Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My favorite albums of 2014

I asked others to submit their favorites earlier this week, so here are my favorite albums of 2014. 

Damon Albarn - "Everyday Robots"
My four and five-year-olds, who love Albarn's Blur and Gorillaz, had a big impact on my favorite albums this year. My husband and I didn’t expect Damon Albarn's solo album to top both of our best of lists this year (he posts one at the Stoner Rock forum he frequents), but this quiet, intimate solo debut is stunning. My husband digs all the real life sounds Albarn sampled to create the music. I dig the incredibly personal lyrics.
Against Me! "Transgender Dysphoria Blues"
My 3 year old started singing the chorus to "True Trans Soul Rebel" in the cart at Whole Foods. I’ve found kids are a good filter for music. A  toddler has no preconceived notions from friends or  the press and very few outside influences when it comes to taste. So when one of the kids instantly picks up on new music, I pay attention. Aside from that "Transgender Dysphoria Blues," which followed the public revelation that Against Me! singer Tom Gabel was transitioning to frontwoman Laura Jane Grace is also a game changing album when it comes to transgender stories and acceptance. She manages to make her personal story universal. Anyone that’s felt like an outsider can identify with this incredible album.

Phantogram - "Voices"

"Black Out Days" is another Whole Foods buggy favorite of my now 4 year old, who first heard it on Siriux/XM. It was already a front runner before it was on repeat constantly in our car. The Brooklyn duo showed great promise on its previous work, but "Voices" is a more consistent and cinematic effort.
Cory Branan - "No Hit Wonder"
In a perfect world (or in the `70s) Americana's no hit wonder would be a country music juggernaut. On "No Hit Wonder" he writes ample hooks with lyrics that shift from funny to heartbreaking to somewhere in between. "While she sleeps I trace the places where your tattoos use to be" from "The Only You" is the kind of zinger that Taylor Swift might covet. Branan is also about the most charismatic performer you could meet, as he proved opening for Justin Townes Earle in November.
Nostalghia - "Chrysalis"
The first time I heard Ciscandra Nostalghia’s song "Sunshiny Milk" driving home from the Y last Spring, I got chills. It was like the musical equivalent to BBCA’s "Orphan Black." The band’s debut album is a rare unique find, combining gothic elements (of bands like Curve, Rasputina, and Switchblade Symphony) with classical and electronica and an other worldly delivery reminiscent of an industrial Bjork.
Taking Back Sunday - "Happiness Is"
I call TBS’ latest album a soundtrack to transition. I listened to it every morning my first week of grad school. The emo vets tackle grown up issues with gusto on tracks that are easily put to memory. It doesn’t hurt that it can stay on repeat for days.
Neon Trees - "Pop Psychology"
The first time I heard "Pop Psychology" I thought the Utah foursome had gone too pop, but after repeat listens the band's third album grew on me (and my kids). Singer Tyler Glenn, who came out this year, and the crew create an infectious and youthful dissertation on finding love and building real relationships in the increasingly impersonal digital age.
Lydia Loveless - "Somewhere Else"
This twangy Ohio singer-songwriter has become one of my favorite performers. As a lyricist and live performer she speaks with brutal honesty and a sense of humor. She’s like a riot grrrl gone country writing songs for modern, fickle relationships and independent thinkers.
Iceage - "Plowing into the Field of Love"
I heard this while shopping at Lunchbox Records without knowing who it was, but I’m a sucker for a manly baritone and bass that practically drags the ground. It’s not what I expected given 2013’s noisier no wave-influenced “You’re Nothing.” Those influences remain, but “Plowing into the Field…” is more accessible and, in some ways that makes it even weirder. The rockabilly shuffle of “The Lord’s Favorite” is as odd as is the sort of retro crooning of “Against the Moon,” but that’s why it works.
Glass Animals - ZABA

It may be dubbed “indie rock,” but this Oxford band veers pretty close to sultry R&B with a sort of visceral, tribal feel. Its soft-spoken funk, electronica, and trip hop mines the same R&B feel as Daley, but there’s an experimental world music quality that’s all its own. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Locals share their favorite music of 2014 Part 3

To start out our third day of the best music of 2014 as chosen by Charlotte artists, musicians, and others in entertainment, we have Ken Cotner, bassist for the Charlotte Americana band the Turnstiles who released the album "Souvenir Summer" earlier this year. The band's frontman Brad Thomas weighed in as well with two picks - Jeffrey Dean Foster’s “The Arrow” and the Loudermilks’ self-titled debut. Kotner calls Wussy's "Attica" his favorite album of the last five years, which bumped frontrunner "Night Surfer" to second place. 

Wussy - Attica 
Chuck Prophet - Night Surfer   
Loudermilks - Loudermilks
Walter Salas-Humara - Curve and Shake
David Childers - Serpents of the Reformation
Hurray for the Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes
The Baseball Project - 3rd
Mike Strauss - The Whole Skinny 
Bobby Bare Jr. - Undefeated
Spottiswoode & His Enemies - English Dream
Lydia Loveless - Somewhere Else

Cameron Lee heads up CLTure - a Charlotte-based company that specializes in video production, digital marketing, and event promotions. Lee and his team also cover music festivals and blog about entertainment and regional food at , where his list originally appeared.

How to Dress Well - What is This Heart?
Lake Street Drive - Bad Self Portraits
Real Estate - Atlas
Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2
The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
Future Islands - Singles
Sylvan Esso - Sylvan Esso
Shakey Graves - And the War Came
Sun Kil Moon - Benji
Caribou - Our Love

Charlotte rapper Stranger Day (aka Shane Coble) released his acclaimed, eclectic album "Graves" as a free download earlier this year (it's made a few Top 10 lists as well). The album - a Charlotte-centric effort which features several other local artists from disparate genres - is available here

Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2
Lotta - Final Fantasy 2
A Wax - Pulling Strings
Gene the Southern Child - Southern Meridian
Tim Barry - Lost and Rootless
White Lung - Deep Fantasy
Antwon - Heavy Hearted in Doldrums
Sun Kil Moon - Benji
Mac DeMarco - Salad Days
Hungry Girl - Chiefs EP

When not prepping his next album for a 2015 release, Charlotte pop-rock singer-songwriter Jon Lindsay was working with the NC Music Love Army to further progressive political work in North Carolina. The first seven albums on Lindsay's list come from other North Carolina artists, while the other three, he says, represent his favorites in the rest of the world. 

