Monday, November 28, 2011

Tuesday's Wailers show cancelled

The Wailers concert scheduled for Amos' Southend Tuesday, November 29, has been cancelled. According to the band's website Wednesday's show in Richmond and Friday's show at The Music Farm in Charleston, SC are still on.

Refunds will be given at point of purchase.

Chili Peppers kick off 2012 with run of Carolina dates

The Red Hot Chili Peppers announced a handful of US tour dates for 2012 today. Among those are four Carolina shows including January 25 at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, which launches the band's "I'm With You" World Tour. The veteran funk-rockers follow that date with shows in Raleigh January 27, Columbia January 28, and Greensboro January 31. Dates in Atlanta and Memphis are also part of this jaunt which kicks off the Grammy winning band's 2012 North American tour.

The group is currently in Europe touring behind its latest album "I'm With You." The upcoming US tour marks its first full-scale US tour since 2007 and will be its first time at the Arena without former lead guitarist John Frusciante (who I thought was such an integral part of its live show). Frusciante left the group in 2009 and was replaced by Josh Klinghoffer. Klinghoffer was in the band Ataxia with Frusciante and toured with the Chili Peppers as an additional guitarist toward the end of its "Stadium Arcadium" tour.

Special guest Santigold, who last hit Charlotte opening for the Beastie Boys and Sheryl Crow at Amos' Southend during the 2008 Get Out and Vote tour, will open the show. Tickets go on sale Saturday, December 3. More dates will be announced in the coming weeks.

Friday, November 25, 2011

This week's hot concerts

You Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band/Simplified

8:30 p.m. Friday, November 25, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $12. 704-358-9298.

Two of the most popular local acts from Asheville and Charlotte, respectively, come together to help fans work off holiday calories with `70’s-inspired jam-funk and laid back sunny modern rock grooves.


500 Miles to Memphis

8 p.m. Saturday, November 26, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $8. 704-343-9494.

The punky country or country punk combo plays music at the intersection of the Smiths and Drive By Truckers. The bill includes a healthy support lineup featuring locals Pullman Strike, Evelynn Rose, and My Captain, covering bluesy rock, country, and post-punk.

Mac Miller

8 p.m. Sunday, November 27, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. Sold Out.

Pittsburgh’s answer to Eminem lite, the up and coming emcee is more good time party starter than angry rabble rouser whose Asher Roth-meets-Eminemesque rhymes strike a chord with the MTVU audience.


8 p.m. Sunday, November 27, Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $34.40-$60.55.

Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle) enlists a cast of musicians, including UK opening act Carina Round (who reminds me of a cross between PJ Harvey and Led Zeppelin), to help realize his multimedia vision of dark humor and music that straddles moody electronics and biting heaviness.

Anthony Hamilton

8 p.m. Wednesday, November 30, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $58-$69.50.

Two weeks prior to the December 13 release of his new album “Back to Love” (which is full of mid-tempo soul and R&B throwbacks), the Grammy winning soul man/showman treats a hometown crowd to a post-holiday set.

Secret Hospital

9 p.m. Wednesday, November 30, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $5. 704-333-9799.

This Charlotte trio’s jerky garage rock is punctuated with talky demonstrative vocals (think David Byrne-meets-Jello Biafra), angular rhythms, and raw surf-punk guitar. With Joint Damage and Great Architect.

The Joy Formidable/Middle Class Rut

7 p.m. Thursday, December 1, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $13-$15.

A favorite among peers like Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus and Dave Grohl (who invited it to open for Foo Fighters recently), the Welsh trio headlines the WEND Not So Acoustic Xmas warm up show with an infectious combination of walls of fuzz, hooks, and sweet soaring female vocals.

Ari Hest

10:30 p.m. Thursday, December 1, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$14. 704-376-3737.

With a deep, masculine voice that hovers above adult pop songs, this singer-songwriter returns to the Muse on the heels of his recent live album. If you miss him Thursday, he’s also at Winthrop University’s DiGiorgio Campus Center The Edge in Rock Hill on Friday at 8 p.m.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two NC-based projects put fresh spin on holiday music

Thanksgiving, and with it Black Friday, kicks off the holiday season which means holiday music. I’ve never been a huge fan of hearing celebrities do the same Christmas songs over and over – ones we’ve heard a million times that have been done better before. But two new holiday albums with North Carolina ties offer fresh takes and add new or lesser known material to the realm of holiday music.

Concord-based Ramseur Records released “My Favorite Gifts” today. The collection was curated by Ramseur and the Avett Brothers’ Bob Crawford and features many names from the Avett/Ramseur family including David and Jessica Lea Mayfield, Jim Avett, Paleface, and Overmountain Men, as well as the Avetts themselves. Some, like Mark Crozer, Overmountain Men’s David Childers, and the Avett patriarch play original songs, while Paleface takes on the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York.” David Mayfield does a John Hartford tune, while his sister puts her own spin on Roger Miller’s “Little Toy Trains.” 

