Friday, January 31, 2014

CLT honors Reed at children's hospital benefit

Charlotte musicians pay tribute to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground Saturday at Neighborhood Theatre. It's not just the latest in a series of music legend-honoring local all-star concerts - organizers paid tribute to the Doors and Levon Helm earlier this year. Proceeds from the event benefit Levine Children's Hospital.

The benefit and tribute concert is spearheaded by Justin Fedor of the New Familiars and Ancient Cities, who put on the successful Doors tribute to benefit Levine following keyboardist Ray Manzarek's death last year. Many of the same musicians will participate in the Velvets/Reed tribute as well.

Fedor says he's witnessed the remarkable treatment friends and band mates' children have received from LCH. He also lost a friend to childhood leukemia at age 10 and has other friends whose children have struggled with the disease, so the issue is close to his heart.

If you aren't familiar with Charlotte's music scene these all-star tribute concerts are a way to get a taste of the musicianship and variety here while hearing songs you'll likely know. The concert will feature Ancient Cities, Sherman Hellville, Pullman Strike, Bums Lie, The Sammies, The Eyebrows, and Hectorina as well as a super jam featuring members of Temperance League, the New Familiars and others. This is actually the second tribute to Reed in the past two months. Another took place at Snug Harbor shortly after Christmas. Next to David Bowie, I might consider him the patron saint of Plaza Midwood (or in this case neighboring NoDa).

Admission to Saturday's concert is $10, but larger donations are certainly welcome. Show starts at 9 p.m.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Carrie Rodriguez and Luke Jacobs
Friday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $15,
Following her album "Give Me All You Got’s" placement among the Americana Music Association’s Top 10 of 2013, the Texan fiddler and singer-songwriter teams with musical partner Jacobs, who fills out her sound with harmonies, guitar, lap steel, and harmonica.

The Hot Gates
Friday  8 p.m., Visuilte, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $8,
It’s a good night for eclectic local talent with songwriter and singer former Noises 10 leader Jason Scavone’s pop-rock band leading the pack. With the Business People and Americana songwriter Bart Lattimore.

Nikki Hill
Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
The Durham soul singer’s voice and delivery can stop listeners in its tracks. Backed by a band that can channel raw `60s Beatles, gritty garage rock, or Stax soul, Hill - who recently toured Europe - is the real deal.

Dead 27s
Friday  10 p.m., Double Door Inn, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $5-$7,
The soulful, bluesy combo (and former band of "American Idol" season 11 alum Elise Testone) became a favorite in its native Charleston where it won multiple awards in "Charleston City Paper" and the Best of Charleston awards for its soul-meets-Black Crows swagger. It releases its debut EP next week.

Husky Burnette
Friday  10:30 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $5-$7,
With a gravelly voice reminiscent of Wolfman Jack, the gritty Chattanooga bluesman makes gnarly acoustic and electric blues that shifts between the heart and heft of the Mississippi Delta and the funky indelible riffs of early ZZ Top.

Charlie Worsham
Friday  11 p.m., Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., $10-$12,
The young country singer’s death was greatly exaggerated on last Friday’s episode of Fox’s "Bones," where he played a murder victim. This Friday the Mississippian, who toured with Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert, is alive and well playing songs from his 2013 debut "Rubberband."

Sunday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $8-$10, 
The married Florida duo, which celebrated its bands twentieth anniversary in 2013, may likely be the loudest act this side of Motorhead but its also more eclectic than its blaring live shows and the sludge-metal tag implies. It demonstrates a willingness to experiment with dynamics and guitarist Amber Valentine’s occasionally gentle voice.

Walk Off the Earth
Tuesday  7 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$25,
This Canadian pop-rock group manages to tap into two current musical trends by mixing the anthemic sing-alongs of the Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men with the danceable beats and radio-ready pop of groups like Capital Cities.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, MIA headline Moogfest

Asheville's Moogfest announced more of its lineup today. Veteran British duo Pet Shop Boys (pictured above), world music rapper M.I.A. (below), experimental producer/rapper Flying Lotus, and electronic music producer/DJ Dillon Francis join Kraftwerk 3D (who will play three shows that week) and Chic featuring Nile Rodgers (who was all over the Grammys' telecast for his work with Daft Punk earlier this week) as festival headliners.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs Nick Zinner and Deerhunter's Bradford Cox, composer Dan Deacon, and "Futurama" creator and "The Simpsons" writer David X. Cohen join electronic music pioneers Laurie Anderson and Giorgio Moroder as daytime presenters leading workshops, demonstrations, and Q&As throughout the weekend.

Moogfest moves to April 23-27 this year. The massive lineup of speakers and performers includes RJD2, Tiga, Blondes, Art Department, Publicist, Ejecta, ADULT., YACHT, and many others. Check out the linup here. General and VIP tickets, which start at $199 for a 5-night pass, are currently on sale here.

Dubbed the Synthesis of Technology, Art & Music, Moogfest is as much a conference on the future of technology and how it relates to music as it is a live music festival. The list of featured speakers is here. Over 60 talks will take place at eight venues throughout the five days. The live music takes place across 10 Asheville venues.

Years in making, CLT's Coobs sets debut bar high

Singer-songwriter Reeve Coobs has been playing music in Charlotte for over a decade now as a solo artist and in the female quartet the Near Missses, but only released her debut album "What Love is All About" late last year. She plays Evening Muse with Charlie King Thursday.

While many artists today are ready to jump in the studio after writing their first handful of songs, there's something to be said for taking your time. Coobs has devoted years to her craft and it shows on "What Love is All About" - a collection of beautifully sung, fully-realized tunes nine years in the making.

