Friday, March 29, 2013

Music Factory launches Friday Live! concert series

The NC Music Factory announced its annual Friday Live! outdoor concert series today. This summer's lineup features a few returning faces from past years and focuses heavily on some of `90's rock radio's biggest staples.

The Spin Doctors kick off the concert series May 3 with Charlotte-based national alt-rock act Paper Tongues. That's followed by Tonic May 10 and Texican blues-rock trio Los Lonely with Jerry's Bones May 17. Both played the series last year and this actually makes Tonic's third.

Fuel helps kick off Memorial Day weekend May 24 with Charlotte's the Hot Gates. Collective Soul frontman Ed Roland and his band the Sweet Tea Project headlines May 31 with opening act Simplified.

Acts for June 7 have yet to be announced, but Atlanta's kitschy Yacht Rock Revue who recreates the soft rock sounds of the late `70s and early `80s (think Michael McDonald and Hall & Oates in period appropriate dress) will play June 14. Live favorites Cowboy Mouth heads up the June 21 bill with Cracker and American Aquarium closing out the series' third year on June 28.

Friday Live! takes place after work each Friday in May and June between 6 and 11 p.m. on the Fountain Plaza Stage at the heart of NC Music Factory. Advanced tickets are $5 and a pass to all nine shows is $35. Tickets are available at NC Music Factory and

Local sound Haus receives Telly award

Charlotte-based musician Jason Hausman, who owns Hot Sake (not a trendy Camden Road sushi house but a "sound boutique" that creates music for TV, film, and commercials) recently received a Telly Award for his work on the documentary "Overdraft." Hausman and Hot Sake received the award for Best Sound and Sound Design in a Documentary. It was one of 11,000 entries.

The PBS documentary from Charlotte-based Susie Films received a total of nine Telly awards. The film focuses on the national debt. You can watch it here.

The Tellys honor film and video productions, groundbreaking online video content, and local, regional, and national television commercials.

SouthEnd's Hot Sake was also part of the team behind Emmy winning documentary "From the Heart." Hot Sake scored and mixed the film. Grammy winning soul singer and Charlotte native Anthony Hamilton narrated the film, which centers on bullying in schools. Hausman recruited Steve Rothery, founding guitarist for the long running UK rock band Marillion, to collaborate on the project as well. "From the Heart" also aired on PBS.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

This week's hot concerts

8:45 p.m. Friday, March 29, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $12-$15.
This Athens band manages to blend sweeping Americana, Southern rock rootsiness, aching pedal steel with edgy, sweat-soaked garage rock, gravelly vocals and psychedelic tendencies.With the Catch Fire.

Sarah Clanton Schaffer
8 p.m. Saturday, March 30, The Saloon, 900 NC Music Factory, $5.
Cello-rock has the ability to roar, rumble and break hearts with a weeping bow. This classically trained Greenville, SC vocalist/cellist brings jazz, rock and Americana into the mix and tops it with lovely vocals and thoughtful, sometimes quirky lyrics. Check out her upcoming Kickstarted funded new album, produced by songwriter David Mayfield. 

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell
Monday, April 1, Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. $ 704-372-1000.
Long Americana’s leading lady, Harris reunited with former bandmate and stellar songwriter Crowell on the joyful, stripped down (compared to her later work) new record “Old Yellow Moon.” Bonus? legendary British guitarist/songwriter Richard Thompson opens the show.

Marcus Foster  
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $13/$60 VIP.
Don’t be fooled by the “British singer-songwriter” label. While this Londoner can do the quiet contemplation his UK peers are known, he's a hungry soul and blues singer at heart with a lot of fire and grit in his voice.

Eric Clapton
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, Time Warner Cable Arena, $58.85-$102.05.
With a new album - a collection of mostly favorite covers called “Old Sock” - the 67-year-old Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer returns to riff on his own classics as well as some of the work that inspired him. The Wallflowers - back after a long hiatus - opens the show.

Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola
8 p.m. Thursday, April 4, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $17-$20. 704-376-3737.
After a solo album and playing on Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange,” prolific 7 and 8-string guitarist Hunter, who's rooted in the jazz, hip-hop, and jam worlds, joined longtime drummer Amendola for a duo album - “Not Getting Behind is the New Getting Ahead.”