Proceeds from the disc benefit The Vickie Honeycutt Foundation. Honeycutt was a school teacher who died in March 2010. The charity helps give financial support to teachers and educators that are battling cancer. Crawford, who is taking a break from the band, posted a message about the project here. (On a side note many Avetts' fans know Crawford's young daughter Hallie is being treated for cancer. Contributions to the Rally 4 Hallie fundraiser can be made here).

Elsewhere, Laurelyn Dossett of the folk duo Polecat Creek and the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Rhiannon Giddens joined Mike Compton (Elvis Costello’s Sugarcanes, John Hartford), Joe Newberry, and Jason Sypher at an NC mountain house in August to record “The Gathering,” a string band take on seasonal music that’s unlike any commercial holiday music you’ve heard this century.

Dossett has gained national attention for her song “Anna Lee,” which Levon Helm covered on his Grammy award winning “Dirt Farmer” album. “The Gathering,” which was released November 1, centers around a six song-cycle that she originally wrote for the North Carolina Symphony. The album also features obscure material unearthed by the participants. To learn more about the making of "The Gathering" click here.

Buying local on Black Friday? One local record store compares prices

The pastime of flipping through the bins at your local record store has given way to downloading for a lot of people, but even those that purchase physical cds and records often have a tendency to shop online. A tweet from Lunchbox Records caught my eye Monday night.

The owner of the independent Central Avenue shop, which specializes in vinyl, did a price comparison between releases at his store and and the results are pretty interesting. Read the list here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Q&A with singer-songwriter Charlene Kaye; opening for StarKid Saturday

Singer-songwriter Charlene Kaye is both opening for Team StarKid Saturday, November 19, and playing guitar in the YouTube sensation’s live band. Kaye gained attention for her work with her friend and StarKid co-founder Darren Criss of “Glee.” Their duets, “Dress and Tie” (above) and “Skin and Bones,” have received a few 100,000 hits on YouTube. The tour, which serves as a greatest hits of StarKid's musicals, finds her reunited with some of her former University of Michigan classmates. I recently spoke to Kaye who talked about her upcoming album and how the all female Guns n’ Roses tribute band she joined helped prepare her for shredding on the StarKid stage.

Were you involved at all with the StarKid productions in college?
No. I was doing my music and I was always aware of everything they were doing because I was friends with Darren and because he brought me to the musicals. He was my portal to that world. I met everyone through him. We all kept in touch. I moved to New York and the "Potter” musicals blew up. Then I got this phone call from Dylan (Saunders of Starkid) who asked if I was interested in joining the tour. We were suppose to be in the studio all of November, but there was no way we could say no to this. My producer, Tomek Miernowski, who is also my bass player – he’s in the StarKid band too. So the two of us are doing two sets a night. It’s pretty grueling. We’re playing three hours straight. My fingers are getting a workout like they’ve never had before.

Did you have a background in musical theater before this?

Absolutely. My parents are musical theater junkies. I think that’s why I love Rufus Wainwright so much. There’s a certain nostalgia in me for the first albums I’d listen to driving to school – “Evita” and “West Side Story.”

Starkid also pulls you out of the front person role.

It is one of my first sideman gigs. I’ve only been a front woman. Before I went on this tour I was approached to be in an all female Guns n’ Roses tribute band calls Guns n’ Hoses. I’m going to be Slash. I’ve been practicing my shredding. I have to kill the part. Everybody in the band is a front woman. We’re working hard to make sure we walk the walk. That’s been consuming a lot of my time. I was recording from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday and practicing with my band from 8 to 11 and then after that I would practice Starkid. I had to learn 22 songs for this set. And then I would practice Guns n’ Roses.

Has it been a good exercise?

It’s making me more conscious as a guitarist and a musician. In actuality it prepared me for the Starkid set. My technique has improved.

How deep are you into making the next record?

Everything is almost all recorded and when we get back in December we’ll be finishing it up.

What’s it going to be like?

It’s different from my first stuff. My first album I recorded when I was a junior and senior in college. It was my first ever recorded effort. I used acoustic guitars, live drums, banjo, glockenspiel… very indie folk, Andrew Bird and Sufjan Stevens transparently-inspired as a result of the amazing folk culture that Ann Arbor is known and what I listened to a lot when I was starting to write music. I had an acoustic guitar attached to my body at the time. People have called it chamber pop to orchestral folk.

When I made the move to New York, I don’t want to say that was the biggest catalyst, but I started listening to different music. Hip-hop and I’d go to electronic show. I fell in love with pop music again the way I loved it in seventh grade when I listened to the Backstreet Boys and NSync and appreciated a good hook. I still pay attention to arrangements. I appreciate really intricate orchestrations. I love Rufus Wainwright. I try to incorporate that, but I’ve also got like Robyn and (Norweigian musician) Jarle Bernhoft.

