Friday, March 28, 2014

Motorhead drops out of Carolina Rebellion

If you are anything like me, one of the biggest draws to this year's two-day Carolina Rebellion Festival was the return of the mighty Motorhead. Organizers of the Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion announced this afternoon that Lemmy and company will not be able to perform during the festival, which takes place May 3 and 4 at Rock City Campgrounds at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have learned that Motorhead will be unable to perform at Monster Energy's Carolina Rebellion in Concord, NC on May 3. We are working hard to find a replacement artist, so stay tuned to for further updates," reports the festival's publicist via press release.

Motorhead has had to cancel several tours since early last summer when frontman and founder Lemmy Kilmister, who is dealing with diabetes, suffered a hematoma. The band's European tour was cancelled in February due to Kilmister's continuing diabetes-related health problems. Doctors advised Kilmister not to embark on the tour.

Motorhead also cancelled its upcoming appearance at Rocklahoma - Carolina Rebellion's sister festival in Pryor, OK.

Saturday's Carolina Rebellion lineup still includes Avenged Sevenfold, Rob Zombie, Seether, Volbeat, Black Label Society, Killswitch Engage, Blackstone Cherry, Trivium, Adelita's Way, Fozzy, Thousand Foot Krutch, Kyng, Devour the Day, and Truckfighters.

Sunday's lineup remains intact with Kid Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, 311, Staind, A Day to Remember, Alter Bridge, Theory of a Deadman, HellYeah, Of Mice & Men, Fuel, Nothing More, Redlight King, Twelve Foot Ninja, Gemini Syndrome.

Tickets are currently available at

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Johnny Clegg Band
Friday  7:30 p.m., McGee Theater at Batte Center, Wingate University, 403 N. Camden Rd., Wingate, $25,
With Juluka and Savuka, the English-born, South African musician tackled apartheid in the `70s and `80s with the country’s first biracial bands and a blend of Zulu and western pop that set the course for Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon’s forays into African music. Jesse Clegg joins his father on the young African alt-rock artist’s first North American tour.

Zach Myers
Friday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $12-$14,
The Shinedown guitarist’s loose acoustic shows take a low-key “VH1 Storytellers”-style approach with he and sideman Justin Moore revisiting Shinedown songs with a stripped-down twist as well as delivering several familiar covers.

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Friday  8 p.m., McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St., $19.50-$64.50,
The progressive bluegrass and jazz fusion banjo legend and his accomplished singer-songwriter/banjo player wife, whose music and theater pursuits have long bridged her interests in American folk and Chinese culture, language, and art, embark on their first duo tour with baby boy Juno (born in May) backstage.

Jon Linker Band
Saturday  9 p.m., The Saloon, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $5,
This Charlotte band etches out an original, but accessible sound by delivering distinctively Southern country-rock like “PBR Kinda Night” and “Bourbon Bound” with a gravelly, deep voice that provides a direct line to `90s rock and grunge era Pearl Jam and Collective Soul.

American Authors/Wild Cub/Oh Honey
Monday  7:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12-$15,
The former’s single “Best Day of My Life” (which since writing this on Monday I've heard playing at Harris Teeter, Concord Mills, and Target) and the latter’s sunny new EP point to the next chapter in the “hey” and “woah” indie-roots acts that followed bands like Arcade Fire and Of Monsters and Men, while Nashville’s Cub mine similar ground but with a darker nod to new wave.

Tuesday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free,
Two years ago “Paste Magazine” hailed this Charleston band as the No. 1 SC act folks should be listening to for good reason. Its live show is downright hypnotic as the group bridges snappy Weezer-like rock with pensive Band of Horses-style vocals and moody, psychedelic edge.

Thursday  7:30 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $16-$19,
With its fusion of catchy buzzsaw industrial, death metal growls, and futuristic electronics the Norwegian group’s new album, “We Love You” alternates between the soundtrack to a space-age, war-torn apocalypse and the house music at the sort of exclusive European fetish clubs you only see in spy movies.  

Kris Allen
Thursday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $18-$20,  
After a rollercoaster of a 2013 - a new baby and a car wreck that shattered the guitarist’s wrist - the “American Idol” season 8 winner is working on the follow-up to 2012’s commercially ignored “Thank You Camellia” with producer Charlie Peacock (Civil Wars, Switchfoot) in Nashville. Expect him to play poignant new tracks triggered by fatherhood.

