Thursday, May 29, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Blackstock Music Festival
Friday and Saturday  7 p.m. and 11 a.m., respectively, Festival grounds, Heritage Rd., Blackstock, SC, $125 weekend, $85 Saturday only, $150 RV pass, $290 VIP,
Sandwiched between Charlotte and Columbia, this jam and roots-friendly festival features Galactic, Papadosio, Mason Jennings, Leftover Salmon, Gwen Sebastian, Will Hoge, Hiss Golden Messenger, Boombox, Toubab Krewe, Electric Soul Pandemic, Dopapod, the Mantras, and locals like Sunny Ledfurd, New Familiars, Case Federal, and Simplified.

Another Lost Year
Friday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $8,
Between a recent Midwest tour, summer rock festivals and reportedly working on the follow-up to its breakthrough debut (which enjoyed play on Sirius/XM and placements on reality television series and sports-related programs), the Charlotte post-grunge hard rockers land home.

Friday  8:30 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $20-$25,
Following tumultuous years that included jail, beating drug addition, and the 2013 death of drummer Joey LaCaze, the New Orleans metal outfit returned this week with its first album of new material in 15 years. The well-reviewed self-titled album is awash in sludgy riffs, fraught vocals, noisy distortion, and a methodical bluesy underbelly.

Foreigner/Styx/Don Felder
Saturday  7 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $25-$89.70,
The classic rock radio vets return for the Soundtrack To Summer tour, but what’s different this year is the hour-long set from the Eagles’ famously ousted lead guitarist Don Felder who penned the music for “Hotel California” as well as a tell-all book. Its writing inspired his second solo album.

Scars on 45
Saturday  7 p.m., Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne, 13139 Ballantyne Corporate Place, Free, 704-247-2222.
Having nearly doubled funds for a new album via a Pledge Music campaign, the British alternative rock quintet responsible for minor hits “Give Me Something” and “Hearts on Fire” (buoyed by spots on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “CSI: New York”) returns for an intimate set.

Legends of Old School Hip-Hop
Saturday  8 p.m., Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., $52.78-$231.66,
Major players in late `80s/early `90s hip-hop Chubb Rock, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, go-to collaborator the Lady of Rage (who worked with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Rock), and Whodini’s bionic DJ Grandmaster Dee join comedian D. Ellis for a look back at what many consider the golden age of rap.

Everyly Brothers Tribute
Saturday  8:30 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $10,
These successful Levine Children’s Hospital fundraisers featuring local musicians paying tribute to classic artist are becoming more frequent. Artists like Reeve Coobs, Sam the Lion, Ancient Cities and the Sammies cover the Everlys this time out followed by an all-star jam.

Patty Griffin
Monday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $27-$32,
The Grammy winning Americana musician and Band of Joy bandmate, as well as Robert Plant’s leading lady, has two recent albums to celebrate on the road. Her first all original album since 2007, “American Kid,” was inspired by her father's passing and her "lost" album “Silver Bell” was finally released 13 years after being shelved by her label.

Black Star Riders
Thursday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $25-$30,
The band led by Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham grew out of Lizzy reunion shows, but the band wasn’t comfortable recording new material under the name considering legendary leader Phil Lynott died in 1986. BSR remains true to TL’s twin guitar sound and Lynott’s Irish roots with Northern Ireland native Ricky Warwick channeling Lynott on vocals.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Charlotte musicians abound with national releases

The month of May began with the release of Charlotte folk-rock band Matrimony’s Columbia Records' full-length debut "Montibello Memories." The group celebrates its release locally Friday at Neighborhood Theatre. But Matrimony isn't the only Charlotte act currently releasing material on a national level. 

Last week nationally buzzed about Charlotte cult rapper Deniro Farrar released his "Rebirth" EP (pictured) via Vice Records, which is home to eclectic acts like Black Lips, Action Bronson, and the Raveonettes. The EP has been well received by outlets like XXL and Spin and praised for its grittiness and realism. 

Yesterday Charlotte black metal/crust punk band Young and in the Way (YAITW) released its debut for Deathwish Inc.The album, “When Life Comes to Death,” was previewed via advance stream at along with albums by Crowbar and the Dum Dum Girls spin-off Haunted Hearts. That kind of consideration - national press and placement alongside better known artists - confirms that more and more Charlotte bands are making headway on a wider scale.

There’s also a lot going on release-wise this summer. For starters Charlotte-based progressive metal quintet Wretched releases “Cannibal” - its fourth album for Victory Records - June 10.

It Looks Sad will release its quite excellent “Radical” as a 7 inch single on Carolina indie label Tiny Engines in August. The track has already got a plug from Pitchfork. 

While the Carolinas are rich in musical history and have exported numerous artists to the world stage, it's nice to see more Charlotte acts getting recognized. Yes we're home to several Grammy winning R&B and gospel artists and have a thriving roots music community, but it's nice to see underground, independent hip-hop and rock artists and major label hopefuls recognized on a larger scale too. 

You can check out many of these artists at the provided links. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

God Save the QC Fest announces lineup, moves to summer

NoDa's God Save the Queen City Festival is back for a fourth year. This year's show, which takes place August 9, features - as in past years - a lineup of rising indie and local artists. This year's acts include several Nashville-based artists. Rock duo Jeff the Brotherhood headlines with folk-country singer-songwriter Jonny Fritz (who "Rolling Stone" dubbed "One to Watch" in 2013), Americana outfit Apache Relay, rock trio Natural Child, psychedelic garage rockers Clear Plastic Masks and the twangy, fittingly named Promised Land Sound all hail from the Nashville area. Coincidentally last year's lineup was steeped in the deep South.