Did your band have a hand in transforming the sound?
My drummer Dave Scalia played a big role in the metamorphosis of the new songs. He’s an incredible drum programmer. He’s got beats for days. The sounds he’s made color the record in a distinct way. His personality and talent is going to be all over that. It’s hard to describe pop music because it’s such an umbrella. Thanks to him and the experiences I’ve had and the artists I’ve been exposed to since my move to the city there’s an edgier quality…something rhythmic and hooky, and more carefree about it but also deeply felt. I hope it’s nothing like anyone has heard before. It’s nothing like anything I’ve made before.

Also my philosophy behind the new album, which is called “Animal Love” - in my mind it is loosely a concept album about the way humans process the emotion of love and how its related to our biological instincts and how we’re equipped when its lost. It applies to romantic love and a lust for life. The songs were written a lot quicker than first album where everything was premeditated and edited. This came back to a guttural feel, to create a hook and a melody that drives the song and the lyrics that propel it forward. The process was a lot quicker and I did a lot less editing. I think the title applies to that as well. Its’ a very raw, creative process. I didn’t want to be too intellectual this time. I wanted to have it be more of a release than rumination.

Will you be playing the new material during your set?

We'll be playing most of the new songs on the tour.

This week's hot concerts

Manchester Orchestra

8 p.m. Friday, November 18, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $15-$18.

The Southern indie-rock combo nears the end of the tour behind its grand and provokingly open album “Simple Math” (which beams with rich orchestrations and vulnerable, soul searching themes) before taking next year off from the road.

Joe Bonamassa

8 p.m. Friday, November 18, Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $61.35-$83.45.

A former child prodigy whose guitar playing extends beyond the blues community (Slash called him his “new favorite guitar player” on Twitter). He’s moved out of the clubs and on to “Guitar Hero;” a top contender for modern blues “great.”

Beth McKee

10 p.m. Friday, November 18, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $8. 704-376-1446.

This New Orleans blues singer (a former member of Cajun/country act Evangeline) previews her upcoming album, “Next to Nowhere” (scheduled for a February 2012 release). The piano and accordion maven touches on Cajun, gospel, Americana, and swamp blues with the vocal strength of a rootsy `70s era singer-songwriter.

David Bazan

8 p.m. Saturday, November 19, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$14. 704-376-3737.

The voice and creative mind behind defunct indie band Pedro the Lion returned to the rock band format on his well-received second full-length, “Strange Negotiations,” which takes a small step away from his crisis of faith period while still ruminating on heavy, intimate ideas.

The Knux

8 p.m. Saturday, November 19, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $8-$12.

Not since Outkast has a hip-hop duo mixed hip-hop, rock, electronica, dance, and pop so seamlessly as to escape categorization. The L.A.-by-way-of-New Orleans duo knock out another versatile, genre-defying album with “Eraser” - one of 2011’s best releases.

Josh Ritter

8 p.m. Saturday, November 19, McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St. $20-$25. 704-372-1000.

The critically acclaimed songwriter turned novelist who has drawn comparisons to Dylan and Springsteen is usually backed by a crack rock band, but goes it alone for an acoustic solo performance where he’ll test new material.

Obituary/Denial Fiend

7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 20, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $17-$20.

The Floridian death metal outfit surpasses the 20-year mark without straying from its heavy riff roots. Denial Fiend boasts influential, underground hardcore/metal act the Accused’s Blaine Cook as its vocalist.

The Airborne Toxic Event

8 p.m. Wednesday, November 23, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $24.

This L.A. indie outfit combines the drama of a small string section (think the instrumentation of Arcade Fire) with the melancholy of an Irish folk singer-songwriter and the darkness of Interpol.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More concerts announced for 2012

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw aren't the only acts coming to Charlotte in 2012. Artists range from buzzing indie bands to big name draws.

Graveyard (pictured), the Swedish bluesy hard rock throwback that was one of the surprise highlights of Bonnaroo, is set to play Tremont Music Hall January 18. Rising female-fronted indie-rock act Me Talk Pretty is scheduled to play the South End venue January 20.

Right down the street, singer-songwriter Mat Kearney will play Amos' January 20. The Toasters will also return to the Milestone January 17.

The Fillmore also announced this week that Machine Head will play the uptown venue February 7. Teen sensation Allstar Weekend drops in on February 12. Umphrey's McGee will be back at the NC Music Factory venue February 16 and Tesla's acoustic tour will stop in February 19.
Elsewhere, NeedtoBreathe, the Charleston-based rock act that opened for Taylor Swift Wednesday, graduates to Ovens Auditorium March 2.