Alternative Champs - Feelings
Benji Hughes - Songs in the Key of Animals
J Cole - Forest Hills Drive
Hiss Golden Messenger - Lateness of Dancers
Lost in the Trees - Past Life
Sylvan Esso - Sylvan Esso
Angel Olsen - Burn Your Eyes for No Witness
Taylor Swift - 1989
Mac DeMarco - Salad Days
Perfume Genius - Too Bright

Monday, December 29, 2014

Locals share their favorite music of 2014 Part 2

As we look back on 2014, Charlotteans weigh in on some of their favorite albums of the year.

First we have Tammy Greene who has been booking jazz concerts in the Southeast through Jazz Diva Entertainment for years. She currently brings Grammy award winning jazz artists to CPCC's Halton Theater and is involved in the Swing Jazz Series at Blumenthal, among many other things. 

Gretchen Parloto - Live in NYC
Pat Metheny Unity Group - Kin
Jimmy Greene - Beautiful Life
Nathan East - Nathan East
Raul Midon - Don't Hesitate
Chick Corea - Trilogy
Harvey Mason - Chameleon
Dianne Reeves - Beautiful Life
Jazz Funk Soul - Everette Harp, Chuck Loeb, and Jeff Lorber
Nick Colionne - Influences

Tom Calhoun - one of my favorite people on Twitter - describes himself as a pop culture fanatic, punk rocker, wannabe cartoonist, and former Pharaoh who occasionally posts dusty tidbits from the far corner of the attic at The Adventurer's Club ( He took a few suggestions from his sons Thomas and Phillip to complete his list, he says. 

Mikaela Davis - Fortune Teller
The Empty Hearts - The Empty Hearts
The Dollyrots - Barefoot and Pregnant
Michael Nesmith - Movies of the Mind
Alvvays - Alvvays
The Both - The Both
EMA - The Future's Void
East Indie Youth - Total Strife Forever
Death from Above 1979 - The Physical World
Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

Dane Abernathy is a jack of all trades when it comes to music in Charlotte. He runs sound at The Milestone where he also sometimes records bands, does concert photography (check out his work here) and sings for the band HU/LK. His list previously appeared in "Crowdsurfer."

Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2
Warpaint - Warpaint
Andy the Doorbum - The Fool
Young and In the Way - When Life Comes to Death
Stepdad SS - Mad About It
The Foxery - Unless
Mikal Hill - The Snuggle Is Real
Hungry Girl - Chiefs
Braid - No Coast
Hollow Earth - Silent Graves

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Locals share their favorite music of 2014

It's time to reflect on the year that was by looking back at the best concerts and the best music we saw and heard in 2014. It's impossible for one person to hear or see it all, so last year I asked other Charlotteans that work and play in music and entertainment to send in their favorite albums of the year. I for one enjoy seeing what other people are into, so I asked local artists, musicians, and writers to share their top tens again this year. I'll be running these through the New Year.

Rock Hill's Jeff Howlett, who directed the acclaimed music documentary "A Band Called Death" (which if you haven't seen, I highly recommend). You can read more about Howlett's photography work in Sunday's Arts section or online here. He'll be shooting tintype photos with Chris Morgan at the Neighborhood Theatre's New Year's Eve party Wednesday. Fans of Death will notice some familiar connections in this year's list.

Rough Francis - Maximum Soul Power
Swale - The Next Instead
Death - Death 3
Benji Hughes - Songs in the Key Of Animals
Today is the Day - Animal Mother
Il Sogno del Marinaio - Canto Secondo
Unearth - Watchers of Rule
The Roots - ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin
Off! - Wasted Years
Stranger Day - Graves

Kevin Winchester is an author, professor and musician whose work includes the short story collection "Everybody's Gotta Eat." He currently plays bass and sings with the soulful Americana combo the Flatland Tourists who just released their debut EP. He says the Top 3 albums on his list are interchangeable.

Shovels & Rope - Swimming Time
Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
Old Crow Medicine Show - Remedy
Balsam Range - Five
Greensky Bluegrass - If Sorrows Swim
Hurray for the Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes
Lucinda Williams - Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone
Hard Working Americans - First Waltz
John Cowan - Sixty
The Loudermilks - The Loudermilks

Friday, December 26, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Sensational Santa Showdown
Friday  9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $5, 
The eclectic jam-centered lineup includes the progressive jazz-inflected rock of Case Federal & the Agents, which features colorful interplay between sax, guitar, and vocals, the bluesy improvisations of Duk Tan, the organ-guided classic rock of the Goodnight Brothers, and the comedy influenced tunes of Crackers & Snackmeat, who’ve backed comedians like Doug Stanhope and Johnny Millwater.

Kool Keith
Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $17,  
Santa delivered a quirky hip-hop treat under Plaza Midwood’s tree. The prolific, influential underground rap legend behind Ultramagnetic MCs and Dr. Octagon returns for How Keith Stole Christmas with DJ Justin Aswell (Mr. Invisible, Snug’s weekly Knocturnal events) and BlacKostume.

Another Lost Year
Saturday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $10-$12,  
The Charlotte hard rock band whose high octane songs could score a NASCAR race or a WWE pay-per-view (and in fact have played during Panthers’ games) spent most of 2014 touring the East Coast and Midwest with bands like Saving Abel. It’s back for a post-holiday hometown show before hitting the pavement again in 2015.

Misguided Youth
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,  
During its run from 1984 to 1989 this Charlotte punk band opened for some of the heaviest hitters in the `70s and `80s punk and hardcore - the Ramones, Circle Jerks, Agnostic Front, Exploited, and others. Its members, who went on to Aqualads, Leisure McCorkle, and Drat reunite for its 30th anniversary.

Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band/Big Something
Tuesday  9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $12-$15,  
The formative Asheville funk-rock band, who has been laying down horn-laden grooves for 12 years now, teams with the Burlington-based sextet whose accessible kitchen sink approach manages to seamlessly marry rock, funk, hip-hop, disco, and jazz on its album “Truth Serum” providing a link between Pink Floyd, Incubus, the Chili Peppers, and the Grateful Dead.

John Tosco’s 5th Annual NYE Variety Show
Wednesday  4:30 to 6 McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St., $15,
The team behind the long running Tosco Music Parties and Beatles Tribute focus less on music and more on fun for the younger set with jugglers, comedians, bubbles, ventriloquists, kazoos, and dancing with acts like the Jolly Lollies and the Mud Puddles providing the tunes. Plus there’s time to put the kids to bed before the grown up parties start.

Overboard II: Cruise Control
8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 35th St., Free, 
Local acts MTHR, Hungry Girl, Miami Dice, Dreamy D, Junior Astronomers, DJ Ahuf, and DJ STRTR provide the soundtrack for this sailing themed party, which includes Carolina photographers Jeff Howlett and Raleigh’s Chris Morgan shooting tintypes.

