Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Neighborhood Theatre moves another show

The Neighborhood Theatre's reopening has been pushed back a week. The Paul Thorn Band concert scheduled to take place at the NoDa venue will now take place at Visulite Theatre Saturday, May 4.

The theater was scheduled to open Wednesday with the Foals/Surfer Blood concert. That's instead taking place at Visulite as well. The first show is now expected to be Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's Band with special guests the African Showboyz from Ghana scheduled for Wednesday, May 8.

The Neighborhood Theatre changed management in March and began fairly extensive renovations including new restrooms, a new sound system and lighting rig, cosmetic upgrades, and a much larger bar.

All tickets for Thorn (pictured) and opening act Scott Miller's Saturday concert will be honored at Visulite. Tickets are still available for that show at www.ticketfly.com.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Seger shows no signs of slowing

Bob Seger, who turns 68 in May, has hinted in recent interviews that he’s nearing retirement. Watching him march across the stage at Time Warner Cable Arena Thursday singing cuts like “Beautiful Loser,” “Travelin’ Man,” and “The Fire Down Below” with a gleeful grin, it’s hard to imagine him giving it up any time soon.

Seger proved he’s still in fine voice and he’s still passionate about his songs - some of which were written over 40 years ago. That excitement extends to the new music he’s making. He has a new album tentatively scheduled for August. He played new songs, including his version of “California Stars” - one of the Woody Guthrie songs from Billy Bragg and Wilco “Mermaid Avenue” project. The announcement of another new track, which I think is called “All the Roads,” signaled a beer run for a good portion of the crowd, but the original tune was vintage Seger.

Seger’s music has always championed the working man so it was fitting that independent, local working class band Temperance League fit the opening slot. What's more working class than having to be at work in the morning after playing the arena?

Local bands often debate oversaturating the hometown market by playing too often, but Temperance League hops on stage at local bars and venues at least a few times a month. That experience served the collective of local music veterans, who play `60s and `70s rooted rock, well. 

The group benefited from the high end production. You could hear Shawn Lynch’s backing vocals, for instance. Singer Bruce Hazel animatedly worked the stage, stopping wide-eyed to check out the band on the big screen, the same way he does at Plaza-Midwood’s tiny Snug Harbor. Seger’s keyboardist Craig Frost, who watched some of the set stage side, even commented on Hazel’s mid-song shimmy after the show.

Seger and his top-notch 13-piece Silver Bullet Band took the stage with “Detroit Made.” The group knocked out hits like “Old Time Rock n’ Roll” and “Mainstreet” early in the set (although the giant band sometimes drowned out Seger’s vocals on the former). Of course Seger kept plenty of hits for later, but he didn’t even play them all. He dug into deeper cuts like “Her Strut,” chosen because Bill Szymczyk, who produced the track for 1980’s “Against the Wind,” was in the audience as were members of Seger’s family. Those deeper cuts revealed the Silver Bullet Band’s darker, groovier side.

Of course classics like “Turn the Page” featured Alto Reed’s signature sax work and had the entire crowd on its feet. Seger’s vocals soared on slow numbers like “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Against the Wind.” The latter, along with “Hollywood Nights,” was the first of two separate encores.

Although the first exit was a long one - he shared that a band member had to run to the bathroom (love the candor) - there was little doubt the band would fail to return to play the song that gives the tour its name. “Rock n’ Roll Never Forgets” closed the show following “Night Moves” with Seger looking as delighted as he was when he started the set two hours before.

He may be addressing impending retirement in interviews, but from the audience’s standpoint there seems to be no need for that discussion just yet. 

(Photo by Jeff Siner, The Charlotte Observer)

NoDa venue reopening postponed; Foals moved

Opening night at NoDa's Neighborhood Theatre has been postponed. The theater, which has been undergoing renovations since early March, was set to reopen Wednesday with a concert from the UK band Foals (pictured). That show will now take place at Visulite Theatre.

"We've taken on so many changes in the room, especially on the bar side. We knew we were pushing it to the wire," explains Gregg McCraw of MaxxMusic, who recently took over managing and booking the venue.

McCraw, who books concerts at Double Door, Evening Muse, and Blumenthal Performing Arts venues, decided to move the concert to one of the other venues he works with to give the new Neighborhood Theatre a few more days to acquire its certificate of occupancy in order to operate legally.

Concert goers should check the venue's website for updates on upcoming shows. An announcement as to where the Paul Thorn Band concert currently scheduled for Saturday, May 4, will take place should come soon. McCraw expects the renovated venue to be open by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's show on May 8.

Renovations include a new PA and lights, fresh paint, new bathrooms, a new stage curtain and completely new bar.

"The bar area you’d not recognize. It’s so completely different," McCraw adds. "About the only thing that’s the same is the marquee letters. There was public outcry for those to stay."

Changes will continue even after the club reopens. 