Previously announced concerts include young bluegrass songstress Sarah Jarosz at Neighborhood Theatre January 12, Miranda Lambert at Bojangles Coliseum January 19, Augustana at the Visulite February 6, They Might Be Giants at McGlohon Theatre February 14, The Puppini Sisters at McGlohon February 26, and Muth Math at Amos' March 14.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chesney, McGraw team up for stadium tour that hits Charlotte in June

Few artists can pack an arena these days and even fewer tour stadiums. But Kenny Chesney, who had the biggest country tour of 2011 and consistently sells out Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, and fellow big draw and buddy Tim McGraw reunite on the road next summer for a 19-date stadium tour. The trek brings them to Bank of America Stadium Sunday, June 24, 2012.

The "Brothers of the Sun" tour will include opening act Jake Owen and Grace Potter, Chesney's recent duet partner, with her band the Nocturnals. The tour marks Chesney and McGraw's first outing together in ten years.

An on sale date for tickets to the Charlotte show has not yet been announced.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mini Review: Brandi Carlile at Knight Theater

The first time I saw singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile I only caught her last three songs. I could have kicked myself because those last three songs were amazing thanks to her incredible, crystalline alto. Since then I've tried to catch her whenever she's around. She's played McGlohon Theatre a few times before, but her solo acoustic show Friday, November 11, had to be moved to the larger Knight Theater a few blocks away. The show sold out there too. She seemed genuinely surprised and moved at the turnout and mentioned it throughout the night.

After witnessing several smaller poorly attended club shows lately, it's nice to see a young solo female artist without a current hit (her last studio album was released in 2009) that can draw so well especially given the current economy. Plus this wasn't a flashy pop tour. Both she and opening act the Secret Sisters played songs in their purist, acoustic form.

Wearing velvety-looking brown leggings, leather boots, a black, fitted western-style shirt and cream scarf, Carlilie knocked out three-in -a-row with "Follow" (which opened her 2005 debut album), the catchy "Dreams" (I don't know if this was actually a hit, but it is at my house), and "Throw It All Away" (which is probably my very favorite of her songs). She followed that triple threat with the stirring "Before It Breaks" on piano.

Between Carlile and the Secret Sisters the crowd was treated to several covers. She and the sisters both took on Patsy Cline. They ended the show together performing "Amazing Grace" a cappella and without mics in the dark at the foot of the stage.

Both acts were warm and talkative, sharing stories behind the songs which added to the loose, intimate feel. I did miss Carlile's band, twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth who have such personality and rapport with her on stage. She reported that Phil, who married her sister Tiffany, is expecting a baby. She also played a song that Tim wrote called "Keep Your Heart Young." With lines about a Tic Tac box and rock filled snowballs, it got laughs from the crowd. Hearing those unreleased songs was one of the biggest treats of the show. She and the sisters performed a new gospel-tinged song called "Raise Hell," which was like Carlile's version of a Johnny Cash stomper. She said it was her favorite song she'd ever written.

"The Story" ended the regular set, but she returned for "Cannonball" (pictured) and "Pride and Joy" before the sister-aided "Grace." If you're a fan of classic country and folk, the harmony-driven Secret Sisters are one to watch. Although the girls covered several other artists (Hank Williams, Skeeter Davis, etc.), the Muscle Shoals duo's originals captured the essence of the era they pay tribute to as well. They also exhibited an interesting juxtaposition of personalities on stage. One sister was chatty and funny, while the other played it shy and quiet.

They ended their portion by adding that three years ago they were sitting in the audience watching Carlile and even stood outside her bus in the cold to get a photo with her - another reminder of the night's girl power theme.

There were a couple Carlile tracks I missed ("Late Morning Lullaby" and "Dying Day" for instance) and I hoped we'd be treated to the duet she did with local singer-songwriter Jason Scavone who opened for her at McGlohon. Their song is only available on a Starbucks Valentine's Day compilation (and I can't find it on iTunes) so I was anxious to hear it again. But that's a tiny, I suppose, rather random request during a night filled with plenty of great music.

Friday, November 11, 2011

This week's hot concerts

Graham Colton/Matthew Mayfield

8 p.m. Friday, November 11, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$14. 704-376-3737.

These songwriters, from Oklahoma and Alabama respectively, bridge folk, rock, and pop that’s attracted the ears of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “American Idol,” who have used both artists' songs.

Shelby Lynne

8 p.m. Saturday, November 12, Don Gibson Theater, 318 S. Washington St., Shelby. $26.

A modern day torch singer whose last Charlotte show paid tribute to Dusty Springfield, she brings her killer voice and mix of Southern soul and aching country to the town that shares her name.

Kevin Gordon

5 p.m. Sunday, November 13, Thirsty Beaver, 1225 Central Ave. Free. 704-332-3612.