Speed Street announces headliners, new name

The newly dubbed Coca-Cola Speed Street Festival presented by Chevrolet celebrates its 20th anniversary in uptown Charlotte May 22-24 with NASCAR drivers, live music, and family-friendly fan events leading up to the Coca-Cola 600 race on Sunday, May 25. 

This year’s musical lineup, which was announced Thursday during a press conference that also revealed the new sponsor and name, features headliners Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band on Thursday. The Academy of Country Music’s 2013 Vocal Duo of the Year Thompson Square leads a country-heavy bill Friday. And Southern pop-rock pioneer .38 Special closes out Speed Street on Saturday.

The former Food Lion Speed Street festival, which takes place surrounding the NASCAR Hall of Fame, is book-ended by the NASCAR All-Star race on May 17 and the Coca-Cola 600 the following Sunday. The festival brought over 400,000 people to uptown over those three days last year.

Speed Street features a variety of local and national R&B, country, and rock acts. The Stranger: A Tribute to Billy Joel kicks off Thursday’s tribute lineup followed by Backbeat, a tribute to the Beatles. 

Friday’s acts include Rock Hill’s Zach Ludlam and Alabama’s NASCAR favorite (and fan) Tim Dugger. Saturday’s lineup includes actress turned musician Julie Gribble and Charlotte’s School of Rock. A full schedule, including driver appearances, will be posted at closer to the date.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gwar frontman leaves more than controversy behind

Yesterday I woke up to the sad, shocking news that Gwar frontman Dave Brockie aka Oderus Urungus died Sunday in his home in Richmond at age 50. I didn't go see Gwar last Halloween. Instead I took my boys trick or treating and went home early. Now, like any other local Gwar fans that missed the band's return to Tremont Music Hall last fall, I wish I'd gone back out. There's a tendency with bands that tour annually to think, if you miss them you can see them next year. That's not the case this time.

Brockie had history in Charlotte having been arrested at the 4808 Club in 1990 for disseminating obscenity. The arrest drew national headlines.

In 2011 a week or two after playing a show at Amos' Southend, Gwar's guitarist Cory Smooth aka Flattus Maximus was found dead on the band's bus as it was getting ready to cross into Canada. Smoot died of coronary artery thrombosis. The character he'd played since 2002 was retired a day later. The group, who has long had shifting lineups, soldiered on as always with Brockie at the helm. I can't imagine a Gwar without him.
I remember the first time I heard Gwar. It was the June after 7th grade. I was at a 13-year-old's birthday party sitting alone by a green, slime-filled pool that hadn't seen swimming in years while the boys took turns riding four-wheelers and skateboarding in the driveway. Music was blasting from a boom box: "We share a cheeseball. We just do it all."

"Did they just say cheeseball?" I yelled to whoever was in the vicinity. Little did I know the aforementioned "cheeseball" was the least strange thing about Pookie - Gwar's ode to beastiality and necrophilia, "I'm in Love (With a Dead Dog)." That's not the kind of thing you forget.

As a 13-year-old girl, even one who liked metal, I wasn't completely sold. But Gwar became a favorite of my skater boyfriends and their crowd and I eventually grew to love "Hell-o," Gwar's debut album. We saw them numerous times. So many of those shows were memorable. My first was New Year's Eve 1994 at The Masquerade in Atlanta. That show raged on until nearly 4 a.m. In Morgantown, WV, the summer of 1997 I believe, Gwar encored without their costumes or anything else for that matter. They may have worn strategically placed socks, but I, luckily, was too short to see and lodged behind a big guy who I could duck behind every time someone was decapitated or de-limbed. I was not so lucky at a December show with the Meatmen in Winston-Salem where I trudged to my car freezing (it may have even begun to snow) after getting showered with fake blood and other fake bodily fluids. Eventually I started standing in the back.

But as much as Gwar will be remembered for outrageous live shows where Popes were beheaded and dinosaurs prowled the stage, I will remember them most for great songs.