"The logo right now has a gear that says 'under construction.'  We'll keep that for a while. We had a long list of things that needed to be done and we’re clearly not going to get everything done even if (we open) May 4. It's going to be a work in progress. There’s a lot of little things that we want to get done over the next few months," he says. 

"We're disappointed we didn’t get to open up the day we wanted to, but the show goes on," he says of the move to Visulite. "When we open the doors people are going to see why it took a little longer to get open.”

Tickets for Foals' show with Surfer Blood and Blondfire are still available. Previously purchased tickets will be honored at Visulite Wednesday. 

This week's hot concerts

Suicidal Tendencies
7 p.m. Friday, April 26, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $26-$28. www.etix.com
Mike Muir leads the latest incarnation of the hardcore/thrash band responsible for skatepunk classics “Institutionalized,” “You Can’t Bring Me Down,” and “I Saw Your Mommy.” It recently released “13” - it’s first album of all new material in 13 years. With D.R.I. and Wake the Dead.
The English Beat
8 p.m. Friday, April 26, Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St. $20/$35 VIP. www.chopshopnoda.com
At 35 years and counting, Dave Wakeling’s ska revivalists are no retro rehash. With a collection of seasoned players it’s as vibrant and infectious as ever live. The set list promises unreleased material and (of course) a few hits from Wakeling’s other band General Public.“Tenderness,” anyone?

Kim Richey
8 p.m. Friday, April 26, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $15-$18. 704-376-3737.
The accomplished songwriter recently released her seventh album - a collection of intimate, melancholy folk-pop you can imagine big time country artists putting a grand spin on as folks like Trisha Yearwood (who guests on the album with My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel, Wilco’s Pat Sansone, and Jason Isbell) have done in the past.

Alan Evans Trio
10:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$14. 704-376-3737.
The Soullive drummer and producer’s largely instrumental, organ-centered trio weaves deep, smoky grooves with soundtrack-ready, psychedelic atmosphere, ripping jams, and the occasional sultry, old school R&B vocal track on its new album, “Merkaba.”

Sons of Bill
8 p.m. Saturday, April 27, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $12-$14. www.visulite.com
After releasing one of the best albums of 2012 (“Sirens”), this literate, Charlottesville, Virginia quintet returns for a rocking country set that bridges R.E.M. and Son Volt with a healthy dose of smart lyrics, fire, and brotherly harmonies.

Bob Dylan
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $40-$73.90. www.livenation.com
The legendary songwriter makes a run through the Carolinas before embarking on this summer’s AmericanaramA Tour with Wilco and My Morning Jacket (which comes as close as Virginia). This time he’s joined by Dawes, who’s gained critical acclaim for its own songwriting.

Foals/Surfer Blood
7 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. www.ticketfly.com
This trio of buzzing indie acts helps reopen the renovated NoDa venue. Dreamy, experimental, yet accessible rockers Foals is a gold selling favorite in its native UK. Surfer Blood readies for the June release of its new album. They’re joined by labelmate Blondfire. (NOTE: This show has been moved from The Neighborhood Theatre to Visulite Theatre). 

Tech N9ne
7 p.m. Thursday, May 2, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $25-$28. www.ticketfly.com
With a new album tentatively scheduled for mid summer and an appearance as the mysterious “Librarian” in horror director Darren Lynn Bousman’s second “Devil’s Carnival” film, the influential rapper shares the spotlight with artists from his label including Rittz (whose album drops Tuesday), Ces Cru, Brotha Lynch Hung, Krizz Kaliko, and Kutt Calhoun. 

Sinners & Saints
10 p.m. Thursday, May 2, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $6-$8. www.eveningmuse.com
There’s raw down home energy, fresh writing, and ample sincerity in this rootsy underground Charlotte combo that’s reminiscent of what it was like to see Carolina breakouts the Avett Brothers or Shovels & Rope early on in their careers. With Michigan’s Jack & the Bear.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Skateboarded in `80s? Suicidal Tendencies returns

If you skateboarded in the `80s or early `90s it’s likely that Suicidal Tendencies was the soundtrack to your summers. I didn’t skateboard, but my friends did and although I hadn’t thought much about Suicidal since high school the announcement of Mike Muir’s latest lineup playing Amos’ Friday brought back a flood of junior high memories especially once I looked back at the track listings of those early albums.

The crass “I Saw Your Mommy” I’m almost certain played at a seventh grade birthday party (along with Gwar’s “I’m in Love with a Dead Dog"). I picture us sitting in the driveway watching six boys on skateboards approach a ramp with little success over and over (the time wasted!) as “Institutionalized” and “You Can’t Bring Me Down” crackled from a boom box. 

I remember hearing “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow” in my high school boyfriend’s blue Chevette. I never owned any of the albums myself. I had Muir and Rob Trujillo’s funk side project Infectious Grooves. No one else had seemed to have a copy of that, but everyone had Suicidal records.