Black Mountain's longtime buzz band Floating Action represents the NC mountains with several hometown artists filling out the bill. Charlotte's Temperance League, Ancient Cities, the Loudermilks, and Benji Hughes return this year along with Late Bloomer, Sinners and Saints, Elonzo, AM/FMs, Batsheet, and Toleman Randall.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

If you haven't heard of many of the artists, put a little trust in the booking. The 2013 festival - one of my favorite lineups of the year - gave St. Paul and the Broken Bones its Charlotte premier. Now the Alabama group is buzzed about all over the country and drawing droves to Chop Shop to headline its own shows.

Last year also featured the incredible Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, who have since signed with Sub Pop who releases its new album Tuesday. Their set was like an exorcism, comparable to early Avetts, and made my Top 10 of the year. While I know Apache Relay and Jeff the Brotherhood as well as the bulk of locals artists are great live acts, I have a lot of faith that the other artists on the bill I don't know yet will deliver as well.

For more information and information on how to purchase tickets check out GSTCQ's Facebook page here.

This week's hot concerts

Friday  6 p.m., Fountain Plaza at NC Music Factory, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $5,
A week before releasing a new album with his other band Camper Van Beethoven, David Lowery and Cracker co-founder Johnny Hickman return to ring in the weekend at the weekly concert series where the 20-year-old alt-rock stalwarts will undoubtedly revisit hits like “Low” and “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now).” 

Infamous Stringdusters
Friday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15,
The award winning, environmentally conscious bluegrass group embarks on its “I Get Away” Tour following the release of its new album, “Let It Go” -  a thoughtful, laid back and pastoral look at everyday life, apathy, empathy, and the current state of the world.

Saturday  4 p.m., Carowinds Paladium, 14523 Carowinds Blvd., $52.14-$70.09,
“The View’s” Sherri Shepherd and fellow comedian and returning emcee Bone Hampton join gospel stars, singers, rappers, and speakers Kirk Franklin, Tamela Mann, Lecrae, Humble Tip, and Dr. Larry Reid and the Breakthrough singers at this annual Spring festival.

Whitewater Center Memorial Day Celebration
Sunday  4 p.m., US National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Free,
The Meters’ (Funky and otherwise) bassist George Porter, Jr., who has held the low end for artists as renowned and disparate as Robert Palmer and Tori Amos, headlines the holiday festivities with his band the Runnin’ Pardners as well as Robert Walters’ 20th Congress and Earphunk.

Justin Hayward
Sunday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $55-$75,
As the Moody Blues’ nears its 50th anniversary in 2016 the fabled British’ group’s frontman strips Moodies songs down to a trio for his solo “Spirit of the Western Sky” Tour, which features material from his latest solo album as well as sparser versions of those hits.

Danity Kane
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $37.50,
The girl group assembled by P. Diddy in 2005 on MTV’s “Making the Band” turned its reunion run into a farewell tour for member Aundrea Fimbres, who announced on opening night last week in San Francisco that she’s pregnant, engaged, and leaving the group following the tour when it will continue as a trio.

Manchester Orchestra
Thursday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $24.50-$37.50, www
The Atlanta rock outfit turns up the distortion on its new album, “Cope,” which rides on hard-hitting guitar anthems and Andy Hull’s Southern vocals and personal lyrics. With dynamic, angsty Pennsylvania alt-rockers Balance and Composure and excellent songwriter and sometime M.O. collaborator Kevin Devine & the Goddamn Band.

The Black Cadillacs
Thursday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8-$10,
This Knoxville outfit rests somewhere between the Black Crowes and the Black Keys - noisy guitars and ample soul delivered with gnarly Southern garage style that’s knee deep in blues but every inch rock n’ roll.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Avetts' live set kicks off new season of "Front and Center"

Set your DVRs Avett fans. The Concord group kicks off Season 3 of  Public Television's live music series "Front and Center" on UNC-TV at 2. am. Sunday, May 25. That's Saturday night/early Sunday morning following "Austin City Limits" and "Music City Roots."

The episode was filmed at New York City's McKittrick Hotel. Scott Avett calls the performance "The most intimate set we've played in NYC in recent memory." You can watch a clip of the band playing "Down With the Shine" from this week's episode.

Other artists featured on "Front and Center" this season include jazz musician Jon Batiste, British singer-songwriter James Blunt, indie-rock combo Grouplove, Grammy Lifetime Achievement winner Ginger Baker (Blind Faith, Cream), mysterious funk/R&B outfit Here Come the Mummies, and pop legend Cyndi Lauper celebrating the 30th anniversary of her breakthrough debut "She's So Unusual" among others.

