Thursday, July 31, 2014

This week's hot concerts

It Looks Sad
Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5, 
The Charlotte band celebrates the release of its self-titled EP, which Pitchfork began touting in April when it premiered the beautifully dark track “Radical.” The songs cut a decades long swath between Explosions in the Sky and Echo and the Bunnymen with a link to Beach Fossils and post hardcore. Even at its most upbeat, it still sounds sad.

Triple C Summer Folk Festival
Saturday  4 p.m., Triple C Brewing Co., 2900 Griffith St., $15,
February’s Triple C folk fest was a sell-out fundraiser for cystic fibrosis, so it’s happening again. This time Durham’s Bombadil headlines with Asheville’s River Whyless fresh from Floydfest, and our own Sinners & Saints playing to benefit Drums for Cures while crowds imbibe in local craft beer. Food trucks will also be on site.

The Bacon Brothers
Saturday  7:30 p.m., McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St., $20-$66.50,  
While actors from similar cult TV hits are on the post-San Diego Comic Con convention circuit, “The Following’s” Kevin Bacon is spending his down time with Emmy winning film and TV composer brother Michael revisiting the folk rock band they formed two decades ago.

The Turnstiles
Saturday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $7,
This Charlotte country rock boasts the songwriting of singer Brad Thomas, whose honky-tonk anthems and rustic roots rock fit between Dwight Yoakam, the Replacements and Son Volt with traces to commercial country, cowpunk and alt-rock. The band celebrates the release of its new album “Souvenir Summer.”

Tuesday  8 p.m., Amos', 1423 S. Tryon St., $25-$30,
British singer-songwriter Michael Rosenberg (who uses his old band's name) is enjoying his biggest release yet with the critically acclaimed album "Whispers," which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard's folk chart and features opening acts Stu Larsen and Once. His star continues to rise with an upcoming "Today Show" appearance, so catch him in a club while you can.

Quincy Mumford & the Reason Why
Tuesday  8:30 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $8-$10,
Don’t let the last name fool you. This is not a Mumford & Sons solo spin-off. The 22-year-old New Jersey songwriter makes laid back, reggae and funk-fueled adult pop-rock (think Jason Mraz or John Mayer) that’s fully realized on his fifth album “It’s Only Change,” which features intricately layered arrangements and an eclectic pallet.

Miley Cyrus/Lily Allen
Wednesday  7 p.m., Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St., $28.35-$108.08,  
Four months after abruptly cancelling her April show, Cyrus’ controversy-courting has slowed. Charlotte gets a bonus the second time around with the addition of UK tabloid darling Lily Allen, whose smart, feminist, humorous take on pop and pop culture is a good match for tongue-way-out-of-cheek Miley.

Rodrigo y Gabriela
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $40.23,  
On its new album “9 Dead Alive,” which celebrates lost musicians and loved ones, the renowned Mexican guitar virtuoso duo taps the hard rock and metal influences that made its flowery, intricate picking and acoustic Latin-flavored interpretations of songs by Led Zeppelin and Metallica such a curiosity when it debuted internationally in 2006.

Soundgarden/Nine Inch Nails
Thursday  8 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $38.50-$117.30,
After making up for his band’s weather-related cancellation during 2013’s Carolina Rebellion with a 3-plus hour career spanning, surprise cover and guest-filled solo set last November, Chris Cornell is back for the 20th anniversary of “Superunknown” with fellow `90s alt-rock god, Trent Reznor - the man who launched a million bumper stickers. With Dillinger Escape Plan.

Rich Robinson
Thursday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $18,
The Black Crows are flying solo this summer, but both Robinson brothers will grace Charlotte stages within the next month. The younger soul sibling takes center stage following the release of his impressive third solo album, “The Ceaseless Sight,” which showcases not only his bluesy fretwork but his strength as a singer.

Black Cat Attack
Thursday  8 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7, 
The Ontario outfit juxtaposes shouted male vocals and sultrier, sassier female singing, breakneck tempos and flashy guitar work, but on its new album “Bright Side of the Moon” it adds a Gwar-like space-war concept to established B-movie horror punk themes.

Friday, July 25, 2014

SC raised Trevor Hall talks about his new album that almost wasn't

In June Hilton Head-raised singer-songwriter Trevor Hall unexpectedly released his new album “Chapter of the Forest.” Although his team had dropped hints to fans online, he’d never revealed a release date which ended up coinciding with the launch of the Soulshine yoga and music tour. Hall teams with Soulshine creator Michael Franti and Spearhead, singer-songwriter Brett Dennen, reggae band Soja, and singer Sonna Rele (who guests with Franti following her own set). The tour stops at Uptown Amphitheatre Sunday.
Hall, who has aunts, uncles and a sister that's attending college in Charlotte, found success early on seamlessly blending reggae and world music with his soulful vocals, acoustic guitar, and knack for pop arrangements. But he almost didn’t make “Chapter of the Forest.” He recently shared the story behind the very personal, beautiful new album while on a tour stop in his current home of Connecticut.

How was this album sparked by your time in India and the retreat that followed?
Hall: I’ve been traveling to India every year for the past 7 or 8 years. It’s the place I go to clear my head. Obviously it’s a huge part of my music and inspirations behind my song. I took a year and a half long sabbatical because I was really burned out. I’d never taken a break from music. I was in such a low place I didn’t know if I’d come back. I was tired and exhausted. Music had become such a job for me and that part was overshadowing my love for it.
I decided I’m going to take a break and go back to India and see what happens. I didn’t have a return flight home. I stayed there for three months. It was the longest I ever stayed. I started to get my strength back and clear my head and slowly I began to pick up the guitar again - not out of the place of I need to write a new album, but helping me navigate my internal world and because I loved it.
I came back and wasn’t ready to jump into the scene again. I decided I’d take the whole year off. My wife and I went on a retreat up here in the forest in Maine and Vermont. I was just writing here and there not to make a new album, but to write songs I guess.

But it turned out you were actually writing an album?
Hall: I was like, you know what? These songs have been so healing for me. It’s been such a good experience. I need to share these songs. Or else the circle wouldn’t come around fully.

