Thursday, November 19, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Ethan Bortnick
Friday 7:30 p.m., McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St., $29-$49,  
The child prodigy pianist holds a Guinness World Record, has two PBS specials, sold out Vegas, and has helped raise $40 million for charity – and he’s only 14. The musical wunderkind delivers his Power of Music Tour, which incorporates a children’s choir and guest musicians, and features everything from standards to pop and jazz to his originals.
Chris Thile
Friday 8 p.m., Batte Center, Wingate University, 403 N. Camden Rd., Wingate, $42,
The versatile Grammy winning mandolin virtuoso of Nickel Creek, the Punch Brothers, and collaborations with YoY o Ma and Edgar Meyer will take over NPR’s “Prairie Home Companion” when Garrison Keillor retires in 2016. You can catch him flitting from genre to genre like the Justin Timberlake of new grass with a rare solo set.
Marshall Tucker Band
Friday 8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $25,  
The pride of Spartanburg returns for its annual CLT show following the release of its “Live in the UK 1976” album in October. With classics like “Can’t You See,” the original Southern rockers have teetered on the precipice of country and rock since before country-rock was big business and have weathered much turmoil under the leadership of frontman Doug Gray.
Friday 9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15,
This Athens’ outfit’s new album “Hotel Parties” turns up the psychedelia without abandoning its Americana and indie-rock roots. The album sounds like the folkier side of legendary Scottish fuzz-nuts Jesus and Mary Chain met Band of Horses in the studio, which is a good thing. It’s Southern and rootsy with jangly splashes of shoegazing Brit-pop.
Magnolia Collective
Saturday 9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $8,   
Recent concert posters touting this Chapel Hill act make use of Day of the Dead skull imagery and that’s a good visual representation of the band’s country-steeped, folk noir which sometimes travels musically across the border. It celebrates the release of its new album, “An Old Darkness Falls” with Charlotte’s Amigo and Landless.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
Sunday 7:30 p.m., Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St., $70-$100,
Although still eight years younger than Tony Bennett who recently wowed Charlotte, 81 isn’t too shabby for a “seasoned” performer like Frankie Valli. Having enjoyed a career renaissance thanks to the Tony winning hit “Jersey Boys” and a stint as an ill-fated gangster on “The Sopranos,” Valli is back crooning hits in that unmistakable falsetto.

Emily Kinney
Monday 8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $14-$16,
It’s been a year since her beloved “Walking Dead” character, Beth, was gunned down. Between roles on “The Flash,” “Masters of Sex,” and “The Knick,” the actress penned a remarkably witty acoustic-based pop album called “This is War.” She’s a fun lyricist whose sassy attitude, refreshing rhymes and word choice make for a heady good listen.
Tuesday 8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $19-$24,      
Gwar’s bow at Tremont before the club closes next month truly marks the end of an era for the beloved venue. The band has weathered an arrest, being banned from the city, and the death of its frontman, so it’s fitting it should get to say goodbye to a venue that’s prevailed through its own struggles and so often hosted the (fake) blood-spewing act.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hinder's show at Amos' Thursday cancelled after bus crash

Hinder's show at Amos' Southend Thursday has been cancelled. The band was involved in a bus crash on I-40 this afternoon in Cookeville, Tenn. There were no fatalities, but the band's bus driver, lighting technician, and bass player were treated for injuries.

The bus driver was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The two other passengers were treated at Cookeville Regional Hospital.

Heavy rains may be to blame. The bus hit a tractor trailer that had slowed or stopped in the road due to the weather. An SUV was also involved, but neither driver suffered life threatening injuries. A portion of I-40 was shut down temporarily. It has since reopened.

The bus driver's service dog did disappear following the accident, but has since been found.