For more information check out

Monday, May 19, 2014

Breaking up with a band

There was a time when my husband and I would drive hours to see Canadian indie-rock duo Tegan and Sara. We traveled to Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle in November 2007 to see a killer (by feminist, post riot grrrl standards, at least) bill featuring female hip-hop trio Northern State and the Quin sisters. It was a great show. We were fans. My husband owned 2002’s "If It Was You" when we started dating. I bought 2004’s “So Jealous” at a record store in Santa Barbara on our honeymoon. We remained devout fans through 2009’s "Sainthood" with nary a complaint.
Yet we never even discussed finally catching them locally when they came through the Fillmore in December 2013 and we aren’t going to Monday’s show there either. I guess we've broken up with Tegan and Sara.
It wasn’t sudden. First came the video for the hit single "Closer," which finds the sisters basically karaoke-ing at a teen house party. The blatant pop angle of the song bothered me a tad - the production is more polished and way less guitar-rock than anything they’d done before, but I think it was the sincerity with which they belted into microphones that bugged me the most. If the video had been tongue-in-cheek or if they looked like they were having fun, then I might have bought it.
I listened to the new album "Heartthrob" when it came out as well, but it didn’t resonate with me the way "The Con" or "Sainthood" had. I even held on long enough to watch the stream of the band’s performance at 2013’s Coachella Festival. Even my five-year-old could tell it was off. In comparison my husband and I enjoyed their 2005 set quite a bit amid a few technical issues.
It’s weird breaking up with a band. And I’m not saying it’s necessarily the band’s fault. It’s like a relationship. Sometimes you just lose interest, stop buying their new albums, and phase a band out of your life. Not that you don’t still go back and listen to the old records you loved or remember them fondly. Other times a band does something so off-putting - be it in their public behavior, live, or on record - that you just don’t want to listen to them anymore. I’m so glad I got to see Kings of Leon on the "Aha Shake Heartbreak" tour at Neighborhood Theatre, for instance. I was a fan of subsequent records, but gradually with the last two albums they lost me. Pigeon poop and cancelling an entire tour right before the Charlotte show didn’t help, but I still tried to embrace those later albums. I just don’t love them like I did earlier ones.
Other times I think you just tire of an artist. I was a devoted Ani DiFranco fan in the mid `90s traveling to Raleigh and Asheville any time she came through. But at some point I grew less interested - I think it was her jazzier phase. I continued to buy her records, but I no longer traveled to shows. But like love affairs you can’t shake, sometimes the romance does come back around again. When I caught DiFranco at Neighborhood Theatre in 2009 and 2010, I was completely blown away as was my friend Erin whose fandom of the feminist folkie had also lulled. It helped that DiFranco, who’d once played less intimate shows at Grady Cole Center and Ovens Auditorium, returned to clubs and that we’d done this great interview where she’d talked about the importance of raising feminist boys (I was due to have my first boy at the time). That show reminded me of everything I'd loved about her in the first place.
So I’m not saying I’ll never want to see Tegan and Sara again (who knows?), but setlists from recent shows list a whopping nine tracks from "Heartthrob." That should please new fans, but for now I’ll stick with the old indie-rock T&S.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Great first impressions - Nostalghia at New Music Revolution

Occasionally a band makes such an impression that you always remember the first time you heard them. I remember listening to Jane’s Addiction’s "Nothing’s Shocking" in the dark on the living room carpet on Christmas night the year my parents divorced. I’d put it on my Christmas list based on "Rolling Stone’s" four star review (I was an odd 13-year-old).

The first time I heard new rock trio Nostalghia's song "Sunshiny Milk" I was driving home from the Y. As delicate classical strings swelled to the primal industrial attack of the chorus, I got chills. This doesn't happen. Or at least I don't remember the last time it did. Almost simultaneously scenes from my current favorite TV show BBCA's "Orphan Black" popped into my head. What a perfect pairing these two post-punk entities would make, I thought. 

Nostalghia did it to me again Thursday night opening WEND 106.5 The End's fourth New Music Revolution showcase at The Fillmore. The trio of Roy Gnan on drums/samples/keys, cellist Adele Stein, and singer Ciscandra Nostalghia opened with "Sunshiny Milk" and as soon as the chorus kicked in goosebumps sprang up on my arms. 

It doesn't hurt that Ciscandra Nostalghia is a dominating presence. She wore a white satin slip dress, dark makeup with mascara running, and hair reaching well past her waist. She's no girl next door. There's an exotic quality to her look (her Last FM page mentions a Persian mother and Russian/Irish father who spoke French and that she was raised in California and Iran) and her vocals, which swell from whispers to operatic wails to screams, are often sung with an indeterminable accent. 

There is so much about Nostalghia (the band) that reminds me of some of my favorite female artists of all time. Her pronunciation and quirkiness recalls Bjork. The operatic vocals and the goth imagery reminds me of my beloved Siouxsie and the Banshees as well as Kate Bush; the cello of cello-rock trio Rasputina; and the industrial element of `90s Brit band Curve. But all of those elements weave together to create something new and unique in its own right, which is exactly what it needs to be to wake people up. 

The crowd at The Fillmore was rapt. They seemed stunned as Nostalghia screeched during the seemingly gentle "Cool for Chaos." That track alone was inspiring. I realized that this is one of the records I'll be listening to while writing my next two books during grad school. And I think that really says a lot about Nostalghia too - it's inspirational. Art begats art, even if said art is not what intellectuals deem high art. A brilliant rock band, a BBCA TV show, and my as-yet-unpublished vampire and horror novels - not high art, but I'm so excited these other things exist to inspire me. I feel like music is on an upswing, but hearing something truly different is what music geeks really crave.

Or you can just consider what the guy behind me uttered to his girlfriend as Nostalghia left the stage: "It was weird, but it was cool." 

Well said, dude.

Friday, May 16, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Blue Dogs/The Dirty Guv’nahs
Friday  6 p.m., NC Music Factory Fountain Plaza, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $5,
The music factory’s annual Friday concert series pairs the veteran Charleston bluegrass-flavored roots-rock outfit with the up and coming Knoxville country-rockers, whose new album “Hearts On Fire” topped Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. Both bands have reputations for high energy live shows.

Apache Relay/The Weeks
Friday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15,
The Nashville outfit evolves past its roots-rock beginnings with something deeper, melancholy, and classic rock n’ roll on its new self-titled album, which glides on rich harmonies. Its earnest Mississippi-based tour mates are like an early Kings of Leon.
Whitewater Ramble
Friday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8-$10,
The Fort Collins, Colo. quintet brings bluegrass into the future by mixing fast-paced, nimble picking and hearty harmonies with deeper rock n’ roll vocals, segues into jazz fusion, and showy orchestral movements that ignite jam band crowds while keeping an anchor in tradition.