So did you use those demos for the basic tracks that we hear on the album?
Hall: Over that year and a half I’d just recorded the songs on my computer, really basic. So when the time came to do a new album. I’d taken all those demos and went into a studio in LA and refined them. It’s a much different record in that respect too. (Before) I’d have a few songs here and there and I’d have ideas that weren’t finished and I’d work with a producer and make a record. Whereas with this I’d already recorded all the songs on my computer. I’m not that good at recording so I needed someone to refine them and make it clean. That’s when I met Warren Huart through the label. A lot of the songs are in the same framework as my demos and we used a lot of instrumentation from my demos. We redid all the guitars and the vocals to give it that clean sound. That’s also why this record is so special, because it really came from me. I felt I was being honest and true to myself. I wasn’t going after a hit song. I wasn’t like I need to make a bunch of popular songs to get on the radio. These songs were really coming from my heart to help me heal. That was my intention. I’m not trying to go for that hit thing and massive record. It’s a much different experience than any of my previous albums.

It seems like a lot of times those are the albums that really resonate with fans. Even if they don’t know firsthand what you’re going through, they can just pick up on it and pin their own stories to it.
Hall: I was obviously a little nervous. It is a little different. The feedback that I’ve been getting from fans and people at the shows has been over and beyond any album that I’ve done. They’ve been so grateful that I was honest and opened my heart. And I think that says something. As long as we’re true to ourselves and true to our hearts, you can’t go wrong. People are going to see that and respect that. Again, the album is not going to be a No. 1 album or blow up to radio. To me it’s my most successful album because I stuck with my guns and went with my heart.

I was reading a quote somewhere recently that said we as a society focus on how we’re different, instead of how people are alike but the likenesses outweigh the differences.
Hall: In our deepest being, our deepest self we are all one thing. Everybody goes through sadness and happiness and joy and sorrow and pain and pleasure. The subject material may be a little different, but in a deeper sense they’re the same emotions and I feel that’s what ties everything together. What’s in your heart and what you’re doing. Even though content may be different. It still resonates.

How did this idea to do an unannounced release come up?
Hall: We obviously wanted the album to be available on tour. It’s a great way to get the word out there. The way things were going we were losing time as far as promo and all that stuff goes, but we wanted the album to come out. The label suggested a surprise release. I was (apprehensive) at first. As time went on I liked the idea. It was actually super fun to put out teasers and we released it two days before tour started. We just woke up one morning and (posted) on Facebook and did a live feed that night up to the actual time it was released. I really enjoyed it. (Fans) thought it was fun as well.

Well if it worked for Beyonce`.

Hall: People kept saying “You pulled a Beyonce`.” I was like, "I did a what?" I didn’t even know Beyonce` did that. Of course she can do it. She can walk out of the grocery store and she’s going to have millions of hits. 

The Soulshine Tour hits Uptown Amphitheatre Sunday with pre-show yoga instruction scored by an acoustic set from Franti at 3 p.m. followed by the concert at 6:30 p.m. Tickets include the yoga session, but yoga only tickets for those that don't want to stay for the show are also available. Purchase tickets here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Eric Roberson
Friday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $35-$40,  
The Grammy nominated R&B singer (whose work delves into gospel and smooth jazz) is having a particularly prolific year with his new album “The Box” coming August 12 just months after his B-Sides collection. He’s paired with Atlanta singer Algebra Blessett.

Rascal Flatts & Sheryl Crow
Saturday  7:30 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $40.25-$80.50,  
The award winning country trio returns following the May release of “Rewind” (which boasts its heavily R&B-influenced title track). Grammy winning rock singer Crow needs no introduction to the country crowd. Like Jewel before her, she’s moving into country, but her storytelling writing style was never far off to begin with.

London Souls
Saturday  7:00 p.m., US National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Free,
This eclectic New York band - one of a handful of acts sweeping through on its way to and from Floydfest in Virginia this weekend - is a bit different than the Americana roots acts that frequent USNWC’s River Jam series. While the duo has roots in blues, it shifts from ska to funk to soul to rock and does it all well with fired up performances.

Michael Tracy
Saturday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $10-$12,  
The Charlotte-based rock singer-songwriter, whose sound bridges the classic `70s rock of Peter Frampton (there’s even a reference in his live show) with the grunge era Southern blues-rock of Drivin’ n’ Cryin’, celebrates the release of his new EP with a set that will be recorded live.

Joe Firstman
Saturday  9 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 35th St., $14,  
The Charlotte born singer-songwriter made a name for himself early on as an Atlantic Records freshman who opened for Jewel and Willie Nelson and later as Carson Daly’s late night band leader. Since then he’s become one of the least predictable indie artists out there churning out jazz, soul, blues, rock - which is probably why the labels had a tough time categorizing him.

Mates of State
Sunday  8 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $12-$15,
There’s no other band that sounds quite like these married parents playing drums and vintage-sounding synthesizer-based indie rock and trading off shout-sung vocals and frequently harmonizing. The duo’s 2011 release “Mountaintops” was one of the best unsung releases that year.

Sara Bareilles
Monday  7 p.m., Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $40.77-$71.09,
The piano pop singer behind hits “Love Song” and “Bottle It Up” jumps to outdoor amphitheaters with the success of her latest hit single “Brave” and third album “The Blessed Unrest,” which showcases the sweet, romantic pop she’s known for as well as quirkier Fiona Apple-style avant pop.

Andy Vaughan & the Driveline
Tuesday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free, 
This Richmond quintet make authentic, old school country that rides in on weepy, but not maudlin pedal steel, shuffling tempos, and Vaughan’s traditional storytelling style which stirs memories of vintage honky-tonks and late `70s/early `80s urban cowboys. It’s not exclusively retro with a touch of pop in the writing, but honors the classics.

Umphrey’s McGee
Thursday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $31,
On its new album “Similar Skin” the jam stalwarts explore a new path. Inspired by the Oprah-approved, celebrity-endorsed self-help book “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment,” which focuses on living in the now, the album (which is less hokey than that sounds) is the band’s heaviest mixing rippling dance grooves with classic arena and progressive hard rock.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Multi-venue Recess Fest kicks off fifth year today

A Sunny Day in Glasgow kicks off Plaza-Midwood's four-day, multi-venue Recess Fest Thursday at Snug Harbor with Spirit System, Lentils, and Fat Creeps.