The Duhks
8 p.m. Thursday, April 4, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $18-$20.
After years of shifting lineups and dormancy, the Canadian soulgrass soul-grass rooted combo reunites with all original members (including vocalist Jessee Havey) for a proposed EP and full-length and much anticipated live shows. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Circa Survive/Minus the Bear/Now Now
8 p.m. Friday, March 22, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $31.
These two progressive indie-rock favorites have musically evolved, mellowing and maturing especially on their 2012 albums. Opening act Now Now manages to do both ethereal and dreamy and catchy pop-rock equally well.

Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers
8:30 p.m. Friday, March 22, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $13-$15.
With a voice and presence that twists the sultriness of Stevie Nicks and the soul of Dusty Springfield, this California singer could have time traveled from the `70s. She was featured along with the Avetts in that 2012 Gap campaign and became a YouTube sensation with a series of lively full band covers recorded from the road - in her tour van.

Force MDs/Sunshine Anderson/Case
8 p.m. Saturday, March 23, McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St. $38.50-$49.50.
The vocal group scored R&B and pop hits like the radio classic “Tender Love” (from “Krush Groove”) and “Love is a House” in the `80s, while Case and Charlotte’s Anderson scored their biggest hits (“Missing You” and “Heard It All Before,” respectively) well over a decade later. All three R&B artists celebrate old and new at the “Throwback Spring Affair.”

Natalie Merchant
8 p.m. Saturday, March 23, Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. $44.50-$79.50. 704-372-1000.
The former 10,000 Maniac joins the Charlotte Symphony for orchestral arrangements from her eclectic latest album “Leave Your Sleep” - poems and vintage literary works set to various styles of music from different eras and regions - as well as songs from her solo career, her former band’s catalog, and a handful of songs from her upcoming orchestral album.

Ray Wylie Hubbard
10 p.m. Sunday, March 25, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $17.
A favorite among his peers, this rootsy Texas songwriter trades in country, blues, folk, and rock but does it all with the edge of a seasoned singer-songwriter that’s lived the kinds of colorful stories he tells.

8 p.m. Thursday, March 28, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $8-$10.
With it’s simple duo makeup and songs that are simply catchy, this guitar and drums duo (which is half based in Raleigh) easily wins over crowds with crisp, punchy pop-rock that’s as quirky and completely infectious as early Weezer.

The Vignettes
8 p.m. Thursday, March 28, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $5-$9.
The loud, messy, free-spirited punk of the riot grrrl era is alive and well in this spunky, bluesy female duo who exhibits the vocal power of Sleater-Kinney combined with a sense of humor and a taste for dark underground garage rock.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Concerts big & small dotting summer's calendar

Monday saw a string of summer concert announcements including `90s rock and an all-star Zeppelin tribute.

The latter finds headliners Heart teaming with Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience on the Heartbreaker Tour, which makes a stop at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Friday, June 21. Bonham - the son of Zeppelin drummer John Bonham (who died in 1980) - opens the show, but he'll also return for a 30-minute finale to pay further tribute to his father's legendary band with Heart. The Wilson sisters have long paid tribute to Zeppelin on stage, but only met Bonham in December when the group played a Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Led Zeppelin with him (see clip above). Bonham has occasionally played with the remaining members of Zeppelin (who Ann Wilson reports give the pairing their blessing) and had a hit in 1990 with his own band, Bonham ("Wait For You"). 

Charlotte's proximity to the Bonnaroo Festival (which takes place June 13-16) continues to serve the city well - at least for the week before and after. As a result Baltimore's dreamy Beach House will visit the Neighborhood Theatre June 13 en route to the Manchester, Tennessee festival. 

The `90s turned out to be a hot ticket last summer and the trend continues this year with Barenaked Ladies revisiting its 2012 "Last Summer on Earth Tour." The group celebrates its 25th anniversary with fellow `90s rock radio staples Ben Folds and Guster July 25 at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre. Boothby Graffoe will open the show. Expect a new album from Canada's Ladies June 4th.

Fellow `90s pop-rockers Matchbox 20 and Goo Goo Dolls embark on a co-headlining tour that hits Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre August 6. Tickets for Barenaked Ladies go on sale March 23. Tickets for Heart and the Matchbox/GooGoo tour go on sale March 29. 

