Friday, May 29, 2015

Local filmmaker's music documentary screening tonight

If you haven't seen the acclaimed documentary "A Band Called Death" by filmmaker and area transplant Jeff Howlett and his friend Mark Covino, I recommend you truck on up to Con Carolinas tonight at 8 p.m. in Concord and check it out. The film about three African-American brothers in Detroit who actually started the first punk band in the `70s, but whose music went undiscovered until a few years ago, is movingly heartbreaking.

The story of how Death was discovered by record collectors and the band members children (who only knew them as reggae musicians) after leader David Hackney's 2000 death is chilling and uplifting, but it's so good I don't want to give anything away.

Howlett, who relocated just over the border in South Carolina from Vermont where he knew the Hackneys, will be on hand for a Q&A tonight following the screening.

Although most of it isn't music related, Con Carolinas has a ton of programming this weekend. You can find the complete schedule here. Topics range from TV and film to literature and publishing to costuming, gaming, visual art, and filking.

Featured guests include "Battlestar Galactica's" Michael Hogan, Judith O'Dea (Barbara from the original "Night of the Living Dead"), actor Doug Jones ("The Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer," "Hellboy," and "Pan's Labyrinth"), "Mystery Science Theater 3000" creator Joel Hodgson, and authors such as John Scalzi, Catherine Asaro and Faith Hunter.

Con Carolinas is a science fantasy, speculative fiction convention. It takes place at the Embassy Suites near Concord Mills Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Friday  6 p.m., Fountain Plaza at NC Music Factory, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $8,
The Friday Live Concert Series gets a shot of youthful pop with this rising NYC quartet whose bouncy, uplifting dance pop is big on messages of equality and empowerment, funky horn lines, jangling guitars, clever melodies and the wise-beyond-her-years vocals of singer Mandy Lee.

John Mark McMillan
Friday  7 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $10,    
The Charlotte-based singer-songwriter returns to a bigger stage following the success of last year’s independent release “Borderland,” which nearly cracked Billboard’s Top 40 album charts with his brooding baritone, folk-infused indie rock, and gift for catchy, yet poignant songwriting.

Pierre Bensusan
Friday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $22,
The French-Algerian acoustic guitarist celebrates four decades of music with a 40th Anniversary World Tour and 3-disc collection, “Encore,” spanning the nimble fingered player’s accomplished career. While most of his tour dates are in Asia and Europe, local fans can catch him during this intimate, but brief Southeastern run.  

The Fox Flashback Festival
Saturday  2 p.m., Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $25,     
This tribute band showcase - which includes sets by two Charlotte acts recently featured on AXS TV’s “World’s Greatest Tribute Bands” (Natural Wonder and On the Border) - features tributes to the Eagles, AC/DC, Stevie Wonder, Metallica, Pink Floyd, and Billy Joel.

Time Sawyer
Saturday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $10-$12,
The Charlotte transplants who originated in Elkin don’t sound like the hybrid of Rush and Doctor Who as their name might imply. Instead the recent Merlefest performers make tempered, modern bluegrass and orchestral rural folk with touches of New Grass Revival’s soul streak and a hint of early Coldplay’s melodic scope.

St. Vincent/Sarah Neufeld
Tuesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $36.73,      
One of the most startlingly original artists to come along in years, the eccentric Annie Clark captivates whether mixing it up with David Byrne or opening for the Black Keys. She’s upped to headliner this time with Arcade Fire violinist Neufeld, who released her solo debut in 2013 followed by a recent collaboration with saxophonist Colin Stetson.

Kate Tempest
Wednesday  9 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $13-$16,
Who could have foreseen that the next wave of quality hip-hop would blow in from across the Atlantic out of the mouth of British sirens like award winning poet and playwright Tempest, who mixes her literary background with gritty street sense and a touch of Lady Soveriegn and M.I.A. without the colorful campiness.  

Reel Big Fish/Less Than Jake
Thursday  7:30 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $31.08,   
Few bands captured the bratty fun and silliness of the `90s Jamaican-swiping ska-punk revival than these two live powerhouses, who are still at it. They fire the ska-punk confetti cannon and party like its Warped Tour `99.  

Parker Milsap/Reeve Coobs
Thursday  8:30 p.m., Visulite,1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12-$15,
Just a few years past his teens, this Oklahoma songwriter surprises with raspy vocal depth, mature songwriting, and a commanding presence. It’s that drive and quality that have earned him spots at the Grand Ole Opry and on tours with Old Crow Medicine Show and Shovels & Rope. Homegrown singer-songwriter Coobs opens the show.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Friday  6 p.m., Fountain Plaza, NC Music Factory, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $8,
In its third week the Music Factory’s annual Friday Live! concert series features the return of the alternative pop-rock and roots purveyors behind alt-rock staples “Low” and “Teen Angst.” Charlotte sextet Temperance League opens the show with cranked up garage rock that channels decades worth of early rock n’ roll.