The revered Southern songwriter's tracks have been covered by Keith Richards and Levon Helm and appeared in HBO’s “True Blood." He readies his first album in 7 years for 2012 and its already receiving early buzz.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood

7 p.m. Sunday, November 13, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $20/$35 VIP. 704-358-9298.

The Black Crowes frontman’s jammy Southern rock outfit touches on originals, interesting covers, and material from his New Mud Earth project, as well as some deeper Crowes’ cuts.

Thompson Square

8 p.m. Monday, November 14, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $12.69-$63.

Country’s latest married duo, who stormed the charts with its pop-country keeper “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not,” joins the Eli Young Band, James Wesley and Casey James at this Kat Country Jam.

Method Man

8 p.m. Wednesday, November 16, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $30-$35.

In the cloudy spirit of the West Coast Up in Smoke Tour of the early 00s, the Wu-Tang member heads up the second annual Smoker’s Club Tour with Curren$y, Brig Krit, Smoke DZA, and the Pricks.


10:30 p.m. Thursday, November 17, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10-$12. 704-376-3737.

The Durham indie-folk outfit lets its classic harmonies (think Byrds, CSNY) drape over quirky musical diversions, catchy folk-pop, and dark melancholic folk that can sound like My Morning Jacket’s wayward younger sibling.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oso Grande efforts continue in support of local musician

The turnout for the Oso Grande benefit for local musician Rodney Lanier (pictured above) the Friday before Halloween was quite astounding. Personally it was like a reunion with almost everyone I'd ever met or worked with in the Charlotte music scene over the past 17 years. Around 600 people showed up at NoDa's Chop Shop throughout the night to lend a financial donation and an ear to Lanier and his bands Sea of Cortez and Jolene, as well as Benji Hughes, the Houstons and Temperance League.

The first event launched the Rodney Lanier Support Trust, which is aimed at helping Lanier, who is being treated for cancer, offset medical expenses and support himself if the time comes when he's unable to work. With the help of a few large private donations the kick-off event for raised $12,000.

The next event, The 1st National Gathering of the Taco Army, will take place November 25 at Evening Muse (3227 N. Davidson St.). Another is tentatively scheduled for December and will feature Charlotte instrumental surf outfit the Aqualads with a bevy of guest vocalists. The concert will be combined with the release of the band's Christmas cd, which they've also recorded to help raise funds for the trust. A multi-venue benefit concert is also being organized for Spring 2012.

You can keep up with upcoming Oso Grande events at

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Review & Set List: Foo Fighters at TWC Arena

For those who witnessed the Foo Fighters’ show at Bojangles' Coliseum four years ago, Tuesday’s concert at Time Warner Cable Arena had a lot to live up to. While it may not have surpassed the 2007 show, it met it beat for beat, with frontman Dave Grohl and his wily sidekick drummer Taylor Hawkins performing every last song as if it might be their last. From the opening notes of “Bridge Burning” to the final singalong of “Everlong,” Foo Fighters gave the crowd an intense yet simple straight-up rock show that sent many away thinking this just might be the greatest current rock band around.

England’s the Joy Formidable opened the show with a brief pop-rock wall of fuzz and mood (if you missed the band that celebrity musicians like Grohl have been buzzing about for months, it headlines Amos’ Southend Dec. 1). Punk granddads Social Distortion, who Grohl said were an early influence on him, turned in a mix of new songs and old favorites like “Bad Luck” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” The sound quality for their set was some of the best I’ve heard in the arena.

Foo Fighters -- who took the stage promptly at 9 p.m., promising a long show ahead (“You might want to call in tomorrow,” suggested Grohl) -- were louder and more animated, with Grohl instantly bouncing from foot to foot as the band pummeled through the first two tracks of its latest album “Wasting Light” (“Bridge Burning” and “Rope”). It then went into the hits “Pretender,” “My Hero,” and “Learn To Fly” before veering back to tracks from “Wasting Light.” He dedicated “White Limo” to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Grohl, in black pants and a button-up shirt, seemed to feel it from the get-go. The intensity -- running down the aisle to a platform nearer to the cheaper seats -- even made modern-rock standards that you’ve heard a zillion times like “My Hero” seem fresh. As the audience beckoned the sentiment of the song back to him, you knew Grohl, at least for the moment, was theirs.

“Arlandria,” an exercise in dynamics, was rather epic for a four-minute rock song that’s not even a single. “These Days,” which Grohl called his favorite, was another newer standout. The new songs went over as well as the old, although as Grohl noted after polling the crowd, Foo Fighters have upped its number of fans in the past four years. “Where have you been for the last 16 years?” he asked those who had not seen the band live before. He sarcastically moaned about rock stardom and about having people like his band (I couldn’t help but think of Nirvana at that moment) before launching into “Cold Day.”