Simplified New Year’s Eve Party
10 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $18-$20,
The popular Charlotte acoustic rock and reggae outfit returns for its annual feel good New Year’s jam. Although geared toward adults the show is open to ages 16 and up. Under 16 must be accompanied by parent.

Snug Harbor NYE
10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $10,
December residents the Fat Face Band join long running holiday fixture Benji Hughes, rocking funnymen the Alternative Champs and rousing roots duo Sinners & Saints for this neighborhood party.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Billy Idol's autobiography adds depth to new album

Among the glaring omissions in the list of 2015 Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame inductees announced earlier this week is Billy Idol, especially given the upcoming induction of second wave (or third, depending on who you ask) punks Green Day. I understand that some of my other favorite influential early punk rockers may not have the cultural notoriety or mainstream hits of the latter day favorites who certainly grew beyond its punk beginnings, but that's not true of Idol who has had a long, hit-filled career  nearing its 40th year.

Idol has a habit of recurring. Every decade or so I feel like he pops back up in my life in a big way. In 1981 he was one of the first faces I saw on my TV screen when my parents brought home the little brown cable box that brought MTV into our lives. The bloody finger of "White Wedding" was both horrific and fascinating to a 6 year old girl, but no matter how strange the images, I couldn't turn away from the infectious guitar rock.

A decade later he'd conquer MTV again with "Cradle of Love" and "L.A. Woman," but my true love for Billy Idol didn't really hit until another decade had passed. I was living in Arizona when VH1 released his "Behind the Music" special in 2001. My sister and I went to see him and Steve Stevens play live at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and it is hands down one of the best concerts I've ever seen. Part of that memory is that I was standing ankle deep in a pool by a man-made beach in a crowd that was reenacting an MTV Spring Break special. But it was also Idol reveling in the performance. I was clued into deeper cuts and lesser hits I'd never heard before and new material stood up to the old. You can watch one his other Mandalay Bay concerts here.

Fast forward another decade when my children discovered Idol, unearthing not only hits like "Dancing With Myself" but absorbing his 2005 album "Devil's Playground" and his work with his late `70s British punk band Generation X.

In October Idol released his autobiography, "Dancing With Myself" and new album, "Kings and Queens of the Underground." I wasn't completely sold on the album until I'd read the book. I think part of that was that the opening track "Bitter Pill" is a bit of a mid-tempo, reflective start that lacks punch and I'd grown accustomed to the punkier sound of "Devil's Playground" and Generation X. "Kings and Queens" is a more diverse record that plays on some of the earlier influences Idol covers in the book that - once he points them out - you start noticing throughout his catalog.

Knowing the stories behind songs like the title track adds depth as well. The bulk of the book covers Idol's early years growing up both in the US and UK and his membership in the group of Sex Pistols' followers known as the Bromley Contingent, which birthed not only Idol but my beloved Siouxsie and the Banshees. I get a kick out of reading about an era that made such a big impact on me as a fan.

Idol appears to have written the book without the aid of a co-writer. You can hear his voice in it as he recollects about these early years in great detail. The latter section is less detailed. When his longtime girlfriend Perri Lister (star of those `80s videos) finally leaves him after hearing him on the phone with his mistress over their son's baby monitor, you wonder if he really recalls it or if he read it in Rolling Stone like the rest of us. I wondered if the fog of drugs he was admittedly under makes this period in his life all blur together. Or maybe he just remembers it less fondly and doesn't want to dwell.

That's not to say the latter portion takes away from the strength of the book as a whole. It's one of the better music biographies I've read (the Carter Family's 2004 being the best - it reads like a soap; Lemmy's "White Line Fever" being the most disappointing for it's lack of intimacy).

As for the album, there are thought out musical and lyrical links both to the book and Idol's earlier years. During "Kings and Queens" (the song) I picture a young Siouxsie, Banshees' bassist Steven Severin, Idol, Lister, and those other characters of the scene. On "Kings and Queens," "Love and Glory" and, to a degree, "Bitter Pill," Idol illustrates his strength as a crooner, which we've heard throughout his career. It comes naturally to Idol. He is 59 (my son likes to remind me of this) so before he discovered rock n' roll he grew up with Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and Elvis. Time hasn't hurt his range either.

"Save Me Now" and "Can't Break Me Down" (featured in the video above) are two of the more rocking tracks. Knowing Idol's father preferred the former as he was lying on his death bed earlier this year also gives it more weight. It's my kid's favorite too, which I guess speaks of its cross-generational pull. "Postcards from the Past," a phrase Idol ends the book with, is a heavier rocker that includes musical references to "Rebel Yell," "White Wedding" and his Cyperpunk days. "Eyes Wide Shut" obviously references "Eyes Without a Face."

The album has grown on me. It's now a staple in our car. It helps that the kids love him too, of course. But if you're on the fence or just want to expand your understanding of the record, I recommend checking out the book too. Although I'm still surprised by the level of functioning drug addict role models that my childhood had to offer (he did not look like an extra from "Trainspotting" even at his worst), "Dancing With Myself" gives new respect for Idol's work and career - a career that should garner him a place in rock n' roll history.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Traveling Wilburys Tribute and Benefit
Friday  9 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E 36th St., $10,  
Ancient Cities, Elonzo, Sam the Lion, and the Sammies join members of the New Familiars, Reeve Coobs Band of Men, the Midwood Horns, Hectorina, the Shana Blake Band, the Bleeps, Heywire, the Near Misses and the Hot Gates to raise money for Levine Children’s Hospital. In its fourth installment, the fundraiser pays tribute to the beloved, yet short-lived super group.(The above clip is a preview from the Lou Reed tribute benefit concert last winter). 

Frontier Ruckus
Friday  10 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $8,  
Avett Brothers’ manager Dolph Ramseur was onto something when he released this Michigan quartet’s second full-length in 2010. Dubbed “gothic Americana” by Rolling Stone - depending how you see it, the outfit plays charming indie rock like a harmonizing band of forest dwellers or harmonious string music like a bunch of hip, indie rockers. It works either way.

Angie Aparo
Saturday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $12-$15,
Since his 2000 modern rock hit “Spaceship,” this Atlanta songwriter has stayed under the radar writing songs for Faith Hill (the Grammy winning “Cry”), Tim McGraw, and Miley Cyrus, while continuing to tour and release his own albums. He remains a stunning vocalist whose performance will stop utterances of “one hit wonder” in their tracks.

