Monday, January 30, 2012

Anthrax's triple thrash bill in Asheville tonight is worth the drive

When I was in fifth grade I started staying up until 2 a.m. every Saturday to watch MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball.” I’m not sure what led me to this late night discovery other than “Headbanger’s Ball” aired the newest videos by bands I saw during the Top 20 Countdown (your Motley Crues and Poisons) and directed me toward other artists. It was there watching from under a blanket on the living room couch in the middle of the night that I first saw “Welcome to the Jungle.” It was there I discovered artists like Warlock, Iron Maiden, and Anthrax.

As a kid Anthrax served as a gateway for me between hair metal and heavier stuff. I bought “State of Euphoria,” which is largely panned by fans and critics today, after hearing “Antisocial” - Anthrax’s cover of the Trust song. I hadn’t heard that opening guitar line in a good twenty years until Anthrax’s show at the Fillmore in November. I forgot what genius that intro is, plus the cheerleader-like chanted chorus was like candy to my elementary school ears.

After a few years of watching “Headbanger’s Ball” I’d moved on to “120 Minutes.” I heard most of my metal from boyfriends’ car stereos after that. I never left it behind entirely. There was always Gwar, Clutch, and heavy music with metallic tendencies, but I no longer considered myself a metalhead (which I sheepishly confessed to “That Metal Show’s” Don Jamieson last week during an interview). I wasn’t reminded of how much I loved metal as a kid until the Anthrax/Testament/Death Angel bill at the Fillmore.

The same bill hits Asheville’s Orange Peel tonight - Monday, January 30. If you missed the Charlotte show (or even if you didn’t and loved it) I highly recommend making the drive.

I’d always had a soft spot for opening act Death Angel anyway. “Headbanger’s Ball” played its single “Bored” to death. While I didn’t get it at first, after weeks and weeks of seeing that video it grew on me. We saw them last January at Tremont and I couldn’t believe they didn’t draw more people, so I was happy that a couple thousand got to witness its live show. Hopefully some of those folks will come back next time Death Angel headlines here. I only remember Testament through their videos as well, but Chuck Billy is one of those iconic metal guys that has been around forever.

It wasn’t just the nostalgia of the triple thrash bill that made the concert memorable though. Anthrax’s latest album, “Worship Music,” is one of the best records of last year. The single “The Devil You Know” (video above) is one of the catchiest things I’ve heard in recent memory. The band reunited with vocalist Joey Belladonna for the record, so it sounds like classic Anthrax at its best.

Live they pulled the best from “Worship Music” (“Devil,” “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t,” “Earth on Hell,” and “In the End”) with the classics you’d expect (“Indians,” “Got the Time,” and “Caught in a Mosh”). Bassist Frank Bello played the inexhaustible hypeman - a lanky charismatic figure who quickly became our favorite person to watch on stage. The group encored with five songs, including “I Am the Living,” “Metal Thrashing Mad,” Sepultura’s “Refuse/Resist,” and “I Am the Law.” There were a few more I’d like to have heard, but I really didn’t have any complaints.

I shared the experience via text messages with two childhood friends from home and urged my husband to see the tour if it came back. Luckily with this second leg, those who missed it get a second chance. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tremont hosts record collector's show Sunday

In July Charlotte's Greg Neal, a record collector and Mount Holly native, began holding collectible vinyl record shows here. After a couple of successful events in hotel convention spaces, he's teaming with Tremont Music Hall to expand the shows further. Tremont (400 W. Tremont Ave.) will host its first Carolina Vinyl and CD Show Sunday, January 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to vinyl vendors will also sell CDs, DVDs, and other memorabilia. The bar will be open and food vendors will be on hand as well.

Vinyl has experienced a resurgence in recent years due to decreasing cds sales and the popularity of digital downloads, which are more portable than both. Many artists, including mainstream ones, are releasing albums on vinyl and including digital download codes in the packaging. You get the best of both worlds - a portable copy and a hard copy with (hopefully) superior sound quality.

