Thursday, September 24, 2015

CLT rapper catches NPR's ear with intimate new video

Charlotte rapper Deniro Farrar proves time and again that he's a complex artist with a checkered past and an enlightened present that includes his two toddler sons Britain and Kaidyn and heading up a book club (his Cult Rap Book Club's first read was "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coehlo). NPR premiered the video for the new track "Nostalgia" on "Songs We Love" Wednesday. (There are a few choice words in the clip).

Farrar's tracks and videos can share the unnerving realism of street life, economic strife, crime and the mistakes made when your world is narrowed by violence, drugs, and poverty. But he also taps into the importance of family, the role of women, and the ability to rise above your circumstances through smarter choices.

Farrar's latest video features his family here in Charlotte and most notably Britain and Kaidyn, who trump every booty shaking video vixen as the two cutest, most charming, eye catching video stars ever. If you follow Farrar on Instagram you are familiar with these two cuties, but the video is more than cute. The biting lyrics dole out both the good and bad of Farrar's West Charlotte upbringing (one of eight children of a single mother). His accounts can be jarring, but he also uses them to fuel his commitment to being a better father.

Farrar's dichotomy as a former `hood and loving father isn't a put-on to sell records either. His younger brother Anthonio "Tune" Farrar was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison for the murder of Benjamin McDaniel, who was shot during a marijuana deal gone wrong according to court records. Farrar admits that at one time he could've just have easily landed in jail. Instead he tries to set an example for others not to repeat his brother's mistakes.

You can bet you'll be hearing more from Farrar in the next year. He is scheduled to release his next EP "Guilty Until Proven Innocent" on Warner Bros Records this winter.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Live music venue closing after two decades

Tremont Music Hall is the latest local music casualty of development in Charlotte. The SouthEnd venue will close after a twenty year run in December, announced owner John Hayes earlier today. Hayes, the venue's third owner, has operated the club for the last five years.

The building, located at 400 W. Tremont Ave., has been sold as development in the SouthEnd neighborhood continues to move down South and Tryon. It was recently announced that the same thing is happening to the prosperous 1500 block of Camden Road which houses Black Sheep, Sirrus Salon, and the neighboring Common Market on Tryon as well as hosts Food Truck Fridays.

Tremont will end its near 21-year run with a local show December 19.

In 2014 the historic Reflection Sound Studio on Central Ave. was sold. The recording studio where James Brown, R.E.M., Whitney Houston, and Robert Plant once recorded is now the site of a towering construction project, one of several condo and apartment complexes being erected on the outskirts of downtown. In March, it was announced that proposed redevelopment in the NoDa neighborhood would force another live music venue - Chop Shop - to close.

"Not only has it been my great honor to own Tremont the past five years but it has been a greater joy to get to know the many fine musicians, wrestlers, and comedians that Tremont has hosted," says Hayes. "Sadly, some things must change as economic prosperity moves into South End. My hope is that the 20 years of Tremont Music Hall will be remembered fondly; as we have worked very hard to make everyone who came through the doors feel like part of the Tremont Family."

Friday, September 18, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Janet Jackson
Friday  8 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $26.71 Lawn (only seats left available other than resale seats),  
With a new album, “Unbreakable,” set for Oct. 2, the most successful remaining Jackson sibling isn’t skimping on hits and production for her current comeback tour. She returns for a whopping 32-song, career spanning set. The hot ticket means only lawn seats are available at regular prices.

Friday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $22-$32,
Disco queen Donna Summer’s daughter Amanda Sudano (a former backup singer for her mom) and husband Abner Ramirez bring their feel good, foot-stomping, soul-steeped roots music to NoDa for the first time since the birth of their first child in February (they played here in December during their Christmas tour).

Skinny Lister
Friday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $14-$16,         
With firm footing in traditional, accordion-guided pub songs and sea shanties, this blatantly British sextet give the Celtic rock and pub punk of Americanized bands like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys a folkier makeover with  shuffling singalongs and roots music camaraderie fit for a modern day Pogues.

Pokey LaFarge
Sunday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15-$18,
Evoking an era that’s not yet oversaturated popular music, the witty St. Louis singer-songwriter taps be-bopping jazz, ragtime, speakeasy blues, and Western swing with an almost time machine sense of authenticity in look and instrumentation from his Brylcreem and cuffed jeans to his hip-shaking, finger wagging dance tunes.

Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $62.48,         
When Motorhead cancelled its 2014 Carolina Rebellion appearance due its 69-year-old singer’s health, it looked like we might’ve seen the last of the legendary trio. Recent cancellations still have fans worried, but Lemmy and co. are back for now with a biting new album, “Bad Magic” and a stacked lineup featuring psychedelic hard rock buzz band Crobot and fellow metal legends Anthrax. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday  9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $17-$20/$32-$35 VIP,     
On 2014’s “Year of the Caprese,” the smooth Nashville electronic duo responsible for last year’s earworm “Doses & Mimosas” spikes its polished take on R&B, hip-hop, and pop tropes with a sense of humor and self-awareness of the sandbox its playing in (not to mention food references).

Luke Bryan
Thursday  7 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $88.63,          
Since sweeping the American Country Awards in 2012, the reigning ACMA and CMA’s Entertainer of the Year and recent stadium sell-out has become arguably the biggest artist in country music. In August his latest album “Kill the Lights” marked his third release week No. 1, coming in third to Kendrick Lamar and Drake in 2015 first week sales.

Sham 69
Thursday  8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $15-$18, 
A forerunner of UK punk along with the Sex Pistols, the old school act most notable for the classic `70s punk call to arms “If the Kids are United,” is divided into two touring camps (much like the Temptations and Queensryche). This one is piloted by founding guitarist Neil Harris and features vocalist Tim V and longtime drummer Ian Whitewood.

Jamey Johnson
Thursday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory, $39.23,
Probably the most well-known of the current crop of Nashville outlaws, the Grammy nominated, Alabaman singer-songwriter headlines SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country sponsored tour. With his 2012 tribute to Hank Cochran as his last official release, he’s promised more new music this year.

Friday, September 11, 2015

This week's hot concerts

St. Paul & the Broken Bones
Friday  6:30 p.m., NC Music Factory Fountain Plaza, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $10,   
The Alabama soul throwback enjoyed one of the biggest jumps from wowing crowds at the homegrown God Save the Queen City festival two years ago to drawing accolades from “Spin Magazine” for its performance at Lollapalooza this year. In between its revival-esque soul has drawn raves and sell-out crowds. With Alanna Royale.

Van Halen
Friday  7:30 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $30-$170,   
When the band kicked off its comeback tour here in 2007, fans flocked to see a lineup they thought wouldn’t last. This marks the group’s third return since reuniting with David Lee Roth. And the now 24 year old Wolfgang Van Halen (who moonlights in Tremonti) has come into his own as a member. With Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band.

ZZ Ward
Friday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $31.08,        
Two weeks after dropping the “Love and War” EP, the bluesy singer-songwriter graduates from selling out the Visulite to headlining the Fillmore where she’ll share her blues and hip-hop-infused take on pop and new material from the EP - a preview of 2016’s “This Means War” full-length. The Young Wild open.  

Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
After revisiting its ambitious rock opera live earlier this year, the prolific, quirky rock trio celebrates the release of its new self-titled album. Its fidgety garage blues and pop romp shifts eclectically from howling Jack White-esque riffs to falsetto spiked psyche-rock to driving power pop. It’s like White, Pulp, the Flaming Lips and the Strokes collided.

Weenie Roast
Saturday  7:30 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $35.85-$86.97,  
The End celebrates 20 years mixing the `90s rock the station built its reputation on (Stone Temple Pilots, Live, Blues Traveler) with current dance pop (Passion Pit, Bleachers), established live favorites (MuteMath, Langhorne Slim, Kopecky), buzz bands (X Ambassadors, Catfish & the Bottlemen), and new rock (IAmDynamite, Atlas Genius). 

Steve Earle & the Dukes
Saturday  7:30 p.m., McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St., $20-$39.50,
At 60 and at the end of his seventh marriage, the modern Americana legend lets the blues loose on his sixteenth studio album, “Terraplane.” His recent shows with the Mastersons acting as both opening act and part of the Dukes, focus on Texas blues, a few covers, hits, and fan favorites from his storied career.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Saturday  9:30 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $25/$40 VIP,        
With the Brotherhood the Black Crowes frontman takes what he calls a “farm-to-table” approach to music and the music business, digging deeper into his funky Southern rock roots and releasing homegrown, limited, live recordings. His latest is “Betty’s Blends, Volume Two,” which was mixed by Grateful Dead archivist Betty Cantor-Jackson.

Slum Village
Sunday  9 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $12-$15,    
With T3 the only surviving member of the influential group that launched J Dilla’s career (Dilla died in 2006, followed by the death of cofounder Baatin in 2009), the renowned Detroit hip-hop group is now a duo. It’s 2015 album “Yes!” is marked by Dilla-produced tracks that were recorded before his death. With Aswell, Lute, and Keyza Soulsay.  