Bubonik Funk
Saturday  10 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $8-$10,
The Charlotte jam-funk band finishes up what’s likely been the biggest of its eight years together, having played New Orleans Jazz Fest and released its new album, “Oddfish Volume 1” earlier this year. The colorful crew returns to Chop Shop for what it’s calling Winter Wondercod with Batsheet and Viva La Hop.

The Hawthornes
Saturday  10:30 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $6-$8,  
With new vocalist Ade` Herbert on board, this versatile Charlotte combo whose 2014 debut album “More Than Eyes Can See” was built on soulful grooves, lyrical, classic rock inspired guitar work, and shades of jazz and funk, is prepping their first single with the New Orleans-bred singer.

K. Michelle
Sunday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $40-$80,  
On her just-released second album, “Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart,” the VH1 reality star taps guitar rock (“Love `Em All”), James Bond (“Judge Me”), dramatic balladry, and dreamy Autotuned dance music for a cohesive and addictive album of modern R&B that shifts from motivational and inspirational to the female version of Usher.

Fat Face Band
Wednesday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free,  
Let this Charlotte trio of trumpet/melodica, guitar and tuba score your Christmas Eve with its mix of New Orleans jazz and avant-garde as you wait for Santa’s arrival. Having toured Europe earlier this year and played the Democratic National Convention in 2012, the trio is sticking close to home as Snug’s December artist in residence.

Plaza Midwood Christmas
Thursday  8 p.m., Petra’s, 1919 Commonwealth Ave., $
Charlotte pop singer-songwriter Jon Lindsay hosts this intimate Christmas night get together that should fill the void after packages are opened, family has departed, and bellys are full. The lineup includes Lindsay, Wilmington’s Free Clinic, Brooklyn/NC’s Spirit System, and Charlotte’s Bless These Sounds Under the City, Toleman Randall, and Perry Fowler and Slade Baird from Sinners & Saints and Amigo, respectively.

`80s Charlotte punk band celebrates 30 years with one-off reunion

The holidays are a time to reminisce and if you were a punk fan living in the Southeast in the `80s then you may want to jump on this rare post-Christmas concert. Misguided Youth was a Charlotte punk band during the mid to late `80s. The lineup of Lee McCorkle, John Lomax, Jimmy King (of Drat and the Aqualads), and Sam Michaelowski will reunite Saturday, December 27 with a show at Snug Harbor (1228 Gordon St.) to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

I wasn't around for Misguided Youth's `80s run. I met McCorkle when we worked at Record Exchange. I'd taken a semester off work for an internship and when I returned he was working the register at our new East Blvd. location. He'd just put out his "Nappy Superstar" solo album (a good record, by the way) and was promoting it heavily to customers from behind the counter. I remember thinking he talked a lot about his band. If I'd known his history, I may have been more impressed.

Misguided Youth was McCorkle's first band and between 1984 and 1989 it played with what are now punk and hardcore legends like the Ramones, Lords of the New Church, Circle Jerks, Agnostic Front, 7 Seconds, the Exploited, Corrosion of Conformity, and Dead Milkmen.

Antiseen's Jeff Clayton produced the band's first EP, "Lawrence Welk's Death Polkas on Black Vinyl." It also recorded a full-length called "United States of America," which McCorkle says was only distributed in the regional scene.

McCorkle describes the band's sound as "Give 'Em Enough Rope" era Clash meets the Sex Pistols and adds that former Antiseen member Tom O'Keefe joked that they were just a little too early to be Green Day, which means if the cards were dealt differently the Rock Hall might be inducting them next year.

Misguided Youth will be joined by That Guy Smitty, the Chalkies, the Poontanglers, and AM/FMs Saturday. The show starts at 10 p.m. and admission is $5.

(Photos courtesy of Lee McCorkle. Top -Misguided Youth during its 25th anniversary at the Milestone. Bottom - Youth in its infancy).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Circa Survive
Friday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$23,
Following the release of its well-received fifth album, “Descensus,” and one of the most disturbing music videos of the year (watch the clip for “Schema” where singer Anthony Green boxes an overgrown baby), the Pennsylvania quintet delivers its angsty, atmospheric and expansive metallic emocore. With Title Fight, Tera Melos, and Pianos Become the Teeth.

Black Keys/St. Vincent
Friday  8 p.m., Time Warner Cable Arena, 333. E. Trade St., $48.25-$91.95,   It’s been a good year for both former underground artists. The Black Keys were nominated for three Grammys (rock album, song and performance) for this year’s “Turn Blue,” while opening act Annie Clark is up for Best Alternative Rock album for the self-titled record that Entertainment Weekly just named album of the year.

Wink Keziah’s Christmas Bash
Friday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $8,
The storytelling songwriter and Charlotte bred band leader celebrated the release of his third album “Cowbilly” earlier this year. Although he divides his time between Charlotte and Austin, he’s back for a honky tonkin’ holiday with Kevin Marshall and the J-Walkers and Kelly Mullen.

Friday  9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $12-$15,   
With the recent release of its third album, the hard touring improvisation-centered jam band returns mixing keyboard-laden funk, jam rock style, spacy psychedelics and a trippy laser light show. Experimental funk rock tour mates Tauk make heavier, progressive jam rock that’s equally grand and spacy in scope.

Me Myself & I Fest
Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $3, 
This annual celebration of one man bands features frisky founder Your Fuzzy Friends,  Plaza Midwood staple Bo White going solo without his Orquesta, Hectorina frontman Dylan Gilbert, regular area attraction Human Pippi Armstrong (aka Nathan Hemphill), and Jared Draughon’s Must Be the Holy Ghost.

David Benoit Christmas
Saturday  8 p.m., Halton Arena, CPCC, 1206 Elizabeth Ave. $45-$70,
The award winning contemporary jazz pianist who inherited Vince Guaraldi’s spot creating music for later “Peanuts” specials, pays tribute to the composer and revisits the unforgettable songs from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with students from Trinity Episcopal School. The show closes out the Carolina Jazz Concert series for 2014.

Saturday  9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 36th St., $25-$30, 
On the funky up-tempo numbers, blatant pop, and belted ballads of her new album “Strong as Glass,” the underrated R&B singer takes cues from the classic `80s and `90’s pop R&B of Janet, Whitney, and Mary J. without abandoning her unique voice and the quirky originality that’s made her one of contemporary soul’s more interesting artists.

Monday  7:30 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., Sold Out,  
It’s been well over a decade since WEND 106.5 brought Gavin Rossdale and company to town to headline the annual End of Summer Weenie Roast during its peak. The station’s tapped the grunge-era Brits again - this time to ring in the rock (and the season) at the annual Not So Acoustic Xmas concert with Airborne Toxic Event and Twin Atlantic.