While old records don't include a download code of course, buying used is usually cheaper and allows you to discover new music (or music that's new to you rather) without breaking the bank. Manifest Discs, where Neal works, and Lunchbox Records both stock a fantastic selection of used and new vinyl (the Roots' drummer Questlove raved about Charlotte's prices and selection last summer on Twitter).

I prefer hard copies to digital if the music is something I want to hold on to. I'm a collector by nature - of music, action figures, DVDs, Barbies, art, trading cards...So the idea of a local record show is exciting to me. My co-workers at Record Exchange use to travel to Hillsborough every year for a show there.

Although I once hauled a carry-on bag full of vinyl back from England (where I picked up many a Siouxsie and the Banshees 12 inch single), I don't collect records much anymore. Yet there's still something exciting about buying an album you love on vinyl - larger artwork you can really appreciate, liner notes and lyrics written in large enough print you can actually read it, the warm sound, and the experience of much more active listening (you do have to pay attention enough to flip that record over).

Neal (pictured at a show above) has been selling collectible vinyl on eBay and at regional record shows for a  decade. +He left Charlotte in the `70s and worked in cd and record stores in Los Angeles before returning to town in 1993.

"In an ironic sort of way I was present at the death of vinyl and am now involved in its resurrection," he told me last summer.

Admission for Sunday's show is $2. The organizers hope to make this a regular event.

This week's hot concerts

Children of Bodom
6 p.m. Saturday, January 28, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $17-$20.
The award winning Finnish metal band - a live powerhouse known for guitarist Alexi Laiho’s technical wizardry - kicks off its 15th anniversary tour here.

Grown Up Avenger Stuff
8 p.m. Saturday, January 28, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $8. 704-377-6874.
The Charlotte alt-rock favorite promises new material from its forthcoming album as it heads up a solid regional bill that includes Hello Handshake, Charleston’s Heyrocco, and Lucky Five, who’ve become one of Charlotte’s best live acts.

Lelia Broussard
8 p.m. Sunday, January 29, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davdison St. $10-$12. 704-376-3737.
The war-painted singer-songwriter (note her signature stage makeup) projects contagious energy and sweetly, feminine vocals over bouncy pop songs that won her the runner-up position in “Rolling Stone’s” 2011 cover competition.

Future Islands
8 p.m. Monday, January 30, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $10-$14.
Darkness and drama is dialed to “11” on the Baltimore (via the Carolina coast) synth trio’s latest album, “On the Water,” which swirls dreamy orchestrations and Samuel Herring’s deep, mournful, `80’s-style vocals. 

The Mountain Goats/Nurses
8 p.m. Tuesday, January 31, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $18-$20. 704-358-9200.
The Durham-based headliners write jangly, literary indie-folk and rock like a younger R.E.M., while the Portland trio Nurses casts dark, hypnotic shadows with its experimental yet accessible indie-rock.

Matt Nathanson
7 p.m. Wednesday, February 1, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $20-$25. 704-358-9298.
The up and coming pop troubadour is stacking his resume with enviable career milestones including a recent appearance on “The Bachelor,” a duet (“Run”) with Sugarland, and his upcoming tour with Kelly Clarkson.

Lydia Loveless
9 p.m. Thursday, February 2, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $10. 704-376-3737.
The diminutive 21-year-old country-rock spitfire comes across as a feistier, twangier Neko Case on  her excellent sophomore album, “Indestructible Machine,” which revels in easily relatable heartbreak, humor, and inner struggle. With Scott Biram. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Miranda Lambert at Bojangles' Coliseum

It was an emotional night for country’s Miranda Lambert Wednesday as she resumed her 'On Fire' tour at Bojangles’ Coliseum just a week after losing father-in-law Dick Shelton (Lambert is married to fellow country singer and “The Voice” judge Blake Shelton). Wednesday’s show was originally scheduled for Thursday, January 19.

 “My tough girl image has gone to crap tonight,” she deadpanned at the end of the show. While her fans love that tough girl who sings of setting fire to and shooting cheaters and abusive beaus, they also admire the vulnerability revealed in songs like her mega hit “The House that Built Me.” Soldiering through a tear-stained performance only endeared her to fans more.

