Monday, October 31, 2011

Charlotte's John Mark McMillan plays Fillmore, releases new disc

If you aren’t familiar with contemporary Christian radio or the Christian music scene, you may have missed one of Charlotte’s best rock singer-songwriters, John Mark McMillan. McMillan is best known for the original version of “How He Loves,” a song that became a major hit for The David Crowder Band. It’s since moved into modern classic territory and has been covered by numerous contemporary Christian artists both on record and live. McMillan joins Crowder for The 7 Tour Tuesday, November 1, at The Fillmore with Gungor and Chris August. It’s the same day his new album “Economy” hits retailers.

"Economy,” which follow’s 2010’s Top 10 Christian album “The Medicine,” is a timely collection of expansive pop-rock songs that veer close to the Killers and Bruce Springsteen (or more accurately the Killers’ Springsteen-inspired “Sam’s Town” record). It’s full of these uplifting “Born to Run”-style anthems. Sing along choruses and pop hooks climb and crest against a backdrop of synthesizers and echoing guitar effects that create a landscape of tension and longing. Those spiraling guitar lines and keyboard washes remind me of bands like France’s M83 or Charlotte’s own Sugar Glyder. Two of those rising anthems - “Sheet of Night” and “Seen a Darkness” - bookend the album. Both sort of build from dark to uplifting.

The title track (which McMillan does an acoustic version of in the above clip) serves as the centerpiece of the record with its particularly relevant subject matter. It’s a simple pop-rock gem at its heart and flows so easily into the next track, “Who Is This,” it’s as if the two songs are bonded. It’s hard to imagine one without the other.

Vocally McMillan maintains a deep, lived-in tone with a brush of his Southern working class roots. Some of his lyrics are obviously attached to his beliefs, but you don’t necessarily have to be a follower to enjoy his music. It’s good stuff regardless of what genre it falls into. You can learn more about McMillan or order a copy of “Economy” here. Tickets are $33.25 and available at

Mini Review: Yo Gabba Gabba at Ovens Auditorium

"Yo Gabba Gabba," my toddler's favorite TV show, rolled into Charlotte Friday and Saturday for four shows at Ovens Auditorium. The kids would've probably been satisfied with a repeat of 2010's "It's a Party in Your City," but DJ Lance Rock and the gang switched things up enough to keep "It's Time to Dance" new for parents that witnessed last year's tour.

One of our favorite changes was seeing more Leslie Hall (pictured below with DJ Lance and Brobee), the comedic female rapper and musical guest at last year's Charlotte show. She sang and danced on three songs assuming the Jack Black role for "New Friends" (a song from his "Gabba" episode) and followed it with "All My Friends are Different." Our son, who loves Hall, surprised us and cracked up some folks seated nearby by singing along loudly with the latter.

Another new highlight was Muno (the one-eyed red monster who Kia features in its Sorento commercials) rapping "I Love Bugs" with a cast of giant dancing butterflies, worms and other crawly critters (pictured). It was one of the most visually impressive segments and that song (which recalls L.L. Cool J's "I Need Love") is a little bit newer than some of the expected tunes that have appeared on the show since its first season.

Of course there were fan favorites like "Party in My Tummy" complete with dancing carrots and green beans and interactive games such as "Get the Sillies Out" and "Hold Still" which had two, three, and four-year-olds wiggling in the aisles. Familiar segments from the show included Super Music Friends and Dancey Dance Time. Indie dance duo Koo Koo Kanga Roo had kids yelling favorite colors during its one song set. Saturday's Dancey Dance was led by O.A.R.'s Marc Roberge, in town to play NC Music Factory's Halloween festivities (Friday KISS 95.1's Otis from "The O Show" led the Disco Roll).

Veteran rapper Biz Markie's instructional "Biz's Beat of the Day" was one of last year's most popular bits. He switched it up by creating a mini dance party. He welcomed a group of children on stage to beat box then dance as he spun old school hip-hop. The kids dug Biz, but they also dug tiny bits of confetti that rained down on the audience as seasonal falling leaves and snow just as other parts of the state were seeing the real thing. By the end the little girl behind us was picking it out of my husband's hair.