The album begins with the waltzing "Magic Show." Its carnival-feel, sing-songy verses, choice of instrumentation, and the scratchy, muffled, old vinyl sound of the intro presumably inspired the album's playful circus tent cover art and serves as a ear-catching opener. The song opens up with full production and gives listeners an ample taste of what's to come, which is a consistent, cohesive, but still diverse album of striking arrangements, songwriting, and subtle production. 

Coobs has a knack for crafting a pop hook. "To Be With You" is right up there with Shawn Colvin's best work. I wouldn't be shocked to hear "Stranger" scoring a scene on "Grey's Anatomy" or better yet something more youthful and cutting edge like "The Vampire Diaries." The latter climbs from a bluesy, methodical verse to a fiery rock chorus that's built for building suspense and drama. "Goodbye" is another track that worms its way into your memory begging for embarrassing rainy night sing-alongs ("It's Too Late!") in the privacy of your car. 

Coobs shakes up styles enough to keep it interesting while maintaining her sound. She out-right rocks on "Let It Out" and the bluesy "Hopeful Thought" and gets spooky and weird with psychedelic guitar wailing subtly in the background on "I Can't Believe It." 

She can play the intimate, coffee shop folkie too. "Caught" is a stirring and simple sliver of a song built around lovely harmonies. With few words she captures self-doubt, loss, and depression in little more than two minutes. That's the test of a good writer - getting your point across quickly with no filler. At 14 songs you'd assume there'd be filler, but Coobs and co-producer Jeff Williams (of gogoPilot) had plenty of time to refine these tracks with the help of a band of seasoned area musicians (pictured above). It includes pedal steel from much missed Sea of Cortez leader Rodney Lanier on one track. Lanier died almost two years before its release.

There's so much good about this record I can't single out every strong song. There's emotional highs, sassy rock n' roll ones, quiet singer-songwriter confessionals and impressive, soulful vocals. "What Love is All About" is the whole package. It's certainly one of my favorite local releases of the past year.
Coobs plays the Muse Thursday at 8 p.m. Admission is $10 to $12. You can also check her out online here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Carolina Rebellion announces 2014 dates, lineup

Monster Energy's fourth annual Carolina Rebellion festival will take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway's Rock City Campgrounds May 3 and 4, 2014. The two-day, three-stage festival will feature the return of headliners Avenged Sevenfold, who performed as part of the inaugural concert in 2011. Kid Rock will headline Sunday. 

Saturday's lineup includes Avenged Sevenfold, Rob Zombie, Motorhead, Seether, Black Label Society, Killswitch Engage, Fozzy (featuring professional wrestler Chris Jericho), Thousand Foot Krutch, Adelita's Way, Black Stone Cherry, KYNG, Nothing More, Devour the Day, and Truckfighters. 

Sunday's bill features headliner Kid Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, 311, Staind, A Day to Remember, Alter Bridge, Theory of a Deadman, Fuel, Hellyeah, Of Mice & Men, Trivium, Redlight King, Twelve Foot Ninja, and Gemini Syndrome. 

Pre-sale begins Tuesday, January 28 at 10 a.m. To gain access "like" Carolina Rebellion's Facebook page or sign up here to receive the email newsletter. Regular tickets go on sale Friday, January 31 at 10 a.m. Camping, hotel, and VIP packages will be available and include access to Friday's campground party. Visit the website for tickets options and military discounts.

Carolina Rebellion is produced by the folks responsible for which peppers the East Coast and Midwest with hard rock and metal festivals throughout the month of May. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Friday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $15-$18,
With its album “Muchado” topping many best of 2013 lists, including “Paste Magazine's,” the psychedelic folk-rock alter-ego of songwriter and Brooklyn-based Southerner Matthew Houck makes a stop in Charlotte for a long-awaited, predicted sell-out show.

Friday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $17-$20,
Frontman Jesse James Dupree (one of the stars of TruTV’s “Full Throttle Saloon” biker bar reality show) still wields his roaring chainsaw during the Georgia Southern rock/hair metal stalwart’s biggest hit “The Lumberjack.” It’s also an incredibly loud show even before the power tools come out, so bring ear plugs.

Curtis Eller’s American Circus
Friday  9:30 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $6-$8, 
Looking like a skinny, 1920’s era boxer fronting a vaudeville show, the Piedmont area frontman lives up to his band’s name with guitar-shunning, historically-set songs that range from gritty, bluesy, and traditional to rollicking rock n’ soul. It celebrates the release of the new album, “How to Make It In Hollywood.”

Eric Paslay
Friday  11 p.m., Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., $10-$12,
The up and coming Texas country singer already penned three No. 1 singles for other artists - Love and Theft’s “Angel Eyes,” Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” and Eli Young Band’s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” He currently has his own first hit in “Friday Night.”

Catie Curtis
Saturday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $15-$18,
The veteran Boston folk-pop songwriter is best known for gender equality anthems like "Radical" (which predated the gay marriage battle by nearly 20 years) and for scoring everything from “Dawson’s Creek” to “Grey’s Anatomy.” She releases her Indiegogo-funded thirteenth album, “Flying Dream,” in February, but fans can grab a copy of her latest tracks about love, longing and relationships at the show.

The Mobros/Hank Sinatra
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
Songs like “Trampstamp” and “Low Rent Strip Bars,” respectively display a sense of humor, but these Southern acts also display dexterity and writing chops. Camden, SC’s harmony-driven Morris Brothers, for instance, weave soul, blues, country, and old-time rock. Its brand new debut album is available at shows this week.

Nipsey Hussle/Deniro Farrar
Sunday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $18-$20,
With fans willing to fork over $100 each for physical copies of his latest mixtape “Crenshaw” (which is available for average price digitally) and a full-length studio album in the works, the Los Angeles rapper is one to watch. The same can be said for Charlotte’s own rising Farrar, who has signed to Vice Records. (Warning: Video contains profanity and violence). 

