Canyon, desert-baked spirit of classic rock peers like Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, and Crosby, Stills & Nash (some of who he calls friends).

Concert cancellations abound due to snow

Phish frontman Trey Anastasio's concert at The Fillmore tonight has been postponed until Monday, February 17, but many fans planning to check out shows this week won't be as lucky. Few shows cancelled due to winter weather will be rescheduled so quickly.

The Charlotte Folk Society's Scott Ainslie (above) concert scheduled for Friday (and featured in today's Style section) has been cancelled. The Folk Society hopes to have the blues guitarist and musical historian back, but doesn't have a makeup date yet.

Blumenthal Performing Arts cancelled four show's Thursday. Both Moliere's The School for Wives (running through February 22 at Duke Energy Theater) and The Mountaintop (playing Booth Playhouse through March 2) will be dark tonight. Performances were cancelled Wednesday as well.

An Evening with Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough scheduled for Thursday at Knight Theater has been postponed until April 17. Sadly there's no reschedule date for Jon Batiste and Stay Human, who was set to play McGlohon tonight.

Recent Grammy winners Snarky Puppy has also had to cancel since they couldn't make it to town. It has rescheduled for March 11. Tomorrow's Je T'aime Sideshow Extravaganza at Neighborhood has also been postponed until March. No date has been released yet.

Thursday's Hannah Thomas show at Evening Muse and the Sirsy show at Double Door have also been cancelled. Sun Brother's show at The Milestone is also cancelled for Thursday since the bands were not able to make it to the venue.

It's not all bad news though. R&B group Shai, who was scheduled to open the new University area Red@28th is moving the Valentine's party to NoDa's Red@28th location Saturday. That location's address is 2424 N. Davidson St., Suite 112A. The show is at 8 p.m. and there's no cover to boot. Shai was responsible for early `90s hits like "If I Ever Fall In Love Again," "Comforter," and "Baby I'm Yours."

Snug Harbor appears to remain a bastion of entertainment in the sea of cancellations if you happen to be out. It was open in the middle of a blizzard the last two nights and it looks like this weekend's shows will go on. Be sure to check with venues before heading out this weekend. And stay warm and safe.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CLT musician's life inspires CD, fest, reunions

This weekend the Charlotte music scene honors musician Chris Peigler with a two-day concert at Tremont Music Hall featuring what Chris loved - fast-paced punk rock and a long list of local bands. Chris died January 8 after a fight with kidney disease that never dampened his spirit or passion for live music.

The lineup for Friday and Saturday is indicative of how Peigler’s friendship and enthusiasm - not just for his beloved punk rock, but for local live music over the past 35 years -was regarded by a diverse musical community. Friday’s portion of the Chris Peigler Punk Party features surviving members of My So-Called Band - one of Peigler’s many bands and the one he fronted when I met him. Saturday’s acts include the reunion of the original X-Periment - a well-known funk fixture in `90s Charlotte. Saturday also includes the return of Leisure McCorkle (another familiar face from the `80s and `90s) and Antiseen, who have been around the local punk scene as long as Chris.

Friday’s acts include Chalkies, Aloha Broha, The Fill Ins, and Moenda, as well as My So-Called Band. Saturday’s all-day line-up features Antiseen, No Anger Control, sidewalks, All Rise, Dickwolf, Leisure McCorkle, IED, the Not Likelys, South Side Punx, Smelly Felly, Dirty South Revolutionaries, and the X-periment.

Local artists have also contributed to a compilation CD that should be available for sale in time for the concert. Contributors include Peigler's bands including Rogue Nations, Proletariat Madonna, and Intensive Care, active current artists like Hectagons, Biggy Stardust, Flat Tires, and Appalucia, and bands that haven't seen a Charlotte stage in years - the Blind Dates, Snagglepuss, and Baby Shaker, for instance.

The list of acts on the disc and the bill represent nearly every era of local music from the early `80s to today because even at 50 - when a  lot of music fans rarely go out anymore - Chris was as much a supportive part of the scene as he was in his twenties. He and his current band Rogue Nations still played live and you could often find Chris in the crowd taking in whatever kind of act was on stage and finding something positive to say about it.

Chris Peigler was the first person my husband met in Charlotte. After looking up record stores in the phone book he ventured from UNCC to Plaza-Midwood’s Milestone Records. There he met Chris. Chris told him about the Milestone Club and Tremont Music Hall and made suggestions where my husband’s band might play. In doing so, Chris helped lead him on his path - a path that included his career, his own music, and his future family. I met my husband at Tremont a few years later, the same place that I struck up a friendship with Chris. We bonded over a love of riot grrrl and female-fronted punk bands, which might not seem so rare for a music writer, but I can only think of a handful of friends throughout my life that shared a love of screaming, angry women.

