Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Matrimony premiers Charlotte-set live video

Charlotte's Matrimony releases its debut full-length album, "Montibello Memories," on Columbia Records May 6. Check out the video for "See the Light," which was filmed at Chop Shop in NoDa. You might even see yourself singing along in the crowd.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Benefit for homeless Saturday pits Beatles against Stones

The debate is classic. Beatles vs. Stones. Charlotte musicians will take on both tonight during a benefit concert for the Urban Ministry Center, which aids 500 to 600 homeless Charlotteans daily. The concert features Reeve Coobs, Toleman Randall, Yaddatu, Little District, and Dead End Parking as well as groups formed by students of Charlotte's School of Rock.

The eight acts will take on the Beatles and Stones in a battle of the bands at Double Door Inn Saturday. Tickets are $12 in advance and $16 at the door. All proceeds benefit Urban Ministry Center. The concert is presented by Poverty Is Real, a Decatur, GA-based organization that works with local charities through fundraising concerts to combat poverty.

In February the HousingFest to benefit Urban Ministry, which featured the Blind Boys of Alabama, was a sold out success.

As an avid music lover I'm sure my dad would have an opinion on the Beatles and the Stones debate. I'm not sure who he would choose. He was partial to later psychedelic Beatles where my mom was a teeny bopper when "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" came out and favored the early Fab Four. I mention my father, who died in 2003, because he could have very easily ended up homeless. Most of us think that homelessness is unlikely to happen to us. I certainly don't want to think I could lose my family or the roof over my head, but life isn't that predictable.

Thirteen years ago with the help of a social worker at the veteran's hospital in my hometown, I placed my father in a nursing home. I was 24. I had just moved from Arizona and was living with my boyfriend's mom in Charlotte while looking for work and a place of our own. My father, who'd been diagnosed with untreated diabetes, chronic depression, morbid obesity and serious heart problems (he had a heart attack on the same day as Jerry Garcia seven years before) had been hospitalized for months, but checked himself out of the hospital multiple times. He went home to a house with no power or phone (although he rarely kept a phone). He hadn't paid the lease on the house for a year. He was being evicted. This is the situation I walked into upon returning from the barren desert. I was given two weeks to find him a place to live and if he had not been a Vietnam era veteran, I am almost sure he would've ended up homeless. That's how easily it can happen.

I didn't want to put my father in a nursing home, mind you. But he was a stubborn, 400 lb. man on an endless stream of medications and his only options were that or my elderly grandparents who he didn't get along with and who were not in any shape to take care of him due to his size. I'd spent my first month back trying to dole out his medicine (it was confusing since the VA would send him home with a paper bag full of pill bottles with different instructions on them) and do his grocery shopping. He'd eat an entire box of Lean Pockets and balk at my tofu dishes ("I've never eaten anything that gets bigger when you chew it before," he complained).

I share this because my father wasn't any more likely to end up homeless than the next guy. My father was raised in the church by my devout grandmother. He had a degree in psychology and worked as a social worker, a psychologist, a hypnotist, sold coal mining and construction equipment and managed construction sites. He'd traveled to Italy and France when he was in the Navy and enjoyed culture, languages, art, poetry, and even math. He read philosophy and the classics and was a die-hard bluegrass fan. But circumstances, untreated illness, and bad judgment put him in a spot where he could have easily ended up homeless.

That's my point. When you consider contributing to a charity or not, remember that it could someday be you or someone you love in need.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Record store day celebrates happiest place on Earth

Disneyland may be considered the happiest place on Earth if you believe their advertising, but I realized recently that, for me at least, record stores may be the happiest place on Earth. Hence, Saturday April, 19 where lovers of vinyl records and the few mom and pop stores that house them celebrate Record Store Day.

Record Store Day has become a huge deal since its inception in 2008. Charlotte has three participating stores now according to the RSD website - Lunchbox, Repo. and the Wax Museum. Record Store Day is exclusively for independently owned stores, whereas Manifest is now owned by the same company as FYE.

So what's Record Store Day, anyway, you may wonder? It's the third Saturday in April designated to celebrate independently owned record stores with a slew of new releases on vinyl, cassette, and CD. The list is completely overwhelming with exclusive RSD releases, limited quantities, and releases that will be available at indie retailers for RSD first before making their way into chain stores and online retailers.