Lyfe Jennings
Friday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $25,
With the new single and video “Pretty Is” from his forthcoming album “Tree of Lyfe,” the Atlanta-based R&B singer-songwriter updates the “Flashdance” story boosting a struggling dancer’s confidence with positive messages of self-reliance and independence. He calls the album his most personal to date.

The Slackers
Friday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15,   
Just a year shy of its 25th anniversary the NYC ska, rock steady, and reggae-tinged sextet may deliver nostalgia for those that discovered its impactful sound during the `90s ska wave, but horn-fueled, but the prolific band is working on new material due for release next fall while prepping reissues of a handful of past albums.

Snug 600
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday  10, 10 and 7 p.m., respectively, 1228 Gordon St., $5,  
The annual indie alternative to Speed Street includes performances from the Poontanglers, Viajando, No Anger Control, and Gore Gore Luchadores Friday, Jesse Clasen (formerly of HRVRD), Spirit System, the Nude Party, and 1970s Film Stock Saturday, and Paint Fumes, It’s Snakes, Wahyas, Banda Suki, and No Mi Toques Sunday.

USNWC Memorial Day Celebration
Sunday  4 p.m, US National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Free,       
The free concert follows the morning trail race and cornhole tournament with roots, jam, and bluegrass acts the Packway Handle Band kicking things off at 4 p.m. followed by Big Daddy Love at 6 p.m. and the Infamous Stringdusters at 8 p.m. before the closing fireworks.

Monday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor 1228 Gordon St., $5,  
Rapper Blueprint’s new “King No Crown” album pushes forward thinking but accessible production, socially conscious lyrics, and an ability to twist words with multiple meanings. He’s paired with Charlotte’s Supastition, who after brief self-imposed retirement turns his working class reality as a husband, father and musician into relatable lyrical fodder.  

Tech N9ne
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory, $30.58,  
The don of Kansas City hip-hop, the hard-touring emcee and prolific businessman has created a lucrative empire as an independent artist and label owner, while pushing fellow artists like Krizz Kaliko, Murs, Chris Webby, King 810, Zuse, and Iconoclast Crew, who share the bill.      

Purity Ring/Braids
Thursday  9 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$23,
Two electronic combos with female vocals hailing from Edmonton, Alberta. Purity Ring wowed crowds with its stunning, yet simple visuals and ethereal yet propulsive tracks. On its third album, “Deep in the Iris,” opener Braids tackles slutshaming and abuse with feminist fury, crisp production and ethereal vocals that hint at Bjork and Kate Bush.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

CLTure Music Festival announces lineup

Charlotte is quickly becoming a spot for small independent music festivals that showcase hot, up and coming national and regional acts. CLTure, an arts-oriented marketing, advertising and entertainment company, will hold CLTure Music Festival June 27 at Chop Shop in NoDa.

The lineup includes an eclectic mix of emerging indie rock, electronic, experimental, garage, roots-rock, and hip-hop artists. Philadelphia's Man Man will headline the show with Utah's harmony-driven Desert Noises (pictured). Raleigh indie-rockers the Love Language and electro-pop act Tow3rs, Charleston's Susto, and Asheville-based electronic duo RBTS Win and garage rockers the Tills represent the greater Carolinas.

Home grown Charlotte acts Late Bloomer, Pullman Strike, Rapper Shane (formerly Stranger Day), Elevator Jay, Modern Primitives, Miami Dice, and Stereoloud also perform along with DJ Ahuf and DJ Cody Hare.

The Saturday event begins at 4 p.m. and features live music on three stages. Food trucks and fashion and art vendors will also be on hand.

CLTure is no stranger to promoting local and independent music. It has put on the weekly NoDa Food Art Music Rally during the Spring and Fall, worked with Drumstrong in 2014, and organized 2013's Brewz Fest, as well as other local concert series.

CLTure's events focus on simultaneously promoting local businesses and arts and music while highlighting independent acts in particular. You can check out CLTure's online film, music, arts, and food coverage at

Friday, May 15, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Greg Jarrell
Friday  6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., Stage Door Theatre, corner of 5th and College Streets, $12-$15,    
The monthly Jazz Room series begins its fifth season with Charlotte saxophonist Jarrell recreating the music of baritone saxophonist and composer Gerry Mulligan, a cool jazz era staple who worked with Gene Krupa (as a an arranger) and Miles Davis’ on “Birth of the Cool,” and as an occasional sideman for numerous greats like Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, and Duke Ellington.