I tried to bring that up to Brockie (pictured above in full Oderus gear) during a 2012 interview, but he sort of brushed off the compliment. He was doing the interview in character.

Gwar's music is often overshadowed by the theatrics, the shock rock, and the satirical criticisms of politics and pop culture. Beneath all of that are some really fantastic, catchy, punk and metal-tinged songs. "Sadaam A Go-Go" (despite being dated) and the unsung "Mary Ann" and "If I Could Be That" have been making their way on to mix tapes (and now iPod mixes) of favorite songs for years. Of course "Sick Of You," "The Road Behind," and most of their first two albums "Hell-O" and "Scumdogs of the Universe" are classics.

Brockie will no doubt be remembered more in the mainstream for his band's antics and from appearances on Fox News and "The Jerry Springer Show" than for leading a band as big on songwriting, arranging, and tight musicianship as theater and satire. But he also filled a hole, calling out pretty much anything and anyone and shining a light on ridiculousness, greed, and injustice.

During our October 2012 interview he explained the otherworldly band's earthly mission best: "Gwar is an adult comedy metal show. It's like an x-rated version of 'The Simpsons' except playing rock n' roll. Getting upset at Oderus Urungus is like getting mad at Homer Simpson. As artists it's our right and duty to take the ugliest parts of our society and put them in the spotlight and defang them by laughing at them or beating the hell at them or both at once."

Look for Michael Plumides, who owned the 4808 Club and was arrested along with Brockie following that show in 1990 and who chronicles the story in his book "Kill the Music," to eulogize his friend Brockie in "The Observer" later this week. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

John Schneider talks new film "Smothered"

Imagine Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, and Michael Myers stalked by a busty, young blonde. That idea was the seed for actor/writer/director John Schneider’s new movie "Smothered," which premiered Friday at Mad Monster Party - the three-day horror and sci-fi convention taking place at the University area Hilton.

Schneider, who is best known for his roles as Bo Duke, Smallville's Jonathan Kent, and currently stars in Tyler Perry's "The Haves and the Have Nots" on OWN, wasn’t quite sold on the idea that horror’s most notorious killers would vacation together. Instead he devised a scenario for the actors that have played these seminal characters to take off into the woods in an old Winnebago.

"I was at a horror convention in Dusseldorf, Germany sitting at a bar with a gaggle of horror icons who weren't having a particularly good show," he says sitting in the lounge at the University Hilton Friday afternoon before the convention kick-off. "I said to one of them, 'If I gave you $1000 right now to haunt an RV park and blow off this convention, would you do it?' They said, 'Absolutely.' That clicked in my writer's brain. That's the reason why a bunch of presumed serial killers - actors who play serial killers in movies - would gather together and go camping during a weekend. They'd be perfect prey for some psycho chick who wanted to take out the bad guy."

A week later he'd finished the first draft of the script. He found a backer and by June he and the cast were filming in Louisiana. Sounds fast, but "Smothered" wasn’t without hurdles. Richard Brooker, the "Friday the 13th Part III" actor whose bad convention experience in Germany inspired the script and who Schneider intended to be the film's lead, died on April 8, 2013 (Schneider’s birthday).

Schneider contacted Kane Hodder, the actor and stuntman best known for donning the hockey mask in four "Friday the 13th"films and headlining the "Hatchet" franchise. Schneider knew both Hodder and Brooker as stunt guys on "Dukes of Hazzard." Hodder accepted the starring role and rounded up other horror icons - R.A. Mihailoff ("Texas Chainsaw III)," "Halloween 5’s" Don Shanks, "Devil’s Rejects'" Bill Moseley, and "Christine’s" Malcolm Danare. Louisiana actor Dane Rhodes took on a Roddy Piper-style role when the pro-wrestler and "They Live" star couldn't do it. Most of the actors play versions of themselves.

The gist is these down-on-their-luck horror stars leave a convention similar to Mad Monster Party to haunt an RV park for a weekend for $1000 a piece.

"One of the oddities of 'Smothered' is that it makes sense. It could happen," says Schneider, who has frequented conventions with these actors since his "Smallville" days. "It's not boogeyman in the closet. It's not supernatural. It's not anything horror films of late have been, which I think makes it unique. It’s funny, but it’s not a spoof."