Go here for the full list of releases. They range from split 7 inch singles with well known bands like the Cure and Dinosaur Jr. playing the same song (in this case the Cure's "Just Like Heaven") to albums that were previously unavailable on vinyl like the Dresden Dolls' 2004 debut to special limited edition versions of albums in picture disc format or on exciting colored vinyl like Motorhead's latest "Aftershock" LP or Joan Jett's "Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth" on bubblegum pink vinyl, respectively. As you can see it's not just the young, hip kids getting in on this thing. Artists from all different genres on a variety of labels are putting out something.

Fans actually voted to have Doc Watson's 1966 album "Southbound" reissued on vinyl. Other more mainstream artists include NC's Eric Church, who is releasing his latest "Outsiders" on LP for RSD, and Kings of Leon, who pressed a yellow gold 7 inch single of "Wait For Me" in limited quantities for the event. Pop stars dig vinyl too. Katy Perry's "Prism" will be released as a picture disc and even One Direction has a 7 inch.

Despite my excitement over RSD, I've actually never gone inside a record store on record store day. On the first RSD in 2008 I drove all night from New York to try to make it to an RSD-related Steve Earle signing at Manifest. We didn't make it. Ever since then I've cruised passed Lunchbox Records on Central Ave. to scope out the line that leads to the street - a line I am not going to tackle with two small children. This year I'm going to try my favorite hometown store, Cheap Thrills, while visiting WV. My kids and I always stop in when we're in town anyway to browse the used vinyl and children's DVDs (a `80s Chipmunks movie has been on repeat ever since I picked it up last month). I'm hoping they'll have one of those Peanuts children's turntables, which Crosley is releasing for RSD. Lunchbox has already posted photos of theirs online, but I'm sure they'll be gone by the time I return.

I'm not sure what I'd be willing to stand in a line that long for (the line kind of takes the happiest place on Earth out of it) anyway, but R.E.M.'s "Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions" piqued my interest and I simply must hear Garbage's "Girls Talk" single with Brody Dalle. Ray Parker, Jr. clear 10 inch of "Ghostbusters" is also adorable for the kiddos and those with a big case of `80s nostalgia.

Like the Pixies "Indie Cindy" LP, those aforementioned releases will be available at other outlets as well later on. The logistics of the exclusives, limiteds, and the first releases is sort of mind boggling. Maybe that's why I normally stay away despite a love of record stores that was fostered when I spent four years working at Record Exchange at Cotswold and on East Blvd. Those were happy times and if I'd have known how collectible vinyl would become, I would've stocked up.

As a side note one of RSD's founders was actually my very first editor, Carrie Colliton, who edited The Record Exchange's "Music Monitor." Colliton set me up to interview Frente, Letters to Cleo's Kay Hanley, and Kristen Hersh and probably had more to do with my career path than she ever knew.

Music Factory's Friday Live! series reveals summer lineup

The annual Friday Live! concert series at NC Music Factory announced its lineup today. While the outdoor concert series has featured predominantly alt-rock hit makers from the `90s wth artists like Tonic and Soul Asylum filling up the calendar in previous years, this year's lineup features a more eclectic mix.

Live favorite Cowboy Mouth will kick off the series on May 9 with local reggae rock act Of Good Nature. Rising Knoxville roots rock combo the Dirty Guv'nahs will headline May 16. Cracker brings a bit of that `90s nostalgia back with its May 23 show with Charlotte stalwarts Simplified. Atlanta's Yacht Rock Review sends crowds back even farther in time to the late `70s and `80s on May 30 with its fully-committed, tongue-in-cheek take on hits by Christopher Cross, Hall & Oates, and other stars of the AM pop era. Ultralush opens that show.

The series celebrates the 50th anniversary of Beatlemania with Charlotte's Spongetones revisiting the Fab Four's greatest hits during its June 6 tribute. Another rising buzz band, Blackberry Smoke brings a change of pace with rocking Americana on June 13. The Chris Cook Band will open the show.

Veteran cover band Charity Case, which features Ace from Ace & TJ, heads up the June 20 bill while On the Border recreates the lush harmonies of the Don Henley, Glenn Frey and company with its impressive Eagles tribute closing out the series June 27 with opener Jive Mother Mary.