Jamey Johnson
Friday  11 p.m., Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., $25,
While his Nashville cousins are headlining amphitheaters the critically adored, Alabama-bred troubadour keeps things low-key - as he did with 2013’s unlikely Top 5 hit album “Living For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran” - with an intimate-by-comparison club show.
Reverb Fest
Saturday  6:30 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $6,
This is one of those big local bills that allows newcomers to sample Charlotte acts without committing much but time, while (in this case) supporting the Chronic Illness Relief Fund. Acts include Bo White, Del Rio, Couches, Hectorina, Sinners & Saints, Pullman Strike, Late Bloomer, Grown Up Avenger Stuff, It Looks Sad, and more.
Tegan & Sara
Monday  7:45 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $47,
The Canadian sister act has forsaken the snappy indie-pop it built its career on (its second release was ironically called “This Business of Art”) for full-on commercial pop music, following 2013’s “Hearthrob” by sharing the stage with Taylor Swift and providing a track for “The Lego Movie” - "Everything is Awesome!"

Tamar Braxton
Tuesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33,
After playing sister Toni Braxton’s backup singer off and on for two decades and a briefer run with the Braxtons, the younger sibling is enjoying a second life as a solo artist with a No. 1 R&B album thanks to two reality series - “Braxton Family Values” and “Tamar & Vince.”
Nashville Pussy/Supersuckers
Wednesday  8:30 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $15,
The grooves don’t get much gnarlier than this pair of gritty guitar rockers. The former’s latest record “Up the Dosage” plays like a redneck Motorhead if Lemmy were raised on Schlitz, muscle cars, and classic country in the deep South. The Supersuckers rock in similar fashion, but hail from the Northwest.

Uh Huh Her
Thursday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15,                                
Before turnings heads with her acting on Showtime’s “The L Word,” Leisha Hailey was half of `90s alt-rock duo the Murmurs. Musically she time jumps 20 years with futuristic electronic-based music that still features lush female vocals in this duo with Camila Grey.

Neon Trees
Thursday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $30.50,
With its third album “Pop Psychology” and singer Tyler Glenn’s recent “Rolling Stone” reveal that he’s gay, Utah’s biggest pop export is enjoying renewed interest. What’s more its third album pins read-between-the-lines lyrics with some of the catchiest pop music this side of Provo.
Gedeon Luke & the People
Thursday, 9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $5,
This Memphis-raised band leader heads up an eight-piece ensemble through some of the grittiest, liveliest, spirit-moving soul this side of the `70s. He shifts between inspirational Sly Stone-style frontman to an equally emotive singer in the vein of Curtis Mayfield. His debut album "Live Free and Love" is out in June, but you can catch he and the big band early for a bargain price.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bentley kicks off first largescale headlining tour in CLT

Dierks Bentley was due his own headlining tour. Last summer he stole the show with unbridled energy while touring with Miranda Lambert. Nearly nine months later he’s back at PNC Music Pavilion (formerly Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre) kicking off his Riser tour and first time headlining outdoor amphitheaters.
Bentley frontloaded the set with party-starters and drinking songs after emerging from beneath the curved floor to ceiling screen that made it look as if he and his five-piece band were performing at an old drive-inn movie screen (which is actually a really cool idea). Bentley jumpstarted the show with the sing-along “5-1-5-0” (from 2012’s “Home”) followed by another No. 1 - 2007’s “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go).”
The up-tempo drinking songs kicked off with “Am I the Only One.” As it came to an end he signaled one of his stage techs for two cold ones and pulled a blonde woman on stage to shotgun a beer with him. “She almost beat me,” he said as she returned to the front row and he segued into “Tip It On Back.” He followed it with his current single “Drunk On A Plane." 
He finally took a breath and mentioned that he’d waited 10 years to headline having played the amphitheater with Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, and Lambert. He seemed exhilarated. 
He strummed his acoustic guitar in the spotlight at the tip of a short catwalk beginning “Every Mile a Memory.” In a string of No. 1 songs, the 2006 hit was special eliciting an “ah yeah!” from the burly young men to my right. Road footage rolled, which included sweet videos of Bentley and his three small children.
Bentley pulled four tracks from the new album “Riser.” The darker “Bourbon in Kentucky” and the title track (reserved for the first encore) made the cut. He referenced 2010’s bluegrass-centered album “Up On The Ridge” (pictured) with the sole title cut then ventured out into the crowd with the bulk of his band to perform songs like “Settle for a Slowdown” from a platform erected right behind the front of house soundboard. He shared a beer with a fan and when he sent the players back to the stage he introduced like athletes charging onto a football field before heading back to the main stage himself while singing “Come a Little Closer.”
As the show neared its end, Bentley mentioned the old pickup truck he drove from Arizona to Nashville years ago with his father, who died in 2012. It was similar to the introduction he gave last summer when he introduced the then brand new song to the Charlotte audience. But this time he chose to end his set on the slower, but powerful “I Hold On” which I think speaks for the new material on “Riser.” I thought it was a great way to cap the show.
Of course no headliner is ever truly done. The lights barely went down before he and his band were back for “Riser,” “What Was I Thinking (Little White Tank Top),” and “Sideways.” Opening acts Jon Pardi, Chase Rice, and Chris Young appeared each with a red Solo cup in hand to help out - somewhat comically - on the latter. Bentley returned once more for “Home” even handing a red guitar (that his band mate had been playing - not his own prized acoustic) to a birthday girl down front.
Young country artists Pardi and former “Survivor: Nicaragua” runner-up Rice kicked off the show with short sets. It was somewhat of a homecoming show for Rice, who is best known for co-writing Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise.” He was once a starting linebacker at the University of NC and worked at Hendricks Motor Sports before heading off to Nashville.
The more experienced Young employed video screens and played a longer set as night fell. It kicked off with the title track to his latest album “A.M.” and 2009’s hit “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song).” He also covered the Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove” - just a short skip down the road from the locale that shares the song's name.
By the time Pardi hit the stage the rain had let up. And although sprinkles hit my windshield on the way home on 485, the rain stayed at bay for most of the show - making for a perfect night to open your first big time summer headlining tour here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Breasts and brews are the focus of two local weekend festivals