Despite his apparent glee in the power he held over the crowd, he still came off as a relatable guy, putting on a fun and extremely professional show. Ticket prices weren’t astronomical. T-shirts were $25 (I’ve seen less popular acts sell them at The Fillmore for $40). And Grohl was funny and open, especially during the solo acoustic encore, when he talked about buying a house near Nags Head with his first Nirvana paycheck. I never noticed the presence of a guitar tech (or really anyone else besides the band on stage) shuffling an impressive collection of axes on and off stage. Grohl played the blue signature model he premiered during the band's 2007 tour for the first nine songs without retuning -- an impressive feat in itself given the workout he gave the instrument. He pulled out a blue Firebird model for the stoner-y intro to “Stacked Actors,” which morphed into a goofy guitar-solos duel between Grohl and guitarist Chris Shiflett.

He promised a long show, and although it wasn’t the 30-plus-song marathon I saw Guns n’ Roses deliver in Greenville last week, it clocked in at the two-hour and 40-minute mark. There were a few surprises. The group revisited its cover of Pink Floyd’s “In the Flesh,” which it did with Roger Waters in September for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s” “The Wall” tribute. It closed its set with “All My Life.” Grohl returned for three solo acoustic numbers: “Wheels,” “Best of You,” and “Times Like These,” each performed on the platform at the far end of the arena. Then “Dear Rosemary,” with the full band, morphed into Tom Petty’s live jam “Breakdown.” But it was “Everlong” -- a song Shinedown guitarist Zach Myers called this generation’s “Stairway to Heaven” last week when covering it at his own show -- that served as the final hurrah.

Set List:

Bridge Burning



My Hero

Learn to Fly

White Limo



Cold Day

Stacked Actors


Monkey Wrench

Let it Die

These Days

This is a Call

In the Flesh

All My Life

Encore -


Best of You

Times Like These

Dear Rosemary



Monday, November 7, 2011

Charlotte's Sugar Glyder reveals new video

Charlotte rock quartet Sugar Glyder released the above video for its track "Song Holiday" Friday. It features footage filmed locally at Amos' Southend as well as other live performances and the band on the road. The song is from its album "Lovers at Lightspeed," which was released earlier this year.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gwar frontman releases statement on guitarist's passing

Barely two weeks after launching its current tour at Amos' Southend and just a week after its triumphant return to network television on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," Richmond-based metal legends Gwar announced the death of lead guitarist Cory Smoot (pictured with and without costume above). Smoot, 34, assumed the role of Flattus Maximus in 2002. He was found dead in his bunk Thursday. Cause of death is as yet undetermined.

Gwar frontman Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, released the following statement on Smoot's passing and the future of Gwar this afternoon:

"After a restless night spent hurtling through the desolate Canadian wilderness, I crawled from my bunk on the tour bus to face reality, grudgingly aware that the the dark dream that gripped us would not fade with the day. We have lost a brother, a husband, a son, and one of the most talented musicians that ever slung an ax. Cory Smoot, longtime lead guitar player for the band GWAR, has passed at the age of 34.

As the singer of GWAR and one of his best friends, I feel it is my duty to try and answer some of the questions that surround his tragic and untimely death. I know the sense of loss and pain is far greater in scope than in the insulated environment of a band on tour, and I will do my best to provide what clarity and comfort I can.

The most glaring question is how? And unfortunately that is the hardest question to answer. The truth will not be known until the medical officials have finished their work. All I can do is relate what we saw with our own eyes.

The last time I saw Cory was after our show in Minneapolis on Weds. night. It was a great show at First Avenue in Minneapolis, one of our favorite places to play. Cory was happy. He was excited about the band and especially the new studio he was building in the Slave Pit back in Richmond. He was deeply in love with his wife, Jamie, and was busily planning their family and future in the beautiful home they had. As usual, after some autographs and banter, I was probably the first person in their bunk as we got ready for a big drive into Canada, and Cory and the rest of the guys were not far behind. As I fell into the slumber that only playing GWAR shows can induce, everything seemed right in the world.

We found Cory the next morning as we collected passports for a border crossing. He was in his bunk, unresponsive, and it quickly was clear that he was dead. It was without a doubt the most horrible moment of my life. That's all I can say about it.

Within moments everybody was off the bus, standing in a wind-swept parking lot in the middle of nowhere, trying to come to grips with the shock of it. First the ambulance arrived, and then the police, but there was nothing that could be done other than fully investigate the scene and remove Cory with care and respect.

We are completely devastated and shocked beyond belief. One night we had our friend and colleague, happy and healthy in the middle of our best tour in years- and the next morning, so suddenly, he was gone. Never have I seen starker proof of the fragility of life.

Cory will be transported home to Richmond over the next few days, and an announcement regarding services will be made soon. We ask everyone to respect the families wish for privacy, and especially to keep his wife, Jamie, in your thoughts and prayers.