If you or your child is a fan, there's really nothing better than the Gabba Gang bouncing through your favorite songs and games from TV in person. We would go back again and again as long as our kids are interested. The only thing we and others around us complained about was a lengthy intermission. I imagine it allows for a potty break, but its hard to explain to a two-year-old where Brobee and Foofa disappeared to.

Friday, October 28, 2011

This week's hot concerts

Yo Gabba Gabba
3 and 6 p.m. Friday, October 28 and 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday, October 29, Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $38.95-$50.25.
The Nick Jr. series may be targeted at preschoolers, but parents and hipsters enjoy its original music (covering everything from ska to new wave to hip-hop) and a fantasy land that heavily references the`70s and `80s. This particular dancey dance segment has yet to air.

Family Force 5
7 p.m. Friday, October 28, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $15-$17.
This Atlanta dance-rock act maintains a sense of humor with over-the-top party anthems that are as inspired by Dirty South hip-hop as rock and punk. Its new album “III" hints at maturity, but it still knows how to have a good time staging a karaoke contest for fans in lieu of an opening act.

Oso Grande
7:30 p.m. Friday, October 28, Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St.
This benefit for local musician/Sea of Cortez leader Rodney Lanier, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, features the first full reunion of Jolene in eight years as well as Benji Hughes, Temperance League, the Houstons and Sea of Cortez.

Valient Thorr
8 p.m. Friday, October 28, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10-$12.
After releasing one of 2010’s best metal albums, touring with Motorhead and playing festivals in Europe, the thoroughly entertaining (on stage and online) Carolina-based outfit touches down to deliver its space-metal gospel.

The Jayhawks/Tift Merritt
8 p.m. Saturday, October 29, McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. $25-$34.50. 704-372-1000.
With bad blood now water under the bridge Mark Olson and Gary Louris reformed beloved Americana combo for this year’s “Mockingbird Time.” Opening act Tift Merritt straddles country and `70s AM pop-rock with a voice that's as smooth as honey.

Crooked Fingers
8 p.m. Saturday, October 29, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$14. 704-376-3737.
Eric Bachmann follows 2011’s Archers of Loaf reunion with a return to his more solo-focused band, which begins a month and a half long circle of the US in his former home of North Carolina.

8 p.m. Monday, October 31, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $33.
The Mexican-American/African American R&B singer is one of pop music’s young new stars with recent BET Awards and American Music Awards nominations for Best New Artist.

Ray Davies
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 2, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $52-$69.50.
After hitting more than a few health kinks (pun intended), the 67-year-old frontman of the legendary Kinks headlines an intimate, seated solo show.

Trombone Shorty
8 p.m. Thursday, November 3, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $17-$20. 704-358-9200.
This New Orleans native (who appears on four episodes of HBO’s “Treme”) fittingly calls his sound “Supafunkrock” - an adventurous and fun blend of hip-hop, rock, jazz, soul, and world music.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Folk Society hosts day of free concerts Saturday

The Charlotte Folk Society hosts a day of free music at McGlohon Theatre in Spirit Square Saturday, October 29, as part of the Wells Fargo Community Celebration. The bill features six artists, including Irish musician John Doyle who headlines at 3 p.m.. The show begins at 10 a.m. with Men Standing for Christ, an African-American vocal quartet formed at Mount Carmel Baptist Church. It recently competed in How Sweet the Sound: The Best Church Choir in America.

Blues guitarist and Statesville-native Matt Walsh performs at 11 a.m. followed by the Burford Brothers Old Time String Band at noon. The Americana duo of Laurelyn Dossett and Kari Sickenberger, popular on the festival circuit where they're better known as Polecat Creek, perform at 1 p.m. Bluegrass outfit The Snyder Family Band is up at 2 p.m. John Doyle, founder of the band Solas and a leader in contemporary Irish music, closes out the show at 3 p.m.

For more on the artists or the Charlotte Folk Society click here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Veteran Charlotte-based songwriter revisits 1987 album

Veteran singer-songwriter Matthew Alexander celebrates the release of the newly remastered version of his 1987 debut album, “Wishing I Had Wings,” at The Atherton Mill Market (2014 South Blvd.) Saturday, October 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Alexander began his career in Boston during the folk boom of the late `60s. Today he’s based in Charlotte where he recorded “Wishing I Had Wings” almost 25 years ago. It features well known Charlotte musicians like the Spongetones’ Jamie Hoover and Debby Dobbins who are still active today.