Miles & Coltrane: Blue (.), a tribute to the game changing period in jazz, returns for a limited run in preparation for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - which always seem to signal that Charlotte is in for an exciting, original show. Concrete Generation and the Stephen Gordon Group recreate the work of Miles Davis and John Coltrane and illustrate the dramatic shift in music history at Duke Energy Theatre at Spirit Square from May 30 to June 2. Scheduled concerts include two matinees and a Pay-What-You-Can night. 

At the club level the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart brings his band along with African Showboyz to Neighborhood Theatre May 8th. 

Oscar winner Ryan Bingham returns to Tremont Music Hall May 9th. That same night Welsh alt-rock trio the Joy Formidable stops at Visulite. 

The Charles Walker Band brings retro funk back to Double Door on May 23rd. Billy Joe Shaver also stops in at the long-running club June 19th. 

Later in the summer NC songstress Tift Merritt returns to Visulite August 16th. The BoDeans perform at McGlohon Theater August 23rd and Steve Forbert's Alive on Arrival Tour is at Stage Door Theater September 14th. 

Tickets available online at venue websites. Check individual band sites for pre-sale and VIP opportunities. 

Book puts modern twist on vintage concert posters

Last week I stumbled on an enormous coffee table book in my editor's desk. My first thought was, "How'd this fit in here and who would want a book this big? It's too tall for the shelf."

Then I read the title: "Swissted: Vintage Rock Posters Remixed and Reimagined."

"Oh," I immediately backpedaled. "Can I have this?" 

When I moved to Charlotte in 1994 I began collecting concert posters. The Frank Kozik and Uncle Charlie prints I bought and had framed at Infinity's Images still hang in our home today along with countless others we've picked up at shows over the years. So a book of concert posters is right up my alley. 

What's different about the posters in Mike Joyce's book are that while the shows actually happened, these posters did not - until recently, that is, when the owner of NYC's Stereotype Design began combining his love of `70s, `80s and `90s punk, new wave and hardcore with his fascination with Swiss modernism. Bands who once advertised shows on crude, busy, black and white flyers now have sleek, colorful versions like the ones that appear on the cover of the book (pictured above).

Joyce, who has designed album covers for musicians like Iggy Pop and the Lemonheads, explains his fascination with the International Typographic Movement and how it relates to punk and indie rock in the book. The convergence of the seemingly disparate underground bands and modern art style makes sense once he explains how bands like the Ramones, for instance, were drawing on disparate movements to make their own art. 

While I was delighted to find posters for obscure bands like the Accused (my high school boyfriend's favorite) and riot grrrls aplenty (Babes in Toyland, L7, Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill), the best part of this discovery was when my 4-year-old discovered it. 

He and his babysitter uncovered the real gem - a poster of a Material Issue show. Material Issue was a power pop band from Chicago that I listened to in high school. When I introduced my eldest to the song "Diane" because it was his teacher's name, he was hooked. Both my 2 and 4-year-olds know the words to several Material Issue songs. Sadly the group's singer committed suicide in the `90s, so my son's quest to see them live is never going to happen (although the surviving members have done shows as Material Re-Issue). 

He's pretty happy to settle with a flyer for a long ago show framed on his bedroom wall - for now. See, the pages of the book are actually perforated so you can tear them out and display. After flipping through the book twice we're already planning our trip to Ikea to buy frames so he can put posters from some of his favorite bands on his bedroom walls (I know, starting early). 

While we didn't come across his very favorite (Blur), he has claimed seven including one that bears the name he shares with a famous band from the `80s which I imagine will become the centerpiece of the new "Swissted" display over his bed. As much as I am a little sad about him taking down some of the artwork I purchased for his room when he was born, it's pretty cool that it's the Beastie Boys, Rancid, No Doubt, and Sleater-Kinney (so proud) that will replace it. As far as children's decor goes, it could be much worse (Barney?). 

The only downside? Seeing a Dead Kennedys poster prompted him to ask me if the band members were all dead. 