My husband says everyone he’s talked to about Chris - people that worked with Chris’ bands over the years, played shows with him, worked at the venues he played, and those that came to his funeral and those that did not - they all say the same thing. He was the most supportive guy in the music scene. A band playing to an empty room and there would be Chris standing in front of the stage. Then he would find something positive to say about them. I don’t know of anyone who saw or heard a negative thing from him, ever.

The Facebook posts following his death echoed the same sentiment. I saw some of the same young, green punk bands that Chris did, especially during the late `90s and early `00s. I remember a few in particular that were pretty bad. For some of those kids it was their first time on stage, their first time playing with other people, or they just hadn’t found their sound yet. I imagine Chris’ encouragement and enthusiasm for what they were doing helped keep some of those bands going. I’ve watched many Charlotte teens from that era go on to make critically-acclaimed, nationally recognized music. And I bet he talked to many of them.

The topic of death comes up a lot at our house.You see, my five-year-old has something in common with Chris Peigler. He loves punk rock. I really regret that he never got a chance to chat up Chris about punk history. They would’ve enjoyed each other. The members of my son’s favorite band, the Ramones, all died fairly young. Joey and Dee Dee were 49 and 50. Johnny was 55 - all close to Chris’ age. Of course they aren’t the only punk figures that preceded Chris in death. I like to think they’re all out there somewhere rocking out, looking out for the next generation of punks. I like to think that’s what Chris is still doing too. If he's not on stage, he's up front with that smile on his face, taking it all in. It’s just a shame he won’t be here to continue to do that for another generation.

The Chris Peigler Punk Party starts at 8 p.m. Friday and at 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $7 Friday and $10 Saturday. Proceeds from the concert and compilation album will go to Peigler’s family to help care for his elderly mother and to pay for funeral costs. The above painting of Chris by Pete Hurdle will also be auctioned off, according to the folks at Tremont.

If you want to really honor Chris, come out and listen. Listen to bands you’ve never heard before. Stay in the room when everyone’s outside smoking. Accentuate the positive. And let whoever it is you dig that day know that you enjoyed their show. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tosco Music Party moves to bigger venue Saturday

The Tosco Music Party celebrates its 25th anniversary Saturday by moving to a larger concert venue. The musical variety show, which began as a local jam in host and musician John Tosco's home two and a half decades ago, has been selling out small to mid-size Charlotte theaters for years. It moved from McGlohon Theatre in Spirit Square to Central Piedmont Community College's 1,000 seat Dale F. Halton Theater a little over five years ago.

Saturday the family-friendly, tri-annual live music sampling, moves to Blumenthal Performing Arts' Knight Theater. Knight's capacity is slightly larger than its former CPCC home at nearly 1,200 seats.

As before, Tosco's expansion has been wisely gradual. The annual Beatles' tribute show which Tosco Music Party also produces has become a community favorite, selling out Knight each June. So the new TMP venue appears to be a good fit.

Saturday's acts, who perform one or two songs as well as participating in sing-alongs, include national touring singer-songwriter Chris Trapper whose songs have been featured in films like "August Rush," Brazilian guitarist Reinaldo Brahn, flat-picking champion Allen Shadd, vocalist Dan Truhitte, who played Rolfe Gruber in the original 1965 "The Sound Of Music," Charlotte choral ensemble Renaissance, Blair Crimmins and the Hookers (pictured) who stir up memories of ragtime and vaudeville, award winning bluegrass band leaders Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Charlotte-based Latin music collective Grupo Los Morales, Charlotte "musicaholic" Harrella Wedington, vocalist and voice teacher Julie Dean, NC blues historian and musician Pop Ferguson Blues, and Sue Crossley, who currently resides in the Netherlands. She'll perform with Tosco.

In addition to those adult performers, student musicians including 17-year-old, Italian-born classical guitarist Lando Pieroni, 13-year-old classical composer and multi-instrumentalist Drew Dansby, and first grade vocalist Makayla McNamara also perform.

As always, expect to join in on familiar sing-alongs.

Tickets for Saturday's show, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., range from $15.30 to $23. Order them online at www.blumenthalarts.org or by calling 704-372-1000. To learn more click here.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Koffin Kats
Friday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7, www.themilestoneclub.com
The Detroit punk trio channels the ghost of early Misfits with horror themes, catchy sing-along choruses, Danzig-like phrasing, and haunted-house riffs and mixes it with the thrashing guitar sound of Motorhead.