“Wishing I Had Wings” is more than a snapshot of folk and country music during the late `80s (although it captures it well). It showcases Alexander’s nimble finger picking for one. The opening track is fit for a bluegrass audience, while “Counting the Hours” is one of those classic country weepers you can imagine Conway Twitty singing. “The World Just Keeps Spinning Round” could be interpreted as a contemporary Christian tune, in part due to the style and production that straddles the line between pop and country. “Crying” on the other hand sounds like a Chris Isaak style pop-rock hit. “Tulsa Tomorrow” treads darker, bluesy waters that match its storytelling format. “California Roads” features near gospel-style harmonies, which remind me of both the Mamas and the Papas and a church choir.

In fact “Wishing I Had Wings” covers a lot of ground drifting in and out of and mixing John Denver-style folk with more fully arranged pop and country amid clean, pristine production. It reminds me of some of the songs Larry Groce sang on “Mountain Stage” when I was growing up - folk-based at its heart but the full backing band and production directs it toward commercial country territory. Of course you can't get more country than lyrics like those on "Sentenced To Life."

You can find out more about Matthew Alexander at

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stellar local bill honors one of its own

The Chop Shop in NoDa will host Oso Grande, a benefit for Rodney Lanier, Friday. Lanier, who works at The Evening Muse and has played in numerous bands including his baby, Sea of Cortez, and Jolene, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer earlier this year.

News of his illness turned this weekend's Sea of Cortez show at Chop Shop (399 E. 35th St.) into a full blown all star benefit. The lineup features some of the best Charlotte acts of the last 15 years including Jolene, Temperance League, Benji Hughes, the Houstons, and Sea of Cortez (who Lanier is seen playing pedal steel with in the above clip). The show marks the first full reunion of Jolene in eight years. Two of its members now reside in Los Angeles.

Other fundraisers are in the works. Another titled "The 1st International Gathering of the Taco Army" was announced earlier this week. It'll take place November 25 at Evening Muse (3227 N. Davidson St.). A multi-venue neighborhood festival is being discussed for 2012 as well. There's obviously no shortage of musicians and venues wanting to contribute to the cause. If you're familiar with Rodney on or off the stage, you know why.

Lanier can still be founding working the bar, the door, and the sound system at the Muse, but proceeds from the benefit will be put in a trust in case there comes a time that he is unable to work. He has gone through a round of radiation already and begins chemotherapy next month.

Tickets to Oso Grande are $10 at the door. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., music starts at 8:30 p.m. Proceeds from tickets and merch sales will go to the Rodney Lanier Support Trust and donations can be made directly to The Rodney Lanier Support Trust, 4242 Folkston Drive, Charlotte, NC 28205.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Locals channel Floyd, Hughes, Interpol with ethereal rock EP release tonight

The first time I saw Cement Stars I was sitting on the bleachers at Tremont mesmerized by the transporting wall of sound the then two-piece created on stage. I thought, wow, what a perfect opening act. Since then the Charlotte band has grown to a three and now five-piece with the addition of bass and female vocals, but the hypnotizing wash of dreamy melodies remains.

The group signed with Charlotte-based Electric Mountain (Super Ape) in March. Now comes “Form & Temper," its aptly titled new EP and the follow-up to the 2010 full-length “Geometrics.” It celebrates its release Friday, October 21 at Snug Harbor (1228 Gordon St.)

Its cinematic sound drifts somewhere between trippy Pink Floyd, a John Hughes’ film, and European electronic pop and rock. There’s Interpol-like basslines and M83-style synth-pop with its closest stylistic relative being Swedish electro dream pop combo the Radio Dept. who may best be known stateside for its contributions to Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” soundtrack.

The John Hughes’ reference has stuck with me since the first time I saw them. His films always featured some song (Echo & the Bunnymen’s “Bring on the Dancing Horses,” Flesh For Lulu’s “I Go Crazy” for instance) that encompassed that sense of teenage longing that was reflected in his films. Cement Stars has always had the ability to recreate that feeling thanks in part to its incredible echoing guitar sound. On “Form & Temper” it goes farther and gets darker.