Jack of Heart
Sunday  9:00 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7,
While the French are best known for the electronic and indie pop of Air and Phoenix, this psychedelic garage rock combo from the South of France strikes closer to the cross section of the gnarly Detroit psych-blues and the acid-tripping experimentalism of a Russ Myer movie soundtrack.

The Front Bottoms
Tuesday  7 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $10-$12,
This Jersey outfit has been selling out clubs and building ample buzz with its quirky, Violent Femmes-style lyric-driven rock. Don’t get the wrong idea from Brian Sella’s acoustic guitar though, this isn’t the next chapter in the post-Mumford movement, it’s punkier/emoish indie-rock.

Amon Amarth
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33,
The Swedish death metal band who spikes its melodically heavy songs with fantastical lyrics of ancient monsters and Norse mythology returns following its “Deceiver of the Gods” album - its ninth. Ohio thrashers Skeletonwitch and Norwegian black metal vets Enslaved open the show.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Charlotte doom metal act signs to Napalm Records

Charlotte-based doom metal band Bloody Hammers announced last week that it has signed with Austria's Napalm Records. If you're asking, who? You probably aren't alone. There's a theory that if bands want to be big on a national or global scale, they shouldn't play their hometown. At least not very often. If this is true then Bloody Hammers may be Charlotte's best kept secret. Although it played Asheville with Church of Misery and Atlanta recently, I'm still waiting for Charlotte.

The band came seemingly out of nowhere in 2012 when songwriter/arranger/vocalist/bassist Anders Manga posted his self-recorded, self-titled album under the name Bloody Hammers to Bandcamp. It immediately (like overnight) drew the attention of Europe's Soulseller Records, who offered to distribute it. The Netherlands-based label has since put out a second album, "Spiritual Relics."

Manga, who'd written and played everything on that first album himself, assembled a band and eventually hit the road. The sludgy, horror hard-rockers have played Phil Anselmo's Housecore Horror Film Festival as well as toured with Ancient Wisdom and Church of Misery.

The group's prolific mastermind has already written songs for a third record, which he calls the best material he's ever penned. 

"Napalm has the talented worldwide staff and infrastructure that made perfect sense to me. I've recently written some of the best songs in my life for the next album and I'm confident they will do their part in getting it out to the world," he said in a press release.

You can check out the video for "What's Haunting You" from "Spiritual Relics" above. Bloody Hammers marries my fondness for horror and gothic imagery and my husband's love of stoner rock riffing. It's dark, but still listenable and catchy with lyrics you can make out. And heck, I'm always happy when I can post a metal or rap video with no profanity!

I'll keep you posted on when Bloody Hammers hits a local venue.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

fun.'s former CLT soundman kickstarting record

Daniel Hodges - Telephone Wire from Mahogany, Inc. on Vimeo.

The other day heading toward Kickstand on Central Ave., where the mac n' cheese is so creamy it's practically the only mac n' cheese my 3-year-old will eat, I noticed a billboard for Charlotte rock trio Hectorina's new album "A Thousand Jackals" hanging over Thirsty Beaver Saloon. This is significant for a couple reasons. It's a cool idea for one. Hectorina is doing a residency at nearby Snug Harbor this month. Its new record exhibits the evolution of the band and, for those of us that have been paying attention for long enough, frontman Dylan Gilbert (who has been releasing albums since he was practically a 'tween).

"A Thousand Jackals" was produced by the band's friend Daniel Hodges, who was massive pop band fun.'s touring sound engineer when he was barely out of his own teens. He was 18 when he started touring. These kids are doers, I tell ya.

Hodges was there as fun. was breaking. Before that - from 2009 to their last shows in January 2013 - he worked with Steel Train, which is the band that fun. spun off from. Hodges worked "Letterman" and "Conan" with both bands; was there for Steel Train's guest appearance at "Yo Gabba Gabba Live's" Radio City Music Hall show; worked the MTV Movie Awards, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, and South By Southwest as well as toured Europe, Australia and Japan.

But he left the road to focus on family as things were blowing up for fun. The older brother who'd mentored him in the music business died after a short illness. Hodges didn't return to the road. He's since gotten married and works in music locally.

"A Thousand Jackals" isn't his first recorded work. He started that when was 15. He's produced Matthew Butler and Chris Daub and is currently working with fun.'s Charlotte-based touring guitarist/keyboardist/backing vocalist Emily Moore.

Now he's ready to release his own material. He's a little over halfway to his Kickstarter goal with six days to go as I type this Saturday night. The pitch video is worth watching just to see him interview himself, but his is also a compelling story of why he wants to finish this record. It's the last thing his brother said to him.

As with other Kickstarters, donors get something for their money. Some incentives are pretty creative. One is to have Hodges produce a track for you. Another is Gilbert covering one of Hodges' songs. Yet another features drummer Will Noon, who toured with fun. and Straylight Run and has his own band, Cuddle. Noon is helping Hodges with the project. There's a Skype guitar lesson and, maybe best of all, having Hodges replace a family member in your family portrait.

You can check out all the details here and listen to a stripped-down, acoustic song above to give you an idea of his songwriting style. You can also check out his work on Hectorina's new record here.

Friday, January 17, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Bettye LaVette
Friday  8 p.m. Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $32-$35,
The 67-year-old rhythm & blues singer’s rollercoaster career and 2005 comeback (which wasn’t a traditional comeback, since few remembered her `60s and `70s work) was ripe for an autobiography. Accompanied by the book, her latest album is hailed as some of her best work.