"Swissted" is available online. Although it lists for $40, Amazon is selling it for $22.72 here

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Pink flying high in CLT

If CBS were to relaunch those “Circus of the Stars” TV specials from the `70s and `80s, pop singer Pink could probably tackle every role from lion tamer to acrobat to stunt cyclist with ease. Her concert at Time Warner Cable Arena Saturday left the crowd wondering if there’s anything this woman can’t do - and do well.

She met the high expectations created by her last “Funhouse” tour from the opening of “Raise Your Glass” - upside down while three shirtless trapeze artists held her feet as she twisted and twirled against a heart-shaped tattoo-meets-carnival-inspired backdrop.
She charged through “Walk of Shame” and “Just Like a Pill.” The fun “U + Ur Hand” was choreographed like an `80s video with her dancers - all dressed differently - backing her up like a grooving street gang that had come together spontaneously.

Even when the show was at its most strategically rehearsed - with the singer flying above the crowd - the performance never seemed contrived. Her banter was natural and open. No she didn’t sing every word live, but she also didn’t pretend to. Two animated and entertaining backup singers filled in the gaps. And when Pink does sing live, boy can she sing - and sometimes in the most awkward of positions.
After an S&M-themed segue, she appeared in a teeny weeny black bikini to spin over the crowd again before performing a contortionist yoga-dance duet of sorts with a male dancer that she lifted with her legs as he rolled over her. Throughout the night she sported skintight leotards, body suits and midriff bearing tops that showed off post-baby abs that could make D’Angelo circa 2000 envious.  
As amazing as she is a performer, Pink’s act translates because she is very real whether talking about her family in Fayetteville or “bad dancing” during “Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely).” She’s not afraid to have fun and poke fun at herself. The loud, black and white parachute-hipped pants and fluorescent high tops she wore during the final pre-encore segment were an amusing nod to her hip-hop past. She got winded recreating those hip-hop dance moves from her early days during a medley of “Most Girls,” “There You Go,” and “You Make Me Sick.” 

That throwback ended up being one of the most entertaining non high-flying portions of the show. She proved she could be a Janet Jackson-type performer if she wanted to, but there’s a lot of rocker in Pink amid the punky attitude and electric guitars. She’s like Pat Benatar, Joan Jett and Jackson rolled into one.
While she did address her early work, she only touched on the album that made her a huge pop star (2001’s “Missundaztood”) with “Pill” and a piano and vocal rendition of “Family Portrait.” No “Get the Party Started.” She didn’t really need it though. She’s had plenty of hits since and songs like “Wicked Game” by another powerful pompadoured performer (Chris Isaak) and the acoustic “Who Knew” showed off her nearly unparalleled pipes.

It looked as if “Sober” would be the theatrical highlight of the show as she and her dancers crawled in and out of and swung from a spinning oval cage suspended over the stage. It looked like a Faberge egg but was dubbed the “ring of death” by the guys behind me.

The stage turned into a vaudeville strip joint (or maybe the fairy club from “True Blood”) for “Slut Like You” before the finale of “Blow Me (One Last Kiss).”

The only thing a bit off was Rubix the comedic host that cruised the crowd following City and Colour's opening set, introduced the show, and appeared during costume changes to entertain. He was kind of creepy, but his Dr. Seuss quote about love nicely tied things together at the end. That’s when we noticed the wires running the length of the arena over our heads. As the playful riffs of “So What” rang out, Pink - strapped into said wires with a ring around her waste - appeared for what may be the most impressive encore the arena’s ever seen. She soared above the crowd, flipping end over end from the stage to the back balcony, stopping to sing a verse on narrow pillars before sailing off again (thanks to Wilson for posting the above video). If you didn’t have a big stupid grin on your face as Pink gleefully flew over your head, then you very well may be dead inside.
She could have easily ended there, but returned to reprise that stunning aerial silks performance of "Glitter in the Air" flanked by three aerialists. She may be married to a motocross athlete and motorcycle racer, but again and again she proved - with a delighted smile on her face - that there’s more than one daredevil in that family. And throughout her show - as she sings in “So What” - she looks like she’s “having more fun” than anyone in the building. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Benefit for Elijah Von Cramon
3 p.m. Saturday, March 13, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10. 704-343-9494.
Over ten Charlotte artists will raise money for the singer for Charlotte-based trio Paint Fumes who was struck by a car in February shortly before the group was scheduled to stop at SXSW. Funds raised will go to Von Cramon’s medical care. He suffered fractures to his pelvis and shoulder and broke a femur and multiple teeth.