Monday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $22-$25,  
Whether playing in Moscow or the deep South, this Mexican rock quartet’s potty mouthed messages of hip-hop, rock, punk and funk translates to a party starting good time that’s garnered it five Latin Grammys. With its 20th anniversary approaching next year, it’s here combining the holiday season and its first studio album in seven years on the “Agua Maldita Navidad Tour.”

Thursday, December 4, 2014

This week's hot concerts

The Balsa Gliders
Friday  8:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $10,  
Few acts are as nostalgic for the `90s sound that almost made Chapel Hill the next Seattle as this tri-city sextet (its members hail from DC, Charlotte, and the Triangle). On its new album “Courteous Americans” it tackles the jangly lo-fi guitar anthems of the era of Archers of Loaf and Velocity Girl with added nods to the Smiths and the Replacements.

Brian Setzer Orchestra
Saturday  4 p.m., Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., $62.48-$73.88,
Since “Boogie Woogie Christmas” in 2002, the former Stray Cat has embarked on a decade of holiday tours and released two more Christmas albums (one live). But fans don’t just get the modern rockabilly legend’s take on “Jingle Bell Rock” and “The Nutcracker Suite,” they get solo and Cats’ hits and more spirited big band-aided covers.

Saturday  9 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $12,
This marks the Charlotte band’s first hometown show since losing founding guitarist Joe Young to a heart attack in May, which means it is also guitarist Mad Brother Russ Ward’s local debut with the band. It’ll be interesting to see if Ward gives notorious frontman Jeff Clayton competition in bloodshed. He’s been known to play so hard his hands bleed, so he’ll fit right in.

Crushed Out
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
Although a roots rock duo at its core, the married New Hampshire couple draws from lesser tapped pools of Americana - surf guitar and `60s rock and country, and - on its latest album “Teeth” - high lonesome spaghetti Westerns. Its influences blend so seamlessly they remain secondary to the strength of the songs.

A Johnnyswim Christmas
Monday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 35th St., $22-$32,  
The much buzzed-about married duo of Nashville songwriter Abner Ramirez and Donna Summer’s youngest daughter Amanda Sudano - who are expecting their first child in February - lend their unique union of polished soul and roots attitude (plenty of charging, rhythm and harmony heavy sing-alongs) to the holidays with a new Christmas EP and tour.

Jessie J/Nick Jonas
Tuesday  7 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $38.73,
Even in its earliest years, there was something about the versatile youngest Jonas Brother that suggested he had the chops and brains to break out as the Timberlake of the crew. Now he’s a solo artist starring in Direct TV’s “Kingdom” and co-headlining the annual Kissmas Concert with British pop sensation Jessie J and Bebe Rexha.

Trampled By Turtles/Nikki Lane
Tuesday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 35th St., $22,
On its latest album the Minnesota quintet mixes the high lonesome feel and fast picking of a bluegrass band with the psychedelic folk-rock scope of bands like Phosphorescent or My Morning Jacket. It’s paired with rising Greenville, SC-raised/Nashville-based country singer Lane, whose caused quite a stir a an atmospheric throwback to Patsy and Loretta.

Jessica Lea & David Mayfield
Wednesday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 35th St., $15-$18,  The acclaimed siblings - both solo artists that grew up playing in their folks’ bluegrass band - wowed audiences two Decembers ago with its Sibling Rivalry Tour, which they revisit reaching back to their childhood repertoire and doing unique renditions of their own material. The music is stunning, but their chemistry is gold as well.

Steel Panther
Wednesday  7:30 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33.58,  
From Sunset Strip satirists to playing for 100,000 fans at the Download Festival, the hair metal parody has made a full-fledged career out of fun and Aquanet opening for the acts it sends up - Guns n’ Roses, Judas Priest, and the Crue and headlining clubs. This marks the over the top comedic rock group’s first time headlining Charlotte.

David Broza
Thursday  7:30 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $36-$54,  
With his mix of flamenco, fingerpicking, folk-rock and reggae, this Israeli singer-songwriter and guitarist is considered Israel’s answer to Springsteen but by advocating and campaigning for peace between Israel and Palestine on albums like 2014’s “East Jerusalem West Jerusalem,” he’s more like Bono-meets-Neil Young.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Charlotte's Pradigy GT premiers new video and single

Charlotte rock band Pradigy GT premier the video for its latest single "She's Got It," which you can watch above. It shows a different side to the versatile group than last Spring's "Refresh," which demonstrated its knack for rocking hip-hop-laden club jams. "She's Got It" is a pop-rock track that juxtaposes slow burning verses with amped up guitar rock choruses. And the video doesn't really take you where you think it's going to.

"She's Got It" is the second single from Pradigy GT's upcoming album "Refresh." Check out more on the group here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Kat Dahlia
Friday  9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $10-$12,
On her single "Gangsta" the Miami-based, Cuban-American artist comes off as a sassy rapper and a deep folk singer with a touch of Shakira. On the lighter, swagger-heavy single "Crazy" (No. 3 on iTunes’ Latin chart) she’s more Michelle Rodriguez-meets-Nelly-Furtado. Her full range will be revealed when her debut album drops in January.

Groove 8 After Thanksgiving Party
Saturday  5 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $12,  
The Charlotte jazz funk octet (whose members have gone on to play with Prince and Fleetwood Mac) celebrates its tenth anniversary with an eclectic concert and potluck that promises surprise guests and new songs. Moonshine Racers, the Josh Daniel/Mark Schimick Project, New Car Caviar: A Jamgrass tribute to Pink Floyd, Coddle Creek, and the Chemist also play.

Anna Rose
Tuesday  9 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $20,
With a flowery name, you might expect a demure folkie or Disney princess (her dad is Disney songwriter Alan Menken). But the confident New York rocker is a gritty guitarist and soulful singer slinging funky electric riffs and belting hard rock, blues, and adult pop on her latest album "Behold a Pale Horse." With Howie Day.

French Montana/Jeremih
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33.58, 
The Kardashian connection has probably done more to make him a household name than his many guest raps ever will, so Moroccan-American rapper French Montana is striking while his name is hot. He headlines the Set It Off Tour with another go-to collaborator, Jeremih. Both are anticipating the release of new albums.

Death (DTA Tours)/Obituary
Thursday  7 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $22-$25,  
The death of founding vocalist Chuck Schuldiner from brain cancer in 2001 put an end to the influential death metal stalwart, but some of the surviving members formed this live tribute to continue his legacy. Death to All teams with fellow sunshine state death metal vets Obituary, who is celebrating its well-received new album "Inked in Blood," Massacre, and Rivers of Nihil.