I'm guessing Suicidal Tendencies made it into my orbit before bands that predated it because they weren’t only a skate culture fixture. Their videos played on MTV before thrashers like Metallica. I remember watching “Institutionalized” (which I know now starred Jack Nance of “Twin Peaks” and “Blue Velvet” and “Rock n’ Roll High School’s” Mary Woronov as Muir’s parents). 

Muir had a way with capturing youthful angst. While broaching serious subjects like sanity, he delivered lines with a sense of humor which made it all the more kid-friendly.

D.R.I., who is also on the bill Friday, was staple of the skatepunk set too. I don’t remember actually hearing its music as much as seeing the poster forever glued to my other ex-boyfriend’s bedroom wall. I think that same poster hung over the kitchen table in our college apartment.

That same group of friends, who still live in Southern West Virginia, were some of the first to buy tickets to Friday’s show. A party of 8 or more, including my friend's grown daughter and her boyfriend, will make the three hour trek. It’s never new bands that draw those old friends to Charlotte. Me and that Chevette driving ex recently discussed my friends being musically stuck in high school. I started making a few of them mixes every Christmas just to expose them to something new.

Suicidal Tendencies is making new music. The new album “13” is the first in as many years. I think we’re all guilty of returning to old favorites though. I’m amazed by the number of `80s and `90s artists that my children are fans of. They dig newer groups like the Knux and Iamdynamite, but are currently on a Billy Idol kick. I simply expose them to music - apparently a lot of `80s and `90s music - and see what sticks. For my friends what stuck was obviously the thrash-punk soundtrack to those misspent teenage years. 

Speed Street finalizes lineup

Food Lion Speed Street revealed the rest of its headliners for the free Coca-Cola 600 week uptown festival and NASCAR fan event that takes place Thursday, May 23 through Saturday May, 25. Each night music focuses on a particular genre.

This year's lineup includes R&B crooner Jon B. (pictured) joining SWV Thursday. Country singer Randy Houser, fresh from the Kat Country Jam at The Fillmore earlier this week, joins Friday's headliner Jamey Johnson. Survivor will close out the festival with Sister Hazel Saturday night.

Speed Street also usually hosts local and regional artists prior to headliners taking the stage so check out the full schedule soon, along with driver appearance times, at www.600festival.com.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Local drummer rocks diabetes at JDRF walk

Three years ago Charlotte-based drummer Neel Jadeja was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I don't think anyone expects that diagnosis. There's a history of diabetes on my father's side of the family, for instance, so when my super athletic cousin was diagnosed at age 10, it was unfortunate but not a total shock. In Jadeja's case the news was actually very shocking.

As a professional drummer in the band Sunny Ledford who was signed for a time to MCA Records and toured with hard rock bands like the Deftones and Godsmack, Jadeja was leading the typical rock n' roll lifestyle even after he quit the band. He was hospitalized in May 2010 because of alcoholism. That's when he received the news that not only would he need to kick the bottle, but he'd have to overhaul his lifestyle completely.

Jadeja got involved with the local chapter of the JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which no longer focuses only on juveniles because 85 percent of those with Type 1 in the US are adults). On Saturday he'll participate in the JDRF 5K Walk to Cure Diabetes at Carowinds with his team Ones n' Noses. For more info on how to donate or participate click here.

You can hear Jadeja recount his story above with lots of candid photos. What he doesn't address is how he's used his rock n' roll past to promote diabetes awareness and this walk in particular in the same way he's used his connection to the Bobcats to draw more support for the cause. He's raffled items autographed by Type 1's most famous face - Bret Michaels - as well as a drum head signed by Pink and her band.

Outside of his efforts with JDRF, Jadeja has since started a new band, Darlings of the Underground. The trio plays NoDa's Chop Shop May 10. To find out more about the band and Saturday's walk follow him on Twitter here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Four classic soul and rock artists hit uptown

The latest additions to Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s summer and fall schedule includes a handful of legendary performers that blur the line between soul, pop, R&B, and rock. 

Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame members Gladys Knight and the O’Jays share the bill at Belk Theater June 27. Crooner Boz Scaggs takes the Knight Theater stage July 17. His fellow Duke of September, Michael McDonald, headlines Knight Oct. 9.

Tickets for all three concerts, which are part of the new PNC Celebrity Series at Blumenthal, go on sale Monday morning, April 22, at 10 a.m. at www.blumenthalarts.org or by calling 704-372-1000.

Other recent announcements include OneRepublic headlining Time Warner Uptown Amphitheatre with Mayer Hawthorne and Churchill August 16. Tickets for that show go on sale Saturday, April 27, at 10 a.m.

Nick Jr. stars from the "The Fresh Beat Band" will return to Charlotte next winter. Kiki, Shout, Marina, and Twist bring the songs from the hit TV series, which airs on Nickelodeon’s preschool-centered sister network, to Ovens Auditorium on Jan. 16.

Blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa also returns to Ovens November 12. Tickets to both Ovens shows are already on sale at Ticketmaster outlets.

WEND 106.5 The End will present Langhorne Slim and locals Matrimony at The Fillmore June 8. Slim’s latest critically acclaimed album, “The Way We Move,” was released on Concord-based Ramseur Records last June. Matrimony will celebrates its own new release that night - its Columbia Records’ debut album. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Breaking Laces
10:30 p.m. Friday, April 19, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10. 704-376-3737.
The rocking Brooklyn power-pop trio wears its personality and sometimes humor on its guitar straps. With a nod to the huge rock hits of the `90s the tracks on 2012’s “Come Get Some” could comfortably fit alongside bands like Weezer and Better Than Ezra on alternative rock radio.

Boney James
7 p.m. Sunday, April 21, Knight Theater, 430 N. Tryon St. $29.50-$48.50. www.blumenthalarts.org
Little over a week after the release of his new album, “The Beat” (which flirts with Latin and urban influences), the Soul Train Award winning jazz saxophonist returns with his R&B flavored take on smooth, yet robust, jazz.

Lacuna Coil and Coal Chamber with Sevendust
7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $33. www.livenation.com
While headliner Sevendust plays Charlotte often, Italy’s theatrical, female fronted Lacuna Coil and reunited nu-metal vets Coal Chamber give this metal bill more immediacy. With Stolen Babies.

Youngblood Hawke
8 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $12.50-$15. www.visulite.com
The L.A. dance-pop quintet whose founders scored a few UK hits in its last band, Iglu & Hartley, stops in a week before releasing its debut full-length, “Wake Up.” The follow-up album to its Top 10 alternative single “We Come Running” is remarkably sunny and uplifting.

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25, Time Warner Cable Arena, $74.75-$96.50. www.ticketmaster.com
The classic rock guru’s Rock and Roll Never Forgets Tour features material from an unfinished upcoming album (including tracks by John Hiatt and Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Woody Guthrie tribute) as well as his many hits. Seger’s toying with the idea of retirement, so best to catch him now.

Marti Jones & Don Dixon
8 p.m. Thursday, April 25, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $15. www.eveningmuse.com
Having released their first duets record in 2011, these marrieds (who usually record as solo artists) return as a duo. Famed producer and Lancaster native Dixon’s NC roots run deep. In addition to his production work with R.E.M. and the Smithereens, he’s worked with Charlotte’s Fetchin’ Bones, Jim Brock, Babyshaker, and the Spongetones.

Luna Arcade
8 p.m. Thursday, April 25, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $10-$12. www.visulite.com
Chris Daughtry may be a mainstream star, but former Daughtry band mate Joey Barnes shows off his own incredible vocals in this Greensboro indie band that makes stunning, beautiful and soulful rock.

Jeanne Jolly
9 p.m. Thursday, April 25, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $10. www.doubledoorinn.com
Though dubbed a country singer, there’s stylistically much more to the Raleigh vocalist who gained prominence touring with jazz trumpeter Chris Botti and sings with Little Brother founder Phonte’s group the Foreign Exchange. Jolly celebrates the release of her solo album, “Angels,” with a trio performance.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Country dance club opens in Music Factory Friday

The Fillmore is getting a new neighbor. Saddle Up Saloon and Dancehall opens its doors Friday at the NC Music Factory complex. The national chain, which includes clubs in Chicago and Indianapolis,  focuses on country music and line dancing although the DJ adds pop, rock, and Top 40 into the mix after 10:30 p.m.

Kat Country 96.9's Tyler Reese will host the club's grand opening. Admission is free before 8 p.m. for Friday's opening.

Line dancing runs from 6 to 10:30 p.m. If you don't know the dance steps, don't worry. Free line dance lessons are at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. nightly and this Saloon boasts a 2,500 square foot solid oak dancefloor. Like Charlotte's 22-year-old country venue Coyote Joe's, Saddle Up also boasts a mechanical bull. They call it Hornet.

Saddle Up Saloon is not be confused with NC Music Factory's other Saloon - the restaurant and bar upstairs from Comedy Zone that features live music. Saddle Up is located next door to The Fillmore (see above map). It's open Wednesday through Sunday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. (1 a.m. on Sundays) and cover is $5 nightly. The new club is 21 and up.
Check it out on the web here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Age 11, CLT musician makes Double Door debut

Charlotte’s Double Door Inn, which turns 40 in December, is known for hosting an eclectic array of blues artists from legends like Steve Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, and Nappy Brown to more contemporary players on their way up (and down) the rungs of popularity. Heck, people are still talking about the night Eric Clapton stopped in to jam after his arena concert. The club has grown more eclectic over the years hosting top-notch Americana, R&B, funk and jam acts and singer-songwriters. But I would guess what the Double Door hasn’t had on its stage before is an 11-year-old headliner. That changes Thursday when Charlotte’s Wallace Foutch makes his Double Door debut. The all ages show (a rarity for the venue) starts at 8 p.m. to accommodate families with youngsters.