There’s a tendency to zone out while listening – and it’s certainly not a bad thing to get lost in an album.“Passable Ghost,” for one, reminds me of songs you’d listen to while staring at the ceiling in the dark as a teenager. The guitar on “Holograms” forms lyrical phrases giving the song a sense of musical as well as lyrical storytelling. There are pretty male/female vocals too, but that talkative guitar remains the star.

All its early potential is realized here. The lineup growth allows for a fuller sound. But it hasn’t changed the direction greatly and the material is on par with that of indie bands from the West Coast and Europe who fall under the same stylistic umbrella.

The cd release show is tonight with the Bear Romantic, Coma League, and Dirty Drummer. Admission is $5-$6. 704-333-9799;

This week's hot concerts


8 p.m. Friday, October 21, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $35.25.

Expect plenty of bad jokes, punk riffs and classics like “Bob,” “Linoleum,” “Murder the Government” and “Stickin in My Eye” (most of which it played at Bonnaroo this summer) when the veteran punk group plays a rescheduled date from last winter.

Sam Bush/Justin Townes Earle

5 p.m. Saturday, October 22, US National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway. $15-$22/$50 VIP.

The legendary new grass mandolin player/fiddler joins the second generation singer-songwriter (Steve Earle’s son) who forges a different path than his father channeling another era with his vintage-style suits and mix of classic country, old-time, folk-rock, and blues.

Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights

9 p.m. Saturday, October 22, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $12. 704-376-1446.

A live powerhouse, this Dallas outfit soars on stage. As one of the new faces of Southern rock it brings together a soulful mix of the Black Crowes and Lenny Kravitz. Download live sets free at


7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 25, Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. $25-$45. 704-372-1000.

Following a performance with Stevie Wonder Sunday at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Memorial dedication this Grammy nominated vocalist brings her classy, jazz-tinged take on R&B to uptown.


7 p.m. Tuesday, October 25, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $25-$28.

The “MmmBop” brothers (all grown up at 30, 28, and 25 and with eight children between them) still play the teen pop hit but temper it with a healthy dose of bluesy pop-rock.

John Nemeth

8 p.m. Tuesday, October 25, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10-$12. 704-376-3737.

Praised for his soulful voice and mean harmonica, this unlikely young, Idaho-bred artist straddles soulful blues and retro R&B like a male equivalent to Sharon Jones.


9 p.m. Tuesday, October 25, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $8-$10.

With its delicate melodies, programmed beats, and matter-of-fact vocal style (think She without Him), this Toronto duo hit on what imight have happened if `90s alt-pop (and fellow Sub Pop Records’ band) Velocity Girl wrote soundtracks for art films.

Portugal the Man

8 p.m. Thursday, October 27, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $15-$18/$30 VIP. 704-358-9298.

Hailing from Wasilla, Alaska (but now based in Portland) this psychedelic rock combo is like the through line between Woodstock and Flaming Lips with detours at `70s Elton John and T Rex.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Civil Wars' concert rescheduled for December

Tonight's Civil Wars' concert, which was postponed because vocalist Joy Williams (pictured with band mate John Paul White) was diagnosed with laryngitis, has been rescheduled for December 8 at McGlohon Theatre (345 N. College St.). Tickets for the original date will be honored at the December show, which is already sold out.

Special guest Milo Greene will also perform. A press release from the venue suggests calling the venue box office at 704-372-1000 to check on ticket availability.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Civil Wars postpones Wednesday's concert

The Civil Wars' sold out concert at McGlohon Theatre Wednesday, October 19, has been postponed. According to the venue's website co-vocalist Joy Williams, one half of the duo with John Paul White, has laryngitis forcing the band to cancel shows in Charlotte, Durham, Norfolk, and Charlottesville (October 19-22). Its scheduled to play a sold out show in Washington, D.C. on Sunday the 23rd.

These dates are tentatively going to be rescheduled for early December. Fans who didn't get tickets ahead of time can hope that the fast-rising act will move up to a larger venue given that demand for its rootsy folk-pop is increasing. Just last Spring it sold out the much smaller Evening Muse.