As always tickets are $5 in advance for each show. An eight show pass is available for $30 at http://ncmusicfactory.com/. The events kick off every Friday in May and June at 6 p.m.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Friday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $26.50, www.livenation.com
The Boston dance-pop duo enjoyed an early career bump with viral covers and its own YouTube hits, but it’s been a rocky road to release its debut full-length, “Pulses” (which “Rolling Stone,” who already put them on the cover, panned). With the record out it’s on the second leg of the PulsesTour.

L.A. Guns
Friday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $14-$18, www.amossouthend.com
With founder Tracii Guns’ competing version of the glam-metal veteran disbanded, singer Phil Lewis and drummer Steve Riley’s entry remains the last (L.A.) Gun standing. Since Lewis was the voice on the hit-filled “Cocked and Loaded,” most fans consider this the preferable win.

Bruce Springsteen & The E. Street Band
Saturday  7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St., $55.45-$141.56, www.ticketmaster.com
Fresh from his legendary band’s induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, the Boss returns for a likely marathon, off-the-cuff set that, while no doubt including favorites and material from his latest “High Hopes,” should also offer up some surprises like his cover of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”

Chick Corea
Saturday  8 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $19.50-$59.50, www.blumenthalarts.org
From his early days playing forward thinking Latin funk with Return to Forever to more recent Grammy winning collaborations with Bela Fleck and John McLaughlin to children’s music, the jazz piano legend has proven he can do it all. His next project is a solo album tied to his current solo piano world tour.

Motel Glory
Saturday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7, www.themilestoneclub.com
This twangy local quartet puts the “rock” in Rock Hill with infectious, messy, raw toe-tappers that sound birthed in a garage that’s seen its share of Ramones and Replacements’ posters peeling off the walls, but with a distinct Southern country-punk streak.

Local Natives
Saturday  9 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33, www.livenation.com
Following its recent run opening for Kings of Leon and before getting wrapped up in festivals all summer, one of 2013’s biggest buzz bands and certainly one of Sirius/XMU’s most played, gets a stretch of headlining dates to further showcase its dreamy harmonies and psychedelic indie-pop. (If you're a dog lover, this video is super, by the way). 

Of Sinking Ships/Bask/Tusker 
Saturday  10 p.m. Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5, www.snugrock.com
Consider this a loose Hopesfall reunion with former guitarists/bassists Chad Waldrup and Mike Tyson piloting two acts. Ships is Waldrup’s instrumental trio - which strikes a balance between emo and Explosions in the Sky - with Tim Cossor (HRVRD) and Ethan Ricks (Matrimony), while Tyson provides bass for Winston-Salem’s boogieing hard-rock outfit Tusker.

Tuesday  8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $25-$28, www.tremontmusichall.com
After years underground the veteran indie rapper has built a million dollar hip-hop empire on his own terms and given Jay-Z competition on the charts. Aside from star collabos and a roster that’s added dexterous emcees like Murs of late, he’s branded his Strange Music label as a go-to hub for quality like the artists supporting him on tour and his next album (out in May).

Wednesday  7:30 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $37.50, www.livenation.com
On the trio’s new album “La Gargola” the Loeffler brothers and brother-in-law bassist Dean Bernardini tap Ministry’s early industrial metal and classic psychological horror films like “Rosemary’s Baby” for inspiration. The results are heavier, dark, and more metal than in the past. Middle Class Rut and Nothing More open the show.

The Coathangers
Wednesday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $10, www.themilestoneclub.com
The Atlanta garage rock girls club carries the riot grrrl torch and like the Sleater-Kinneys that came two decades before them, the trio gets better, smarter, thematically heavier, more musical, and hookier with age without sacrificing the fun, party vibe of its shows. It's fourth album, "Suck My Shirt," was released in March.

Gardens & Villas/Tycho
Thursday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15-$17, www.visulite.com  
The Santa Barbara quintet’s Facebook description labels its music “galactic fever,” but its electro dream pop cuts a swatch between `80s soundtrack, shoegazer, and Depeche Mode and modern indie rock that manages to cast moody shadows against blindingly sunny songs. San Francisco trio Tycho, who headlines, offers swimming guitars in futuristic atmospheres.