According to Foutch’s father, Wallace Sr., his son has been playing paid gigs since he was eight. He plays piano, drums and sings. The precocious tween not only rocks out Queen and Grand Funk Railroad classics and covers contemporary artists like Muse, he’s writing his own material.

Kids making music isn’t new of course. There was Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and even Shirley Temple. I’ve recently been hearing about a 14-year-old blues guitar wunderkind, Quinn Sullivan, who Buddy Guy has taken under his wing. You can’t see the future when you stumble on a talented kid in a YouTube video or at a state fair talent show. We’ve all seen the “Before They Were Stars” clips on VH1’s “Behind the Music” of Christina Aguilera or Justin Timberlake. Who knows who’ll be a star tomorrow and the field is even more populated in today’s world of schools of rock.
But Foutch certainly has potential. His vocal and technical chops are evident in his many YouTube videos. 

Booking a gig at the Double Door already? Foutch could have a bright future in music. Tickets for Thursday's show are $8 at www.doubledoorinn.com.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SouthEnd studio hosts intimate concert series

Years ago Charlotte's Jason Hausman was one of the musicians that played the monthly gallery crawl openings at the gallery/coffee shop that I managed. So it's fitting that he's now bringing live music back to the location, which houses Hot Sake - the sound design studio where he creates film and commercial music (and other sounds you hear in documentaries, advertising, and on the web).

Hot Sake LiVE - an extremely intimate acoustic concert series - kicks off Thursday with Aly Tadros. The Texan songwriter and classical guitarist also plays Evening Muse's late show on Saturday for those looking for a more traditional concert experience. Hot Sake LiVE is more like a house concert without the trappings of home (although you may encounter a dog or a falcon). Seating is limited to 25 and tickets are already gone (contact Hot Sake in case of last minute cancellations). All proceeds go to the artist and shows will be recorded in HD for webisodes broadcast on Hot Sake's website.

Tadros is a globetrotting musician whose travels to exotic locales like Spain, Egypt, Mexico, and Turkey inform her songs which are marked by haunting melodies, finger picking, and a smoky voice. To find out more about her intelligent, sultry sound and new album "The Fits" click here.

If you aren't one of the lucky 25, tickets to her show at Evening Muse are $8-$10 and are available here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Coming up? Gomez's arena tour, Ritter's return...

In recent concert announcement news Selena Gomez returns to Charlotte October 27. This time the Disney/“Spring Breakers” star, who sold out the Uptown Amphitheatre a few years back, moves up to Time Warner Cable Arena. Tickets for the Charlotte stop on her 56-city Stars Dance World T
our go on sale Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m via Ticketmaster outlets.

Tickets for Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley’s already announced Locked and Reloaded Tour, which stops at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on August 23, go on sale Friday, April 19 at 10 a.m. Randy Rogers Band and Gwen Sebastian open the show. Fan club pre-sale starts Wednesday at 10 a.m. Check www.selenagomez.com for more info.

Following the release of his new intimate, post-divorce/found new love album “The Beast in Its Tracks,” singer-songwriter Josh Ritter returns to Knight Theater on June 26 with the Royal City Band. Milk Carton Kids will open. Grammy nominated R&B singer 

Tamia performs at nearby Spirit Square’s McGlohon Theater June 12.

Tickets are also on sale for Celtic Thunder’s November 11 date at Belk Theater. Tickets for its Mythology tour, as well as for Tamia's and Ritter’s concerts are on sale at www.carolinatix.org or by calling 704-372-1000.

Also recently announced: California punk vet Face to Face makes it’s Amos’ debut June 5. City and Colour, who opened Pink’s arena show in March, also play the SouthEnd venue September 25. 

Old Crow Medicine Show graduates to Ovens Auditorium May 16.

Latin duo Jesse y Joy play Neighborhood Theatre June 7. Natalia Lafourcade and Lilo also perofrm. Carolina bluegrass outfit Chatham County Line is also back at the NoDa venue June 14.

Buzzing English, hip-hop flavored dance-pop artist Charli XCX (who penned Icona Pop’s current smash single “I Love It”) boogies into Visulite June 10. Lord Huron stops by the Elizabeth neighborhood venue on June 25.

Alt-J, who had a buzz-worthy set at last weekend’s Coachella Festival, is scheduled to hit The Fillmore September 20. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, April 15, at 10 a.m. at www.livenation.com and The Fillmore box office.

In other news the May 7 Jay May show at Tremont has been cancelled. 

Speed Street announces first acts

The annual Food Lion Speed Street Festival - the free NASCAR fan event and concert that takes place May 23-25 in uptown Charlotte - announced the first of its six headliners. R&B trio SWV (pictured above) will kick off opening night on Thursday.