Her fragility wasn’t evident from the get-go. Following performances from openers Charlie Worsham, who subbed for scheduled act Jerrod Niemann, and Chris Young, who sang hit after hit with spot-on vocals and ample charisma, Lambert took the stage to Beyonce’s “Girls” as images of powerful women who’ve influenced her (Patsy, Loretta, Oprah, Dolly, Reba) flashed on screen. Wearing a floral purple party dress, a black leather vest, knee high boots, and pink tights Lambert kicked off her set with “Fastest Girl in Town” from her latest album “Four the Record.” Despite a lack of pyro, the excitement escalated with “Kerosene,” her career breakout. She followed it with “Heart Like Mine.”

She started the next song, “New Strings” (an early single, which she wrote) in the wrong key and stumbled over the lyrics at one point. That’s when the audience realized that this good time girl might not be having the best night. The song never quite fell apart though. She forged ahead wiping tears away with a towel and miming the word “Sorry” before rallying at the end twirling and clapping.

There was uncertainty as she took a seat on the catwalk (pictured above) for “More Like Her” that she’d make it through the slower ballad. She did before bringing things back up with “Baggage Claim” (which she introduced by referencing her bad week), the sexy throwback “Fine Tune” (performed on a chaise lounge), and a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Up Around the Bend.” Her voice soared on “Dead Flowers” and her trademark winking charm was at its height during “Famous in a Small Town” and “Only Prettier.” She didn’t falter until “The House That Built Me.” She made it through the first few bars then turned the microphone stand toward the audience who carried the rest of the verse and chorus. After another chorus, she came back in on the bridge and finished the song. “Thank you” she mimed. Few eyes were dry (including my sister’s. She sang through her own tears, later telling me “I felt like I had to help her out”).  

While many artists would’ve taken a longer break following the death of a loved one, Lambert, who was already scheduled to play Baltimore today, didn’t make Charlotte fans wait long - a decision that proved difficult for her. Yet country music built its reputation on emotional songs about heartbreak, heartache, and getting through. The audience gravitates toward performers that seem like “real” people singing songs normal people can relate to and Lambert’s struggle made her even more relatable.

She capped the set with “The Way the World Goes Round,” “Gunpowder & Lead” and “White Liar.” She refrained from singing “Over You,” the new single she and Shelton wrote for his father and deceased brother. The latter died when Shelton was 14. Considering the trouble she had with “House,” she noted, singing that one would be impossible. Instead she encored with Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.” Lambert doesn’t toy with showy vocal gymnastics much, but her rendition proved that she’s certainly capable. She ended the set with drink in hand flanked by Worsham and Young who joined her on Waylon Jennings’ “Honky Tonk Heroes.” Worsham’s lines were shaky, so he stuck to guitar for most of the song. But she and Young finished on an up note leaving the stage arm and arm.

“Don’t tell anyone I cried…or I’ll kick your a**,” she threatened earlier while lamenting her tough image. But her performance just reiterated her strength. Lesser women who the industry considers divas would have stomped off stage and cancelled the rest of the show.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Puppini Sisters cancel tour

The Puppini Sisters - the London vocal trio who has updated the jazzy harmonies of '30s and '40s girl groups like the Andrews Sisters for a modern audience - has cancelled its February U.S. tour due to travel issues. This includes its upcoming February 26 date at McGlohon Theatre. Refunds will be issued for all tickets. For more information contact the venue's box office at 704-372-1000 or log on to The sexy, campy trio issued an apology to fans, but said they look forward to seeing them on their next tour of the states.

Friday, January 20, 2012

This week's hot concerts

Me Talk Pretty
6:30 p.m. Friday, January 20, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $13-$15.
This NYC outfit, who heads up a six band bill that includes Hawthorne Heights and Madina Lake, falls somewhere between the female-fronted theatrical metal of Lacuna Coil and Evanescence and catchy, pop-punk.

Mat Kearney
8 p.m. Friday, January 20, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $20-$23.
Straddling both adult pop and Christian radio, this GMA Dove award winning Nashville-based/Oregon-raised singer-songwriter treads in “Grey’s Anatomy” scoring territory (think “Grey’s” fave Greg Laswell singing for Coldplay) with catchy beats and symphonic pop-rock arrangements.