Recess Fest, which began as a sort of return to the spirit of carefree adolescence through activities and music, hosts over 30 bands at Plaza-Midwood venues Paper Cut Gallery, Twenty-Two, Snug Harbor, Tommy's Pub, Thomas Street Tavern, and Common Market. Acts range from the avant-pop of A Sunny Day in Glasgow to the beat-driven Erasure-esque dance music of Atlanta's Breathers to dream-psych New Yorkers Heaven to New Jersey's fuzzy indie rockers Sink Tapes. There's also the homegrown punk of HU/LK and Couches, quirky synth-pop of Human Pippi Armstrong, and the indie rock of Serfs.

That's just scratching the surface. There are shades of different styles from singer-songwriters to DJs, but aside for heavier, noisier punk, most of it falls in that elastic indie rock bubble.

Clicking through Bandcamp and Spotify samples from the list of bands on Recess Fest's site , there's a lot to like. And you can do so on the cheap. Weekend festival passes that include admission to all events are $20 here. Admission to individual events range from free to $5.

The experimental shoegazers of A Sunny Day in Glasgow are a fitting act to kick off the eclectic, independent-minded, underground music festival - now in its fifth year.

The first two tracks on its new album "Sea When Absent" sound like two disparate songs syncing up. You know how you stumble on a website that automatically starts playing music while you're already streaming another song? But somehow those two tracks that have never met before sound like they may be meant to be? (Does this only happen to me?) It's kind of like that.

Jen Goma and Annie Fredrickson provide lovely, playful female vocals against truly inventive arrangements. It's arty, but not so heady that it perplexes the listener. At times it reminds me of a Haim track playing over a John Hughes soundtrack (thanks to that guitar reverb that pensively hangs in the air) as Rainer Maria's Caithlin De Marrias emotes in the background.

Pitchfork's Lindsay Soladz described it at times as "a psych record made not by the kids smoking up behind the bleachers but the most devoted members of the glee club." That's spot-on.

There's an 8:15 p.m. show with A Sunny Day and Spirit System and an 11 p.m. show featuring Lentils and Fat Creeps that coincides with Thursday night's annual Shiprocked! dance party. Then Friday the festival grows legs with events within walking distance of Central Avenue's retail heart. The same goes for Sunday, which kicks off at 2 p.m. with a day party at Snug. Set times do overlap, but organizers have tried to stagger them so showgoers can take in as much music as possible. The party concludes early Sunday with an after party starting at 6 p.m. at Snug.

Check out for a full schedule, list of acts, and tickets.

(Photo by Zoe Jet Ellis).

Monday, July 21, 2014

After nearly six decades, Charlotte gospel group releases debut

The Charlotte-based vocal ensemble Men Standing for Christ was founded in 1956 after pastor Dr. Leon C. Riddick asked one of his deacons to prepare a men's choir for Sunday service on Father's Day. It would be almost 60 years before the longstanding gospel group would record an album.

"Men Standing for Chris Live from the Joy Performance Center" was recorded over two shows in Kings Mountain in 2013 and 2014 when the group played award nominated, Cherryville-based bluegrass-gospel couple Darin & Brooke Aldridge's annual festival. The recording was made at the behest of longtime fan Rick Dancy, who presents concerts at the Joy.

"I've loved Men Standing For Christ for twenty-plus years and hoped to find a way to expose them to more people," says Dancy via email.

He says the 20-member vocal group was apprehensive about releasing an album, but allowed him to record the April 2013 set. He did so again during their return in April 2014 and combined the best of both recordings for the live release. All 500 copies are almost sold out and the traditional group does not yet have a website where fans can buy copies. For now you can email MSFC director Gary Carter at to purchase one.

"They are regular people using their talent to continue a musical tradition and to profess their faith," says Dancy. "Their type of music has always been one of my favorites and I am so glad that these guys are preserving it for us."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kiss and Def Leppard rock the rain away Saturday

Always a good draw on their own, the pairing of Kiss' 40th anniversary tour and Def Leppard's hit-filled Heroes Tour (named for the tour's involvement with the Wounded Warrior Project) filled PNC Music Pavilion with generations of rock fans Saturday night despite rain.

Having both played swelling 20-plus song headlining sets before, the co-headlining format kept each band's set to 14-songs each. While this meant dropping a lot of fan favorites, - no "Strutter," "Beth," "Crazy Crazy Nights," or "100,000 Years" in Kiss' case for instance - having shorter, more concise sets seemed to conserve the overall energy especially in the older band's case.

When I saw the original lineup of Kiss at Charlotte Coliseum in October 2000, two days before drummer Peter Criss quit for good, I felt like I was watching them in slow motion - not the high energy showmen I'd been watching on TV since I was three. I felt a similar detachment when they played Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre with Aerosmith on another co-headlining jaunt in September 2003, but Saturday felt like a return to form. Maybe that's due to the outdoor setting or that I have much better seats now, but maybe it's due to a show that fires quickly (and literally) without filler and doesn't completely drain its aging performers.

Following a set by female-fronted Canadian metal band Kobra and the Lotus (who record for Gene Simmons' label), Def Leppard took the stage morphing its own intro music (The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again") into "Let It Go." It was odd to see the usual headliner relegated to the front portion of the stage. Fans are accustomed to seeing them prowl a two and three tiered stage. Kiss' stage didn't use multi-level walkways either, instead both bands relied on multiple screens and lights and, in Kiss' case, pyro and an impressive moving giant spider light rig.

The appearance of guitarist Vivian Campbell - who is undergoing a new form of chemo therapy to treat Hodgkin's lymphoma as part of a clinical trial in Los Angeles -  was the first thing I noticed. Although bald - far from the dark curly mane fans have seen since his Whitesnake days - and wearing sunglasses, the newly married Northern Irishman looked fit and smiled without a hint of illness.

For a band in its fifties, all the members looked incredibly well. Baring his muscular chest through a black vest, guitarist Phil Collen doesn't look a day older than he did in the "Pyromania" videos aside from a few wrinkles. The still babyfaced bassist Rick Savage paid tribute to Tommy Ramone in a cut-up white Ramones' t-shirt. In their bedazzled rock wear he and singer Joe Elliott, who traded a white leather military style jacket for a longer black one (just like Lionel Richie did Thursday), must keep stores like Revolution in business.