Jamey Johnson, who headlined Coyote Joe's Friday, fills the country slot Friday night. And pop-rock outfit Sister Hazel is one of two Saturday night headliners. Stay tuned for more acts to be announced.

Food Lion Speed Street is part of race week that leads up to Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Lee Fields & the Expressions
8 p.m. Friday, April 12, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $13-$17. www.ticketfly.com
If you missed his December concert, the veteran soul singer is back. Hailing from Wilson, NC, but moving to NYC for a successful soul career in the `70s he’s NC’s stellar answer to the hot soul revival artists like Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley. With Lady.
Jamey Johnson
11 p.m. Friday, April 12, Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd. $20-$25. www.etix.com
While modern day Nashville is polished to rival the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, this rugged ACM and CMA winner recalls the grittier work of Waylon and Willie. In fact his latest album is a tribute collection to late `60s and `70s country songwriter Hank Cochran.

6 p.m. Saturday, April 13, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $29.99-$35. www.ticketfly.com
The veteran thrash band continues its endless comeback reunion with singer Joey Belladonna and its “Worship Muisic” album with a new covers EP and a headlining slot on the Metal Alliance Tour. Shadows Fall (whose Jon Donais is pulling double duty as Anthrax’s guitarist), Exodus, Municipal Waste, and Holy Grail round out the bill.

Chappo/Dynasty Electric
10 p.m. Saturday, April 13, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $8-$10. www.eveningmuse.com
If you don’t fast forward through commercials you may have heard these two NYC acts scoring ITunes or Victoria’s Secret commercials. The former is a theatrical dance-rock foursome whose members have moonlighted in Of Montreal. The latter is the latest incarnation of Seth Misterka’s electro-rock duo (which played the Milestone as Dynasty way back in 2005).

Andrew McMahon/Kate Earl
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $26.50-$28.50. www.visulite.com
Having ended his run with his band Jack’s Mannequin last fall, the leukemia survivor frontman (also of Something Corporate) previews his upcoming solo album (out April 30). Alaskan native Kate Earl opens with classic Americana-laced pop.

Markus Schulz/The M Machine
10 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, Phoenix, 300 N. College St. $15-$20/$25-$30 VIP. http://markusschulzcharlotte-facebook.eventbrite.com/
The acclaimed, top-ranking Miami-based German trance DJ brings his Scream Tour to uptown with San Francisco electronic trio M Machine, whose pulsating “M” and live vocals bridge sci-fi/fantasy, house music, and gentle indie dance-rock.

The Whiskey Gentry/The Brothers Comatose
8 p.m. Thursday, April 18, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $8-$10. 704-376-3737.
There’s a soulful familiarity to these two family-based bands - one with a husband and wife at its heart; the other a pair of San Francisco brothers. Whiskey Gentry features classic country female vocals and a ripping bluegrass band; the Brothers’ take is a fiery blend of harmonies and picking that drifts between folk-rock and new grass.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mike Strauss Trio's new album stirs memories

There are many things I’d like to share with my father, who died 10 years ago this month - most importantly my two little boys Every now and then an album crosses my desk that I wish I could share with him. In the swirl of memory loss, depression and a dizzying number of health problems his love for music waned in the last couple years of his life, but for most of my life he was a music lover in the deepest sense. 

He spent most weekends listening to his friends pick the same 25 bluegrass songs. His house was full of vinyl records, hand-labeled cassettes, and cds. He listened to music from his Lazy Boy, absorbing every lyric and poring over liner notes like a teenager. He quoted Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and Tom Waits to the point where I knew lyrics to songs growing up that I’d never actually heard. I think his most prized possession was his stereo.

My father would have dug Charlotte singer-songwriter Mike Strauss’ new album. The prolific Strauss - who would’ve won points with my dad for being a fellow West Virginian in the first place - usually records with his seven piece band. But “Volume I” is a collection of acoustic songs recorded with the trio of Strauss (pictured solo above), Randolph Lewis, and Jon Schigoda. There’s something special about this quiet trio setting. Strauss’ words, distinctive phrasing and voice - a deep, husky baritone that’s reminiscent of Tom Waits and Mark Knopfler - easily cut through the delicate guitar and upright bass lines which add texture and color and sometimes zip off on their own impressive runs.

My first thought was Guy Clark’s records - a connection I hadn’t previously drawn from Strauss’ big band records. The seven song EP is a subtle record. It reminds me of when we used to sit around listening to albums on vinyl in the quiet of our secluded house with the screen door open and crickets chirping and bugs buzzing outside.

Strauss started out as a blues guitarist and that undercurrent is always there, but old time country and folk are significant anchors here as well. "Volume I" is currently in limited release and is not yet available through his website, but you can pick up a copy at one of his many shows.