Travis Tritt
8 p.m. Friday, January 20, Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. $34.50-$49.50. 704-372-1000.
The veteran artist behind modern country staples like “Country Club,” “Help Me Hold On,” and “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares,” hasn’t released a new album since 2007, but fans can hear his older material in a new setting on this solo acoustic tour.

10 p.m. Friday, January 20, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $8. 704-333-9799.
Once poised for fame as indie rock’s next it band, the Raleigh sextet’s buzz may have subsided but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t continued to make orchestral, psychedelic indie-pop and rock. With Lonnie Walker and Hectorina.

Cement Stars/Super Ape
8 p.m. Saturday, January 21, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $7. 704-358-9200.
Charlotte-based Electric Mountain Records pairs its flagship experimental electro-funk band Super Ape with newer signing, Cement Stars, a dreamy electro indie-pop outfit that lovingly captures the musical intersection of angst and longing.

7 p.m., Saturday, January 21, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $12-$15.
Following a screening of “Slow Southern Steel,” a documentary on the history of metal in the South, coastal metal outfits ASG (who veer toward psychedelic stoner metal) and Hail!Hornet (members of Sourvein, Buzzoven, and Alabama Thunderpussy) will perform.

David Mead
8 p.m. Tuesday, January 24, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $8-$10. 704-376-3737.
A songwriter’s songwriter known for his sweet, soaring vocals and clever humor, Mead counts Taylor Swift and John Mayer among his fans. In fact fans donated over $20,000 to fund his latest album, “Dudes.”

Old 97’s                                                                                                                                                                                                               
8 p.m. Thursday, January 26, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $22-$25. 704-358-9200.
Fans of the alt-country combo will get a double dose of frontman Rhett Miller, who will open the show with an acoustic set (since Those Darlins dropped off the tour). Miller is likely to do a few covers from his recent live album and possibly preview material from his upcoming album. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Charlotte rock quartet signs with label

Charlotte-based rock band Sugar Glyder announced Wednesday that it recently signed with ORG Music, a DC-based record label that is tied to Warner Bros. and is distributed by WEA (Warner Elektra Atlantic) and ADA (Alternative Distribution Alliance). Sugar Glyder joins punk legend Mike Watt (Minutemen, Firehose, and the revived version of the Stooges), DC metal act Darkest Hour, and the Chuck Dukowski (of Black Flag) Sextet on the label's roster.

Sugar Glyder will begin recording their ORG debut - the followup to 2011's "Lovers at Light Speed" EP - in March. The album is tentatively scheduled for summer release.

Sugar Glyder has been touring and drawing a few hundred fans to its shows locally for the last few years. Its opened for Silversun Pickups, Neon Trees, and Matt & Kim and played 2011's South By Southwest Festival. I've watched the band, which exhibited great promise early on, develop over the years. I always thought its members had a great work ethic and high level of passion and commitment to the band as well some really great, polished songs. Those songs, which I've often described as grand, arena-ready anthems, seem to get catchier, bigger, and grander with each release so I'm curious to hear what's next.

To get a sense of the group's personality watch the candid video announcement below. Sugar Glyder consists of vocalist Daniel Howie, guitarist Chris Rigo, bassist Emily Aoyagi, and drummer Bobby Mathews.

ORG is probably best known for its vinyl reissues series. The label is responsible for the recent Nirvana and Sonic Youth LP reissues as well as reissues of seminal albums by Jimmy Eat World, Helmet, Tom Petty, Beck, and the Replacements.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Avett Brothers honor Dylan on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" Thursday

Concord's the Avett Brothers will appear as the musical guest on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" Thursday, January 19. The group will perform its version of Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings," which opens the new "Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International" - a four disc box set that will be released Tuesday, January 24. 

"Chimes of Freedom" also features covers by Patti Smith, Silversun Pickups, Tom Morello (as the Nightwatchman), Pete Seeger, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, My Chemical Romance, Adele, Pete Townsend, Miley Cyrus, Raphael Saadiq, Ziggy Marley, Ke$ha, My Morning Jacket, Queens of the Stone Age, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, among others. Check out the entire list of artists and find out more about the collection here.