Def Leppard plowed through hits "Animal," "Love Bites," "Foolin'," "Let's Get Rocked" and "Hysteria." They pulled out acoustic guitars for "Two Steps Behind" and the massive sing-along "Bringing on the Heartbreak." Its abbreviated set relied heavily on "Hysteria."

"Rocket" was the visual standout with the band performing before screens of tiny televisions (pictured above), but "Armageddon It" held the most thematic weight as statistics about world hunger, HIV, the environment, and cancer, ticked up on a giant screen behind them. The climbing stats pitted the number of overweight people in the world against the number of hungry and the rate at which forests are being pummeled with the time with which the world's oil will run out - all quite interesting stuff. I'm not sure how many in the audience - fists raised, singing along wholeheartedly - were "really getting it," but it was quite a powerful way to present a 25-year-old pop-metal hit.

The only time Elliott's voice faltered was during the encore of "Photograph." The entire band kept the "oohooohs" on the lower end. But after a spot-on show, his struggling with range could be easily forgiven.

After a brisk 30-minute changeover (thank you, crew) which included the introduction of the Wounded Warrior roadies (veterans hired for the tour) and an award presentation to retired Marine Sargent Tim Aldridge (who received a house in Waxhaw), Kiss blew up the stage with deafening fireworks. I was glad the children in the audience, which there were many, wore ear protection. White streamers shot from the sky. At this point while holding my five-year-old, I was clobbered by an adult man who charged three rows from behind to grab for streamers. With my lip stinging, I was left thinking, "Man, it's a streamer."

"Psycho Circus" gave way to "Deuce" and "Shout It Out Loud." Paul Stanley bragged of the band's recent Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame induction and thanked fans for their persistence in securing Kiss' nomination. He preened and posed for pictures on the left of the stage as Gene took lead vocals on the apocalyptic "War Machine" (a photographer/music writer friend recently told me this is why he likes shooting Kiss - he knows he'll get the shot).

With the addition of fire and booming fireworks, the sound wasn't as clear as during Def Leppard's set, but the production is as much a part of the show as the music is with Kiss. The group hit on all the familiar spots. Simmons blew fireballs from the tip of a sword, he spat blood, and flew like a bat into the rafters for "God of Thunder." He looked truly possessed.

Stanley zoomed over the crowd to a rotating platform in the middle of the pavilion for "Love Gun." He must do yoga. He wiggled in his new sequined striped jumpsuit and fringed boots (he and Gene wore revamped versions of their classic costumes), played guitar through his legs, and teetered on one knee.

Although some hits were obviously missing, the Stanley-led 1990 pop anthem "Hide Your Heart" was a surprise that won over the crowd. It didn't get the mass sing-along of "I Love It Loud," but fans definitely remembered all the words.

The show ended with the expected "Detroit Rock City" and "Rock n' Roll All Night." Die-hards  - many with faces painted and fully costumed - were undoubtedly left wanting more. I have no doubt they'll get it - next year. Although Kiss has threatened to quit before, neither band shows signs of stopping.

Check out The Observer's slide show here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

CLT's Late Bloomer drawing national ears with sophomore album

Charlotte indie-rock trio Late Bloomer celebrates the release of its second album "Things Change" tonight at Snug Harbor. The album has enjoyed a nice national roll out with Stereogrum and Noisey premiering tracks before the July 1 release, Brooklyn Vegan exclusively streaming the record, and Pitchfork giving it a seven star review.

The AV club debuted the video for "Dr. Abernathy" earlier this week. You may even recognize faces from other Charlotte bands, the Milestone Club, and Lunchbox Records (You can watch it in this week's hot concerts, scroll down).

The first time I saw Late Bloomer I was drawn to the stage from across the room by a style of music I hadn't heard in a while. The moody dynamics, angry sung/shouted male vocals, layer of fuzz, and methodical, yet expressive rhythm section pointed to the late `80s and `90s indie rock I grew up on. It was as if we shared history.

There's obvious comparisons to Husker Du and Dinosaur Jr. on "Things Change." When wailing, but not overlong guitar solos and disaffected vocals (which were always a preferred counterpoint to grunge era emoting in my book) kick in, I can't help but think of J. Mascis. There's an equal fondness for noise and catchy pop hooks that echo a lot of Bob Mould's work, especially on songs like "Black Patches." If you can hold still as that song escalates through the urgent bridge, then you may have unnaturally strong self control. It's as urgent as Japandroid's last few incredibly catchy singles.

Moodier tracks like "Dr. Abernathy" and, at times, "Mirrors" remind me of dreamy, bordering-on-psychedelic Thurston Moore-led, mid-period Sonic Youth. Watery shoegazing verses give way to Jade Tree Records-style post hardcore choruses. Snappier, more upbeat melodies emerge through the playful bass and strumming guitar interplay on "Anesthesia" and "No Mistakes." The album closes, as it began, with a chunky distorted slice of punk that nicely bookend the record.

Through all the `90s musical references, one thing that stands out is Kris Hilbert of Legitimate Business' clean production. Sure, there's distortion, but the vocals are high enough in the mix to remain audible. The abum sounds good on my laptop speakers and in the car while similar records that were actually recorded in the `90s are often harsh and nearly unlistenable via MP3 (some of the original Superchunk albums are painful to listen to on my iPod. Yeah, I know some of these were reissued. Maybe I'll get around to getting them someday).

'Things Change" is charmingly lo-fi, but not in quality. It may wear its influences on its sleeve, but manages to sound new in this era.

The record is available digitally as well as on candy colored, two-color vinyl (see below). Also of note is that the release is a collaborative release between Tor Johnson Records, Lunchbox, and Self Aware Records.

Tonight's show starts at 10 p.m. and includes sets from Totally Slow, Del Rio, and Black Market. Admission is $5. You can also pick up a copy

Free panel on album release strategies Sunday

Sunday I'll sit down with four music industry professionals at Old House Studio to discuss the business of releasing an album from mastering and distribution to marketing and promotion. The panel, which is free for local musicians, agents, managers, and other interested parties, is hosted by Chris Garges of Old House Studio.