Farewell Drifters
Friday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $12-$14,
The Nashville roots-pop group previews material from its third album, "Tomorrow Forever," which is set for a January 28 release. The group relies heavily on sunny `60s and `70s pop, but remains traditional enough to make the bluegrass charts and play Merlefest.

Mickie James
Friday  8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $15-$35,
If you’re a fan of WWE and you haven’t caught Charlotte’s own PWX indie wrestling yet, here’s your chance to cheer (and you will) our excellent up and coming talent at pre-concert matches and catch the former WWE Diva-turned-country-singer. Wrestling starts at 6 p.m.

Math the Band
Friday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$10,
With its Kickstarter-funded album, "Stupid & Weird" (which more than doubled its goal) scheduled for 2014, this coed, retro, synth-punk duo returns with more of its outrageously fun, videogame music-inspired, hardcore bleeps. Imagine Matt & Kim without any brakes.

Lucy Kaplansky
Saturday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $17-$19,
It’s been decades since the NYC folk singer (and Shawn Colvin’s former musical partner) returned to music after pursuing a career as a psychologist. She brings empathy as well as a unique alto and a gift for detailed storytelling to the songs on her latest record "Reunion."

Molly Gene One Whoaman Band
Tuesday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free,
Like the wayward daughter of Robert Johnson and Donita Sparks from`90s female hard rock quartet L7, this Missouri musician plays the kind of gnarly blues where you can hear the metal slide rub against steel strings while operating a drum kit with her feet and singing mean, pained, sexy, Delta blues songs.

Crunk Witch
Wednesday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $6-$8,
Neither rap nor goth (although closer to the latter), the curiously yet fabulously named duo actually makes synth-pop that sounds like the violently beautiful collision of early Depeche Mode, disco, techno, and dubstep, but with plaintive vocals (think Peter Murphy meets Fitz) and meaningful lyrics.

New Politics/Sleeper Agent 
Thursday  7 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $15,
With its catchy single “Harlem” everywhere from Disney’s “Frozen” to commercials for Taco Bell and Windows 8, spots on “Fallon” and “Conan,” and an opening slot with Pink, breakdancing, Brooklyn-based, Copenhagen-bred trio New Politics is poised to break big. Kentucky's Sleeper Agent rocks like the ornery love child of the Donnas and the Strokes. Its sophomore album is out in March.

Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires
Thursday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7,
The Alabama Southern rockers, who recently signed to Sub Pop Records, is likely the best live band you haven’t seen yet. While touching on country-soul, folk, punk, and rock, Bains and his equally enthusiastic band come across as the Allmans meet the Stooges with the live intensity of early Avetts.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Southeast's festival season already shaping up

If you're planning your 2014 vacation days you might want to consider the growing number of music festivals taking place within less than a day's drive. Sure, there's the mighty Bonnaroo, which announces its lineup February 19. But other, closer festivals are already revealing their lineups.

The closest is the 4th Annual North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival, which takes place May 10 at Huntersville's Historic Rural Hill. The roots music festival focuses heavily on regional craft breweries with beer tasting included in the price of admission. This year's lineup features Green Sky Bluegrass, returning act Sol Driven Train, Big Daddy Love, soul singer Jessie Dee, Spirit Family Reunion, and the John Stickly Trio.

In addition to Saturday's concert, campers setting up tents Friday night will be treated to Grateful Dead tribute act The Reckoning featuring Wes Powers and Rusty Cole of Sol Driven Train. It will perform the Dead's "Europe `72" album. Campers can also hear SDT's Joel Timmons and Ward Buckheister's acoustic duo Hit or Miss.

Tickets are available at a discount for now at Prices go up as the date approaches.

While Twitter was recently abuzz with the announcement that Outkast would reunite and headline the sold-out Coachella Music & Arts Festival in April (along with Muse and Arcade Fire) outside Palm Springs, Southerners don't have to venture quite that far to get a glimpse of Andre' 3000 and Big Boi together again. The Atlanta rap duo will headline the nearby Counterpoint Music & Arts Festival in Atltanta the week after its final Coachella date.

The April 25-27 festival takes place at Kingston Downs - a 5,000 acre site which is less than an hour outside of downtown Atlanta. The lineup focuses on electronic, dance, hip-hop, and jam and indie-rock bands that blur those stylistic lines. It also includes Pretty Lights, J. Cole, Foster the People, STS9, Major Lazer, Krewella, Big Gigantic, Sleigh Bells, Matt & Kim, Flux Pavilion, Thievery Corporation, Above & Beyond, Janelle Monae, A-Trak, Wolfgang Gartner, Boys Noize, Flosstradamus, Chance the Rapper, Griz, Shpongle, Phantogram, Moon Taxi, Run the Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike), School Boy Q, Papadosio, Rich Homie Quan, GTA, St. Lucia, Tycho, the Revivalists, YACHT, Minnesota, Ott, the Polish Ambassador, Thundercat, Poolside, Wild Cub, Lance Herbstrong, Dan Croll, Kill Paris, Congorock, Rubblebucket, xxyyxx, Tourist, Ratking, Watch the Duck, and several others.

Three-day passes are $180 (what Coachella prices used to be, by the way). Other ticket (including layaway) and camping options are also available here.

Atlanta also hosts the Shaky Knees Festival a couple weeks later on May 9-11. Tickets go on sale Friday. That three-day festival, which splits the difference between roots music and indie rock, includes headliners the National and Modest Mouse as well as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, Spoon, Local Natives, the Gaslight Anthem, Violent Femmes, Cage the Elephant, Portugal the Man, Iron & Wine, Jenny Lewis, Trampled by Turtles, Jason Isbell, Dawes, the Lone Bellow, Foals, Lord Huron, Cold War Kids, the Airborne Toxic Event, Deer Tick, the Devil Makes Three, Band of Skulls, the Hold Steady, Tokyo Police Club, Blitzen Trapper, White Denim, Wild Belle, Mason Jennings, Langhorne Slim, Charles Bradley, the Whigs, Houndmouth, Hayes Carl, Man Man, Gregory Alan Isakov, Graveyard, the Kopecky Family, Jackie Greene, Sleeper Agent, the Weeks, Apache Relay, Packway Handle Band, American Aquarium, and others.