The Avetts' track was produced by Rick Rubin and features the band singing along with Johnny Cash's 1969 recording of the song. The group's "Fallon" booking is part of a trio of national TV appearances to promote the box set. Blake Mills performed "Heart of Mine" on "Conan" Tuesday. Joe Perry will perform his rendition of "Man  of Peace" January 30 on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." 

Three versions of "Chimes of Freedom" will be available - a 73-track four disc set, a trimmer two disc 31-track set that will be available at Starbucks stores, and as a digital album bundle. Seventy-six tracks will be available for individual digital download as well. 

"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" airs week nights at 12: 35 a.m. 

Thursday's Miranda Lambert concert postponed

Award winning country singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert has postponed this week's concerts in Charlotte, Lexington, and Greensboro due to the death of her father-in-law, Dick Shelton. Shelton, whose health had been in decline, died Tuesday surrounded by family in Oklahoma. Lambert, who is married to fellow country musician Blake Shelton (of NBC's hit reality series "The Voice"), was scheduled to play Charlotte's Bojangles' Coliseum Thursday, January 19.

Charlotte fans won't have to wait long for a rescheduled date though. Lambert's "On Fire" tour will resume Wednesday, January 25 at Bojangles' Coliseum. The Greensboro show is rescheduled for February 19. The Lexington, Kentucky date has been moved to February 26. Tickets for the original dates will be honored at these rescheduled shows.

Lambert (pictured at the 2011 CMA Awards with Shelton above) released the following statement today: “Thank you to the fans for all the support and prayers. This is a really difficult time for our family and the most important thing is being together. Tell your loved ones you love them. See you next week”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Daughtry returns to the Carolinas during Spring Tour

Daughtry, the chart topping rock band led by former "American Idol" finalist Chris Daughtry, returns to Charlotte April 9. The band will play Ovens Auditorium following a homecoming show April 7 at Greensboro Coliseum during the first leg of its 2012 Break the Spell Tour, which begins in Buffalo March 20.

SafetySuit and Mike Sanchez will open the shows. Tickets for the Greensboro show go on sale to the public Friday, January 20, at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster outlets and at Tickets for the Charlotte show go on sale the following Friday, January 27. One dollar from every ticket sold will be donated to Malaria No More, an organization devoted to ending malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Edition adds Charlotte date

New Edition announced in December that it would bring its 30th Anniversary Tour to Greensboro Friday, February 17, but the veteran R&B vocal group has added a Charlotte date to its calendar as well. It returns to Bojangles' Coliseum on May 19. Tickets to the Charlotte show go on sale to the public Tuesday, January 17 via Ticketmaster outlets and at the Coliseum box office.

The tour features the reunion of all six members - Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, and Johnny Gill. Fans will hear the group's hits as well as individual members' solo smashes and hits by its offshoot Bel, Biv, DeVoe.

This week's hot concerts

A Troop of Echoes
9 p.m. Saturday, January 14, Common Market, 2007 Commonwealth Ave. Free.
This Rhode Island-based instrumental combo is doing something new and original with indie-rock. Its saxophone takes the place of vocals while it and the guitars scale unusual melodies and shifting rhythms while the tracks remain anchored in math rock.  

Josh Kelley
11 p.m. Saturday, January 14, Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd. $12-$15.
The adult contemporary artist recently followed his brother Charles (Lady Antebellum) into country, where Kelley, who had a few Top 10 adult pop hits, scored a Top 20 Country single in 2011 with “Georgia Clay.” 

The Toasters
8 p.m. Tuesday, January 17, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $10-$12.
Having recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, the longstanding New York-based third wave ska institution returns for what’s become an annual January show at the Milestone during what looks like a relentless winter tour (with only one day off in a month and a half!).

8 p.m. Wednesday, January 18, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $12.
One of the surprise standouts of 2011’s Bonnaroo Festival, this Swedish outfit captures early `70s blues rock, heavy psychedelia, and garage rock (shades of Mountain, Deep Purple, Peter Green, and Humble Pie). Its latest album, “Hisingen Blues,” made several heavy and underground music sites’ “best of” lists. 