Tickets for tomorrow's show will be honored at the rescheduled concert.

Recent country music nominees to play Fillmore

Thompson Square, the husband and wife duo that stormed the charts earlier this year with the #1 single "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not," is scheduled to appear at The Fillmore with the Eli Young Band November 14. Both played Coyote Joe's earlier this year. James Wesley and Casey James will open the show. Tickets are available at, Ticketmaster outlets, The Fillmore Box Office and Walmart stores or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

The country couple, who toiled away in Nashville for years as solo artists and then as a duo before its breakout, recently received a slew of awards nominations. They'll take on Chris Young, the Band Perry, North Carolinian Eric Church, and Luke Bryan to claim the title "New Artist of the Year" at the Country Music Awards. The broadcast, which includes performances by all five nominees, will air live on ABC November 9.

Thompson Square will compete for that same title at The American Music Awards November 20 on ABC . Fellow nominees include LMFAO, the Band Perry, Wiz Khalifa, Foster the People. Hot Chelle Rae, Miguel, and Marsha Ambrosius (those last two also play the Fillmore in the next month). Cast your vote at This round of voting ends Friday.

Keifer Thompson and wife Shawna (pictured above) also received seven American Country Awards nominations last week - almost as many as established headliners Jason Aldean and Zac Brown Band, who led the nominations with eight each. Fans can vote for the ACAs at

Friday, October 14, 2011

This week's hot concerts

Still Corners

9 p.m. Monday, October 17, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $7.

This London combo creates delicate, ethereal pop with breathy vocals and quietly haunting melodies fit to score sexy vintage French cinema (think M83-meets-the Postmarks).


7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 18, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $20-$23.

Twenty-seven years into its blood-spurting career the notorious horror-rock kings are getting bigger than ever (booted off Fox News for Palin puppet beheading and spearheading(!) it’s own hometown Gwar-B-Q festival). It launch its latest tour in Charlotte.

Gym Class Heroes/Dirty Heads

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 18, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $27.

Following the solo success of “Billionaire” Travie McCoy is back fronting the good time hip-hop act who team up with Dirty Heads and rapper/singer Outasight prior to the November release of “The Papercut Chronicles II.”


9 p.m. Tuesday, October 18, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $7.

With a voice that slides through sweet melancholy tunes this Nashville transplant paints dreamy canvases of classic country, girl groups, and the English countryside.

Truth & Salvage Co.

8 p.m. Wednesday, October 19, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $8-$12. 704-376-1446.

Originally from Asheville, this bluesy Southern outfit conjures the earthy spirit of soulful `70s country-rock. It’s toured with the Black Crowes and opened for the Avett Brothers on New Year's Eve.

Blue October/Iamdynamite/Plain Jane Automobile

8 p.m. Wednesday, October 19, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $32.50.

The headliner is the big draw with an already devoted following and a bracing new album surrounding singer Justin Furstenfeld’s divorce, but the openers are worth a listen too.

New Found Glory

6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 20, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $17.50-$21.

On the heels of its latest album, “Radiosurgery” (which finds NFG back with producer Neal Avron), this fun live act is out to prove “Pop Punk’s Not Dead” – the title of its tour with Set Your Goals and others.

Battlefield Band

7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 20, McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. $20-$25.704-372-1000.

This 40-year-old Scottish institution brings the crisp, clean tradition of bagpipes, fiddles, and whistles together for rich ringing Celtic sounds.

Jason Boland & the Stragglers

8 p.m. Thursday, October 20, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $12-$15/$27 VIP. 704-358-9298.

This Okie band leader writes traditional country in the vein of George Strait. He’s weathered alcoholism and medical issues that threatened to damage his voice, which may be why he does real country heartache so well.

Concord group wins big again at Americana Music Awards

Just a few days after its triumphant return to North Carolina the Avett Brothers picked up its third Americana Music Award for Duo/Group of the Year. The Concord band held the same title in 2007 and 2010. Seth and Scott Avett (pictured above) accepted the award at the 10th Annual Americana Awards and Honors ceremony in Nashville Thursday.