Charlie King
Friday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8-$10,
Singer-songwriter Charlie King, who released his beautifully-crafted, full-length folk-pop debut “Path of the Moon” earlier this year, lands back at home after his first national tour. The trek took his catchy Jeff Buckley and Gregory Alan Isakov-inspired folk to coffeehouses, pubs, and homes from here to San Antonio.  

Suzy Boggus
Friday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $25-$35,
The veteran country singer, who had her highest charting singles “Hey Cinderella,” “Just Like the Weather,” and “Drive South” in the early `90s, pays tribute to country legend Merle Haggard on her latest album, 2014’s “Lucky.” She takes Haggard’s masculine compositions and interprets them with a strong, feminine perspective.

Saturday  4 p.m., Crown Station, 1425 Elizabeth Ave., Free,       
As a ranger in NYC’s Central Park (and leader of the Honey Brothers, a band known for “Entourage” actor Adrian Grenier on drums), songwriter Andrew Vladeck gained a reputation as the singing ranger. The combination of nature and New York informs the pastoral, yet urban indie folk of his new band which often plays like a modern version of Paul Simon’s “Graceland.”

Aaron Watson
Saturday  11 p.m., Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., $7,       
Praised by “Rolling Stone” and compared to Macklemore by “The Guardian” for his success as an independent artist that’s managed to attract mainstream attention, Watson is the first indie country artist to debut atop Billboard’s country album charts for his recent George-Strait-style traditional throwback “The Underdog.”

Sean Watkins
Tuesday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $12-$15,       
The ghost of Nickel Creek hangs in the phrasing and vocals on the Grammy winning folkie’s fourth album “All I Do Is Lie.” The busy guitarist/vocalist continues to diversify collaborating with Fiona Apple while remaining anchored to his acoustic chamber pop roots.

Lake Street Dive
Tuesday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $22-$25,    
The versatile soul-roots group returns to NoDa between festival dates - success spurred by its online version of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” TV appearances, and its latest album “Bad Self Portraits.” Grads of Boston’s New England Conservatory well versed in jazz, the foursome emits a contagious energy while also summoning Stax, Motown, girl groups, and `70s rock.

Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Jukebox
Wednesday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $25,  
With a revolving cast of players led by pianist Bradlee, this YouTube sensation takes pop hits by Gaga, Miley, Meaghan Trainor and even the Darkness and Bel Biv Devoe and casts them as `20s ragtime, `40s big band, `50s doo wop, torch songs, and piano ballads Its fun schtick has won them millions of YouTube views and a sold out European tour.      

Tommy Castro & the Painkillers
Thursday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $15-$17, 
Whether channeling Hendrix, incorporating Latin rhythms, or spouting Memphis soul, Castro is a mean guitar player who stacks his songs with bluesy licks, raspy lived-in vocals, and Hammond B3 organ. The multiple Blues Music Award winner’s latest “The Devil You Know” is his first with his crack new band the Painkillers.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ciara show cancelled...twice

R&B singer Ciara's concert at The Fillmore Tuesday was cancelled after a large power outage that effected part of the NC Music Factory complex occurred. At the time the live music venue reported what the singer announced to fans that night - that the show would be rescheduled for Monday, May 18. But that rescheduled date has now also been cancelled due to logistics. 

All online ticket sales will be refunded and those who purchased tickets at the venue box office or other ticket outlets can return them for a full refund. 

Ciara is scheduled to play Miami tonight, Tampa Saturday, and New Orleans Tuesday, which presumably would've been quite a haul if the Charlotte date was moved to Monday. 

Ciara stopped by Power 98 in Charlotte Tuesday to promote her current Jackie Tour. You can check out her interview here

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

God Save the QC 5 festival expands days, venues

God Save the Queen City - one of the music scene's best homegrown indie music festivals - is expanding in its fifth year. The festival presented by Charlotte print shop Ink Floyd will now take place over three days from August 27 to 29 at a different venue each night.

The event kicks off Thursday at Evening Muse Boise, Idaho's the Ravenna Colt, Oxford, Mississippi's Water Liars, and local staples Amigo and Justin Fedor.

Friday GSTQC returns to NoDa's Chop Shop, which has hosted the festival since its inception and maintains the thread established last year of featuring some of Nashville's best up and coming under the radar bands Diarrhea Planet, Pujol and Music Band. Other acts include Indiana's Kansas Bible Company, Water Liars, and Charlotte's Ancient Cities, Bubonik Funk, and Junior Astronomers.