Los Enanitos Verdes
Tuesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $40.73,         
The Argentinian rock trio is like the South American equivalent to the Police, U2, and Duran Duran rolled into one - that is a Latin rock giant that’s concerts draw tens of thousands and whose career extends over three decades. The group brings award winning Spanish-language rock back to the Fillmore.

Leverage Models
Thursday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free,        

With a knack for danceable art-rock and complex, lively synth-pop, upstate New York producer and frontman Shannon Fields creates the soundtrack to the `80s movie you never knew you missed and employees numerous musician friends in the process. The band returns for Shiprocked! on the way home from playing Hopscotch Fest this weekend.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Avetts announce annual New Year's location

Uptown may be a little quieter on New Year's Eve this year. Earlier this week Widespread Panic, who have spent several recent years ringing in the New Year at Time Warner Cable Arena announced it will rock in 2016 in closer to home in Atlanta. Today the Avett Brothers' announced that its annual New Year's Eve gig will return to Greensboro Coliseum Complex. The group last celebrated the New Year there in 2013.

Tickets for the Dec. 31, 2015 show go on sale Friday, Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. via, by phone, and at the Greensboro Coliseum box office.

The Avetts' sold out Carolina NYE shows date back to its early days at Neighborhood Theatre. The group moved on to Belk Theater and most recently to TWC Arena, but has alternated between different NC cities since its rise in popularity.

The band is reportedly working on its ninth studio album with Rick Rubin.

Local trio helps usher in a new season of SyFy zombies

Charlotte area trio Amigo will get a chance to charm a national television audience with its warm, rootsy country-rock Friday when its song "Love Made a Fool Out Of Me" plays during the season premier of the SyFy network's "Z Nation."

The song was originally included as a bonus track on the digital version of the group's debut album "Might Could" and is now available as a single on iTunes. "Might Could" was one of the best local releases of 2014, boosted by songwriter Slade Baird's songwriting and the band's rocking Americana chemistry and punk attitude, which translates well live.

"Z Nation" is the SyFy network's take on the zombie apocalypse. The action dramady stars DJ Qualls ("Supernatural," "Perception") and Kellita Smith ("The First Family," Bernie Mac's wife from "The Bernie Mac Show").

Amigo, who is working on the follow-up to "Might Could," isn't the first Charlotte artist to have their work included in a SyFy original series. Singer-songwriter Jon Lindsay's music appeared on the series "Haven" (a show I watch religiously).

Although I don't catch "Z Nation" every week (small children and zombie shows don't really mix), I do watch when I can. I considerate it less of a downer than "The Walking Dead." It's campy, but it can turn serious. The episode where DJ Qualls' Citizen Z, his dog, and his conscience receive a visitor from outside his Alaskan compound is quite compelling. It's nice to see an actor who is often used for comic relief  ("Supernatural," "Road Trip") get a chance to flex his dramatic skills.

Qualls also appeared in a 2010 movie called "Amigo." Coincidence?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Rapper B-U-D releases new video, CLT draws more attention nationally

Earlier this week posted a story about four Charlotte rappers giving national audiences reason to pay more attention to hip-hop from the Queen City (click here to read the article). Charlotte-based writer, David Turner, included Raleigh rapper King Mez along with Bankroll Bird, Rashaun Hampton, and Well$ due to Mez's credits on Dr. Dre's "Compton,"

This side of Greensboro, the rap scene seems to be healthier and more crowded than ever before. Deniro Farrar has received national attention, as did Mr. Invisible during its run. Mr. I's Justin Aswell's weekly hip-hop night at Snug Harbor has also helped attract some of the best national underground artists and influential veteran stars to Monday's Knocturnal parties.

Elevator Jay and Rapper Shane (under the name Stranger Day) released two of the best, widely accessible full-length albums in any genre in the past year (both are available for free download).

Charlotte rapper B-U-D is another act to consider. Last year he released a video focusing on the often ignored issue of missing people (those whose friends and families may not have the resources to search, for instance). With his new video "Face the Music," he's having a bit more fun (although maybe not in the intro). He's also got a unique visual take, donning superhero tights and elaborate makeup and creating a sort of space age discotheque. In another clip of him playing Tremont he waddles on stage in one of those inflatable fat suits. You get a sense his vision is something more than your average musician.

You can check out his latest video above.