Valient Thorr
Thursday  8 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $10,
The globetrotting Carolinians are one of the best bands touring in any genre. It’s still building its audience at home, wowing crowds with over-the-top evangelical metal, squealing guitar solos, rapid fire riffs, and blatant hooks that aren’t afraid of a little cheese. Scowl Brow, the Bleeps, Hungry Girl, Animals and Swell Friends make for a strong bill.

Alexz Johnson
Thursday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $10,
The Canadian TV and film star of “Final Destination 3” and “Instant Star” (where she wrote much of the music in addition to starring in the series) raised $50,000 toward her fan-funded new album "Let `Em Eat Cake," which is a darker, bluesier, broader and more polished record than the Brooklyn transplant’s previous work.

Thursday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $8,
The New Jersey post-rock combo’s expansive new album "Bloom & Breathe" plays like an emo Explosions in the Sky. Guitar lines climb and intertwine like musical ivy against dynamics-driven, swelling masculine angst, and stop/start tempos. Fans of Charlotte’s defunct HRVRD should take note.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My 5 year old has a new internet radio show

Sunday marks the premier of my son’s new internet radio show. I really didn’t think I’d be making this announcement so soon. He’s only 5. 

The Devo Radio Show, which airs at 5 p.m. Sunday on Plaza Midwood Community Radio, isn't really a kid's show. It just happens to be hosted by a kindergartener who has such a deep knowledge of rock n’ roll that, once a friend at PMCR clued into it, it seemed only natural for him to share his passion and interest and get some broadcasting experience.

I can see where you might think, "Oh, this woman is clearly humoring her child," but I had almost nothing to do with the show getting on the air. Devo chooses all the music, does all the commentary - aside from his brother introducing his pick - and my husband records and edits it to fit in an hour block. You see if you let him, Devo will go on and on about the Who, the Ramones, Kiss, Neon Trees, Cage the Elephant, Rancid and whatever other band he’s into, naming dates, band members, and other facts he's memorized.

I guess I did have something to do with that.

When I found out I was pregnant with him I started keeping a journal where I recorded what concerts I went to and what I was listening to as I was writing - usually on Shuffle to get an even mix. After he was born I kept it up, making iPod mixes and seeing what songs resonated with him. I continued this process for his little brother, who has much more eclectic tastes (ABBA, Phantogram and Against Me! are favorites). I considered it my unscientific study of how what we hear as infants and toddlers inform our tastes as adults. I’ll continue this “study” as he grows up.

He is a mini me in a lot of ways. I began teaching him rhythm listening to Alkaline Trio’s "Calling All Skeletons" in his car seat at about 18 months. The first things constantly on repeat and performed in our living room were "Run" by a rocking hip-hop duo called the Knux and "Diane" by the defunct Chicago power pop trio Material Issue. The latter was because his teacher was named Diane and I started singing it to him one day. That’s all it takes.

Blur’s “Song 2” popping up on Shuffle led to an obsession that included naming action figures after the band. He pontificates about the stronger versions of certain Blur tracks (remix vs. original, seriously).

I was singing "Rockaway Beach" in anticipation a beach trip and that opened the floodgates. He became Joey Ramone. He wore nothing but jeans and t-shirts for a few months. I had to buy him a leather jacket (fake of course). Our family dressed as the Ramones for Halloween. And when asked if he’d rather go to Disney or make a pilgrimage to see the Ramones' graves, he - in all seriousness - chose the Ramones.

That’s just scratching the surface. His latest obsessions are Kiss and the Who (the former sparked by this summer's Kiss Tour). If you saw our Halloween pics on Instragram (yeah that's us), that pretty much sums it up (it's done wonders for my makeup skills).

His interest in music, which also includes playing drums, guitar, and taking piano lessons, has also helped him learn how to read (googling bands), do math (calculating ages and birth and death dates faster than I ever could), and about geography (through mapping tours and reading about where acts are from).

I never expected when I logged my first journal entry about realizing I was pregnant at Bonnaroo and keeping it to myself until after the Cure show when we got home, that the “experiment” would lead to a 5-year-old with a radio show. The most important part is that he seems to be having a blast doing it and it's given him something he and his dad can share (my husband's still hoping for the day Pink Floyd is on the playlist).

Tune in Sunday at 5 p.m. EST.

(Photos courtesy of Courtney Devores and Lauren Marlowe)

Friday, November 21, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Love and Theft
Friday  8 p.m., Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., $12,  
Matthews-native Eric Gunderson - one half of this country duo best known for 2011’s "Angel Eyes" - is one of a handful of national artists returning home for pre-holiday concerts. He and Stephen Barker Liles embark on their first headlining trek with the "Night You’ll Never Forget Tour" in anticipation of a new album in February.

Friday  8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $12,  
After a run on this summer’s Rock Star Energy Mayhem Festival the technical metal wizards - whose self-produced album “Cannibal” has been drawing accolades - play a hometown show at their old thrashing grounds before heading out on the Warriors of Winter Tour with Battlecross next week.

Friday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33.58,  
Five days before it ends its 12-year run at the House of Blues in Orlando not far from its hometown in Florida, the alternative hard rock band makes its last Carolina appearance  on its Final Tour, folling the July release of its final album "Lowborn."

Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
Amigo frontman Slade Baird celebrates his birthday performing his last show of the year with his rising Charlotte roots rock band. He invited two of his favorite bands - Magnolia Collective and Sinners & Saints - along for the ride before Amigo gets serious upping its touring efforts in 2015.

The Flatland Tourists
Saturday  9:30 p.m., Puckett’s, 2740 West Sugar Creek Rd., $5, 
This Union County roots music collective of seasoned players and songwriters laces bluegrass instrumentation with shades of early `70s rock and classic country and then tops it with the soulful bluesy singing of Rachel Garcia. Its self-titled, Mark Williams-produced debut EP, which was released earlier this month.

Tyler Ramsey
Saturday  10 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $12-$15,
The Asheville-based Band of Horses guitarist who has released three solo albums and often opens for his more famous band returns for an intimate set of haunting, dreamy pastoral folk that’s reminiscent to Neil Young (thanks for Ramsey's voice and delivery).

Sunday  7:30 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $52.91,
The Big Four metal giant takes a break from working on a 2015 release to reteam with Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus for its first Charlotte headlining show in many years. The upcoming album will be its first without founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman (who died in 2013) and its first since 2001 with drummer Paul Bostaph.