The festival concludes Saturday with two separate lineups at NC Music Factory. The Fillmore will host Dean Ween Group, who sold out Visulite this Spring, Athens' Futurebirds - a returning favorite - and locals Benji Hughes and Alternative Champs that night. Locals Temperance League, Pullman Strike, Black Market, the Sammies, Hungry Girl, and Giant Squid Squad will play a free show elsewhere at the Music Factory from 3 to 6 p.m. as a warm up to the Fillmore show. The venue will be announced later.

Tickets for each night will be sold separately at individual venues' sites with discounted early bird tickets available this coming weekend for $10 for Thursday and Friday's shows and $20 for Saturday's Dean Ween show. Advance tickets will then increase to $14, $15, and $25, respectively. Day of show tickets will again increase to $20 for the first two shows and $30 for the Fillmore show.

The festival's focus remains on both the city's finest homegrown acts as well as national Americana and indie rock bands that the folks at Ink Floyd think you should know about. In its four years, GSTQC has built a reputation for showcasing some of the best underrated acts out there. Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires were signed to Sub Pop six months after playing GSTQC and St. Paul & the Broken Bones broke in a big way nationally since its early appearance on the GSTQC bill. Its since sold out Neighborhood Theatre twice. Acts like Jessica Lea Mayfield, the Futurebirds, and Apache Relay have continued to gain ground nationally as well.

For more information go to

Friday, May 8, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Butch Walker
Friday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $22-$24,   
The pop producer/songwriter and former Marvelous 3 guitarist has written or co-written numerous hits for acts like Avril Lavigne, All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, and Pink, but on solo albums like 2015’s “Afraid of Ghosts” he tempers those pop tendencies with a rootsy rural folk feel that connects to his youth growing up in Georgia. With Jonathan Tyler. 

Caleb Johnson
Friday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $15-$18,
The 24 year old Asheville-based “American Idol” season 13 winner, who quickly released his post “Idol” debut “Testify” last summer, announced this week that he’s leaving Interscope Records after disappointing sales. The bluesier rocker, who is one of many Carolinian “Idol” grad, is looking at Nashville for his next project.

Caleb de Casper
Friday  8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $10-$13,  
Through his theatrical piano pop, danceable rock, and outrageous performances, the local glam-goth rocker is like a male Amanda Palmer combining horror (he’s been known to incorporate animal organs on stage) and LGBT-friendly imagery (his new video for “Monster Love”) - two things that rarely mesh outside of bondage parties.

NeedtoBreathe/Colony House
Saturday  7 p.m., Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $25-$49.50,      
The Clemson area band spent the last decade climbing from tiny clubs to headlining major venues with its version of polished Southern-steeped arena rock (think U2-meets-Kings of Leon). It makes three Carolina stops with Franklin, Tennessee indie rock trio, Colony House who is currently enjoying its own climb from clubs to prime opening spots.

Mingo Fishtrap
Tuesday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12-$15,
The eight mean outfit is the latest to tap retro soul for inspiration, populating its jazzy funk grooves with bouncing horns, colorful percussion, gritty bass, and Roger Blevins’ Jr.’s hearty voice that screams Memphis or New Orleans. Surprisingly the band calls Austin home.

Tuesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $27.50,      
“I Bet” - the first single from the Grammy winning R&B singer’s just-released sixth studio album, “Jackie” - may more than hint at raw emotions following last year’s breakup with baby daddy Future, but don’t expect anything too revealing as the sultry singer is in the midst of her first headlining tour in six years.

Primal Scream
Wednesday  7:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $25-$30,
Kings of reinvention from its early place in the UK’s `90s rave scene to later segues into psychedelic, garage, and dance music, the prolific Scots remain delightfully fun and inventive 30-plus years into its existence. The group, whose latest “More Light” melds all those styles, makes a very rare Charlotte appearance.      

Lost Lander
Wednesday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $6,        
Portlandia comes East via this smarty indie-pop unit, whose latest album “Medallion” may focus on life, death and the struggles and acceptance in between but balances its emotions with synth-pop perkiness reminiscent of early Killers. Southern singer-songwriter Sam Burchfield shares the bill.

Ani Difranco
Thursday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $35-$50,   The feminist folkie returns to NoDa following the November 2014 release of her latest album, “Allergic to Water,” which she recorded and mixed at home in New Orleans before and after the birth of her son. Her twentieth album was recorded with her live band and guests like Ivan Neville. Eccentric one man band, That 1 Guy, opens the show.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

CLT's Pradigy GT unveils new album at listening party tonight

Charlotte hip-hop rock hybrid Pradigy GT release its anticipated new album - the appropriately titled "About Time Damn" - this week. The group celebrates its release tonight at The Tavern (300 W. Morehead St.) with a free listening party from 8 to 10 p.m. DJ SPK will provide tunes and physical copies of the album will be for sale.