During the Q&A panel with the cast that followed Friday's screening, Shanks revealed: "In 42 years I've never had so much fun doing a movie.” Mihailoff agreed adding that during the 14-day shoot cast members would come to the set even on days they weren't filming.

A horror film with an obscenely buxom psycho who kills with gore and glee may come as a surprise to fans that know Schneider, who cameos in the film, from family-friendly roles on "Dukes," "Smallville," and "Secret Life of the American Teenager." But the admitted horror-fan says "Smothered" is closer to where his interests lie.

"That's actor for hire," he says. "I like psychological drama, dark, complex characters whose life or choices have forced them into a position of doing things that they wouldn't do. And then they realize they enjoy it. I find those characters far more interesting to watch and write. With 'Have and Have Nots' (his character) is far more interesting to play. I've been the good guy long enough."

He’s hoping "Smothered" will lead to more behind-the-camera work.

"When 'Dukes of Hazzard' happened there was a line drawn. There's before 'Dukes'and after 'Dukes.' When 'Smallville' happened there was a line drawn in my career. Before 'Smallville.' After. Those are all John helping to further someone else's dream. This is John working on what he believes he should be doing, which is the same thing I was doing at 8-years-old with a Super 8 camera - telling stories through moving pictures."

He pauses, "I’m more nervous about watching people watch this movie than I've been about anything before."

Check out the trailer for the film, which is R-Rated, here. This is the censored version. There's also a more colorful uncensored trailer on YouTube too. Cast photo from left to right: Amy Brassette, Dane Rhodes, R.A. Mihailoff, Brea Grant, Bill Moseley, Shanna Forrestall, Malcolm Danare, and Kane Hodder. Schneider photo courtesy of 

Friday, March 21, 2014

This week's hot concerts

David Mayfield Parade
Friday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15,
The mighty showman and his band spill charisma and technical chops on stage while making some of the most beautiful, heartfelt Americana you’ve ever heard with ample personality and humor. As a special treat, he and fiddler Ross Holmes (Mumford & Sons) will reunite for the first time on stage since their bluegrass days in Cadillac Sky.

The Duhks
Friday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $18-$20, 
After lineup shake-ups and a hiatus, the progressive Canadian soul-folk/grass outfit returns with original vocalist Jessee Havey and fiddler Tania Elizabeth (last seen headlining New Year’s with the Avetts) with the promise of a new album (some of which fans will here at this show) later this year.

We Butter the Bread with Butter
Friday  8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $12-$15,
This German theatrical metal outfit fuses disparate elements like Sepultura-style growling with the pomp and bombast of fellow Deutsch hard rockers the Scorpions and Muse and a layer of shimmering synthesizers that recall one-time arena giants like Europe and Asia.

St. Paul & the Broken Bones
Friday  9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $14,
It may have taken twenty years, but Birmingham may in fact be the next Seattle. This vintage soul powerhouse elevated by a charismatic frontman whose singing is rife with raw emotion and a crew of impeccable players follows Alabama Shakes and Lee Bains on the road to national stardom.

Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $10,
Former Guided By Voices bassist and fiction and screenwriter Jim Greer keeps the `90s indie rock spirit that bands like GBV, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur, Jr. made popular alive through chunky, urgent rhythms and wailing, but brief solos. But the trio’s fun, lo-fi alt-rock approach is tempered by female vocalist Guylaine Vivarat.

Three of Clubs Tour
Monday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12-$15,
Charlotte’s own Flagship, who create big, bold, emotional anthems in the spirit of early U2 and Muse join fellow up and comers Terraplane Sun and Little Daylight for the second round of the national tour that helped introduce Sweden’s Royal Concept to the US last fall.

Nicole Atkins
Tuesday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $12-$15,
Fresh from SXSW the Jersey singer (and former Charlottean) returns following the recent release of “Slow Phaser,” which is a bit of a game changer. Recorded with Swedish producer Tore Johannson (the Cardigans), it’s a livelier, dancier, and grander version of the always striking vocalist.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Wednesday  7:30 p.m. McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St., $14.50-$59.50,
The 50-year-old New Orleans institution has long been known for keeping the city’s signature sound alive, but since Katrina the group’s mission to permeate public consciousness has grown through collaborations with bluegrass legend Del McCoury and indie-jam royalty Jim James (My Morning Jacket).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rocky cast, Misfits, & a Runaway at Mad Monster

A bevy of horror and sci-fi actors and pop culture favorites roll into the University Hilton this weekend for Charlotte's third annual Mad Monster Party, which takes place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Musicians with horror ties and actors with musical connections populate a guest list that also includes William Shatner, Corey Feldman, Elvira, Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and Henry Winkler.

Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn, and Little Nell (aka Magenta and Columbia) from the seminal cult
musical "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" will be on hand for the Saturday midnight screening of the film as well as signing autographs and snapping pictures with the rest of the guests.

"The Dukes of Hazzard's" John Schneider - who was also a country singer - will screen his new film "Smothered" Friday with several of the film's cast members including "The Devil's Rejects'" Bill Moseley, who was in the band Cornbugs with guitarist Buckethead.

Other rock n' roll guests include Skinny Puppy's Nivek Ogre, who has appeared in films like "Repo: The Genetic Opera" and other horror fare, Doyle (who joined Glenn Danzig on stage in Charlotte last fall) and former fellow Misfit Dr. Chud, and the Runaways' co-founder Cherie Currie, who appeared in "Twilight Zone: The Movie" and recently "Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft."

Rock n' roll and horror are so closely related. They're like cousins. Actors from Rob Zombie's "House of 1000 Corpes" and "Devil's Rejects" Moseley, Sid Haig, Ken Foree ("Dawn of the Dead") and Michael J. Pollard, for instance, join the fine faces that have donned Jason, Michael Myers, and Leatherface's masks and wrestling figures like Jimmy Hart, Ox Baker, Hogan (who will only be there Sunday) and Piper. That rock n' wrestling connection really never disappears either.

You might not know all the guests by name, but if you grew up with `70s, `80s and `90s horror, you know Heather Langenkamp ("Nightmare on Elm Street's" Kruger-kicking Nancy), Ed Neal (the original "Texas Chainsaw" hitchhiker - yikes), Jane Badler (Diana, the queen lizard from the original "V"), Dick Miller (the ill-fated neighbor in "Gremlins"), and Richard Kiel (Jaws from James Bond films like "Moonraker"). The entire guest list as well as screenings, Q&A sessions, and performances is online here.

Single day tickets, 3-day passes and VIP weekend passes are available at that link as are pre-sale tickets to get Shatner and Hogan's autographs. Kids 12 and under get in free.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Charlotte group delivers original, eclectic debut

It’s not easy being different in a musical community as rich and diverse as Charlotte. No, Charlotte’s not considered a music city, but it - like North Carolina - is actually teaming with musical talent. Even with such a busy music scene, Charlotte rock quartet the Hawthornes manages to come across as original. 

On its debut album, "More Than Eyes Can See," the Hawthornes draws from a deep well of influences while creating a cohesive sound all its own. Guitarist Mike Prescott's busy, lyrical playing gives the group a foundation in classic rock, but the rhythm section of bassist Christopher Freeman and drummer drummer Rob Bowser add a funk and jazz backbeat that's as much a part of the sound as Prescott's fluid finger work. Vocalist Walter Charles adds another layer with a versatile voice that channels elements of Seal (most notably), Peter Gabriel, a hint of a more restrained Michael McDonald, and even Sade. Like the world music R&B singer, the Hawthornes are nothing if not smooth. 

The Hawthornes cover a lot of stylistic ground in eight tracks. The album kicks off with funk-rock riffs worthy of Lenny Kravitz. “Imagination” combines Charles’ Seal-like croon with a sort of late `70s/early `80s ELO/Alan Parsons Project vibe. There’s a touch of yacht rock in the harmonies and the flowery guitar solo as the song sails into a meaty finale that might make Prince proud. While indie hipsters may wave the yacht rock flag with a wink, there’s no irony here. 