You can check out the entire lineup and peruse ticket information here. Like Coutnerpoint, Shaky Knees has a new location this year. It'll take place at Atlantic Station. Tickets range from single day for $84 to a $475 VIP pass with access to lounges, bars, and viewing close to the stage. Three-day passes are $150. Advance tickets are cheaper if you get them now. There's no camping, but hotels are within walking distance (honestly you can't beat your own bed and a shower, if you ask me).

(Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Free bluegrass workshops in Gastonia Saturday

The annual Bluegrass Music Project - a free music workshop at Gaston School of the Arts - takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A concert featuring instructors Darin Aldridge, Becky Buller, Terry Baucom and Jack Lawrence will follow at 7 p.m.

The workshop is free, but the evening concert is $12 to the public and $6 for workshop participants. The Bluegrass Music Project focuses instruction and jamming with an emphasis on younger students, but all ages are welcome. 

Multi-instrumentalist and band leader Aldridge (formerly of the Country Gentlemen, pictured above) and his wife Brooke head up the Cherryville-based gospel bluegrass band Darin & Brooke Aldridge. Buller (below) is a renowned fiddler in her own right who currently tours with the Aldridges. 

Baucom is a bluegrass banjo veteran who co-founded IIIrd Tyme Out, Boone Creek, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and was the International Bluegrass Music Association's 2001 instrumentalist of the year. 

Flat-picking guitarist and Charlotte-native Lawrence is practically a fixture around these parts. He was Doc Watson's sideman for twenty years and continues to release solo material and perform. 

Lunch will be provided for those students that pre-register by calling 704-866-8882. Tickets for Saturday's concerts are available at that number or online at The project - now in its fourth year - is partly funded by a grant from Gaston School of the Arts. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Former Scapegoat singer releases new live video

If you were ever familiar with defunct Charlotte metallic hardcore band Scapegoat, then you were probably familiar with the group's singer Kit Walters. Kit now fronts KIT - an electro dance-pop rock Charlotte outfit that's an about face from what you might expect from a former screamer.

In October the group opened for Flo Rida at the annual Gravedigger's Ball. The above clip is a live performance from that show that illustrates just what Walters, who is also a talented indie record producer (Scapegoat, letlive, Sugar Glyder), is up to.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Eliot Bronson/Kellin Watson
Friday 8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8-$10,
“Milkwaukee” - the breathtaking song he wrote after the death of Charlotte musician and Evening Muse fixture Rodney Lanier (Jolene, Sea of Cortez) speaks of Bronson’s gift as a writer and gives the former Brilliant Inventions’ singer’s latest album its title. He’s paired with Black Mountain-based jazzy folk-soul singer and actress Watson.

Colt Ford 
Saturday 11 p.m., Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., $17-$20,
Part country music anomaly/part acclaimed songwriter and go-to collaborator, the country rapper claimed his first No. 1 country album in October with “Declaration of Independence” fueled by “Back” - a simpler-times celebrating single with Jake Owen.

Hot Tuna & Leon Russell
Tuesday 8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $32-$168,
The one-time Jefferson Airplane side project from guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady (which long outlasted that original incarnation of Airplane) teams with fellow Rock n’ Roll Famer Russell for a night of classic Americana.

7th Annual Stout Pull 
Tuesday 10 p.m., Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., $7,
Americana artists often trade tunes in this sort of songwriter circle, but this benefit concert lets mainstream country singers (who often moonlight as songwriters) show off their originals in a stripped-down setting. This year it’s Josh Thompson, Chris Stapleton (who’s written hits for Kenny Chesney), and Tyler Farr.

Stone Sour 
Wednesday 7 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33,
Metal renaissance man Corey Taylor, who writes books and comics and now stars in horror films in his downtime (the upcoming “Fear Clinic” with Robert Englund), captains this ship while fellow Slipknot member/guitarist James Root (who is not on the tour) focuses on their other band’s next album. With Pop Evil and Stolen Babies.

Covers for a Cause
Wednesday 9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $5 minimum donation,
The genre and decade-spanning music of Elvis Costello is on tap for local artists Elves, Amigo, gogo Pilot, Chuck Johnson, and Chris Edwards and Geoff White, who cover his tunes at this A Child’s Place Charlotte fundraiser.

Wednesday 10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free,
The prolific Charlotte trio celebrates the release of its new album, “A Thousand Jackals” with this Wednesday night January residency at the Plaza-Midwood bar. With mathy workouts, mid-song flip-switching, and songs that lyrically raise questions without sacrificing the fun, the album picks up where its “Collywobble” rock opera left off. It may be its best yet.

Jason Isbell
Thursday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $16-$26,
Coming off a slew of Best Album of 2013 lists for his post-sobriety record "Southeastern," recent marriage to fiddler/songwriter Amanda Shires, and a sell-out concert on his last trip to Charlotte (as well as elsewhere), the former Drive-By Trucker brings his impeccably written tunes and fiery guitar playing to a larger venue.

Note: The Percy Sledge show scheduled for Friday at Tremont Music Hall has been cancelled.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The local music scene loses one of its own

Charlotte's punk scene lost a big chunk of its soul this morning with the death of Chris Peigler. Peigler's support of local music and the punk scene, specifically, was practically unparalleled. He was a musician, a fan, and a friend.