Other winners include Robert Plant's "Band of Joy" for Album of the Year, Artist and Instrumentalist of the year Buddy Miller (a member of Plant's Band of Joy), and Justin Townes Earle's "Harlem River Blues" for Song of the Year. Mumford and Sons was named Emerging/New Artist of the Year. Lucinda Williams, Jerry Douglas, executive Rick Hall, and Gregg Allman. Radio host and journalist Bob Harris received the Trailblazer Award, which was presented to him by Emmylou Harris.

The Avetts were among the night's performers playing "The Once and Future Carpenter." The band continues its fall tour in Dallas Friday. It played a much tweeted about benefit concert in Greensboro last Saturday that included the return of bassist Bob Crawford who is currently on hiatus from the band.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Charlotte soul star playing hometown show

Anthony Hamilton, who last performed in Charlotte at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre with Jill Scott in August, is back at The Fillmore November 30. The Charlotte-based soul singer (pictured above this summer), who headlined The Fillmore during March's CIAA festivities, has been working on his follow-up to 2008's Grammy nominated "The Point of it All."

Tickets go on sale Friday, October 21 at 10 a.m. at, The Fillmore box office, and by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Local musicians pay tribute to each other

Charlotte indie rock bands will pay tribute to each other Friday, October 21, by covering each other's songs live. Grown Up Avenger Stuff, Transmission Fields (pictured top), Chelsea Daggers, Hello Handshake, the Spiveys, the Jupiter Tide, Evelynn Rose, and the Between will take turns performing a couple of each other's original songs during "Charlotte Identity Crisis" at Salvadore Deli's Outdoor Stage (3215 N. Davidson St.).

For local music fans who are already familiar with these groups, the format gives listeners a unique chance to hear new interpretations of local music staples. The possibilities are definitely interesting. For instance Chelsea Daggers (whose stonery mix of winding heavy blues-rock and pop hooks comes off like a Southern Yeah Yeah Yeahs and is probably my favorite new local band) is so different than say Transmission Fields' take on catchy, classic alternative-rock (think the Cure, R.E.M., Matthew Sweet).

Grown Up Avenger Stuff guitarist John Thomsen (pictured above with singer Deirdre Kroener) reports that each group will play two 10-minute sets of covers and originals. Although the show follows up last month's packed `90's tribute which cast some of the same local bands as that era's hard rock acts Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, and Babes in Toyland, Thomsen says the seeds for this Charlotte-on-Charlotte tribute were planted last year. Grown Up Avenger Stuff for one has been covering songs by other local artists live for a while.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and is free.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Local songwriter/band leader offering deal on back catalog

Dylan Gilbert may still be a relatively young songwriter, but he's been quite prolific during the 10 or so years since he started playing music. Still in his early twenties, Gilbert's released a string of albums since 2005 and now he's offering all 50 tracks ("The Complete Works, So Far 2005-2010") at his Bandcamp site as a digital download where the buyer determines the price. You can sample all the tracks as well.

Having finished what sounds like a rather grueling summer tour with his band the Over Easy Breakfast Machine, Gilbert is spending the fall off the road, writing his next album. He explains his reasoning behind the offer on his website.

A different sort of ladies night Wednesday

This past week was so busy with live music that it was hard to fit everything into last Friday's hot concerts, including a few female artists playing tonight who all fall under the Americana umbrella. One's a relative roots-rock newcomer, the other two are veterans of beloved bands that have gone solo.

The wickedly (and legally according to named Lydia Loveless (left) plays the Evening Muse (3227 N. Davidson St.) tonight, October 12, with Todd May (8 p.m. $12). She recently signed with Bloodshot Records and her new album, "Indestructible Machine," is a helluva ride. It sounds like a punker Neko Case fronting a gritty country-western bar band with plenty of liquored up rock n' roll in the mix. The cover is an animated babe swigging from a gasoline can. Its nine tracks include a fantasy song that casts Steve Earle (or more accurately, an impersonator of sorts) as a band stalker/persistent suitor and another called "Jesus Was a Wino." The whole package is pretty irresistible and collecting positive reviews.

Loveless will also be doing a free in-store performance at Lunchbox Records (1419-A Central Ave.) at 6 p.m.