During “Runaway” most of the band drops out for a rhythmic breakdown that builds tension before easing back into the smooth, gorgeous melodies of Prescott's guitar and Charles’ vocals. It’s a bit like prog Peter Gabriel. The woven layers of jazz, prog-rock, classic rock, R&B and funk - all genres that were finding footing in popular music and, better yet, through fusion projects in the `70s - come through as genuine. You get a sense that these musicians have been absorbing disparate music and honing their chops for years. How else could they segue from the soulful beauty of “Man Down” to a dark, wah-heavy, psychedelic rocker like “Drums of War.” The latter track in particular links Hendrix and Rush and a touch of Thin Lizzy.  

I can’t think of anyone else who could draw even thin comparisons to Thin Lizzy and Sade on the same album and do it well. The stylistic span really illustrates the group’s range. “More Than Eyes Can See” doesn’t sound like a mishmash either. Even with the versatility and diversity it all sounds like its coming from the same band, which is really one of the biggest challenges for a group - finding its own sound. The Hawthornes have done so here. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Minus the Bear
Friday  7 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $23,
It’s been a year and a half since 2012’s “Infinity Overhead” album and the influential Seattle indie-rock favorite is only just gearing up for its next go of songwriting, but the band’s keeping its live skills sharp and Southeastern fans pacified with a rare weekend in the Carolinas.

The Hawthornes
Friday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8-$10,
The Charlotte foursome, which combines funk basslines, anthemic rock guitar, a touch of prog and jazz, and vocals that marry elements of Seal and Michael McDonald celebrate the release of its new album, “More Than Eyes Can See.”

Sarah Jarosz
Friday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 35th St., $20,
The 22-year-old singer-songwriter and banjo and mandolin prodigy picks up where artists like Nickel Creek left off - bridging nimble picking bluegrass with orchestral folk. Her third album, “Build Me Up From Bones” is her darkest, edgiest, and artiest effort yet.

Sinners & Saints
Saturday  10 p.m., Petra’s,1919 Commonwealth Ave., $5,
The Charlotte acoustic duo follows 2012’s impressive “Stupid Little Songs” debut with its first full-length, “Love and Misery.” If you prefer the Avett Brothers’ stripped down “Gleam” EPs or watching the Cabin stage at Merlefest with the sun in your eyes, then try this pair’s raw, heart-on-sleeve folk.

Don Williams
Sunday  8 p.m., Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., $39.70-$67.90,
On the recent Greenville, SC stop of his current tour, the oft-covered, award-winning 74-year-old Texan behind `70s and `80s country classics like "Tulsa Time" and "It Must Be Love" shared stories laced with dry humor and kept the focus on songs, not flash.

Ava Luna
Tuesday  8 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
This Brooklyn art house, no-wave throwback makes Of Montreal sound like an FM pop band with its strange combination of soul singing, funky percussion, quirky synth, disjointed arrangements, and nods to distant cousins like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Le Tigre, `80s R&B, and Talking Heads.

Middle Class Rut
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $12-$14, 
Before heading out as openers on Chevelle's upcoming tour, this Chicago duo who expanded its sound and lineup for its 2013 album "Pick Up Your Head," headlines with a garage rock-meets-Jane's Addiction vibe. With Dinosaur Pile Up and Brick + Mortar. 

Wednesday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$23,
The San Diego pop-rock band infuses its ninth album with modern, electronic edge that fits nicely as an airy companion to its surf documentary, “Fading West.” Like U2, it smartly approaches the sonic evolution without losing its individuality to technology. With Swedish dance-pop juggernaut the Royal Concept.

Children of Bodom
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $30.50,
As an opening band on major metal tours this veteran Finnish death metal act is often a show-stealer. As it casts its own “Halo of Blood” over North America during this sixth week headlining tour it competes for that title with even older opening act Death Angel and fellow Scandinavians Tyr.

2 Chainz
Thursday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $52,
With “B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME” continuing its late 2013 streak riding Billboard’s R&B and hip-hop album charts (where he still hovers around #15), the gruff Georgia rapper embarks on the 2 Good to Be T.R.U. tour with Pusha T and August Alsina.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Love Army makes CLT debut at Lindsay residency

Before Charlotte musician Jon Lindsay leaves for South By Southwest this week, he'll play the second show of his month-long engagement at Petra's Piano Bar in Plaza-Midwood Thursday.