7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $14-$17.
The long-running soulful Jacksonville, NC Southern guitar rockers return to celebrate the 35th anniversary of its career-making self-titled debut (which featured the hit “Heartbreaker”). Its sound is still big on swelling harmonies and rippling guitars with touches of R&B and beach music. Expect new releases soon.

8 p.m. Saturday, March 16, Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St. $40.70-$116.85.
There’s no question her vocals and number of hits make her a major player in pop music, but it’s her daring live show - where she relies not just on hired dancers and acrobats but performs some of the biggest stunts herself - that puts her on par with some of the biggest live draws around.

Jill Andrews
8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $12-$15.
Before heading out with Joan Osborne later this month, the Knoxville singer-songwriter (formerly of the roots music duo the Everybodyfields) brings her honey dipped vocals and mature pop songs that, as a solo artist, swing with the jazzy playfulness of contemporaries like Sara Bareilles.

7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 17, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $17-$20.
The former Sepultura frontman brings the family for the Maximum Cavalera tour. Sons Zyon 19, and Igor, 17, and stepson Richie, 25, are members of opening bands Lody Kong and Incite, respectively, making for an evening of Cavalera metal.

Roomful of Strangers
8:30 p.m. Sunday, March 17, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $5-$9.
The demonstrative, masked Orlando foursome makes the sort of in-your-face, talky punk of Jello Biafra jamming with a spastic Detroit garage band. Its fittingly paired with a colorful cast of locals in Secret Hospital, Hectorina, and Dr. Cirkustien.

Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys
8 p.m. Thursday, March 21, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10-$12.
Bluegrass continues to get a youthful makeover with artists like this female-fronted quintet who builds on a traditional base with her soulful voice and the band’s bright instrumentation and textured harmonies. It’s bluegrass that can resonate with both young Americana fans and oldtimers.

Spindrift/Gram Rabbit
8 p.m. Thursday, March 21, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $6.
With an obsession with the peyote peppered psychedelic west that would make Jim Morrison smile, Spindrift teams with its fellow Joshua Tree dwellers (where both bands record) to spread its hypnotic mix of cinematic scores and cowboy psychedelia. Gram Rabbit combine a similarly strange versatile mix that touches on desert rock and electronica as well as a bit of Gwen Stefani and Peggy Lee.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Free "real country" at The Beaver

J.P. Harris & the Tough Choices calls its brand of honky-tonking classic country "real country music." So there's really no better place for them than a place like Charlotte's own honky-tonk of sorts - Plaze-Midwood's Thirsty Beaver Saloon where the Alabama-bred/Nashville-based Harris plays tonight.

What's interesting about live music at The Beaver is that it's free - as in no cover charge. The staff does pass the hat which - considering the generous clientele of music lovers and musicians that frequent the bar - often results in a touring act earning more than it might under a guarantee from a more traditional venue.

Not that the bands don't work for those tips. Bands usually play two or three sets and if they really get going may keep playing into the wee hours. The first of the Tough Choices' sets kick off tonight at 8:30 p.m.

It doesn't get much more country than Harris and his band who trade in weeping pedal steel, walking guitar lines than stir up images of the old west, storytelling ballads, and playful songs (like the one in the video above) that you can imagine your grandparents dancing to in their youth. But the band can also rock live with harder charging rockabilly and songs that remind me of what was once considered mainstream country in the late `70s and early `80s. Yet Harris' most direct link is to artists like Hank Williams, Buck Owens, and Bob Wills. It's no wonder he seems at home in a bar where they play vintage "Hee Haw" episodes above the bar.

The Thirsty Beaver doesn't have live music every night, but look for it every third Thursday of the month and on Sunday late afternoons when you'll notice a packed parking lot if you drive by.

The music is often country or some related genre, but the little orange building also hosts heavier rock bands like Charlotte's fabled Antiseen on occasion and celebrates old school punk on the first Wednesday of each month with Punk Rock Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Area acts represent CLT at SXSW this week

Several Charlotte area bands or national acts with local connections perform at Austin's South By Southwest festival starting today. Charlotte's Grown Up Avenger Stuff managed to book multiple shows, including two today and three on Saturday, during the festival. 