Just across town former Squirrel Nut Zipper Katherine Whalen and the Everybodyfields' co-founder Jill Andrews share the Visulite stage (1615 Elizabeth Ave. 8 p.m., $15). As a solo artist Andrews leans more toward pop than her former band (which was signed to Concord's Ramseur
Records). Her pretty, sort of melancholy vocals remain over songs that recall the `70s singer-songwriter era of pop.

Whalen (right), who still lives in the Efland farmhouse that her grandmother bought her instead of sending her to college (she chose), released the full-length "Madly Love" in September. It contains some of the long awaited tracks that she talked about when I interviewed her in March 2010 - songs that draw on her childhood growing up in the North Carolina mountains flipping through encyclopedias from the thirties while sick in bed. The vintage quality that fans enjoyed in her Zippers' work is still there, but "Madly Love" is also quieter, folkier, sparser and more raw than some of her previous work. Yet that signature jazzy catch in her voice remains.

Monday, October 10, 2011

More club concerts announced for November, December

The Fillmore added two more concerts to its November calendar today. Staind will play the NC Music Factory venue Tuesday, November 29. Tickets will go on sale Friday, October 14 at, the Fillmore box office, and by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets to The Pink Floyd Experience at The Fillmore, March 8, also go on sale Friday.

Other recently announced club shows include Hank III at Amos' Southend November 9, and Reckless Kelly and Chatham County Line both back at Neighborhood Theatre November 12 and December 15, respectively.

The Fillmore also welcomes Miguel, October 31, Marsha Ambrosius (pictured above), half of the British R&B duo Floetry, November 9 (both are part of its Rising Icons series) and musical internet sensation Starkid's S.P.A.C.E. Tour, November 19.

Friday, October 7, 2011

McKnight cancels for a second time

R&B singer Brian McKnight's acoustic show tonight, October 7, at Ovens Auditorium has been cancelled. The concert, part of his "Just Me Tour," was originally scheduled for July 27, but was postponed. This second date will not be rescheduled. Refunds are available at point of purchase.

This week's hot concerts

Kill Devil Hill

8 p.m. Friday, October 7, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $12-$14.

Former Pantera/Down bassist Rex Brown left the latter to head up this metal supergroup with Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath). The fittingly dark and brooding results mix nimble guitar work, grunge-y vocals, and sludgy tempos with polished production.

Blind Boys of Alabama

8 p.m. Saturday, October 8, McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. $32-$37.50. 704-372-1000.

For the first time in its 72-year history the Americana vocal institution tackles country on its latest album, “Take the High Road,” a guest heavy collaborative project with Jamey Johnson.

Tyler Ramsey

10:30 p.m. Saturday, October 8, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$14. 704-376-3737.

“The Valley Wind,” the new record from the Band of Horses’ guitarist and Asheville-based songwriter (who opened his band’s headlining show here in August) is a perfectly moody fall folk record reminiscent of Neil Young.

Dominant Legs/Nurses

8 p.m. Saturday, October 8, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $8-$10.

Imagine the former as a modern synth-rock Fleetwood Mac jamming with Talking Heads and Arcade fire. It’s fittingly paired with Portland trio Nurses, whose new disc “Dracula” is a dark, atmospheric, yet danceable collection.

Big Head Todd & the Monsters/John Hiatt

8 p.m. Sunday, October 9, Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $46.25-$78.15.

The Colorado trio best known for `90s rock hits “Bittersweet” and “Broken Hearted Savior” joins the Americana songwriter behind Bonnie Raitt’s “Thing Called Love” and Jeff Healey’s “Angel Eyes” (as well as a catalog of his own gems).

Madi Diaz

7 p.m. Monday, October 10, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10.

On her new EP the Ten Out of Tenn grad writes infectious pop songs with a voice that’s part Suzanne Vega, part Kathleen Edwards…but a bit sweeter than both. With Charlotte trio Side By Side.

Warren Haynes Band

8 p.m. Wednesday, October 12, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $33.

Before details about what would be his 23rd annual all-star Xmas Jam emerge, the Gov’t Mule/Allman Brothers guitarist - considered a modern guitar god - brings his revered bluesy playing back to the Carolinas.

J. Cole

8 p.m. Thursday, October 13, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $31.