Miranda Lambert
7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 19, Bojangles’ Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $37.20-$63.90.
The country spitfire headlines her first Charlotte show since playing Coyote Joe’s in November 2007. Since then she's gone from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” to award winning and critically acclaimed without losing her sass and fire. She’s joined by Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann.

Eilen Jewell
8 p.m. Thursday, January 19, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $12-15. 704-358-9200.
The revered songwriter, who has enjoyed plugs on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,”  in “No Depression’s” year-end best list, and from Tom Hanks (who included her in a summer must list in "Entertainment Weekly"), channels another era and spikes her reputation as “Queen of the Minor Key” (the title of her latest album) with jumping rockabilly and classic country.

The Farewell Drifters
8 p.m. Thursday, January 19, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$14. 704-376-3737.
This Midwestern roots outfit scored a Top 10 album on Billboard’s bluegrass charts and while its instrumentation is traditional its soaring vocals are steeped in rock and classic pop - making it a cousin to the Avett Brothers or Mumford & Sons. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Coldplay reveals Charlotte date on upcoming Mylo Xyloto Tour

LiveNation announced this afternoon that Coldplay will play Time Warner Cable Arena in uptown Charlotte on Tuesday, July 3. The multi-platinum selling rock band begins its international Mylo Xyloto Tour in Canada in April. It returns to the South this summer after a sweep through Europe.

Tickets for the July 3 show go on sale January 21 at 10 a.m. American Express cardholders can purchase pre-sale tickets beginning Monday, January 16.

Coldplay is currently nominated for two Grammy awards for its recent singles "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" and "Paradise."

I'm anxious to see who will team with the band to open these shows. Coldplay brought Rilo Kiley with it for its September 2005 show - I believe it was the one and only time Jenny Lewis and the gang played here. Last time British powerhouse Elbow wowed me with a fabulous set - obviously accustomed to playing large venues in Europe.

Tickets will be available at,, the Time Warner Cable Arena box office, and by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Shelby theater reveals busy season; tickets on sale Friday

The Don Gibson Theatre in Shelby, a refurbished historic movie theater originally built in 1939, is beefing up its winter and Spring concert schedule. It kicks off 2012 with Ivan Neville's Dumpstapunk on Friday, January 20. New country trio, Eden's Edge (who share a record label with Taylor Swift, the Band Perry, and Reba) play February 4 (rescheduled from January 14). John Ford Coley will host a Valentine's Day concert there as well.

Sexy, jazzy throwback Lucy Woodward (pictured) heats up the theater March 2. Richard Marx, who played McGlohon Theatre in Charlotte last year (and gave a great interview), is back in the region March 15 at Don Gibson. Award winning country singer Janie Fricke, whose number one country hits include "Your Heart's Not In It" and "Always Have Always Will," performs there March 23.

"American Idol" grad Bucky Covington is back in his home state April 13. The Artie Shaw Orchestra will be there May 3. Country singer Gene Watson is set to perform May 18 and comedic bluegrass outfit the Cleverlys round out the current schedule on June 1. Like fellow 'grassers Hayseed Dixie who took on current and classic rock with bluegrass instruments, the Cleverlys cover recent pop and R&B hits like its version of Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" (below) in the bluegrass style (check out more of the group's videos here).
The former State Theatre (which was at one time called The Flick - a great name for a downtown movie house) reopened as The Don Gibson Theatre a few years ago. It had been dark for nearly thirty years. Since then the 400-seat art deco-style venue, which still shows old movies, has welcomed artists like Marianne Faithful and Juliette Lewis - artists that have bypassed Charlotte. The schedule is eclectic and has included gospel, blues, rock, bluegrass, comedy, jazz, and both veteran and rising country acts.

The theater was named after country songwriter and Shelby native Don Gibson who wrote the classics "Oh Lonesome Me," "I Can't Stop Loving You,," and Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams." Gibson died in 2003.

Tickets for most upcoming shows go on sale Friday, January 13.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Details emerge about upcoming Avett Brothers' album

"Rolling Stone" published a brief interview with the Avetts about the Concord-based band's anxiously awaited follow-up to its commercial breakthrough "I and Love and You." today. The article promises some heavier material. Having been a fan of Scott and Seth Avetts' pre-Avett Brothers hard rock band Nemo and the pair's heavy Oh What a Nightmare project, I'm curious to hear these new songs. Expect some of the stark, moving folk-based tracks fans have heard live as well.