Peigler died earlier today at the hospital. Peigler had struggled with kidney disease for the last four years, but his passing shocked the local music community. He  may have had health problems, but his light and general enthusiasm for life and passion for music never wavered. It's something many friends have noted on his Facebook page today.

I met Chris in the late `90s while he was fronting My So-Called Band. He later went on to form the Rogue Nations, but even before I moved to Charlotte in the mid `90s he was a fixture of the local punk scene. We bonded over riot grrl and female-fronted punk bands. From Bikini Kill to Naked Aggression to the Eyeliners and Dollyrots - I can't think of anyone that shared my very specific passion for feminist, female-fronted punk and that was as excited to discuss it.

But Chris wasn't just passionate about riot grrrl, he was passionate about punk rock and he was a lifer. While fans often abandon their interest in punk as they age, Peigler didn't. He still wore his leather jacket and packed the annual Punk Rock Picnic at Tremont well into what I'm told were his fifties. It was really hard to tell with his youthful energy how old he was. He was also supportive of young up and coming bands, which many folks have noted online. I remember more than a few new bands Chris would urge me to check out. Some of them could even be pretty bad at first, but a lot of those kids stuck with it and got really good.

He first told me about his health problems during a show at the Milestone a few years ago. Over the last year we emailed back and forth about the medical roller coaster he seemed to be on. I'd proposed doing a story about it, because it was unusual. While blood tests suggested he suffered from kidney disease and was in need of a transplant, he didn't exhibit symptoms or feel bad. He explored alternative medicine and acupuncture, which seemed to help but didn't change his test results.

The last time we spoke was in September when he emailed me about Kathleen Hanna's band Julie Ruin playing "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." There were new developments about his diagnosis and he was very hopeful.

As news of his death spread today, generations of Charlotte music folks have posted about Peigler's warmth and generosity. Those posts come from musicians in their fifties that knew Chris in the `80s to punk kids he probably met a few months ago. The sentiment is always the same - the guy that would greet you with a smile, maybe a hug, and wanted to talk music.

From what I hear Peigler was the same genial person at work.

"He was well liked and respected around the office for very much the same reasons he was a hero to the Charlotte music community," says Peigler's former co-worker Jamie Sheats. "He would have done anything to help you if he could."

There's talk of Peigler's beloved punk community paying tribute to him at a
benefit concert at Tremont in the coming weeks. I'll post more details on that as they become available.

(Photo from Peigler's Facebook page)

Friday, January 3, 2014

The local concerts I enjoyed most in 2013

Just as I compile a list of top albums each year, I also look back at the year in live music. I often know when I walk out of a show (my Top 3 for instance) that there's no doubt they'll top the list. Of course I can't make every show and my experiences can vary (especially now that I sometimes have a picky 4-year-old music fan in tow), but these are the performances and the concert experiences I enjoyed most this year. No, I did not see the much talked about 3-hour plus Chris Cornell concert at Knight Theater (I was actually on my way home from Thanksgiving, smarting from a fender bender at Lake Norman), but I imagine it would make many Top 10 lists as well. 

On another note there's no out of town shows on my list this year, which is rare. That may be because the National actually played here and the Orange Peel didn't lure us away this year.  If you read my Best Albums of 2013 list you'll notice some repeats here. That's the nature of my job, which revolves around live music. Often the best albums and best shows go hand in hand. 

Pink at Time Warner Cable Arena March 16, 2013
She may not have the tabloid heft of a Britney or the superstar notoriety of Beyonce or Madonna, but this pop powerhouse gave chills with her vocal ability and acrobatics and left concertgoers (and two slightly jaded music critics) gasping.

Vienna Teng at McGlohon Theatre July 20, 2013
It’s a rare occasion when a concert makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger. Hosted by a fan who booked the show (more on that in an upcoming story), Teng’s concert with Alex Wong was personal and intimate elevated by the fact that she’s leaving music to pursue another career in February. But it was the moment where the entire audience lit electronic candles in her honor to her surprise that served as the most touching of the year.

Menomena (pictured at top) at Visulite, Oct. 11, 2013
Drawing on the deep, personal material from its album “Moms,” the Portland duo (touring as a four-piece) created a magical, long-awaited return. It didn’t hurt that its 6’7” leaders demanded attention with their towering presence, sax playing, interesting percussion, and vocal interplay. Friends and fellow Northwesterners Helio Sequence’s set was a fine warm up.

Valient Thorr at Tremont, June 12, 2013
Hearing the songs from its new “Our Own Masters” album as the Carolina metal band kicked off its tour was such a treat because it’s such a damn good record. The fact that I got them on the cover of the CLT section and the slime green vinyl they signed made it even sweeter. I don’t know if they’re capable of a bad show. I had the most fun (aside from taking my son to see Adam Ant) at this one.

David Mayfield Parade at Double Door Sept. 7, 2013
The funny, charismatic, and virtuoso frontman is a live powerhouse who surrounds himself with band members that ooze as much individuality and personality on stage as he does. His material is breathtaking, but he also swung from rafters (above), played un-miked in the center of the crowd, and invited the audience to close the place down on stage with him.

Janelle Monae at The Fillmore, November 20, 2013
R&B needs quirky, unpredictable artistes like this petite show-woman. Hers was a fully realized production with the Fillmore’s stage turned into a white cloud (a la padded cell?) and her talented backing band and dancer/singers decked out in black and white costumes. But at its core Monae’s show was still about music. And it takes nerve to cover both the Jackson 5 and Prince and knock both out of the park.

Adam Ant at McGlohon Theatre August 12, 2013
My happiest moment of the year was singing “Antmusic” in the balcony with my four-year-old (we trade off on parts). Ant proved that at 59, he’s still got it. He rocked through 29 songs and the new songs were practically just as good as the old hits, if not as familiar to most of the crowd. Younger cats with much shorter sets should take note.