The much buzzed about Fayetteville-bred rapper (and first artist signed to Jay Z’s new label) has a No. 1 debut album this week with “Cole World: The Sideline Story” as he graduates to club headliner status after a summer opening for Rihanna.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Church welcomes baby boy; back in NC Friday

Country singer Eric Church, who plays Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre with Toby Keith and JT Hodges Friday, October 7, will have something extra to celebrate during his return to the region. The Granite Falls, NC-native and his wife Katherine welcomed baby boy Boone McCoy on Monday, October 3. The 7 lb., 11 oz. Boone was born at Centennial Women's Hospital in Nashville at 8:35 a.m. CT.

Although Church has tour dates scattered throughout October, he says he'll be slowing down to spend time with his family during the coming months.

Church received the Academy of Country Music's award for Top Solo Vocalist earlier this year and his third album, "Chief," marked his first number one album when it topped both the Country album charts and the Billboard 200 in August.

Tickets for Friday's show are available at $38.25-$105.70. There are discounts on lawn seats as well.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gwar on G4 tonight; kicks off tour in Charlotte later this month

Gwar, who kicks off its upcoming North American tour at Amos' Southend on Tuesday October 18, will be featured on tonight's episode of G4's "Attack of the Show." Host Candace Bailey (pictured above with Gwar) was at last month's second annual Gwar B-Q at The National in the band's home(earth)town of Richmond where she was unceremoniously fed to The World Maggot.

The Gwar B-Q segment airs tonight at 7 p.m. with repeats throughout the week. You can also watch it online beginning Wednesday. TV host and comedian Don Jamieson of VH1 Classic's "That Metal Show" was also on hand. The bill also included Gwar side projects like the Dave Brockie Experience and Mensrea as well as Darkest Hour and Kepone.

"Attack of the Show" certainly isn't the theatrical horror rock band's first time on television. I remember being stopped in my tracks on my way to the cafeteria in college as Oderus and the gang were featured on an episode of "Jerry Springer" - airing on Queens' big screen in the middle of the afternoon. Until recently frontman Oderus Urungus was a correspondent on Fox News' "Red Eye." He tweeted that he was "canned because Sarah Palin complained that we disemboweled her." If you're at all familiar with Gwar you know they've been beheading and gutting puppet replicas of politicians and celebrities on stage for decades. No party is safe.

Some friends of mine went to both the show and meet and greet where Gwar had a good laugh over the cassettes my friend had them sign (I'm guessing the same cassettes we'd been listening to since I first discovered Gwar during said friend's 7th grade birthday party). They report that the Gwar B-Q that was served was actually good and saved the bottle of Gwater they purchased (pictured below). Honestly, I can't imagine eating anything at a Gwar show.

Tickets for Gwar's show at Amos' with Every Time I Die and Ghoul are $20-$23 and are available at

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Locals make waves on beach music charts

Charlotte-based quartet Lakeside Drive has spent the summer watching its first single, "Candy Girl," climb "Cashbox Magazine's" Top 40 Beach Music Singles chart. The song currently sits at #13 sandwiched between R&B singer Bayje and Americana songwriter Amy Lavere (this particular chart is pretty eclectic with Kid Rock, Jill Scott & Anthony Hamilton, and Huey Lewis occupying other spots).

Though its members are seasoned players, Lakeside Drive is a fairly new group formed in 2010 to play R&B, beach, pop, oldies, and classic rock covers at area restaurants and bars where they're frequently booked. Keyboardist Mike Howard wrote "Candy Girl" in January. The single was distributed to radio in June and has since picked up speed. It's been climbing "Cashbox's" charts ever since.

Another original track, "I'm Still In Love With You," was released as a single in September through Myrtle Beach-based Shanty's Records, which has signed the group. Gene Pharr of Continental Divide sings lead on the track.

Both songs have been played locally on WSGE and both capture that classic R&B-infused beach music era with a touch of big band. You could easily imagine "Shag's" Annabeth Gish scooting across the dancefloor to "Candy Girl."

Lakeside Drive plays T=Bones at the Lake Friday and Saturday, October 7 and 8. "Cashbox Magazine" was one of "Billboard's" competitors. Although the weekly magazine closed in 1996, it was relaunched 10 years later as an online publication.