The hard touring band is back on the road in March. 

Read the "Rolling Stone" article here.

Changes are in store for Angwish with a new album and tour in the works

A new year marks changes for Charlotte alternative-rock band Angwish. Founder and frontman Bryan Bielanski will be embarking on an indefinite nationwide tour following the February release of the band’s seventh album, “Rock and Roll Destroyed My Life.” A cd release show is scheduled for The Milestone (3400 Tuckaseegee Rd.) February 25. That show will also mark the end of the group’s longstanding lineup of Bielanski and bassist/backing vocalist Rachael Malmberg Harper. The pair has been playing together (with a succession of drummers) since they were teenagers.
Longtime fans will be happy to hear that Malmberg does appear on the upcoming album. “I wasn’t going to let him leave without recording it with me,” she says. She adds that it leans towards the heavier side, but features fewer of her Kim Deal-like backing vocals. “(It’s) very bittersweet for us. I will miss playing with Bryan, but he is ready to take it to the next level.”

That next level is a commitment to the road. “I am really just going to be nomadic and tour until I run out of money,” Bielanski says.

Angwish (pictured above) recently released a video for the song “Basikly I’m Lost” from its album “Into the Void.” You can watch it here.

There are a few more chances to see Angwish before it heads North. It plays The Milestone on January 20, Snug Harbor February 15, The Milestone February 25 (with Malmberg), and again March 3 for the Nirvana tribute. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Grammy winning Gastonia native celebrates cd release tonight

Justin Robinson, Gastonia-native and co-founder of Carolina Chocolate Drops, celebrates the release of his upcoming album with his new band the Mary Annettes Friday, January 6, at Evening Muse (3227 N. Davidson St.). Robinson (center), who now lives in Durham, left his former band after five years with the Grammy winning African-American string band. Since then he’s studied forestry, launched Pearl Gray’s Frozen Custard, worked in embroidery (he did the cover art for the Mary Annette’s “Precious Blood EP”), and created this new band.

The new album, “Bones for Tinder,” doesn’t leave his old time string band roots behind. Instead he builds on that acoustic folk-base with all sorts of stylistic diversions. The idea of combining hip-hop beats, fiddles, banjo, and autoharp (an underused gem of an instrument) may seem like it would be forced, but Robinson makes the marriage sound completely natural. I think that’s due to the level of subtlety in which he combines elements of disparate genres within such a cohesive album.

Much of “Bones for Tinder” is bound by tradition. “Neptune,” which opens the record, “Devil’s Teeth,” and the title track are firmly anchored in traditional roots music for instance. Others easily fall under the chamber folk umbrella thanks to the orchestral feel provided by cello and violin. The songs I consider the weirder ones remind me of cello-rock outfit Rasputina, which combine vintage lyrical ideas, a kind of antique image (evident in its name and the delightfully campy band photo above), and classical influences with more of a pop-rock song format. This is especially true of “Bright Diamonds” in which Robinson and the female musicians in the band sing/speak clipped lines like “petticoats and crinolines, theremins and violins, uh-huh” over bowed strings, handclaps, and a quiet, sort of rubbed beat. 

The female harmonies add to the overall feel of the record and help, along with the intricately layered instrumentation, take the songs to another level. The way he sings the simple “Thank You Mr. Wright” is another example of this inventive approach. The near monotone-delivery gives it a ghostly feel. Elsewhere Robinson is downright soulful, but it’s usually done with that same sort of haunted feel. This is particularly true of the moving closer “Gypsy, Death and You.”

Combined with the fresh arrangements and direction, that soulfulness is more akin to someone like Prince than typical over-the-top soul singers. The Prince comparison may stem from Robinson’s range and the occasional jazzy catch in his voice, but it’s also related to the funky adventurousness and fully realized, polished quality of the Mary Annettes' full-length debut.