Craft beer and breast cancer are the focus of two very different Charlotte festivals this weekend. Breast Fest takes place Friday and Saturday at Tremont and features classic hardcore acts like Cro-Mags, Earth Crisis, and Shai Hulud. Cro-Mags headline Friday with Mongoloids, Take Offense, Fire & Ice, and others. Vegan straight-edge forerunners Earth Crisis head up Saturday's 14 band bill with Cruel Hand, The Banner, Stigmata, Shai Hulud, Bitter End and others.

Two day passes are $50. Tickets for Saturday only are $30. Shows start around noon each day. Check for full lineup and details.

The Fourth Annual NC Brewers and Music Fest takes place Friday and Saturday at Historic Rural Hill in Huntersville with craft beer from over 30 breweries as well as live music. Michigan's Greensky Bluegrass (pictured), Western NC's Big Daddy Love, and returning favorite Sol Driven Train head up an eclectic roots, soul, and Americana bill that also includes soul singer Jesse Dee, Spirit Family Reunion, and the Jon Stickley Trio.

Charleston-based Grateful Dead tribute the Reckoning and Hit or Miss both return to get the party started Friday evening.

Camping is actually open all weekend. Saturday and Sunday start with a.m. yoga. The music kicks off at 12:15 p.m. Saturday with the beer tasting following at 12:45 p.m.

NoDa brewing, Heist, Triple C, Four Friends, and Birdsong are among the local breweries represented.

Ticket prices range from $7 for kids and $15 for designated drivers to $60 for RV campers. Music only admission is $22. Tickets are available here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Of Montreal
Friday  8 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $18-$20,
Fans never know what theatrical statements and unusual imagery they’ll be treated to at one of the Athens’ band’s shows, but the experimental indie group’s colorful stage show is like an “Adventure Time” episode with a quirky rock soundtrack.

Friday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $10,
The Clover roots rock trio’s rousing debut album, “Might Could” - where honky tonk and doo-woop meet the energy of the Ramones - is enjoying national buzz and garnering positive reviews. Come see what all the fuss is about. With Pullman Strike and Possum Jenkins.

Langhorne Slim/Deer Tick
Saturday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $27,
From his days opening for the Avetts to last year’s killer Fillmore show with Charlotte’s Matrimony, Slim’s long been a live force who is finally getting the attention he deserves. Deer Tick is no stranger to buzz as well, making for a stellar Americana bill.

Winery Dogs
Saturday  9 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $25-$35,
“That Metal Show” viewers are familiar with this oft-discussed super group featuring Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, Mr. Big/David Lee Roth bassist Billy Sheehan, and guitarist Richie Kotzen (Poison, Mr. Big), who have all been featured guests and players on the VH1 series.

Beenie Man
Saturday  11 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 36th St., $35-$40/$50-$60 VIP,
The Grammy winning self-proclaimed “dancehall king’s” beefs, controversial lyrics, and conflicting comments have often overshadowed his work, but collaborations with No Doubt and Janet Jackson and his own numerous hits have made the Jamaican artist an international star.

Leopold & His Fiction
Sunday  9 p.m., Double Door Inn, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $10,
With a frontman who looks like a silent film Freddie Mercury, howls like Jack White, and holds a crowd like a rock n’ roll evangelist, this combo stole the spotlight from well known artists at SXSW. It’s also the latest act to catch the attention of Concord’s Dolph Ramseur, who now manages the group.

Blitzen Trapper
Tuesday  7:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $18-$20,
The Portland `70s folk-rock throwback returns to Charlotte thanks to a slot on the excellent Shaky Knees Festival bill in Atlanta this weekend. Its latest album “VII” injects a hefty dose of funk and soul in to its twangy country-rock vibe.

Shonna Tucker & Eye Candy
Wednesday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $10,
The former Drive-By Truckers bassist revealed her songwriting and voice on later Truckers’ records. Backed by Athens’ players like fellow former DBT member John Neff, she’s created an eclectic debut - “A Tell All” - which drifts from roots-rock stompers to Jenny Lewis-style folk-pop.

+++/Sleeper Agent/Wild Cub/Nostalghia
Thursday  7:30 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $14.65,
Chino Moreno’s (of Deftones) heavy gloom rock trio Crosses is the big draw, but 106.5 The End's New Music Revolution bill is stacked with up and coming bouncy dance pop (Kentucky’s Sleeper Agent and Nashville’s Wild Cub) while opening act Nostalghia takes the best of Kate Bush, Rasputina, Curve and Bjork and creates something entirely fresh.

Lacuna Coil
Thursday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $15-$20,
The female-fronted, theatrical Italian metal combo finally headlines Charlotte following the April release of its seventh album, “Broken Crown Halo,” which balances its catchy pop metal and heavier fare. Imagine a younger Famke Jannsen fronting a sultry metal band with a `90s version of French actor Jean Hughes Anglade.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review: Do you believe in life after 60? Cher thinks you should

Few artists could follow Cyndi Lauper, whose hour-long set opening for Cher Monday at Time Warner Cable Arena received a standing ovation. But Cher isn’t just any artist. At 68 (later this month) she’s the oldest female artist currently touring a full-scale arena show, but when she wore the floor length Native-American headdress and stick straight black hair during “Half-Breed” it was as if time had stopped in 1973.