The National (pictured above) at The Fillmore September 11, 2013
Although we’ve seen them play arguably better shows in more intimate venues having traveled from Atlanta to Richmond to see our favorite band, it was special that the Grammy nominated band’s first Charlotte show was a sell-out where my husband and I got to show our friends just what we’d been raving about for the past 10 years. Plus singer Matt Berninger drug his mic (chord and all) all around the room and out on to the sidewalk outside the club and my editor surprised me by putting them on the CLT cover (another win!). 

Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, God Save the Queen City Festival at Chop Shop, September 14, 2013
From the locals on up the lineup to the buzzing national headliners the third annual NoDa-set festival’s indie bill was incredible, but this Alabama blues-punk trio blew my mind with its unbridled energy. They created an early Avetts-like on stage rock n’ roll exorcism that left me completely spent.

David Byrne & St. Vincent at Belk Theater, June 18, 2013
I had no expectations other than having seen Byrne’s outstanding solo show a few years ago, but wow. St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) did more than hold her own with the former Talking Heads' frontman and art-rock legend. With their horn-driven ensemble and her own quirky performance, she made new fans of those who weren’t yet familiar with her.

Other bests that didn't quite make the Top 10.   

Best Surprise
Jimmy Eat World at The Fillmore August 13, 2013
It’s always special when a band you once loved reminds you of exactly what you liked about them in the first place. With a set heavily laced with songs from my favorite Jimmy album, "Bleed American," (including the surprise of my favorite "Authority Song"), the Arizona emo-pop forerunners reignited the spark.

Best Double Header
Christopher Cross at Neighborhood Theatre and Hot Water Music at Amos’ Southend, Jan 20, 2013
I often hit two shows a night, but rarely are both equally so good. Although like night and day, `70s yacht rock pioneer Cross’ jazz-flavored, light pop set and the heavier Florida punk outfit’s later hard rock revival renewed my respect for both and left me downloading “Think of Laura” and scouring my CDs for my old HWM albums.

Most Improved
Lisa Marie Presley at Don Gibson Theatre in Shelby, November 9, 2013
Somewhere between opening for Chris Isaak in a gymnasium in SC in 2003 after her first album’s release and working with T-Bone Burnett and fourth husband Michael Lockwood on her third album, Presley let loose and got comfortable on stage. Backed by a team of pros that include band leader Lockwood, she shared intimate stories, her humor and personality, and a voice that would make daddy proud. Plus she reworked earlier songs to fit with her newer rootsier material.

Best Homecoming
Beach Fossils at Chop Shop, Oct. 28, 2013
Watching Beach Fossils’ Dustin Payseur (who grew up here) hop off stage to dance with his family and friends during the title track of his band’s terrific album “Clash the Truth” was the definition of heartwarming. It was indie-rock dropping all its pretensions and giving the audience something real, which is kind of what “Clash the Truth” is all about.

Best Local Show(s)
Grown Up Avenger Stuff/Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun at Visulite, Aug. 2, 2013 and Temperance League at Snug Harbor, Oct. 18, 2013
Having spent much of 2013 touring nationally, female-fronted hard rock outfit Grown Up Avenger Stuff demonstrated just how well its parts now gel with the experience and consistency of the road behind them. While Temperance League plays live a lot, it was special to see its fans and friends turn up for the release of “Rock n’ Roll Dreams” which the band played in (I think) its entirety.

Best Voice
Kristy Lee at Evening Muse, July 6, 2013
With her acoustic guitar, blue do-rag and tilted Yankees’ cap, the Alabama singer-songwriter looks like a tom-boyish folkie, but in actuality she sings like an old African-American woman that’s voice channels the pain and living of generations. She’s simply amazing.  

Best Opening Acts
Cage the Elephant (pictured) opening for Muse at TWC Arena Sept. 3, 2013
Fitz & the Tantrums opening for Bruno Mars at TWC Arena Aug. 21, 2013
It's not easy to work an arena-sized crowd that's anxiously awaiting a much better known headliner, but both of these bands killed it, working overtime to win over the audiences and undoubtedly gaining new fans in the process. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Rye Rye/Eryn Woods
Friday  8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $10-$12,
This female Baltimore rapper falls between bubblegum electro club and the smart world hip-hop of sometime collaborator M.I.A. Famously mohawked singer Woods - last here during Charlotte Pride! - packs a quirky voice and colorful style reminiscent of Charlotte’s own Hope Nicholls.

Coconut Grove Band, Fair Play with Carey Simms, and Ben Gatlin Band
Saturday  6 p.m., Thoroughbred Lounge, 4925 Rozzels Ferry Rd., $10 minimum donation, 704-395-9735.
Having raised $10,000 for brain tumor research in honor of his cancer-survivor brother for his 50th birthday last year, Tommy Ballard is doing it again with a concert that’s open to the public. Music includes Craig Woolard sitting in with the bands and a DJ between acts.

Jay Z
Saturday  8 p.m., Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St., $42.55-$143.20
With barely a break for the holidays, the hip-hop mogul picks up his “Magna Carter World Tour” with a long-awaited return to Charlotte. The set list boasts well over 20 songs and, according to reviews, a level of intimacy rarely seen at an arena-sized hip-hop show.

Saturday  8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $8,
Like Lacuna Coil and a less commercial Evanescence, the Boone, NC goth-metal outfit marries scale-climbing female vocals and piano, classical flourishes, heavy distortion, and classic metal arrangements with a dreamy, dark fairytale feel. It teams with Luna’s Lament and Avalon Steel.