Lindsay, who launched the the NC Music Love Army with triangle area music vet Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown, Tres Chicas) and other NC musicians last year, hosts different guest performers every Thursday this month. He'll be joined by Cary, Snuzz, Eddie Walker and other Love Army artists during the March 27th show. The show marks the Charlotte debut of the group of North Carolina musicians who - spurred by the Moral Monday movement - wrote and recorded an album of modern-day protest songs.

This Thursday Lindsay will be joined by Machine Theatre and Charlotte's Amigo. March 20 he'll be back with Machine Theatre, who will perform the latest episodes in its serialized variety show "Bohemian Grove" during the residency. The Love Army will close-out the residency on the 27th with Lindsay and Eston & the Outs.

The album, "We Are Not For Sale," was released last fall and features Lindsay, Cary, Django Haskins, Lynn Blakey, Snuzz, the Carolina Chocoate Drops Rhiannon Giddens, Shirlette Ammons, Billy Sugafix, and many others. It will likely be the first in a series of compilations and singles that benefit organizations like Planned Parenthood and Progress NC. Lindsay revealed earlier this week that in addition to its recording and live shows, the NC Music Love Army will endorse democrat Graig R.Meyer, who represents NC House District 50 in the North Carolina General Assembly.

Jon Lindsay (pictured) is currently readying his next album "Cities and Schools" for release later this year. He's also playing some live shows with Twelve Thousand Armies and Raleigh's American Aquarium and has recorded his song "Dear Mr. McCrory" for release as a Love Army single later this year.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Charlotte's drumSTRONG festival announces lineup

Railroad Earth, the Felice Brothers, Kopecky Family Band, and Chatham County Line top this year's drumSTRONG lineup. The music festival and fundraiser for cancer awareness takes place May 16 through May 18 at Weddington's Misty Meadow Farm four miles outside of Charlotte.

This year's bill looks like the largest drumSTRONG lineup yet with acts like Maryland-based singer-songwriter Joe Pug and former Carolina Chocolate Drop and band co-founder Dom Flemons.

The bevy of national, regional, and local artists include heavy hitters from around the area. Raleigh roots-rockers American Aquarium, Chapel Hill's folk-pop combo Lost in the Trees, eclectic Americana group Bombadil, indie-rock act the Love Language, and bluegrassers Chatham County Line represent the triangle area. Asheville's funk unit Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band and producer/DJ/instrumentalist Marley Carroll hail from the mountains, while jam outfit the Mantras carries the Greensboro flag.

Charlotte-based acts include HRVRD, the New Familiars, Junior Astronomers, Grown Up Avenger Stuff, Replicas, Overmountain Men, Super Ape, Dirty Drummer, Ancient Cities, Of Good Nature, Elonzo, Sinners & Saints, Time Sawyer, Pullman Strike, the Business People, Cairo Fire, and Miami Dice.

In its seven years drumSTRONG has spawned sister events and related activities around the globe built on the idea of beating out cancer. The initial drumSTRONG was conceived much like a run or a walk-a-thon to raise money and awareness for cancer with a marathon drum circle, which is still part of the three-day festival.

Besides live music and drumming the festival features children's activities (Sunday is folk and fun day for all ages), drum and yoga instruction, art and food vendors, a craft beer garden, a health expo, and camping. Tickets go on sale Friday, March 14 at

drumSTRONG and its sister organization DrumsForCures was founded by Charlotte's Scott Swimmer after his then young son Mason was diagnosed with cancer as a way to raise funds for cancer organizations through rhythm gatherings. Mason Swimmer is a college student now and drumSTRONG keeps growing.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Charlotte bands take over VA's FloydFest

The lineup for FloydFest - the rising 13-year-old summer music festival, which takes place in Floyd, VA this year from July 23 through 27 - features several Charlotte-based acts. The Dirty Drummer (aka veteran Charlotte musician Dave Haire) is among festival headliners Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Ray LaMontagne, Thievery Corporation, Ziggy Marley, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and Buddy Guy.

Other Charlotte acts are part of the On The Rise lineup. Area artists include Ancient Cities, Elonzo, Super Ape (pictured, also featuring Haire), Paleface, and the New Familiars. Richmond's the Shack Band features Charlotte-native Andrew Gillespie as well.