As we work our way through these difficult days the question is -- what will GWAR do? After a lot of consideration, we have decided to carry on with the tour. Although the great temptation would be to return home, curl into a fetal position, and mourn, we can't do that. First off, Cory wouldn't want that. He would want us to go on and would be pissed if we didn't. Plus we know the fans don't want us to quit. They are going to want a chance to come to grips with their loss, and there is no better place to do that than at a GWAR show. Though it's hard to believe, I think we all would feel a lot worse if we stopped. For better or worse we have to see this through.

That doesn't mean that Cory will make his final journey without us. When the arrangements have been finalized, Cory's best friend and GWAR's music tech Dave "Gibby" Gibson, and myself will return home to attend the services and pay the proper respects to our comrade.

Out of respect to Cory, we have officially retired the character of Flattus Maximus. Flattus has decided to return to his beloved "Planet Home", and will never return to this mudball planet again. And this is a sadder place for that.

Just the other day I heard Cory tell a story about how some 20 years ago he was fourteen years old, at his first GWAR show, grabbing at the rubber feet of our then- current Flattus, and how blown away he was at the fact that now HE was the one getting his feet pulled by the same kid that he used to be. Cory was always in awe of the patterns of life and went through it with a wide-eyed amazement that translated through his playing. I've never known anyone who could pick up literally any instrument and rock it the first time he touched it, and more than that make it look easy. Behind that rubber monster outfit, and sometimes even obscured by it, was one of the most talented and beautiful people I have ever known. I know everyone who's life was touched by Cory truly loved him, as do we, his bandmates and brothers.

There should be some kind of announcement soon regarding services, etc. It would be great to have a memorial show at some point soon, where some of the bands that Cory worked with could come together and show their love for this truly amazing man who left us all too soon and will be sorely missed by many, many people.

Dave Brockie, Nov. 4, 2011"

This week's hot concerts


7:50 p.m. Saturday, November 5, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $37.50.

Following the success of The Big Four and the widely welcomed and critically hailed new album, “Worship Music,” Anthrax teams with second wave thrash acts Testament and Death Angel on a five-week cross country trek.

How the Other Half Gives

8 p.m. Saturday, November 5, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10-$12. 704-376-3737.

Singer-songwriters Tyler Mechum, Emily Lynch, Luke Cunningham and Ryan Bonner have created a charitable tour benefiting different organizations in each city they play. Here they’ll clean, perform at, and donate to The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.

John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light

10:30 p.m. Monday, November 7, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $7-$9. 704-376-3737.

A rising star in his hometown of Denver, this Jacksonville, NC native pulls together a rich indie-folk ensemble that trade in chamber pop, gospel, and singer-songwriter styles with impressive camaraderie and depth.

Foo Fighters

7 p.m. Tuesday, November 8, Time Warner Cable Arena, $33.40-$62.55.

Fans that witness the Foo Fighters’ killer 2007 show have waited four years for its return. Though not as intimate as the Bojangles Coliseum show, this one boasts openers Social Distortion and the Joy Formidable, a band that other musicians seem to be talking about.


8 p.m. Tuesday, November 8, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $15-$18.

Twenty-five years after its first release the alternative funk-rock legends, who are always a musical riot on stage, recently released a new EP just as its “Everday Sunshine” bio-doc is slowing premiering to wider audiences around the country.

Hank III

8 p.m. Wednesday, November 9, Amos’ 1423 S. Tryon St. $15-$18.

Hank Jr.’s ornery son promises a three hour set featuring his many musical facets - there's classic country for the diehards as well as metal, doom, Cajun, and his admittedly weird experimental twist on auctioneer vocals.

Premonition 13/Gates of Slumber

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 9, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10-$12.

Scott “Wino” Weinrich of St. Vitus/Spirit Caravan fame heads up this stoner metal outfit. With Indianapolis’ Gates of Slumber, who performed a hypnotic, riff-heavy blues-metal set opening for Orange Goblin last Spring.

Marsha Ambrosius

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 9, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $39.50.

One half of the British R&B duo Floetry launched a solo career earlier this year that’s already garnered her three Soul Train Award nominations and an American Music Awards nomination.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Beloved Charlotte blues singer still collecting awards

Nearly a year after succumbing to cancer Charlotte-based blues singer Robin Rogers continues to collect awards. Last Thursday, October 27, her husband and musical partner Tony Rogers accepted the 2011 Blues Blast Music Award for Female Blues Artist of the Year on Rogers' behalf at the annual ceremony at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. Tony Rogers also performed two of his wife's songs, "The Plan" and "Don't Walk Away" (a nominee for Song of the Year), with Sharrie Williams and Bob Corritore. Winners were determined by the magazine's readers. Rogers also received the award in 2009.

This follows her Contemporary Blues Female Arts of the Year title, which she received in May at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis.