Spoon, St. Vincent, Mastodon head up Hopscotch Festival

Raleigh's Hopscotch Festival, which takes place September 4, 5 and 6, revealed its initial lineup today. The 5th Annual Hopscotch Festival will feature Spoon and St. Vincent as headliners Friday with progressive Atlanta metal outfit Mastodon, NC's hard rock masters Valient Thorr, and Detroit's reignited punk trio Death heading up Saturday's bill.

Other acts include San Francisco folk-rock act Sun Kil Moon (featuring Red House Painters' Mark Kozelek), a solo set from current psych-folk favorites Phosphorescent, stoner kings High on Fire, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore (who will play his own set and join other acts as the festival's Improviser-in-Residence), British producer Jamie XX, indie jazz pop quartet iiii, Brooklyn psychedelic dance duo Prince Rama, Canadian DJ and producer Lunice, buzzing garage rockers Diarrhea Planet, veteran space rocker Nik Turner's Hawkwind, experimental soul dance outfit Ava Luna, Canadian punks White Lung, Mississippi synth-soul guru Dent May, and the first appearance from former Ween frontman man Aaron Freeman's new band Freeman (pictured). Freeman includes members of the triangle's Lost in the Trees, Megafaun, and the Foreign Exchange.

Read the 115 act lineup here.

Hopscotch's lineup consists of almost half NC-based acts including Charlotte rapper Deniro Farrar, reunited Chapel Hill rockers the White Octave, Asheville garage rock combo Reigning Sound, Raleigh's Lonnie Walker (who'll open for St. Vincent and Spoon Friday), Raleigh roots rock favorites American Aquarium, and Raleigh rock trio Young Cardinals. Another round of acts will be announced at a later date. The schedule will be released in June.

I'm particularly interested in the appearance of Death, the subject of the compelling documentary produced by Charlotte filmmaker Jeff Howllet. The Hackney brothers' punk trio predated punk in the `70s, but its work was never widely heard. It was only years after brother David's death that their music went viral and was actually released. Given renewed interest in their music brothers Dennis and Bobby Hackney reformed the group with a new guitarist and have been playing sporadic gigs for the last couple of years and recently put out a new album.

VIP tickets and 3-day passes, which include entry into all the clubs hosting acts as well as both headlining shows in Raleigh's City Plaza, are currently available here . Individual tickets for the City Plaza shows will be made available soon for $40 per night.

Hopscotch takes place at a series of venues in and around downtown Raleigh. For more information check out http://hopscotchmusicfest.com/.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Local summer camp teaches girls to rock

The year I turned 13, my parents got me an electric bass for my birthday. My dad's friend - who played bass in Charlie McCoy's band on "Hee Haw" - taught me  "Paradise City," "Summertime Rolls," and "Glamour Boys," but I was destined to rock alone.

There were no other girls in my junior high who were interested. I'd occasionally pick up some Iron Maiden or Cure from boyfriends, but I was never that comfortable playing with them (I didn't realize that aside from death metal riffs, they too knew very little).

I was always jealous of the Donnas and female bands like them who found each other at an early age. What I wouldn't have given for a group of female peers who wanted to rock too. That's what Girls Rock Charlotte is offering in the form of a week-long summer camp.

Girls Rock Charlotte takes place June 23-27 at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Girls ages 10 to 16 will receive musical instruction (no experience necessary), form bands, write songs, and end the week with a concert. Between rocking they'll attend workshops on songwriting, DIY crafts (who else is going to make that wicked merch display?), media literacy, yoga, body confidence, women leaders, and zine making.

I think something like this would have made a huge difference for me. Sure, I was surrounded by music from my father's bluegrass musician friends to my boyfriends' death metal bands, but to see someone like yourself who you can relate to providing an example helps you see yourself in that same role. While PJ Harvey and Siouxsie Sioux were fabulous, I couldn't really see myself in them. It wasn't until I met my roommate after college that I even knew another girl who wanted to play music. Maybe with something like Girls Rock, I would've begun playing with other people earlier. Charlotte is actually very lucky to have several talented young women fronting bands now.

But it's not just about a rock n' roll future. Forming bands and writing together is a way to learn teamwork and cooperation while building the confidence in your own creativity to get up on stage and perform. The additional workshops also aid in building self-confidence and creating, instead of simply consuming, art.

The week-long camp, which lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, is $325. Parents can register their kids and learn more about the program online here.