This isn't the first bus accident the Oklahoma hard rock band best known for the hit single "Lips of An Angel" has been involved in. Hinder cancelled part of its tour in 2013 after a tour bus accident.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

With Paris and my mother on my mind, music offers comfort, hope

Yesterday's massacre at a concert in Paris brought terrorism into the world of live entertainment in a way we have never quite seen before, especially in rock 'n roll and popular music. Imagine a sold out club the size of Amos' or The Fillmore. That's the size of Le Bataclan where over 100 people were murdered all because they went to a public event to experience shared escapism, joy, and yes, fellowship with strangers - the same sort of experience sports fans at the Stade de France France-Germany soccer match were after when they were also targeted.

For me this attack came at the end of probably the most harrowing week of my life. On Tuesday my mother went in for somewhat routine open heart surgery - if you can call open heart surgery routine. As I was walking down the hall of ICU to see her for the first time since that morning when she left for the OR, the blue light above her room began flashing. I watched as practically the entire staff sprinted for her room. She had gone into cardiac arrest and was immediately taken back into surgery. The rest of my day was spent wondering if my mother would survive. She is currently in surgery again this morning to see if they can remove the machine that has been supporting her heart since.

When I was finally able to see her the next day, her chances still seemed grim. Her heart had to be shocked repeatedly the night before. What could I, a mere writer, do to help her?  Then I realized, I could bring her joy. Joy in the form of Prince, Rick Springfield, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Morris Day, Foo Fighters and Fitz & the Tantrums. Music is life, I thought. Who could sleep through the horn intro to "A Glamorous Life" or what brain wave wouldn't skip for the familiar refrain of "When Doves Cry?" I felt so much more useful compiling a 270-some song mix on my iPod that could get her through the next night. I rested my earbuds on her pillow and let Beyonce and Pink, the Temptations and the Supremes comfort her through the night. She has since improved daily.

Music is comfort. It's joy. It's inspiration. It's emotion. It's healing. For that source of such good to be targeted is infuriating. It's not only a threat to freedom, life, and all those other things that terrorists target, it's also an assault on our livelihood for those of us that work in the music industry. While the band got out safely, as of a few hours ago crew members for Eagles of Death Metal were still unaccounted for. (Update: Nick Alexander, EODM's merch manager was killed, read about him here). These crew members could certainly be sound engineers and lighting technicians that are posted away from the stage, out in the crowd at the sound and light board depending on lay out. My husband is a sound engineer and like, I'm sure, many in his line of work he's wondering if those people are safe and if he knows or has ever worked with any of them before.

On a larger scale, smaller mom and pop venues are already struggling and the Foo Fighters, U2, and Coldplay have all announced concert cancellations. If that trend continues it means the people these bands employ aren't able to work.

Ever since Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott and members of Damageplan's crew were gunned down on stage at a club in Columbus, Ohio in 2004, safety and security at concerts has been in the back of my mind. Because I know the layout, I have theoretical plans if such a situation were to occur at Tremont or Amos'. Yes. I think about these things. I could probably do the same at Visulite, Neighborhood, and the Fillmore if I set my mind to it. But it's a shame that such thoughts cross our minds when we attend a public event.

Music, theater, and sporting events are meant to help us escape the stress and complications of our daily lives, not add to them. Music should be catharsis. On the way to the hospital this morning before my mother's current surgery the Mighty Mighty Bosstones' "The Impression That I Get" came on the radio. I found myself singing along with Dickey Barrett, smiling, feeling the power of mood altering music surging through me. By the chorus of Stone Temple Pilots' "Big Empty" - always my favorite STP song - I was full-on belting it out with Scott Weiland. I hadn't heard either of those songs in years, but thanks to some DJ or program director they were perfect to start my day of waiting.

On Tuesday as I was practically vibrating from anxiety waiting for news from Mom's second surgery, I was soothed by the Stone Foxes as I was writing the story about their show at Visulite last night. Later I listened to Charlotte's own Jon Lindsay, who texted me links to his new record, and a very `90s K Records-sounding artist named Hazel English who I discovered after listening to Jon's Soundcloud link. I will forever associate those songs with that wait, that drive to the hospital, that mix that helped rouse my mom's heart to pump on its own.