Rogers received numerous accolades for 2010's "Back in the Fire," which was released shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer. The album debuted at #3 on Billboard's blues album chart. Sadly Rogers died at age 55 in December 2010.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: Guns n' Roses' marathon Halloween in Greenville

Driving my son to preschool Tuesday morning I heard a disc jockey joking about Guns n’ Roses' concert in Greenville Monday – how the audience was probably still waiting on the band to arrive and how Axl Rose brought donuts on stage. I thought, “Um, you obviously have no idea.” The assumption (and my daddy always warned me about assumptions) that the show was terrible was pretty far off considering its sheer length and quality.

Expectations were admittedly low for our group traveling to see what I call Axl’s Guns n’ Roses Halloween night at the Bi-Lo Center. Recent reviews criticized everything from Rose’s appearance to his voice. Given my own experience with his tardiness at a show in Greensboro a few years ago I was skeptical but optimistic. Imagine my surprise when Rose and his hired Guns performed a nearly tireless, three hour set that included just about everything you’d want to hear – and did it well. Though the sound was iffy at times, Rose’s voice was fairly impeccable. He got a little screechy, but he sustained high notes, dug for low ones, and didn’t swipe at them the way Vince Neil does while omitting lyrics to Motley songs.

Rose appeared to play it smart. Flat screen monitors (aka teleprompters) were placed strategically on stage, although I didn’t notice him cheating. He ducked into what appeared to be an onstage dressing room during practically every musical break. I suspect he was puffing oxygen to sustain his voice and, if so, it worked like a charm. Who cares if a 49-year-old man has to grab some gas to put on a good show? Thank you for thinking ahead.

Following sets by Buck Cherry and a local opener called Kelen Heller on a minimal, haphazard looking set, Guns n’ Roses went on close to 11 p.m. (not a bad wait at all). I appreciated that they sprung for Halloween decorations. The stage was adorned with hanging corpses, spiderwebs, and a doll baby with a spinning head. With plenty of screens, lights, and pyro, the stage was now what I considered elaborate enough for a Guns n’ Roses’ show. It began with “Chinese Democracy.” Rose sounded pretty spot-on. He wasn’t 1987 skinny, but he wasn’t bloated with cornrows either. He looked fairly normal – jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket, hat, dark sunglasses. Much like at the Greensboro show the band launched into the 1-2-3 “Appetite” punch of “Welcome to the Jungle,” “It’s So Easy” and “Mr. Brownstone.” By the time they got to “Rocket Queen” I was pretty much sold, but still waiting for his vocals to give out.

That never really happened. His voice recovered during solos from most of the band members. Gn’R fans’ biggest complaint of course is that Guns isn’t really Guns without the original line-up (or at least the “Illusion” one) and I agree. I wasn’t awed by the sight of guitarists DJ Ashba or Richard Fortus the same way I would be by the mere presence of Slash or Duff. But I didn’t grow up with their posters on my walls (although I am wowed by the Replacements’ Tommy Stinson’s lanky frame bounding recklessly across the stage like Jack Skellington). The players do fine jobs of recreating Guns’ catalog. There are moments where I can tell something isn’t quite the same without Slash’s guitar tone, but that's being pretty picky.

The setlist touched on most of “Appetite” (minus “Think About You,” “Anything Goes,” “You’re Crazy” and sadly “My Michelle”), some of the “Illusion” records (“You Could Be Mine” was a treat; "Estranged" made the cut, "Civil War" did not) and “Chinese Democracy.” Rose looked reinvigorated and genuinely happy during the uncharacteristically dancey “Better.” The group did several covers. My favorites were Stinson's punky “My Generation” and Dizzy Reed’s piano version of “Baba O’Riley” back-to-back.

I was confident enough that things were winding to a close during “Sweet Child O’ Mine." Enough to vacate my stage side seat after an altercation with an extremely drunk older man in our row, but Rose and company still had plenty more juice left in their batteries.

It was actually quite cozy watching “November Rain,” Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal’s version of the “Pink Panther Theme,” and “Don’t Cry” from the balcony where you could appreciate the pyro without questioning your hearing after every pop. My husband noted that from afar Rose looked like Alan Jackson in his Stetson crooning “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” This was roughly 26 songs in (not including some of the jams) and his voice was still in good condition. “Night Train” closed a truly electric set, but the encore went on for another half hour. It included “Patience” (where Rose noted that he and Stinson were being particularly accommodating), "Nice Boys," and the confetti-laden grand finale of “Paradise City.”

It was now after 2 a.m. and Rose had outlasted much of the crowd. He was certainly accommodating and even warm. For anyone willing to hang, he definitely gave Greenville its money’s worth although from our balcony view it was painfully apparent that the floor of the 11,000 capacity arena was maybe half full at its peak. Rose and his former bandmates could undoubtedly perform for stadiums full of fans if it reunited, but I wonder if that grin would still be plastered across his face?