Vanessa Carlton
Saturday  8:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $25-$30, www.visulite.com
After medical issues forced her to postpone last fall’s shows, the piano-pop songstress returns to the road. She recently married and is over halfway done with her next album, which may be her most experimental yet.

Robbie Fulks
Saturday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $12-$15, www.doubledoorinn.com
Emerging as a favorite of the Americana scene in the `90s, it’s no surprise this Chicago songwriter/guitarist’s latest album, “Gone Away Backward,” is among critics’ favorites of 2013 with its balance of bluegrass notes, classic country delivery, and literary storytelling.

Dom Kennedy
Sunday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $27, www.livenation.com
The L.A. rapper’s decision to decline a major label deal caught the attention of “Forbes Magazine” following the release of his Top 5 charting 2013 album “Get Home Safely.” With his classic hip-hop influences and DIY ideals (think TechN9ne or Jay Z early on) he’s managing to compete with bigger names.

Skinny Puppy
Monday  7 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$25, www.amossouthend.com
Following the release of 2013’s critically acclaimed “Weapon,” the veteran industrial-goth group returns with plans to rerelease 2004’s still timely “The Greater Wrong of the Right” in 2014. 

Lauryn Hill
Tuesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $69.50, www.livenation.com
The former Fugee has received positive live reviews since fulfilling her three-month incarceration for tax evasion. Backed by a crack live band, she delivers new twists on old solo and Fugees tracks and performs recent singles.

Jon Batiste & Stay Human
Thursday  7:30 p.m., McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St., $9.50-$29.50, www.blumenthalarts.org
The 26-year-old New Orleans-raised piano prodigy is taking jazz into the future - respecting the old while creating music that’s fresh and contemporary while reintroducing it to the working class audiences that originated it.

Snarky Puppy
Thursday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $18-$20, www.neighborhoodtheatre.com
The progressive, fluctuating jazz fusion outfit, who’ve backed Erykah Badu, Justin Timberlake, and others, has finally arrived on the national stage for its own work. The Brooklyn-based group recently snagged the Grammy for Best R&B Performance.

Sun Brother
Thursday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $9, www.themilestoneclub.com
Imagine Lenny Kravitz with the occasional falsetto fronting an indie rock band and you’re in the ballpark of this Greenville, SC combo that neatly marries math rock, touches of reggae-pop, and jangly funk.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

LEAF Festival announces May lineup

Grammy winner Los Lobos celebrates its 40th anniversary during the 38th Annual LEAF Festival in Black Mountain in May. The L.A.-based group will headline alongside Bootsy Collins (pictured), Beats Antique, Red Baraat, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, and Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott. The eclectic roots and world music and arts festival takes place May 8-11 at Black Mountain's Lake Eden.

The Lake Eden Arts Festival has become a hub for diverse performers from all over the globe highlighting music from the nearby mountains to the far shores of Africa, Europe, and Asia.

This year's acts, which include musicians, dancers, DJs, and other performing artists, include Zach Deputy, Elephant Revival, Locos pour Juana, Boukman Eksperyans, the Lee Boys, Town Mountain, Roosevelt Collier, Alash, Contra with Wild Asparagus and Perpetual Emotion, Zing Experience, Turkuaz, Billy Jonas Bands the Whitetop Mountaineers, Kim & Reggie Harris, Molasses Creek, Empire Strikes Brass, Adams, Queen, & Rifkin, the Fritz, Montuno, One Leg Up, Toy Boat Circus, Infinite Geometry, Zulu Connection, Whee Ahh Faerie Kin, Jake Hollifield Art V Experience, Techno Contra with DJ Jor-D, Rushfest Contra Experience, and Alex Kurg Combo.

The family friendly festival features a Kids Village with two stages, workshops, puppets, juggling, storytelling and music. A large dance pavilion features contra, Cajun, swing, Celtic, African, Latin, clogging, hip-hop, step, zydeco, waltz, and more throughout the long weekend.

Tickets are available here. Prices range from single day passes for $36 for children to $52 for adults. Weekend passes range from $121-$178. Camping and RV permits are also available. Prices increase
April 1st.

LEAF Festival takes place bi-annually outside of Asheville. The fall edition will occur October 16-19, 2014.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Charlotte rapper featured in "Spin" (again)

Last week "Spin Magazine" posted a feature on rising Charlotte rapper Deniro Farrar, who signed with Vice Records late last year. You can read the story here. The veteran music magazine has been following his career for a while now. It posted the video for "Death or Forever" in October. "Vibe Magazine" did a more in depth Q&A with the prolific MC in December.

You can check out his music here or download "The Patriarch II" mix tape (released last June) here. He's also scheduled to play South By Southwest in March. For more on Farrar click here.