Paleface/Time Sawyer
Saturday  10 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8-$10,
The frontman and visual artist, whose brush with mainstream stardom in the `90s never quite materialized, remains one of the country’s most underrated songwriters. His live show is punctuated by partner/drummer Mo Samalot (featured on vocals in the above video). Elkin’s cleverly named Time Sawyer is a rocking bluegrass folk-band that’s reach extends well outside those parameters.

Beach Weather/Edward Appleby
Tuesday  8 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
These two minimalist Alabama acts (the musical alter-egos of individual composers) create quiet, cinematic tracks that seem fit to score a dream sequence, a slow, sleepy montage, or picturesque landscapes on the open road.

Run Engine
Thursday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7,
The Charlotte foursome drifts between hard charging guitar rock and radio-ready `90s style pop-rock that features jangly Tom Petty-like guitars and ample harmonies. Andy Wood’s deep Chris Cornell-meets-Darius Rucker baritone, which you might expect to find in a classic country song, threads through it all.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Crashing into the New Year, Avetts return home

The Avett Brothers' annual New Year’s Eve concert returned to Charlotte with a bang (and a thud) Tuesday after celebrating the holiday elsewhere in the Carolinas for the last four years. The traditional midnight ball drop came early for fans when the largest of 30 or so disco balls hanging above the stage came crashing down with a resounding boom, splitting one of the floorboards of the stage in two, during the changeover between opening act Shovels & Rope and the headliner. 

Although crew members were on stage at the time, no one was hurt and the show went on as planned. Aside from a spotlight shining on it during the encore and Seth Avett giving it a nudge with his foot when the band took the stage around 10 p.m., the group completely ignored the elephant in the room - the five foot tall mirrorball peeking out of the stage.

Time Warner Cable Arena was reportedly sold out. Brothers Scott and Seth Avett seemed took in the crowd standing on tip toes and peering toward the rafters. The homecoming marked the Avetts' biggest hometown show to date. The now seven-piece unit with full drums, organ/keys, and fiddle provided by the Duhk’s Tania Elizabeth delivered a fan favorite-heavy, two and a half hour set of nearly 30 songs. 

Following a rousing set by Charleston husband and wife duo Shovels & Rope, the Avetts kicked off its set with "Open Ended Life" (which opens its recent album "Magpie & the Dandelion") followed by 2012’s "The Carpenter’s" "Live and Die."

At one point Scott noted how long the Charlotte audience had been with the Avetts. Because of that it didn’t really matter how deep the Avetts reached into its catalog. It dug out several from 2007’s "Emotionalism: and a few from 2006’s "Four Thieves Gone." Of course there were omissions like 2004’s "Swept Away," which featured Scott and Seth Avetts’ sister Bonnie in the past. Instead she and their father Jim joined them for "Old Rugged Cross," "Life" (just Bonnie), and the final song of the night, "Good Night Sweetheart" (the doo-wop classic recorded by the Spaniels). Those weren’t the only surprise covers. After a bluegrass rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" the band bounded into John Denver’s "Thank God I’m a Country Boy."

The group’s Concord-based core may be country boys at heart (Elizabeth’s fiddle helped turn "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise" into a rocking hoedown, for instance), but the Avetts also tap their hard rock roots. "Pretty Girl From Chile" morphed from Spanish guitar to a psychedelic throw-down reminiscent of Scott and Seth Avetts’ early days in Led Zeppelin-inspired hard rock bands. "Vanity" - played late in the set - had that same off-the-rails feel as it turned from Seth’s voice resonating through the arena to the dark, crashing "November Rain"-reception-style piano-driven breakdown which quickly segued into the stomper "Kick Drum Heart." The latter escalated as Seth soloed atop a speaker at the foot of the stage as his brother pogoed at the end of the catwalk (see photos).

The set, which featured plenty of newer material from "Magpie," wasn’t low on intimate moments either. Scott Avett sang "Murder in the City" solo at the foot of the catwalk. His brother did the same for the quiet "Ballad of Love and Hate," while a handful of other songs were performed as the original trio ("Shame," "Paranoia in Bb Major") or with cellist Joe Kwon.

After ringing in the New Year, the group capped the show with "Talk on Indolence." With lyrics about getting "raging drunk," it was a fitting night cap which saw Kwon whipping his hair like a member of Metallica. He may have missed his metal calling. The band’s friends and family members, including children and Seth Avetts' celebrity girlfriend ("Dexter" actress Jennifer Carpenter singing along to "Morning Song" at one point), clapped and danced at the side of the stage.

The only thing missing was the emotional heft of the Avetts' other milestone performances. When the group opened its first Merlefest headlining set with “Murder in the City,” I got chills. When it headlined Bojangles' Coliseum on the cusp of its commercial breakthrough “I and Love and You,” its lyrics seemed to chart its journey up to that point in time. Tuesday’s show wasn’t as telling. Aside from Seth Avett gushing about how happy he was and he and his brother taking in the crowd, there was little to mark it as a milestone. I didn’t tear up or get goosebumps. Yet knowing the importance of authenticity and sincerity in whatever the Avetts produce, I wouldn’t expect manufactured heart-tugging either.

There's no denying how far they’ve come and how much they mean to local fans who have been on this journey with them. When I drove to Concord to meet the brothers in a downpour a decade ago for our first interview, I couldn’t have predicted they’d play the arena a decade later. There are so many factors that play into a local band becoming a Grammy nominated international act. But as Scott stumbled down the catwalk pulling against his banjo chord during “Live and Die” as if the tether was preventing him from rocking harder, I remembered those two college-age kids tumbling into a heap on Tremont’s stage as Nemo (their former band) years ago. There was greatness in their performance even then and it didn’t matter whether they were the unknown opening act on a four band benefit bill or headlining the arena on the biggest night of the year.