Click here for more on the event. Look out for more on the new album in an upcoming New Music blog.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rock is very much alive at sold out Carolina Rebellion

There's been a lot of talk the last few years about the death of rock n' roll. There will certainly always be guitar-based rock bands carrying the torch, but the argument is that rock is no longer king instead existing in the shadow of pop, hip-hop, and even mainstream country.

If the sold out Carolina Rebellion hard rock and metal festival at Charlotte Motor Speedway's Rock City Campgrounds this weekend is any indication, those naysayers are wrong. Along with sister festivals like Florida's Welcome to Rockville and the inaugural Northern Invasion in Wisconsin, Carolina Rebellion - now in its fifth year and third in Concord - sold out in advance.

Closing out his set with Slash and the Conspirators Sunday, singer Myles Kennedy, who has played Rebellion four out of five years (with Alter Bridge and Slash), noted how it's grown and thanked the crowd for supporting rock n' roll.

For the bands the sea of heads, which may not yet rival those massive festivals overseas, were an indication of the festival's growth. For fans heading in and out of the festival grounds, it was the traffic that was noticeably heavier especially after Slipknot closed the show Sunday. Some concert goers inevitably missed earlier sets by bands like Stars in Stereo and Young Guns.

Cheap Trick performing on one of the smaller stages between harder rocking youngsters (only by comparison) Chevelle and Papa Roach proved consummate showmen armed with hits like "Dream Police" and "Surrender" and Rick Nielsen's collection of kooky guitars.

While most acts fared well, Saturday headliner Marilyn Manson, who kept disappearing off stage, seem to realize he wasn't at his best (performing like a opening act, I believe, were his words). One devoted Manson fan who has seen him five times described it as horrible (ouch!). That left Korn, who memorably reunited with guitarist Brian "Head" Welch on stage at Carolina Rebellion in 2013, to carry the headlining weight Saturday by charging through their 1994 debut in its entirety.

While veterans like Slayer, Slash, Sammy Hagar and Cheap Trick helped attract an older crowd, the audience stretched from 10 and 12 year old kids to fans pushing 60 thanks to an eclectic bill. There were several returning acts like Halestorm and Korn, a mix of classic rock and thrash (Exodus and Testament), punk and hardcore (Hatebreed, Suicidal Tendencies, and Rise Against), post-grunge hard rock bands that broke in the `90s and beyond, and a handful of newer bands like Periphery and Greenville, SC's Islander.

Sunday's lineup was heavier on female fronted acts with In This Moment, the Pretty Reckless, and Halestorm carving out a midday triple threat on the main stages. With her raspy voice and electric guitar Halestorm's Lizzy Hale is one of those band leaders who seems born for the role as if cranking out riffs and writing songs is her calling.

Acts like Slash, who covered his career alternating between Guns n' Roses' and Conspirators' tunes and including Velvet Revolver's "Slither" in the set, and Queensryche turned in some of Sunday's best performances even without the singers that made songs like "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Jet City Woman" famous. Queensryche's Todd La Torre - backed by original members guitarist Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson, and drummer Scott Rockenfield - scaled the clouds with his wail on songs like "Empire."

Slayer frontman Tom Araya noted the love he felt from the crowd during the band's sundown set Sunday. Fans stirred dust clouds (as they had earlier for Breaking Benjamin) on the Rebellion stage as the band powered through one classic thrash riff after another with Kerry King and Exodus' Gary Holt (who replaced Jeff Hanneman) recreating classic twin guitar leads. Slash sat stage side looking as entertained as the crowd as Slayer ended its set with "South of Heaven" and "Angel of Death."

Bathed in fitting red light, Godsmack, who headlined the first Rebellion in 2011, peppered its set with recent tracks like "What's Next" (from 2014's "1000hp") and shook up its groove-anchored set with a tribal-fueled percussion solo and by briefly touching on classics riffs from "Back in Black" and "Walk This Way."

Slipknot made a triumphant Carolina Rebellion debut by closing out the festival for a field of anxious, if exhausted, fans. The Grammy winners inspired a slew of masks that coincidentally provided relief from the dust bowl at the Rebellion stage. Although its horror-bent and aggressive metal wouldn't exactly be described as beautiful, the theatrical band ended a beautiful weekend that eclipsed 2013's rain and 2014's heat and promised a likely even greener return for the growing festival next year.

(Photo by Joshua Komer)