Strauss plays Snug Harbor tonight, April 10, with his full band - a lively, hopped up affair often with horn, fiddle, and pedal steel (which work well with his compositions). The Trio performs Friday at Summit Coffee and Saturday at The Common Chord Songwriter Showcase in Salisbury, but there’s always an opportunity to check him out. He’s back with the full band April 20 at Comet Grill and often plays Cotswold’s Pizza Peel. You can check out his full schedule here.  

(Photo by Sarah Gates courtesy of www.mikestrauss.net) 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Muse, Rock, Jonas, 311 & others set CLT dates

Topping the list of recent concert announcements, Muse will play Time Warner Cable Arena September 3 with opening act Cage the Elephant. 

The Tedeschi Trucks Band - featuring marrieds Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks - join the Black Crowes at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre July 21. Tickets for both shows go on sale Friday, April 12 at 10 a.m. 

The Jonas Brothers' first American tour in three years includes a stop at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre on July 30. Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 13.

311’s annual Unity Tour is back. This time the lineup, which stops at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre July 17, features Cypress Hill and G. Love and Special Sauce. Tickets go on sale April 20. 

Carrying on a similar vibe, Slightly Stoopid and Atmosphere will share the Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre stage August 17. The Budos Band opens the show. Tickets go on sale Friday, August 26 at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster outlets and the Fillmore box office.

Kid Rock gives fans a break on admission with $20 tickets to his September 10 concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre with ZZ Top and Uncle Kracker. Not only will his “$20 Best Night Ever” Tour features $20 seats in all sections, but its reported there will be discounts on everything from merchandise to concessions. Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 13 at 10 a.m.

At the club level Moon Taxi returns to Visulite with Frontier Ruckus May 6. Rockin' country act Reckless Kelly returns to Neighborhood Theatre May 10.  

Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly and Taking Back Sunday guitarist John Nolan go solo at Tremont May 16. 

HRVRD, who celebrated its cd release at Tremont Sunday, is back home May 30 at The Milestone with O'Brother. Ours returns to The Milestone with Luna Arcade June 4 (both put on a great, super intimate show last summer). Math the Band returns June 23. 

Amos' welcomes Sirius XMU regulars Purity Ring June 12. 

Former reality TV heartthrob Ryan Cabrera plays the intimate  Evening Muse with Jason Castro and Deleasa June 18.

For those willing to travel, Postal Service’s stops at Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheatre June 7 with RaRa Riot. Zac Brown Band plays Raleigh’s Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion June 21. And Iron Maiden, who stopped at Verizon last summer, takes its tour to Raleigh’s Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion September 3. Megadeth will open. 

Check individual club websites for tickets to local venues; Ticketmaster and LiveNation outlets for Raleigh shows. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Jorge Celedon
9 p.m. Friday, April 5, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $47. www.livenation.com
The Latin Grammy winner (and former member of the group Binomio de Oro de America) plays Colombian folk known as Vallenato - a cousin of Cumbia marked by expressive accordion runs, traditiona. caja drum and guacharaca (a ribbed wooden instrument), and - in Celedon’s case - soulful, romantic vocals.

The Mantras
9:30 p.m. Friday, April 5, Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St. $12. www.chopshopnoda.com
On its new album, “Jam Bands Ruined My Life,” the Carolina combo comes out swinging with meaty guitars, bouncy organ, and funky rhythms that swirl together through lyrical playing that tells a vibrant, theatrical story - almost musical theater style - and pounces with personality.

Kenny Roby
10 p.m. Friday, April 5, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $5. www.snugrock.com
The Raleigh-based songwriter (formerly of late `90s roots outfit 6 String Drag) releases his first album in six years, “Memories & Birds,”  - a deep and dreamy song cycle that finds him approaching songs like dark, detailed literature. Temperance League’s Shawn Lynch and David Kim, whose band opens the show, help out on the new record.

The Shack Band
10 p.m. Friday, April 5, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $7. 704-376-1446.
Originally scheduled to play in late January but cancelled due to weather, this Richmond-based outfit features Myers Park grad Andrew Gillespie and is becoming a staple on the festival circuit with its infectious energy, Southern organ and guitar-fueled sing-alongs, and bright harmonies.

Ben Rector
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6, Amos’ 1423. S. Tryon St. $15-$18. www.etix.com
The Nashville-based pop singer-songwriter embarks on his “Rectour” in anticipation of his upcoming album (tentatively set for summer). He’ll be debuting a handful of new tracks as well as old fan favorites.

Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line
8 p.m. Saturday, April 6, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12. 704-376-3737.
This former English teacher breathes new life into fiddle and banjo-centered bluegrass and folk while remaining firmly footed in tradition on her new album “Carnival” (out April 16).  She creates the kind of vintage storytelling it’s easy to get attached to.

Jon Lindsay
8 p.m. Saturday, April 6, Petra’s, 1919 Commonwealth Ave. $7. www.petraspianobar.com
The Charlotte pop singer-songwriter premieres material from his two upcoming albums before heading to NYC to do the same. He’s joined by Machine Theatre, who’ll present a “surrealist cabaret” called Two Tampones, and comedian Raf Taylor.