Lyfe Jennings
Sunday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 35th St., $35,  
Make it a date night fellas. The R&B crooner may have weathered his share of drama (two stints in prison), but the reformed musician wows as a Luther Vandross-style romantic showman that nearly sings the clothes off the ladies without getting raunchy.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
Sunday  8 p.m., Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St., $39.50-$84.50,  
The holiday juggernaut rolls into uptown to kick off the season as it celebrates its 30th Anniversary Christmas Tour. With such high demand and such a short window of time to celebrate, this is one of two simultaneous tours hitting the US between now and New Year’s.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Review: Kid and adult-friendly, Marvel Universe Live! blasts into uptown

Marvel Universe Live! blasted into Time Warner Cable Arena Friday with a cast of high flying and motorcycle stunt-racing superheroes. The live-action show, which pairs the Avengers, X-Men and Spider-Man not to mention an all-star group of Marvel villains, runs through Sunday.

Although there were plenty of distractions in the lobby for younger kids that couldn't quite hang for the whole show, the real attraction was on the arena floor where all the comic book franchise's heavy hitters gathered to battle Thor's brother Loki for an all-powerful Cosmic Cube. Loki kidnapped The X-Men's Storm, Wolverine, and Cyclops in order to power a clone Cosmic Cube since Thor busted up the real cube and scattered it around the globe.

Sound confusing? That's the nature of superhero stories. Thor with the Avengers, Spider-Man, and Wolverine team up to reassemble the original cube in order to beat Loki. As with most of the movies, the story is secondary to the action here which incorporates aerial stunts, ground combat, car chases, and motorcycles, The latter steals the show. The biggest gasp occurred when two-wheeled Captain America scaled a ramp and jumped on stage chasing Red Skull up and down a half-pipe that doubled as Tony Stark's office (Peter Parker uses it as a skateboard ramp during his inspired introduction earlier in the show).

Marvel Universe Live! is definitely a kid's show although I found myself wincing as Wolverine sliced through enemies like a wound up Freddy Krueger and wondering if I would spend my evening separating my boys. The dialogue, which reflects the quick banter of films and cartoons, and the stunts will appease older fans. The teaming of Wolverine and David Banner, whose amusing scenes acted as segues to bigger battles, seemed especially tailored for adults. Adults could also appreciate the skill the cyclists exhibit as well as the dead-on casting of characters like Loki and Captain America (dead ringers for the big screen versions).

The show is divided into two parts with plenty of time to peruse merchandise during intermission. The first half sets up the premise and brings the team together, while the second, longer section finds our heroes battling familiar villains.

The Statue of Liberty-set battle between Spider-Man and Thor and Green Goblin, Black Cat, Rhino, and practically all of Spidey's foes was particularly riveting as was the motorcycle-stunt filled battle led by Captain America. Both utilized a climbing spiral walkway which mimicked the Statue of Liberty's stairs and morphed into a tiered motorcycle ramp for the next act. Each act benefited from more and more cast members on the floor. Black Widow fought Madame Hydra in one corner. The winged Falcon dodged moving bikes in another as Captain America sent his shields rocketing (via wires) through the air to take down Red Skull. By the last fight all the characters, including a cartoonish Hulk towering over the other characters, share the stage.

Not everything was as fast-paced as the cyclists or Spider-Man's acrobatic fight sequences though. Iron Man was a bit clunky, but its hard to be agile wearing a bulky suit of armor. Kids didn't seem to mind.

Including intermission, the show clocks in at two hours. I was worried my four-year-old couldn't hang. He did voice his desire to go home during the second half, but I placated him with snacks and juice, and was happy to provide loud commentary ("I'm going to get that guy" - aimed at the Hulk). My older child was happily along for the ride, afraid it was over after each battle. Spider-Man waving at my him as the show closed eclipsed everything else.

Marvel Universe Live! has three more performances at Time Warner Cable Arena this weekend - at 7 p.m. Saturday and at 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday. Find more information and tickets here.

(Photos courtesy of Marvel Universe Live!)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland & Ulster to Appalachia
Friday  7:30 p.m., Great Aunt Stella Center, 926 Elizabeth Ave., Free (donations accepted),
NPR’s “The Thistle & Shamrock” host Fiona Ritchie and Swannanoa Gathering founder and former Charlotte Folk Society president Doug Orr penned the recently published book chronicling the roots of Appalachian music, which gives the concert its title. They’ll share history and stories. Little Windows provides the soundtrack for the multimedia show.

Cameron Floyd Band/Life Size
Friday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $12, 
The local acoustic pop band celebrates the release of its new album, “Dancing the Distance.” Standout track “Change” indicates it’s an impressive collection. On its own debut EP “Mockingbird Alarmclock,” Salisbury soul-pop outfit Life Size flits between Dave Matthews-style acoustic pop and meatier almost gospel-flavored rock with emotive harmonies and colorful piano fills.

Friday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $10-$12,  
This female-fronted, Rolling Stone-endorsed Canadian combo’s self-titled album of deeply infectious indie pop lands somewhere between influential `80s alt-rock, `90s K Records, and Best Coast. It went to No. 1 on the college charts this summer. The group is paired with fellow Toronto band Absolutely Free and Charlotte’s Late Bloomer.

Friday  8:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15,  
On his 2014 full-length debut “Days and Nights,” the British R&B singer/producer who got his break guesting on Gorillaz’ “Doncamatic,” skirts retro tags while making some of the most classic yet still modern R&B around. To prove it he embarks on a acoustic tour - a rarity for an electronic age artist that brings to mind Bill Withers’ moving `70’s shows.

Benefit for Luke Hill
Saturday  8:30 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $10-$20,
Charlotte musician (Animals, Public Radio) and Neighborhood Theatre bartender Luke Hill was injured by a hit and run driver walking home November 4. Locals Flagship, Junior Astronomers, Jeremiah Wilde, Warsong, One Amazing Kid, Solis, the Business People, Deep Sky and Animals will play to help with his mounting medical bills.

Max Drake & Sheila Grady Carlisle/The Mannish Boys
Saturday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $10-$12, 
During the `70s and `80s Drake and NC-native Carlisle’s band Arhooly was a popular blues rock fixture on the East Coast circuit. They return to the Double Door for the first time since 1989. They’ll be joined by Charlotte’s own Mannish Boys, whose sound is a throwback to classic `60s garage rock n’ roll.

Justin Townes Earle/Cory Branan
Monday  7:30 p.m., McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St., $20-$28.50,  
The now well established singer-songwriter son of Steve Earle - whose sound is deeper ingrained in the blues and old-timey rock and country than his dad’s - turns another corner through sobriety and marriage on his new album “Single Mothers” and its follow-up “Absent Fathers.” Fellow Nashville renegade and stellar songwriter Branan also plays.