Cher may be no longer be as limber and loose or as rail thin as her dancers, but it seemed fitting for the larger than life queen to tower over her subjects as she did in the Egyptian themed opening of her No. 1 2013 dance single “Woman’s World.”

So how does an AARP-card carrying diva rule an arena for almost two hours and 17 songs? She paces herself and takes a couple inches off her stilettos.

She performed nearly every song or two in a different costume and interludes featuring dancers and aerialists, footage of her years with Sonny Bono, her Oscar winning films, eras and fashion, and her band raging through instrumentals like “Bang Bang” gave her time to change.

She proved as capable a singer as Lauper - eight years her junior - and, like Lauper, was at her best belting it out on songs like “Walking in Memphis” and “Just Like Jesse James.” She didn’t dance much, but by late in the set when she emerged from a Trojan horse like a disco Helen of Troy belting “Take It Like a Man” she seemed to revel in it all. She was completely in her comfort zone donning the famous black see-through negligee-inspired one-piece from the “If I Could Turn Back Time” video. She strutted and even skipped in those thigh-climbing black boots during it and “I Found Someone.” I bet she never thought she’d still be wearing that number 25 years after she first slipped into it.

With Cher the costumes are half the fun. She went mod for her tribute to Sonny Bono during which they sang a posthumous duet of “I Got You Babe.” She played a fortune teller for “Dark Lady” and “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” amid an elaborate vintage circus set and soared through the crowd looking as if she’d stepped from a Raphaelite painting during the closer of “I Hope You Find It.” The sexiest outfit was a skimpy dress of silver cords that barely covered her breasts, which were hidden by a film of fabric and heart-shaped pasties.  

As much as Cher played the over-the-top Vegas diva, what fans really like about her is when she gets real. For all the plastic surgery, skin, men, and incredible acting credits, Cher proved pretty normal sipping Dr. Pepper railing against the soft drink company for gifting her with a cheap cooler at a recent tour stop. She prefaced “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” by saying some nights it didn’t go so well (it went fine) and revealed that she had second thoughts about “trotting out” Bono for “Babe,” but knew he would approve. She even admitted her insecurities about touring in her late 60s.

“How do I outdo myself?” she’d asked herself before the tour. “Go out there, wear silly costumes, sing, and be fabulous.” And she was.

As for Lauper, from the first notes of “She Bop” through a segue into her Tony-winning “Kinky Boots” to the a capella segment of “True Colors,” she was on fire. In head-to-toe leather with a bright red dreadlocked wig that looked like she swiped it from Cher’s closet, Lauper was equally funny, candid, and in impeccable voice. The entire arena rose to its feet the moment “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Lauper led a teasing sing-along with “Let’s sing with some freaking spirit, please.”

Early on Cher winked as she promised this was her farewell farewell tour. While most artists are ready to retire by this age, she proved what one fan described as “amazing.” Let’s hope we haven’t actually seen the last of either of these women.  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review: Carolina Rebellion 2014 Day 1

The sunny, breezy weather couldn't have been more perfect for Carolina Rebellion’s return to Concord after the hard rock and metal festival ended abruptly due to rain last May leaving many fans miffed that they wouldn’t see a reunited Soundgarden or the four other bands that cancelled.

But the sun shone on a field of fading tattoos, sunburned skin, and black t-shirts as a steady rumble of blast beats and boomy bass provided the soundtrack for the fourth annual Charlotte festival.

Denmark’s Volbeat was one of the band’s that cancelled last year, but it made up for it by practically stealing the show with one of the strongest sets of the day. With Rob Caggiano (who signed on after leaving Anthrax in 2013) on guitar, the eclectic group hopped from rockabilly to punk to straight metal with singer Michael Poulsen alternating between amusing banter and soaring vocals. Corey Beaulieu and Matt Heafy of Trivium, who played an early afternoon set, joined Volbeat for “Evelyn.” Caggiano’s former bandmates Scott Ian, Frank Bello, and Charlie Benante helped out on another track, which ended with Bello adorably planting a half-hug/kiss on a smiling, seemingly surprised Caggiano.

Anthrax, who stepped into the veteran slot when Motorhead cancelled, played a short set heavy on older fan favorites and live staples like “I’m the Law” and “Indians.” It struggled with the sound at first, but by its crowd-rousing Grammy nominated cover of AC/DC’s “T.N.T.” things gelled. Fans seem to take “Caught in the Mosh” literally, with one young man retreating from the pit with his face covered in blood.

There were actually few technical or scheduling hiccups. Black Label Society’s set was loud with chest-pounding kick drum, but clear. Zakk Wylde alternated between the showy, squealing guitar he built his career on and less showy Sabbath-meets-grunge vocals.

Some of the best moments were the unexpected ones - like Southern California trio Kyng’s (pictured) cover of “Hot For Teacher” and pro-wrestler Chris Jericho of the band Fozzy, who made up for his weak vocals with stage prowess, a sense of humor, and jacket that provided its own light show.

Bands like Volbeat and Seether, who premiered a new song from its forthcoming album, performed beneath blinking strobes, but lighting and visuals didn’t really come into play until the sun set for Rob Zombie. Flanked by a backdrop of classic horror icons, Zombie outdid himself in energy and charisma. He was funny - joking and dropping the horror guise at times. And he danced wildly - not just headbanging, but exhibiting some fresh moves during “Living Dead Girl.” Earlier I’d thought about preferring most of these acts in a more intimate club setting (many play smaller Charlotte venues), but Zombie proved that his big, bold, colorful show may be better suited to a large stage that gives him plenty of room to teeter on barriers and dash around.