Hugh Masekela
7 p.m. Sunday, April 7, McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St. $24.50-$44.50. 704-372-1000.
The 73-year-old South African jazz trumpeter makes a rare Charlotte tour stop celebrating a recent collection of wedding songs from his youth. In recent years the Grammy winner has played with U2, scored Mandela’s post-prison tour, and kicked off the South African World Cup. 

7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 7, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $8-$10. www.ticketfly.com
The Charlotte experimental rock band returns after a national tour and stop at South By Southwest to celebrate its recent Equal Vision Records’ debut. The show is also its last with longtime drummer Tim Cossor, who hasn’t toured since November.

Diana Krall
8 p.m. Sunday, April 7, Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $50.10-$143.25. www.ticketmaster.com
The Grammy winning jazz vocalist/keyboardist is at her most playful and sexy (check out the album cover) on her latest, “Glad Rag Doll.” Her concert picks up on the Ziegfeld Follies style ambiance visually as well with silent films and sets that - like her album - bridge early jazz with modern day. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

M5, Clarkson, Passion Pit, more headed our way

LiveNation announced this morning that Maroon 5 will headline the 2013 Honda Civic Tour with special guest Kelly Clarkson. The tour hits Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre September 11. Support acts all have a Maroon 5 connection. Openings acts include collaborator and sometime Maroon 5 keyboardist PJ Morton, Tony Lucca (who placed second runner-up as a member of Team Levine on NBC's "The Voice" and was later signed to Adam Levine's label), and Lucca's 222 Records labelmate Rozzi Crane, who recently toured with Maroon 5 and was featured on its track "Come "Away" (from "The Hunger Games" soundtrack).

Maroon 5 fan club members have access to tickets today. For pre-sale tickets, which go on sale April 2, sign up here. Tickets go on sale to the general public Saturday, April 6 at Ticketmaster outlets.

Other recent concert announcements include Everclear's Summerland Tour making its return to Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre for a second year. This year's lineup includes fellow `90s rockers Live, Filter, and Sponge. Tickets are currently on sale.

Passion Pit graduates from the Fillmore to the larger neighboring outdoor venue when it plays Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre on June 13. Tickets go on sale Friday April 5 at noon.

Keith Urban's Light the Fuse Tour hits Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre July 25 with Dustin Lynch and Little Big Town. John Mayer returns to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre September 4.

The 4th Annual Uptown Charlotte Jazz Fest revealed its full lineup last week. Acts for the June 21-22 concert at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre include 5th and York, Brian Culbertson, and Peter White and Euge Groove on Friday, June 21. Saturday's bill features keyboardist Gregg Kanukas, Sax in the City featuring Marion Meadows, Paul Taylor, and Vincent Ingala, and the all-star group BWB, featuring Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum, and Rick Braun. Tickets, including VIP packages, are available at Ticketmaster outlets and the Fillmore box office.

Joyfest, the annual gospel music festival at Carowinds, returns to the amusement park May 25. This year's lineup includes Kirk Franklin, United Tenors featuring Fred Hammond, Marvin Sapp, recent Grammy winning Christian rapper LaCrae, Le'Andria Johnson, Isaac Carree, Humble Tip, and comedian Bone Hampton. Tickets are currently available at www.ticketmaster.com.

At the club level buzz band Youngblood Hawke visite Visulite April 23. Pixies' frontman Black Francis makes his first solo Charlotte appearance since the mid-to-late `90s (if memory serves). Back then he was going by Frank Black, but he's back to Black Francis at Visulite May 11.

Soulive drummer Alan Evans' brings his Trio to Evening Muse April 26. Female quartet the Trishas play the Muse May 16. And Band of Horses' guitarist Tyler Ramsey has rescheduled his cancelled March show at the Muse for September 13.

Hurt headlines the Rock Revival Tour at Amos' April 28 with Smile Empty Soul and SSS (Sun Sky and Surface). Relient K hits the SouthEnd venue May 1 followed by former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle's Band May 5. He'll be playing music from his former band. Fear Factory returns to Amos' May 8. The Hush Sound and Hockey stop by May 18 with River City Extension and Company of Thieves' frontwoman Genevieve Schatz.

Rounding out Amos' recent calendar additions are former teen heartthrob Aaron Carter on June 6 and Hanson's return November 20.

On the country side, Coyote Joe's welcomes Kip Moore May 10 followed by the return of Staind frontman Aaron Lewis June 1.

Two heavy acts with area roots return to Tremont in June. Goth rocker Wednesday 13 returns June 4 and Valient Thorr kicks off its tour with Gypsyhawk on June 12. Tickets available through venue websites.

In other recent concert news, Sara Barreilles' May 21 show at Booth Playhouse sold out in three hours.