While the decision to leave a rising, Grammy winning band may seem like a head scratcher, Robinson is doing really fine work here. “Bones for Tinder” makes that decision a little less confounding.

The group plays Evening Muse at 8 p.m. tonight Tickets are $10-$12. 704-376-3737;

In other Chocolate Drop-related news, Robinson’s former band (which now includes multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins), will release the Buddy Miller-produced follow-up to its Grammy winning “Genuine Negro Jig” on February 28. Flemons also has another new release, “Buffalo Junction,” with Piedmont blues guitarist Boo Hanks. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

This week's hot concerts

Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes
8 p.m. Friday, January 6, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10-$12. 704-376-3737.
This Gastonia-native and former member of Grammy winners the Carolina Chocolate Drops embarks on a new project that takes his old time string band background and folk base and infuses it with hip-hop beats and art-rock spark.

Lizzy Ross Band
10 p.m. Friday, January 6, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $10. 704-376-1446.
One of Chapel Hill’s most promising Americana acts, this outfit has already been featured on NPR. Ross flits from `70s style AM pop to jazz to country to blues-pop with a voice that's fit to carry the Triangle area torch once held by Tift Merritt.

Duane Trucks and Flannel Church
8 p.m. Tuesday, January 10, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10-$12. 704-376-3737.
Having made its live debut just last week, Derek Trucks’ drumming younger brother Duane helps steer this all-star blues-funk trio, which includes the Lee Boys’ Roosevelt Collier (who adds a hint of rocking gospel) and Spartanburg-based guitarist Shane Pruitt. 

Mitten/Allison Weiss
8 p.m. Tuesday, January 10, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $7-$9.
Two Brooklyn artists “Together At Last” - the name of the tour that features the electronic duo Mitten's Depeche Mode-inspired post-riot grrrl dance music (think Mirah with beats) and singer-songwriter Weiss veering closer to Tegan and Sara-style pop-rock sing-alongs.

Sarah Jarosz
7 p.m. Thursday, January 12, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $12-$15. 704-358-9298.
At 20 years old this Texas-native divides her time between Boston’s New England Conservatory and a career as one of new grass/Americana’s hottest up and comers. Her sophomore album, “Follow Me Down” builds on her roots with chamber folk and world music that she’s absorbed at college.  

B.B. King
7:30 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday, January 12 and 13, Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. $59.50-$99.50. 704-372-1000.
The legendary blues guitarist, who turned 86 in September, and his beloved six-string Lucille continue to tour well into his sixth decade in music.  He plays back-to-back concerts downtown.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Maynard James Keenan returns to Charlotte - this time with Tool

Just a little over two months after performing with his side project Puscifer at Ovens Auditorium, Maynard James Keenan (pictured above) brings his Grammy winning band Tool to neighboring Bojangles' Coliseum February 4. This marks Keenan's third Charlotte show (and his third band to hit a Charlotte stage) in the last eight months. His other band, A Perfect Circle, played Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre in July. 

Tickets for Tool's Bojangles' Coliseum show go on sale Saturday, January 7 at 10 a.m. at, and at the Bojangles' Coliseum box office. You can also call 1-800-745-3000. 

Tool announced its winter tour dates on its website in mid-December. The tour begins in Reno, Nevada January 14 and ends at Atlanta's Gwinnett Center Arena February 8. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Charlotte band signs with major label

Charlotte-based band Matrimony announced Thursday at its concert at Visulite Theatre that the group recently signed with Columbia Records. Its co-founder Jimmy Brown confirmed the news last week via email.

"We signed to Columbia last week," he reports. The label has not yet made a formal announcement. Brown says the group, which includes his wife Ashlee Hardee Brown, will take the next five months to work on its major label debut. He predicts a late Spring/early summer release.

Matrimony's 2010 EP "The Storm & The Eye" received critical praise and the band has become a local favorite. While based in folk and Americana, it goes for a anthemic big band sound reminiscent of another ensemble led by marrieds - Arcade Fire with Brown's Irish roots shining through. Brown was in the band Airspace, who blew me away opening for another band (and I can't remember who) at Visulite a few years ago.

Matrimony has toured the US and Brown's native Ireland. You can check out its latest single here.