Junior Astronomers kicks its stay off with a house show tonight followed by a performance at Twin Creek Hall on Saturday. 

Brooklyn-based Ex Cops, which features area native Brian Harding (formerly of Hymns), plays a 40-minute set tonight at The Parish as well as a showcase at Hotel Vegas/Volstead Thursday.   

Fellow Brooklynites Beach Fossils - led by Dustin Payseur, who grew up in Dilworth - return to the festival for two showcases. It plays Thursday at Hype Hotel and Saturday at The Parish. You can watch Beach Fossils perform "Daydreams" at SXSW 2012 above. 

Charlotte's Flagship and HRVRD are also part of the official showcase schedule. Flagship plays Blackheart Friday while HRVRD plays Six Lounge. HRVRD also plays the “Alternative Press” magazine party at Red 7 on Saturday.

Lancaster native and country singer Julie Roberts, who restarted her career in 2011 after getting sidetracked by multiple sclerosis and having her home destroyed by the Nashville flood in 2010, will also perform. Roberts plays Rebels Honky Tonk Saturday.

Unfortunately due to lineup changes Charlotte jazz-funk fusion ensemble Groove 8 will not make its previously announced SXSW debut this year. The group has found replacements in order to make showcases for Blue Note and Sony in New York later this month. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Love and Theft singer, NC native welcomes baby

Eric Gunderson - Matthews native and one half of the country duo Love and Theft - welcomed his first child March 10 in Nashville. He and his wife Emily named the baby boy Camden William Gunderson.

A statement from the band's publicist reports: "He arrived earlier than his expected May due date and will be spending some time in the hospital, but mother, father and baby are all doing well. Eric and Emily are moved by the tremendous outpouring of warm wishes from their fans, family, and country radio, and look forward to sharing more updates soon.”

Love and Theft will be back in the area opening for Tim McGraw at Charlotte's Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre May 3. Check out the pair's current single "Runnin' Out of Air" above.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Whitewater Center boasts four upcoming festivals

Saturday guitar virtuoso and sometime Dave Matthews collaborator Tim Reynolds and his band TR3 will headline the US National Whitewater Center's Green River Revival. The third annual St. Patrick's day party includes a greening of the river at 1 p.m. and a 5K trail run that kicks off the festivities at 9 a.m.

TR3 will play around 1 p.m. Local group the Mike Strauss Band, who will also do an acoustic set in the beer garden at 10:30 a.m., follows Reynolds at 4 p.m. The waters will remain open for those that want to raft and kayak.

In April the USNWC combines live music and outdoor competitions at Tuck Fest. Live music will alternate with events like obstacle races and a kayak slalom and mountain bike races and surf competitions.

The event takes place April 19 through 21. Friday's lineup includes Larry Keel & Natural Bridge and the Steeldrivers. Saturday's bill features Fruition, David Wax Museum, Humming House and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Sunday's headliner is the Infamous Stringdusters.

Other upcoming USNWC festivals include a Memorial Day Celebration May 26 and the 2nd annual Brew Stash Bash June 15, which features craft beer tastings and live music. For more information head here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Shelby's Don Gibson Theatre beefs up calendar

For a 74-year-old small town former movie theater, downtown Shelby's Don Gibson Theater boasts an interesting roster of acts performing in its intimate 400-seat hall each year. Some of the acts that come there also play Charlotte, but its location may actually be closer for some readers than downtown or the University area. While you can check out the entire calendar here, the venue revealed a few new concert announcements last week. 

California fun n' sun rockers Smashmouth will play April 14. You'll probably remember its late `90s hits "Walkin' on the Sun" and "Can't Get Enough of You, Baby" as well as covers of the Monkees' "I'm a Believer" and War's "Why Can't We Be Friends?"

Other upcoming shows include Carolina Southern rockers Nantucket (who are actually at Amos' March 16) and the George Hatcher Band on May 10 and country veterans Exile on May 17. 

Previously announced shows include humorous bluegrass outfit the Cleverlys returning May 31. 

Country duo Sweethearts of the Rodeo, who scored its biggest hits in the late `80s, will play the theater September 7. Although quiet for most of the `00s sisters Janis and Kristine Oliver released a new album, "Restless," in 2012. 