Panelists include myself, Dave Harris of Studio B Mastering in Charlotte, producer Jeff Powell,, and Kari Estrin, who has worked in artist management, radio promotion, concert and event production, booking, and music writing. The idea is between the four of us we'll have some insight on different aspects of releasing an album from what format to release it in to building a release party and reaching out to press.

Powell worked at Ardent Records for many years and has worked with Bob Dylan, Afghan Whigs, and Big Star and is now an expert at cutting vinyl masters on an old school lathe. He's in town working with local rock band Alternative Champs.

Estrin is also offering hour-long consultations on Monday at Studio B (821 Louise Ave.). You can read more about both the free panel and Estrin's consulting sessions here.

The two-hour panel starts at 6 p.m. and Old House is located at 6128 Brookshire Blvd., Unit A. Refreshments will be served.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lionel Richie wows on comeback tour, first CLT show in 28 years

Absence does in fact make the heart grow fonder. Lionel Richie hasn't had a runaway pop smash in years. Until recently he hadn't toured the United States in a decade. And, until Thursday at PNC Music Pavilion, the 65-year-old Grammy winner had not played Charlotte since 1986. If you grew up during those 28 years, it might come as a surprise what a charismatic, dynamic, and funny performer Richie is.

Sure, fans know him as an accomplished singer and writer. Many knew him as a star of early MTV. Anyone with knowledge of pop music over the last four decades knows his songs, which he played one after the other.  But those hits don't tell the whole story. It was the energy, glee, and humor with which he delivered them that made Thursday's show so memorable.

Ceelo Green (above), who was backed by a mostly female band wearing Olivia Newton John's skintight black pants from "Grease" in what may be the best and worst fashion statement in recent memory, opened the night with a combination of covers and hits like Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." Green, who hit on everything from "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" to "Jungle Boogie," knows how to start a party. But it's strange to see an artist as well known as Green having to order a crowd to its feet for a hit as big as "F*** You." The crowd complied and Green left the stage a gracious host giving ample credit to his band.

Wearing sleek all black and flanked by large screens and a top-notch band, Richie opened with 2007's "All Around the World," before reaching into his catalog of solo and Commodores hits. The crowd swooned for "Penny Lover," "Easy," and "Ballerina Girl." "You Are" was a bouncing sing-along that seemed to capture happy, carefree youth for longtime fans who raised their arms, sang and danced.

If you streamed Richie's Bonnaroo set in June then you knew what you were in for. He hit all the beats from scrunching his face while sipping wine to hilarious introductions for the trio of love songs tracing the trajectory of a relationship - "Still," "Oh No," and "Stuck On You." After a breakup "you call on your album, your CD, your cassette, your 8-track. You call on Li-o-n-el Ri-chie," he said before each one. The crowd (including my five-year-old) howled with laughter at his stories and the way he enunciated his own name.

The sound was so flawless, at least from the center of the covered pavilion, that I didn't even think about sound until the seventh song. If there was one flaw I noticed all night it was that the backing vocals were too low coming back from the bridge during "Running with the Night" - a minuscule complaint, indeed.

The place erupted for an extended version of "Dancing on the Ceiling" complete with showy guitar and sax solos. It ended with the sax player propped upside down against Richie's piano. The animated musicians seemed as enthused about playing Richie's hits as he was. They played off each other and their band leader, especially sax player Dino Soldo who Richie sprayed with Off! after someone in the front handed him a can when he complained about mosquitoes.

Retro lighting and video (pictured at top) gave way to the Commodores' "Sail On," "Fancy Dancer," "Sweet Love" and "Lady." He had the audience carry Diana Ross' lines on a verse and chorus of "Endless Love" after teasing that he'd invited her ("She said, 'No!'"). "Say You, Say Me" served as another strong sing-along while "Brick House/Fire" had even the wait staff serving the VIP boxes dancing in the aisles.

The show closed with "Hello" and the calypso beat of "All Night Long." Before Richie paid tribute to his friend Michael Jackson with the encore of "We Are the World," he promised to come back next summer. After such a fantastic performance I doubt he or Charlotte can wait another 28 years.

This week's hot concerts

Dave & Phil Alvin
Friday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $20-$24,  
The Alvin brothers, who co-piloted the legendary California country punk outfit the Blasters before guitar whiz Dave left for a solo career, spent 30 years apart before a health scare brought them back together. Their reunion tour hits on their storied musical pasts and the recent tribute album to honor Big Bill Broonzy.

Half Strangers/The Hot Gates
Friday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $10, 
Former Charlottean Devon Elizabeth formed this new act after the soulful singer-songwriter moved to Charleston. The rootsier Americana suits her. She’s paired with Jason Scavone’s rollicking pop-rock band. Scavone produced Elizabeth’s 2013 solo EP “The Loneliest Dream.”

Kiss/Def Leppard
Saturday  7 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $38.50-$186.50,
Kiss celebrates its 40th anniversary by hooking up with UK classic rock co-headliners Def Leppard’s Heroes Tour. Both bands churn out about 14 tracks that rely heavily on older material from Kiss’ `70s and `80s albums and Leppard’s chart topping “Hysteria” and “Pyromania.”

King Buzzo
Saturday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12-$15,  
Following the release of his solo debut, “This Machine Kills Artists” the eccentric Melvins’ frontman embarks on a solo acoustic tour, but don’t get the wrong idea. He may be a candid storyteller and exhibits a broader sense of melody when the sludgy distortion subsides, but he hasn’t gone soft. It’s a daring departure, but one you’d expect from him.

Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
The Charlotte lo-fi indie-punk trio’s sophomore album “Things Change” has drawn attention from Pitchfork and Brooklyn Vegan (thanks in part to bassist Joshua Robbins and his wife Sarah’s growing indie label Self Aware Records). If you miss old Dinosaur Jr. and Husker Du, the group’s grasp of messy, noisy punk and more expansive moodier tracks should light your fire.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Sunday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $38.23,
The Grammy winning `90s hip-hop collective, whose sense of lyrical melody and rapid-fire delivery influenced a generation of lightning-tongued lyricist, reteamed earlier this week to reveal plans for a 2015 farewell album which - like Wu-Tang Clan - they plan to auction off for a hefty sum.