Unfortunately Eagles of Death Metal - a band that prides itself on bringing humor and joy and monster riffs to the people - will forever be associated with this unfathomable violence. Julian Dorio, drummer for the Whigs, a band that has had a strong Charlotte following dating back to its days as a college band in Athens, was drumming with Eagles of Death Metal when the shooting broke out. Having interviewed him before and having the impression through our conversation that he's a good guy, and having watched his incredible drumming for years (I videoed him for my son the last time I saw the Whigs play), brings the whole ordeal even closer to home. But even without that connection we're talking about music fans just like you and me struck down violently while simply enjoying this thing that bonds us all.

Hopefully music can offer some sense of healing for those involved at such a grim time as it has for me and my mother (who came through her third surgery as I was finishing this). Music is peace - why else are so many hundreds, thousands of people able to get together every night in America and Europe and Japan and Australia and enjoy this  mass experience with only the occasional alcohol-fueled scuffle or full-on bar fight? Music. Peace.

(Image by Jean Jullien @jean_jullien)

Friday, November 13, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Chante Moore
Friday 8:00 p.m., McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St., $35.50-$67.50,  
With her recent book, “Will I Marry Me,” the Grammy winning R&B Divas LA alum took an introspective look at her role in the dissolution of her three marriages. With it, her 2013 hits collection, and a recent episode of TV One’s tell-all biography series “Unsung” behind her, the veteran R&B singer is looking ahead.
Friday 9 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$45,
While fans of the Detroit-raised R&B singer and go-to guest crooner await the follow-up to 2012’s “Greater Than One” (which he has been working on when not producing or guesting on others’ tracks), they can catch the neo-soul veteran live revisiting adult-oriented R&B that’s both breezy and made for the boudoir.
Stevie Wonder
Saturday 8 p.m., Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St., $39.50-$129.50   
The legendary musician nears the final leg of his “Songs in the Key of Life” tour – an ambitious live recreation of the 1976 double album with a massive backing band including special guest musicians, six backing vocalists, and a string section. The show isn’t just a rehash, but a loose, funky marathon that clocks in at around three hours.
Chop Shop Grand Finale
Saturday 9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $25-$30,  
GF*W and patrons of the city’s latest casualty of development say farewell to NoDa’s Chop Shop with what’s billed as its biggest EDM event yet. The short-lived neighborhood venue, which really found its footing as a club in the last year, always booked outside the box so the colorful and outrageous farewell is fitting.
Hippo Campus
Sunday 8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $10-$12,
Dubbed Ones to Watch by “Paste Magazine” earlier this year, the quirky Minnesota four-piece, who mix playful pop melodies with herky-jerky rhythms tread the same waters as Vampire Weekend and Phoenix. In fact its post-emo pop has a lot in common with Charlotte indie bands - like Public Radio, HRVRD, and Flagship rolled into one.

Vilma Palma e Vampiros
Tuesday 8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $30-$35,
This Argentinian octet who shot to No. 1 in South America with their debut single “La Pachanga” back in the early `90s marks its 25th anniversary with a stateside tour. The pop-rock group’s melodic Latin rock was like a Spanish version of Duran Duran or U2 when it debuted, and its longevity reflects that of its still peers.
Tuesday 8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$23,     
Last seen at the Carolina Rebellion in May when guitarist Gary Holt was doing double duty in his band and Slayer, the seminal thrash forerunner returns for more harder, faster, louder metal. With vocalist Steve Souza now back in the mix, its enjoying a renaissance with 2014’s “Blood In, Blood Out” marking its highest charting album yet.
Andrew Jackson Jihad
Wednesday 7:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15-$17,    
Like Ben Folds or Weezer, this Phoenix outfit tackles tough topics with a balance of heartbreak and humor. On the prolific buzz band’s latest “Christmas Island” (which is not a Christmas album) it’s the death of vocalist Sean Bonnette’s grandfather that seeps into the lyrics, which are elevated by the band’s abrasive folk-punk.