Men at Work frontman Colin Hay (pictured), who has graced a few Charlotte venues over the past few years, will play there September 20 with South Carolina singer-songwriter Edwin McCain finishing out the season November 29. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dylan, Murphy, Darkness among coming concerts

More concert announcements rolled in this week including Bob Dylan's May 1st date at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre. The show has not yet been announced by LiveNation, but is listed on Dylan's website with Dawes set to open.

Earth Wind & Fire will also hit TWC Uptown Amphitheatre June 9 with its "Now, Then, Forever Tour." Road dogs O.A.R. are also back at the NC Music Factory venue on July 13. Tickets for all three show will be available through and Ticketmaster outlets.

July 13 also finds Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company's 40th Anniversary co-headlining tour at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. Black Stone Cherry will support and the show is one of only 12 dates the two classic rock acts are doing together. Tickets are available through

Goth legend Peter Murphy will celebrate 35 years of Bauhaus at Tremont Music Hall May 3rd by playing material from his late `70s/early `80s goth-rock band exclusively. The group best known for "Bela Lugosi's Dead" reunited for Coachella 2005 and released its first album in 25 years in 2008. VIP tickets, which include a meet and greet and exclusive autographed merchandise, are available as well as general admission tickets at

Another formerly dormant British act, The Darkness, makes its Charlotte return at Amos' on May 11th. The glam throwback, who made a splash in 2003 with its over-the-top single "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," reunited in 2011. Advance tickets are available through

On the roots music side Lyle Lovett returns to Belk Theater May 6th with his Acoustic Group. Vocal quintet Broadway Dolls, who cover everything from show tunes to Lady Gaga, makes its McGlohon Theatre debut at Spirit Square on June 22. Tickets for both shows go on sale at on March 15 at 10 a.m.

Bob Dylan performs on stage during the 21st edition of the Vieilles Charrues music festival on July 22, 2012 in Carhaix-Plouguer, western France. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/GettyImages)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Gaslight Anthem
8 p.m .Friday, March 8, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $30.50.
This New Jersey outfit continues the build from its last album “American Slang” with the personal, driving rock n’ roll of “Handwritten” - a smart, charging collision of Springsteen and working class punk. Its single “45” ranks among the catchiest songs of 2012.

L.A. Guns
8 p.m. Friday, March 8, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $18.
Founding guitarist Tracii Guns retired his version of the `80s glam metal act in 2012 leaving vocalist Phil Lewis and drummer Steve Riley - both from its classic `80s “Cocked & Loaded” lineup - to lead this former rival on hits like “Never Enough” and “The Ballad of Jayne.”

Randy Rogers Band
11 p.m. Friday, March 1, Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd. $5.
With a knack for pop hooks and smooth arrangements the Texas outfit straddles mainstream country and the more rugged singer-songwriter aesthetic of fellow Texans like Guy Clark and Ray Wylie Hubbard. It’s new album, “Trouble,” is out April, 30.

Delta Rae/ZZ Ward
8 p.m. Saturday, March 9, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $15. 704-358-9200.
The triangle area roots ensemble has enjoyed a banner year with appearances on “Leno” and an invite to play at the DNC. It’s paired with Ward, whose bluesy delivery and dark, sexy, cryptic lyrics make for a fresh take on polished, soulful pop.

8 p.m. Saturday, March 9, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $33.
The Canadian DJ creates bass and dubstep beats for the ears, but for the eyes he unveils 420 square feet of 3D video mapped animation projected on to a mechanical bunker where he’ll perform his live set syncing music and video on his state-of-the-art Execution Tour. The bill includes Paper Diamond and Vaski.

Chris Duarte
10 p.m. Saturday, March 9, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $10.
With his new album, “My Soul Alone,” the guitarist and conversational lyricist hits on many facets of electric blues whether playing in the emotive style of Stevie Ray Vaughan, the moody psychedelic grooves of Hendrix, or the poppy feel of classic rock n’ roll.

John Corbett
8 p.m. Monday, March 11, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $22-$25.
True to his West Virginia roots the “Sex & the City” actor (who is attached to an upcoming “NCIS” spin-off pilot "NCIS: Red") does another go as a Nashville-steeped country singer on his second album, which is more mainstream radio ready country than rootsy Americana.