I Am the Avalanche
Tuesday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $12,
The Brooklyn band returned in March with its third album, “Wolverines” - a blast of hard hitting blue collar punk that’s equal parts Gaslight Anthem and Avail. It draws on very different circumstances from its six-year stalled 2011 comeback sophomore album. Frontman Vinnie Caruana wrote much of the album while suffering a debilitating spinal injury.

A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Thursday  8 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,  
The experimental art-pop sextet kicks off the four day Recess Fest, which takes place across multiple Plaza Midwood venues. The buzzed about underground group represents what the festival is all about with innovative songs that often sound like blurry shoegazer compositions resting atop sweetly neurotic pop music.

Lee Bains & the Glory Fires
Thursday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7,  
Music fans would be hard pressed to find a live band that rocks harder per dollar and the Alabama quartet’s Sub Pop debut, “Dereconstructed,” plays less on leader Bains’ literate writing and soulful delivery and more on the band’s raw live intensity with its soul singing and Southern rock grooves cutting through buzzing, noise-punk distortion.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Charlotte's Ancient Cities celebrates debut album tonight

Ancient Cities released its self-titled album earlier this week and celebrate the release tonight at Visulite. 

The first single and the album's opening track "Juice" marries a jamming, bluesy boot stomper with the haunting element that colors much of the album. "Juice" sounds like it was accidentally left off a Black Keys record, but that's not necessarily an indication of who Ancient Cities is or where its self-titled album goes next. 

With a looping carnival feel, handclaps, and subtle banjo, the second track, "Novella," is like the musical equivalent to steampunk (think Victorian cowboys in space or Jules Vern-meets-"Hellboy 2: The Golden Army"). Much like band leader Stephen Warwick's solo album "Talking Machine" and his previous band Secondhand Stories, Ancient Cities conjures dust bowl carnivals and late `60s and `70s psychedelic folk-rock while managing to sound current. 

The song “Station” glides on hippie folk harmonies delivered in a British lilt that place it somewhere between Nick Drake and the Beatles, but then the horns come in and take you out of that mindset and directly into the next track. I'm a visual listener and my mind jumps to new scenes with each track. Am I watching minstrels outside a medieval castle as the court is introduced in "Ostinato in D Major?" Or, as the next horn-led song "Edie Sedgwick" indicates, am I in Central Park sunning in the early `70s? Wherever it takes me, there's something natural, woodsy, and pastoral about Ancient Cities. Maybe its the root in folk music and storytelling, which is never overshadowed by production or more modern electronic instrumentation.

"Werewolf" kicks off side 2 (the record is available on vinyl). With direct, wordy phrasing the standout track lays restrained beats and quirky synth over a folk-based story song that plays up that aforementioned darker, haunting side. It's usually a friendly haunting by the way, created largely in the arrangements and through production that's not afraid to give the songs space and airiness. 

"Velvethead" and the final track "Wild" finds the band back in the pastoral countryside. The former glides on flowery finger picking, trippy synthesizers, and high harmonies singing of a creature in the night. Darker themes of monsters and transformation give way to a more uplifting end in "Wild" which swells from delicate strumming, piano, and distant vocals to a kaleidoscope circus of big, bounding orchestral indie-rock.

Warwick and New Familiars' Justin Fedor have been playing as Ancient Cities for a couple of years now having added Noises 10's Jonathan Erickson (and a cast of guest musicians from cellists and horn players to members of Matrimony for the album). It's nice to see a band taking its time with a project. That care is evident in the arrangements, the layers, and the songwriting. With their collective experience Ancient Cities could've thrown something together quickly, but its debut benefits from the slow build
Saturday's show at Visulite with Sam the Lion and Batsheet begins at 9:30, admission is $8. A free art show featuring Warwick's collages opens at 7 p.m. 

Beck gets his groove back at first Charlotte show in 18 years

The last time Beck played Charlotte, Clinton was in office, O.J. Simpson was on trial, and Lorde was still a month and a half away from her birth. A lot has happened in the eclectic songwriter/performer's career in 18 years and while he hit on every phase, he opened his show at Uptown Amptheathre Friday by turning back the clock to the last time Charlotte saw him.

He front loaded his set with crowd rousing `90s hits that anyone who hadn't peaked at recent set lists may not have expected. He stepped on stage blasting the opening of "Devil's Haircut" and I was reminded of what a strong live performer he can be. It was as if he was making up for lost time bouncing through "Black Tambourine" and rapping at the front of the stage for "Loser," playing his biggest hit and the `90s alt-rock radio staple just three songs into the set.

With the warm reception for his first album in six years "Morning Phase," he could have turned in a chill psychedelic-folk set that might've pleased many, but following a spine injury that kept him off the road for several years Beck wanted to get his groove on.

"I don't care about being cool," he uttered as he segued from "Sissyneck" to "Billie Jean," putting his jacket and hat on to channel Michael. "I just wanna dance." And dance he did. He and bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen playfully broke out hip-hop moves for "Loser." He put down his guitar and grabbed the microphone to strut at the front of the stage often. He had to repeat his spinning jacket removal with a laugh, saying "Let me try that again," when it didn't come off smoothly the first time during "New Pollution." It was one of a couple moments where the line between performer and person disappeared and the crowd

got a candid glimpse of a regular guy whose musical and stage skills are quite extraordinary.

Beck may be regarded more for his eclectic recorded catalog and less for his live performances (at least locally), but maybe that's only because he's hardly ever played here. He kept fans rapt most of the night flipping from his hip-hop/blues phase to his Spanish-influenced funk phase to stripped down folk and psychedelic material. I was reminded at some point that his stylistic trajectory from hip-hop to rock to dance music and countrified folk mirrors fellow `90s alum Kid Rock's, if said mirror is of the funhouse variety.

Between early dance numbers he turned in an A cappella "One Foot in the Grave." He surprised with mid-song covers of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" (during "I Think I'm in Love") and "Billie Jean" that seemed nearly spontaneous. The thuddy, methodical stoner rock of "Soul of Man" dipped into Queens of the Stone Age territory while also added cause for consideration on Beck's influence on Jack White.