NC acts Caroline Chocolate Drops, Greensboro's Crystal Bright & the Silver Hands, and Piedmont area transplant Curtis Eller's American Circus join headliners Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Donna the Buffalo, JJ. Grey & Mofro, the Lee Boys, and the Duhks as well. For a full lineup click here.

The five-day festival takes place on 80 acres off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Other activities include panels and workshops, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, yoga and massage, disc golf, and programs for children and teens. For more information check out

Thursday, March 6, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Gregory Porter
Friday  8 p.m., McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St., $38-$45,
This year’s Grammy winner for Best Jazz Vocal Album (for 2013’s “Liquid Spirit”) has been gaining prominence since his Grammy nominated 2010 debut “Water.” The restrained San Diego singer could teach the “American Idol” crowd a lot about how to deliver a soulful tune without going over-the-top.

Dropkick Murphys
Friday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $38,
The Boston band has come a long way since it premiered its distinctive Irish-American pub punk on Warped Tour stages in the `90s. It’s evolved musically and its profile has risen due to the film “The Departed” and by playing during the World Series in 2013. With Lucero and Skinny Lister.

Saturday  9 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd, $40,
The Canadian dupstep producer ups the lighting production and volume of last year’s tour with 150,000 watts and a 28 foot wide, 15 foot tall lighting installation that won’t even fit inside some venues. He’s also keeping fans on their toes with a series of new singles.

Sam the Lion/Reeve Coobs/Hot Gates
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
Following the late 2011 death of Sea of Cortez leader Rodney Lanier, band members Lindsey Horne, Chris Lonon, and Chris Waldorf regroup as Sam the Lion (named after their former band’s song). The dreamy new quartet teams with two of Charlotte's best current acts Coobs and Hot Gates.

Spirit Caravan
Sunday  8 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $12-$15,
Doom guitar legend and vocalist Wino (the Obsessed, Saint Vitus) reteams with bassist Dave Shermann and drummer Gary Isom for the reunion of their influential late `90s/early `00s deep groove-driven, stoner metal outfit.

Busdriver, Open Mike Eagle, Nocando, and Milo
Monday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free, although limited advance $10 tickets are available to guarantee entry,
Emcees from L.A. indie rap label, Hellfyre - art-rap leaders Open Mike Eagle and Busdriver, label owner Nocando, and Wisconsin college student-turned up-and-coming pro Milo - join forces on tour for an intimate, must-see underground hip-hop show.

Snarky Puppy
Tuesday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $18-$20,
The recent Grammy winning (for its collaboration with Layla Hathaway) Brooklyn fusion ensemble play a makeup date after having to cancel its February performance due to last month’s snow.

Eddie Money
Wednesday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $27-$30,
The 64-year-old rocker’s lengthy string of `70s and `80s hits and classic rock radio staples includes “Baby Hold On,” “I Wanna Go Back,” “Shakin’,” “Two Tickets to Paradise,” and “Take Me Home Tonight.” Expect those and more during this intimate club performance.

Gasoline Heart
Wednesday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7,
The Brooklyn outfit takes well-written, heartland rock anthems and the Springsteenian-schooled approach of fellow gas-powered rockers Gaslight Anthem and adds a touch of American roots-rock and a heavy helping of punk edge.

NC-born Future Islands make Letterman debut

Baltimore-based, NC-born synth-rock group Future Islands made its late night TV debut on "Late Show with David Letterman" earlier this week. Watch the clip above. It's also released a video for the single "Seasons (Waiting on You)," which you can watch below. Years ago I asked singer Samuel Herring about the band inevitably getting bigger. He wasn't quite as optimistic about them blowing up as I was. Looks like that's finally starting to happening.

Future Islands, who formed at East Carolina University, signed to the 4AD label earlier this year and will release the new album, "Singles," on March 25. 4AD was an alternative powerhouse in the `90s giving us records by the Pixies, Throwing Muses, Belly, Lisa Germano, and Cocteau Twins. Today it boasts the National, David Byrne & St. Vincent, Purity Ring, and a host of others.

So good for Future Islands, some of who originally hail from Morehead City. From the response the group received locally on Instagram and Twitter when the "Letterman" episode aired, their Charlotte friends (and fans) are excited for them.