10 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. Free.
With its fuzzy guitars and indie spirit this `90s-nodding Nova Scotia trio recalls the noisy lo-fi pop of acts like Archers of Loaf or Dinosaur Jr. but with a soft spot for shoegazer walls of distortion. It’s album “A Ghost History” has a `90s hook as well - a solo played by Ash guitarist Tim Wheeler. 

JP Harris & the Tough Choices
9 p.m. Thursday, March 14, The Thirsty Beaver, 1225 Central Ave. Free.
Whether accompanied by a weeping pedal steel or sailing through lyrics with his quick wit and tongue, it’s easy to imagine Harris’ classic style country hitting the stage before Hank Williams circa 1950 or as a star performer on “Hee-Haw” circa 1983.  

See Beach House and Ray Wise's crazy new video

When I saw the new Beach House video starring actor Ray Wise, who despite a zillion other roles will always creep me out as Laura Palmer's dad from "Twin Peaks," I had to share. The Eric Wareheim directed clip for the ethereal track "Wishes" features Wise at the center of a mad fantastical dance-off meets half-time show. It's hilarious at times and dream-like at others. It's also so strange you can't really turn it off.

Wareheim is that crazy dude from "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Good Job!" That might explain the madness, but Wareheim, who counts Beach House as a favorite band says it was vocalist Victoria Legrand's imagination that planted the seed for the scene, which you can check out for yourself above. 

While I love the Beach House record, I clicked on the clip when I saw Wise. He starred in soaps in `80s ("Dallas," "The Colbys," Knots Landing - I watched 'em all) before carving out a spot in cult TV history as the distraught and intense Leland Palmer in the `90s (his violent breakdown on Laura's look-alike cousin Madeleine prompted my best friend's grandpa to declare me and my taste in TV shows "not quite right"). Since then he's appeared on everything from "Chuck" to "Reaper" (where he played the Devil) to "24" to "Dollhouse" to "Castle" to "How I Met Your Mother" to name but a few of his credits. Needless to say, I'd love for him to show up at Dragoncon (the sci-fi convention) in Atlanta some time. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Spring/early summer concert announcements

Spring and summer concert announcements began rolling in this week with word that David Byrne & St. Vincent would make a post-Bonnaroo stop at Belk Theater June 18. Then I heard my very favorite band, the National, would make a pre-Bonnaroo June 10 stop at Raleigh's Red Hat Amphitheatre (yes, Raleigh, groan! I have never seen them here).

Closer to home Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band return to Time Warner Cable Arena April 25. Smashing Pumpkins makes its Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre (not to be confused with the arena) debut May 8 with special guests Awolnation. Brad Paisley is back at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre June 7 with Lee Brice and Chris Young opening.

Tickets for Paisley and the Pumpkins go on sale Friday, March 8 at Ticketmaster outlets. Seger tickets go on sale from the same sources Saturday, March 9.

At the club level Tremont Music Hall announced that the fabulous Lee Fields & the Expressions would return the to Southend venue April 12. If you missed the veteran soul singer (who is on a long and winding comeback trail) in December, then go, go, go.

Speaking of worthwhile shows, Texan songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard is back at The Double Door March 24.

The buzzed about (at least by my high school friends who are rounding up a group to make the trip to Charlotte) Suicidal Tendencies and DRI tour stops at Amos' April 26. Clutch is back May 7. The Dillinger Escape Plan will be there May 29 as well.

The Neighborhood Theatre began revealing some of its post-renovation dates. Surfer Blood and Foals will be there May 1. Paul Thorn is back May 4.

Just around the corner, the Chop Shop is starting to see the results its association with former Neighborhood Theatre runner Zach McNabb's Zali Presents. Former theater staples like the Mantras and Bakalao Stars (who headlined past Carlotan Rock fests) appear at Chop Shop April 5 and 6, respectively. The English Beat, who played Neighborhood Theatre several times, makes its Chop Shop debut April 26.

On the West side, buzz band Iceage, who I've been hearing in regular rotation on Sirius/XMU, will play The Milestone June 10. Merchandise, another XM favorite, is there June 20.

Tickets for all shows are available through venue websites.