The toned down material from 2002's "Sea Change" and "Morning Phase" were as riveting (or nearly so) as old hits. "The Golden Age" and "Lost Cause" (two personal favorites from "Sea Change") precluded the newer song "Blue Moon," which he dedicated to the full moon. After stepping back into the more upbeat material of "Modern Guilt," and the Latin groove of "Que Onda Guero" and "Hotwax," he and his seven piece band revisited more acoustic-based material with "Heart is a Drum," "Say Goodbye" and "Waking Light."

Awash in rich harmonies, the former rang like `70s SoCal country rock, while "Say Goodbye" featured keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. (of Jellyfish) on banjo. Beck noted that this run is special because he's back with the musicians that recorded both "Sea Change" and "Morning Phase."

"The best these songs will ever get is with these gentlemen," he said. The sound was full, warm and fully realized although at times bulky with three and four guitarists, including Beck, sharing the stage at once.

The sound was actually clearer during Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger, the band fronted by Sean Lennon (pictured) and girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl that started the show. The swelling band has become a well oiled psychedelic rock machine. The performance wasn't as lively and energetic as Beck's by any means, but the five-piece band proved pros with beautiful near-album renditions of songs from 2014's "Midnight Sun."

Beck smartly flipped back to party mode ending with "E-Pro" before returning for a three-song encore that played up his wackier side with "Hell Yes" and "Debra." Both seemed to honor the couple in front of us that wouldn't stop aggressively groping each other.

Beck capped the night with "Where It's At." He mentioned earlier that he hopes to do it all again next summer. Let's hope it's not almost another couple of decades before we see him again.

Check out the full set list here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Charlotte Folk Society reveals 34th season lineup

The Charlotte Folk Society's 34th concert season kicks of tonight with "Pete Seeger: A Musical Tribute to Courage" - a concert curated by Harry Taylor celebrating the legendary folk singer and activist's work through music, photographs, and film. Performers include Taylor, Saundra Porter Thomas, Roife Neigenfind, and Mason Schmitt.

Folk Society's free concerts take place on the second Friday of each month at the Great Aunt Stella Center (926 Elizabeth Ave.) and are followed by refreshments and an open jam. Doors open at 7 p.m. and music starts at 7:30 p.m. The lineup for the organization's 34th season follows:

August 8 - Wayne Henderson & Clay Lunsford, "thumb and finger picking" guitarists known for the respective festivals they created in their home states of Virginia and North Carolina. Luthier and 1995 National Heritage Fellowship winner Henderson (pictured) is also known for crafting one of Eric Clapton's guitars.

September 12 - Robin & Linda Williams, the husband and wife folk duo who has spent 40-plus years blending bluegrass, folk, old time and country that's been covered by Nashville elite like Kathy Mattea and Emmylou Harris. Robin Williams was also born in Charlotte.

October 10 - Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, a blues-folk duo who's current show incorporates history through song touching on slavery, women's suffrage, the founding of the UMWA, and the Civil Rights Movement.

November 14 - To celebrate the publication of the new book "Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia" and its companion CD (UNC Press), former folk society president, Warren Wilson College President, and co-author Doug Orr and the book's art director Darcy Orr will join co-author Fiona Ritchie, host of NPR's award winning Celtic program "Thistle & Shamrock." The trio actually met through CFS years ago. The multi-media program will include photos and illustrations from the book, stories of migrants whose music informed the sounds of Appalachia, and Irish and Appalachian music from duo Little Windows.

January 9 - The CFS Young Talent Showcase features 2014 Marylin Meacham Price Scholarship recipients Sam Richardson and Mason Schmitt (pictured below).

February 13 - Scott Ainslie, the historian and acoustic blues musician who has spent much of his career studying and preserving Appalachian folk, old-time, blues and gospel through work with elder musicians, many from NC. His 2013 February appearance with CFS was cancelled due to snow, so consider this a makeup date.

March 13 - Mipso, the up and coming Chapel Hill string band trio.

April 10 - Andrea Beaton and Dick Hensold's traditional Cape Breton fiddling and piping.

Events for December (which will likely feature medieval music on traditional instruments), May and June are still tentative. Check for updates.

(Photos courtesy of and

This week's hot concerts

Pete Seeger: A Musical Tribute to Courage
Friday  7:30 p.m., Great Aunt Stella Center, 926 Elizabeth Ave., Free, 
Charlotte Folk Society kicks off its 34th concert season with a tribute to legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, who died in January at age 94. The multimedia experience includes video and photos and Seeger’s music performed by Harry Taylor, Saundra Porter, Roife Neigenfind, and Mason Schmitt.

Beck/Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger
Friday  8 p.m., Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $40.77-$64.52,  
With his first album since 2008 being considered a triumphant comeback (he was sidelined by a spine injury), Beck makes his first Charlotte stop since 1996’s “Odelay” tour. Sean Lennon’s impressive psych-rock duo with model/girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl opens the show.

Randy Franklin & the Sardines
Friday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $10,
The leader of long standing Charlotte band Crisis celebrates the one year anniversary of his solo album “Bloodlines” with his first solo show at Double Door where he’s backed by local music veterans from the Spongetones, Crisis, New Familiars, Marimoon, and Halifax. Singer-songwriter Carrie Marshall, who appears on “Bloodlines,” opens the show.

Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,  
This collective of members of Richmond bands the Head and the Heart, the Mason Brothers, Farm Vegas, Hypercolor, and the Trillions dusted off vintage equipment and recorded its impromptu debut, “Empty Light,” on an historic plantation. The spontaneity and layer of distortion energizes its raw, psychedelic shoegazer sound.

King’s X
Saturday  8:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $17-$20,
King’s X returns to Amos’ eight months after singer Doug (dUg) Pinnick was rushed to the hospital after his band’s November concert (he’d recently undergone hernia surgery, but reported a lymph node problem online). Given fans’ positive reaction to a show that he struggled through in pain, this one should be better.