Avenged Sevenfold closed out Saturday’s show with twin-guitar heavy, goth-glam metal. Highlights included the piano-driven “Fiction,” 2010’s crowd-rager “Nightmare,” and older tracks like “Bat Country.” It also benefited from added pyro and props. Singer M. Shadows raved early on that the show “dwarfed” its first Carolina Rebellion experience in 2011.

As the more metal of the two-day festival (Sunday’s headliners Kid Rock and 311 veer toward the lighter pop side of hard rock), Saturday’s acts ranged from the grunge-influenced Southern hard rock of Black Stone Cherry to Killswitch Engage’s pummeling melodic metalcore to the heavy funk and rap-metal of Thousand Foot Krutch, the angst-heavy post-grunge of Seether and the more methodical stoner metal of Swedish trio Truckfighters, who opened the show.
The day had its pros and cons - I haven’t seen that many smokers since the `90s. Could we possibly introduce ecigs as a sponsor next year? And I thought I might never get out of the parking lot afterward. But the music - the most important part - delivered on time, with energy, and loud and clear. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Antiseen guitarist Joe Young, 1960-2014

Founding Antiseen guitarist Joe Young died Wednesday morning of a heart attack outside his southwest Charlotte home at age 54. Young and the band, which has an international following and tours internationally, celebrated its 30th anniversary in October.
Young had complained to his band mates recently of having chest pains while performing on stage, but his death came as a shock to friends and fans. The group had just returned from shows in the Northeast and played Tremont Music Hall as recently as late April with its new drummer.
Although he grew up in Lenoir and ran Lenoir’s Repo Depot record store for 10 years with his younger brother Jeff, Young was a fixture in the Charlotte music scene. He worked at The Milestone Club (where he met Antiseen singer Jeff Clayton at a show featuring Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols), at Repo Records on South Blvd., and most recently at Repo’s recently reopened Commonwealth Avenue store.
“I put up an ad for a typist for a fanzine I was doing called ‘The New Breed,’” Clayton says, recalling his first interactions with Young. “He came by my apartment and said he’d be happy to type for us. I had this vision for this band where we had two guitars kind of like the Cramps. Joe may have been the first one I asked.”
Young accepted without actually owning a guitar.
“He didn’t even know how to play guitar, and had me give him a quick lesson, and he bought a guitar and amp,” says Jeff Young, who lived with his older brother for all but six of his 51 years.
“I think the very first song we ever wrote together… Joe just started stealing a riff Jeff had written,” says Clayton, with a laugh.
The Young brothers grew up listening to family in Lenoir play bluegrass music. Jeff Young says his brother was an athletic kid who played baseball and basketball and, as a teenager, sometimes preferred to watch sports over taking out the car on a Saturday night. His first concert was the Atlanta Rhythm Section, the Doobie Brothers, and Nate Romberg in Clemson. Joe later took Jeff to see Seals & Crofts at Carowinds for $2 a ticket.
Joe Young discovered the Ramones, the Clash, and the Sex Pistols while working at a record store after graduating from high school. It wasn’t long after that he moved to Charlotte and started the band.
Antiseen became a notorious and sometimes controversial voice in Southern punk rock. The shows were wild and bloody, and Young’s signature buzzing chainsaw guitar was as much of a fixture as Clayton’s rugged growl and larger-than-life persona. The band toured Europe and the U.S., opened for its heroes the Ramones, recorded with GG Allin, released a large catalog, threw legendary anniversary concerts, and was the subject of a tribute record featuring artists like Hank Williams III, Chaos UK, Blowfly, and Zeke covering its songs. The band’s history was chronicled in a 2003 book.
In 2000, Joe Young ran for the N.C. State House as a libertarian candidate and in 2001 for Lenoir City Council.
“A lot of people don’t realize he (initially) won for city council and they had to do a recount,” Clayton says. “All of a sudden, the candidate that had been in that position for years won.”
Joe and Jeff Young returned to Charlotte in 2013 after closing their Lenoir store and helped Jimmy Repo reopen his Repo Records here.
"The night before he passed away, he and I were talking about it being almost a year since we’d moved,” Jeff Young says. “He said he didn’t miss Lenoir at all, and one of the best things he’d done was move back to Charlotte.”
Antiseen’s immediate shows have been cancelled. Clayton is uncertain of what the future holds for the band.
There was a time when Young moved to Atlanta years ago and Clayton tried to play without him.
"I tried to do a show as Antiseen with some other guys and it was a disaster. Joe was in the crowd. We thought, 'Man, we’ve got to save this somehow,'" Clayton recalls. "Joe came back on stage for the encore and played and it went perfect."

A memorial service will be held at Tremont Music Hall on May 18 at 3 p.m. Young is survived by his brother Jeff Young, a wife, Anitra, uncles and aunts in Lenoir, and his band mates.

Free live music at Midwood Maynia Saturday

The Plaza-Midwood neighborhood holds its annual Midwood Maynia and Home Tour event this weekend, which includes live music Saturday afternoon at Midwood Park. The family friendly event, which kicks off Saturday with a 5K road race followed by a pet parade, converges on Midwood Park at 11 a.m. with children's activities, food and drink, vendors, and live music.

Music kicks off at 12:30 with familiar covers from Chris Holder. Charlotte rock band Run Engine (pictured) takes the stage at 2 p.m. followed by the soul singing Shana Blake Band. Progressive alt-rockers the Salem Lake Band
close out the show. Music runs from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Kidswood activities run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a bouncy house, sand art, painting, bird house construction, dancing, and bubbles.