Powerman 5000
Thursday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$25,  
After the sudden death of scheduled headliner StaticX’s Wayne Static, Powerman 5000’s Spider One (whose band toured with StaticX in the early days and saw the upcoming bill as a reunion) stepped up to continue the tour in honor of Static (Atlanta’s show even features a StaticX tribute). With American Headcharge and Wolfborne.

Dillon Francis
Thursday  9 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $27.51,
On his long-awaited debut album, “Money Sucks, Friends Rule,” the rising EDM DJ/producer gathered disparate guest artists like Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie, Major Lazer, and Twista and mixed his slower signature moombahton style with unapologetically guilty-pleasure pop that’s melting dancefloors.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Locals bands unite to help musician injured in hit-and-run

While walking home on the morning of November 4 local musician Luke Hill was struck by a vehicle at the corner of E. 36th and The Plaza. The car did not stop. Hill was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center with a broken arm and fractured ribs and brain surgery was performed to relieve bleeding and pressure.

Friends and colleagues from local bands will play Neighborhood Theatre Saturday to help cover Hill's medical expenses.

Friends and co-workers report that Hill, who was initially in ICU and placed in a medically induced coma, has since woken up and is talking. Hill is a bartender at Neighborhood Theatre and plays in the band Animals. I knew of him from the band Public Radio, where his animated, shirtless wailing on the drum kit always brought to mind Tommy Lee.

Given the outpouring of generosity his accident has sparked in the local community, it's safe to say Hill is deeply beloved. Saturday's concert features Animals (with Leo Solis stepping in for Hill), Flagship, Junior Astronomers, WARSONG, One Amazing Kid, Jeremiah Wilde, Solis, Business People, and Deep Sky. T-shirts and patches and other items are also being sold to raise money.

As of Tuesday donations had reached nearly $18,000 through a GoFundMe page for Hill and his wife Charis started six days ago.

Businesses have also donated items for a raffle Saturday. Greenlight Tattoo, for instance, is offering up three $150 certificates toward tattoos as part of the raffle.

The funding goal is initially $20,000, but mounting medical bills and lost wages will certainly exceed that. Even if you don't know Hill, the show at Neighborhood Theatre features a great lineup of local artists and I always encourage people to catch local multi-band bills where they can really get a good overview of what Charlotte's music scene has to offer. It's also a chance to witness an outpouring of generosity that we don't witness often enough.

Admission is a $10 or $20 donation. All proceeds will go to benefit Hill. T-shirts are available for purchase here. Tickets to the show are available here.

Photo courtesy of Neighborhood Theatre.

Gabba returns for unforgettable show

When Yo Gabba Gabba announced its return to Charlotte this year, I felt like this might be our last time seeing the Gabba gang live. My oldest son will be 6 this winter and his brother isn't far behind. While Nick Jr.'s "Yo Gabba Gabba" was a near 24/7 fixture in our home for the first four and half years of their lives, they have already moved on to other entertainment from superheroes to other Nick Jr. shows that are now in more regular rotation than Gabba like "The Bubble Guppies" and "Paw Patrol." Those shows are fine, but I doubt I'll ever embrace a children's TV show the way our family embraced "Gabba." We are a pop culture family and Gabba is pop culture incorporating `80s video games, indie rock, skateboarding, Puff N Stuff-style creatures, and music that is more contemporary than kiddie (my favorites are the title songs to the episodes "Flying" and "Big").

Sunday's show at Ovens Auditorium marked my older son's fifth time seeing it live and his brother's third. We went the first time in 2010 when my son was only one and a half. We sprung for VIP passes that first time and had our picture taken with the gang, but Sunday's show at Ovens was the first time I felt like my kids were comfortable enough to really let loose.

Sunday wasn't without a hiccup though. The earlier show was interrupted by the massive power outage. When we arrived DJ Lance, Leslie Hall and the characters were holding an impromptu meet and greet to pass the time and reward patient toddlers. WSOCTV reported that attendees were offered tickets to the later show in exchange as well.

The format hasn't changed much over the years, but as co-creator Christian Jacobs stated in our recent interview, this year's tour is more about the series' greatest hits and plays more like a participatory concert than a typical kid's show. More so than years past I felt like it hit on more songs in quick succession - like they were trying to cram in as many favorites as possible. Kids' songs are short and they zipped through "Party in My Tummy," "Get the Sillies Out," and "Dancey Dance" and combined "Try It, You'll Like It," "Jumpy Jump," and "Don't Bite Your Friends" into a medley.

Regular tour guest Leslie Hall joined in for "All My Friends are Different" and led the "Razzle Dazzle" dance, which was a big hit with kids bouncing and dancing in the aisles. Gabba is the only place you can witness spastic dancing, sleeping babies, meltdowns, and literal rolling in the aisles simultaneously. I'd heard of rolling in the aisles, but I'd never seen it until a little boy did a forward roll down the inclined walkway beside me. Gabba creates unbridled elation for children. For a parent it's hard to keep your eyes on the stage when so many cute kids are freaking out around you.

Speaking of freaking out, I was sitting there filming my kids getting the sillies out out on my phone when it happened - every Gabba mother's dream. A tour staff member tapped me on the shoulder and asked if my kids wanted to get on stage and dance. Seriously? For real? I asked them both, because you never know with kids. They might be completely petrified. I always try to hide under my seat during Blue Man or when Chris Isaak cruises the crowd for ladies. They both agreed and a little while later they were on stage beatboxing with Biz Markie in their fuzzy orange DJ Lance hats and pogoing to his classic hip-hop set. It was one of the most amazing moments.

The woman in front of me asked if we knew someone on the tour. Nope, it seemed completely random although I think maybe having an older child who they could be confident wouldn't bolt without a parent and the fact that they were dancing so animatedly - but at their seats right beside me - that their escort knew exactly who to ask for permission. Maybe it was just luck, but I'll take it.

They were returned to us safely and the show finished up just like each TV episode with a remix of the day's set. If it was, as I suspect, our last Gabba exceeded all expectations.

There is really nothing like it and, as I said, I doubt there ever will be. That age is a unique time and "Yo Gabba Gabba" is a unique show. I love sharing live music with my boys and taking them to see Against Me! and Damon Albarn earlier this year will go down in the scrapbooks, but "Yo Gabba Gabba" truly belongs to them. They know every single word, absolutely adore the cast,
and they can really let lose without the shadow of adults looming. I imagine someday when my kids are grown and I'm old and lonely, I'll watch those Gabba DVDs and sob. Heck, I may do that next year.