The candlelight home and garden tour begins tonight at 6 p.m. $20 tickets are available at Common Market, Pura Vida, and Central Coffee in advance. Tickets will be available at Kilgo Church this evening. The tour also takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Advance tickets are $15. For more information and a schedule of events click here.

This week's super-sized hot concerts

Marty Stuart & the Superlatives
Friday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $32,
The snappy dressing, rock n’ roll coiffed, progressive country-rock and honky-tonk legend returns to NoDa with his crack team of equally well-dressed players, which includes Exile singer/guitarist Paul Martin, sought after session man Harry Stinson, and youthful guitar whiz Kenny Vaughan.

The Lox
Friday  9 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $40/$70 VIP,
After emerging as guests on P. Diddy’s “It’s All About the Benjamins” and Mariah Carey’s “Honey” in the late `90s the Yonkers rap trio went platinum, but a lengthy fight with its label kept Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch from releasing much group material. With 13 years between releases its back with the digital “Trinity” EP.
Cathie Ryan Trio
Saturday  7:30 p.m., Jim Rivers Fellowship Hall at Wedgewood Church, 4800 Wedgewood Dr., $20,
The Detroit-raised, award-winning Irish-American singer has long bridged traditional Celtic and American music as a member of Cherish the Ladies in the late `80s/early `90s and as a solo artist with a crystal clear voice and captivating, sometimes funny, stage presence.

Saturday  8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $12-$14,
As a precursor to Torche (guitarist Steve Brooks), Dove and House of Lightning (both with drummer Henry Wilson), the reunion and this week’s release of “Oblation” - its first newly recorded music since splitting in 2003 - is a buzzed about event for fans of the influential underground, heavy Miami stoner band.

The Whigs
Saturday  8:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $14-$16,
The excellent Athens-birthed Nashville transplant is back with its fifth album, “Modern Creation” - a record full of stormy mid-tempo guitar rock that doesn’t try to hit you over the head immediately but grows on you with grinding guitars and methodical tempos while capturing the trio’s aggressive live charm.

Hall & Oates
Sudnay  7:30 p.m., Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $40-$102.70,
Fresh from its Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction Hall, who hosts the highly successful “Live From Daryl’s House” series, and Oates, who has focused on a solo career and eclectic collaborations, revisit the influential string of soul-pop hits that made the duo a household name.

Tony Furtado
Sunday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $10-$12,
Although originally reared in music as a prize-winning banjo prodigy, the slide guitarist, vocalist and band leader has spent the last 22 years heading toward a more eclectic sound that - while never straying far from traditional roots - delves into darker blues and Americana with brushes of folk-pop and world music.
Cher/Cyndi Lauper
Monday  7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St., $36.90-$124.30,
Twelve years after embarking on her last farewell tour the 67-year-old pop culture legend returns for a show high on hits and glitz. She’s accompanied by Lauper - last headlining here in November - who has been taking a nostalgic look back at her own seminal 31-year-old debut.

Monday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free at door/$10 VIP advance,
Monday’s weekly Knocturnal series continues to showcase national, cutting edge indie rap acts with Ohio emcee Blueprint headlining this week’s bill with labelmate Count Bass D. and Dirty Art Club. Blueprint is fresh off the release of his soul-sampling, old school homage “Respect the Architect.” 

Foster the People
Monday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $50,
The “Pumped Up Kicks” trio blew past speculations of a sophomore slump with the March release of “Supermodel” - the follow-up to its gold, Grammy nominated 2011 debut “Torches” - and a buzzed about Coachella Festival set as well as near sell-outs like this one.
Tuesday  9 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$22,
A favorite of taste making indie-rockers and record store clerks in the `90s, this Scottish shoegazing post-rock quartet and longtime UK chart topper makes an anticipated return to the states following the four-star grabbing new album “Rave Tapes” and its most extensive North American tour to date.

Gaslight Anthem/Cory Branan
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $20-$25,
Having just completed recording its up-coming album in Nashville, the blue-collar New Jersey rock outfit is hitting the road to revisit fan favorites and past hits before unleashing a record that frontman Brian Fallon calls the band’s “next evolution.” With buzzing country-folk songwriter Branan.
Sandi Thom
Wednesday  8 p.m., Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St., $40,
The viral success of her out-of-nowhere 2006 UK hit “I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker” was so sudden it nearly eclipsed the Scottish singer-songwriter’s other work. On her Rich Robinson-produced fourth album she exhibits an astounding way with blues and R&B as a  songwriter and interpreter. With covers she even makes “November Rain” and “Hurt” her own.

Earl Sweatshirt
Thursday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$25,
Barely out of his teens (he turned 20 in February) this California emcee has already collaborated with Frank Ocean, Tyler the Creator and other Odd Future label mates and last year released the critically acclaimed chart climbing major label debut, “Doris” - making him a hip-hop hot ticket.
Ledisi/Robert Glasper Experiment
Thursday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $44.50,
The oft Grammy nominated R&B singer (who’ll play Mahalia Jackson in the MLK movie “Selma), flirts with classic `80s soul and dance music and poppy R&B on her new album “Truth.” She’s joined by pianist and sometime collaborator Glasper (with who she shared a recent Grammy nod)  who approaches jazz through hip-hop and funk filters.
Bleeding Rainbow
Thursday  9 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
Under a haze of guitar fuzz with boy/girl vocals ranging from angst-ridden to delicate and pretty, this Philadelphia trio takes the juxtaposed distortion and beauty of My Bloody Valentine and drums up a new version of the `90s indie-rock of bands like Superchunk, Swirlies, and Rainer Maria on its new album “Interrupt.”