Marc Cohn
Saturday  8 p.m., McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St., $25-$40,
The Grammy winning “Walking in Memphis” singer-songwriter, who survived a near fatal shooting while on tour in 2005, returns with a set heavy on longtime favorites. Although his most recent album is 2010’s covers tribute to the year 1970, recent setlists rely heavily on his originals as well as material from 2007’s acclaimed “Join the Parade.”

Ancient Cities
Saturday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $8, 
Secondhand Stories’ Stephen Warwick and the New Familiars’ Justin Fedor celebrate the release of their other band’s debut album, which is rooted in psychelia, folk, and Warwick’s beat-making DJ experience for a sound that connects the Black Keys and the Beatles with medieval folk songs and dust bowl carnivals.

Mike Strauss Band
Saturday  10 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $10,  
Backed by trumpet and pumped backing vocals, but minus piano and fiddle this time out, the bluesy Charlotte songwriter takes on upbeat and midtempo numbers that play up his deep Mark Knopfler-like vocals and mine classic rock n’ roll territory with a swing twist on the new album “The Whole Skinny.”

The Fray
Tuesday  7:30 p.m., Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $38.77-$71.09,
The platinum-selling band behind “How to Save a Life” mines diverse influences on its fourth album “Break Your Plans” - from Hooters-meets-Cure (“Closer to Me”) to the Adele-esque single “Love Don’t Die” to rock anthems to the piano pop balladry that made the Colorado quartet famous.

Royal Blood
Tuesday  9 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $13-$15,
The UK’s latest buzzing export is this duo who blend thick, muddy Queens of the Stone Age-style riffs with pop aesthetics and nods to the bluesy grunge of Soundgarden and the classic rock of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. It’s debut album is due in early fall.

Lionel Richie
Thursday  7:30 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $40-$150.50,
The R&B/pop veteran proved with a lengthy Bonnaroo set last month that his endless `80s hits and Commodores' numbers still hold up. He's also a re-energized performer from funny banter to his chemistry with a band who seems as happy to revisit his classic catalog as he is.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

This week's hot concerts

moe./Truth & Salvage Co./Sons of Bill
Friday  4 p.m., US National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Free,
The second day of the US National Whitewater Center’s annual July 4 celebration kicks off with cornhole at 2 p.m. followed by live music from well-read Virginia roots-rockers Sons of Bill, Southern rockers Truth & Salvage Co. and jam stalwarts moe. Fireworks close out the show.

Plaza Midwood Pig Pickin’
Friday  6 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., Free,  
The AMFMs, Temperance League, Amigo, and Hectorina head up the annual holiday party at Snug Harbor, which will feature a fish fry courtesy of Twin Tops Fish Camp and live rock n’ roll followed by DJs inside and karaoke on the back patio while the neighboring Diamond features the Loudermilkes, Pullman Strike, and Belmont Playboys on the patio.

New Edition/Joe
Saturday  8 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $37-$147.50,
The full lineup of Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe break out everything from “Candy Girl” to “Hit Me Off” as well as equally huge hits from Bell Biv Devoe and Gill, Brown, and Tresvant’s solo careers. Opening act Joe just released his eleventh studio album “Bridges” in June.

Brother Dege
Saturday  10 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $10,  
The Baton Rouge bluesman, who gained national attention through “Django Unchained,” makes blues for the modern age on his new mixtape “Scorched Earth Policy.” There’s haunting, classic acoustic blues, but it’s done with a keen knowledge of pop, grunge, and rock that inform the writing and arrangements.

Goddamn Gallows
Thursday  8 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $10-$12, 
It’s difficult to create an original sound in 2014, but this partly acoustic punk act (whose style has been described as gypsy-punk and hobocore) brings the sound of the punk squats and abandoned buildings it once called home to the stage performing songs like exorcisms with washboard, banjo, and ferociousness.

The Neighbourhood
Monday  7 p.m., Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory, $34.66-$48.25,
Since playing Charlotte in June 2013 the alternative dream-rock band has headlined WEND’s sold out Not So Acoustic Xmas and has graduated to the larger Fillmore. It’s making one more pass and releasing a mixtape before heading into the studio to record its sophomore effort.

Goo Goo Dolls/Daughtry/Plain White T’s
Wednesday  6:45 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $25-$90.70,
On the fast track to its thirtieth anniversary in 2015, Johnny Rzeznik and company team with Daughtry, whose latest album “Bapitized” is more in line with the Dolls’ adult pop, and seemingly youthful Plain White T’s eight years after its biggest hit “Hey There Delilah.."

Shinobi Ninja/Pradigy GT
Wednesday 9 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $5-$10, 
The NYC sextet mix Linkin Park's seriousness with the animated, colorful vibe of the Beastie Boys for a party-starting sound that's the next step in blurring musical styles. Local opening act Pradigy GT, who is readying its new album, takes a similar approach to bridging distorted guitar rock, hip-hop, dance, and pop.

The Independents
Thursday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $10-$12,
The veteran horror ska-punk band from SC that’s made up of equal parts the Ramones, the Misfits and Elvis, is still going strong 22 years after its birth. It’s latest album “Into the Light” treats death more seriously with the loss of family members inspiring frontman Evil Presly and guitarist Willy B this time out.

Kool Keith
Thursday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $3,
Snug Harbor’s weekly dance and hip-hop parties team with Recess Fest (which takes place later this month) to welcome the eccentric, influential Ultramagnetic MC’s founder known under many names, including critically and commercially acclaimed Dr. Octagon as well as Dr. Dooom, for an extremely intimate, and likely packed, set.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Asheville record store celebrates anniversary with 3-day festival

Asheville's Harvest Records celebrates its ten year anniversary with Transfigurations II - a three day multi-venue festival featuring the Clean, Mudhoney, Lee Fields & the Expressions and others August 28, 29 and 30. Ten years may not seem like a long time, but today record stores are like celebrity marriages. Too few- even longstanding ones - survive.

When I started college my only career goal was to work at a record store and write about music (check). I worked at two Charlotte stores (four if you count all of our locations) throughout the nineties. Our stores struggled with the rise of big box media giants like Best Buy and Media Play, who have since either collapsed or reduced the sale of music due to digital distribution. Asheville's Harvest Records opened in 2004 and has thrived as part of the city's arts community selling used and new CDs and vinyl much like Charlotte's only surviving record stores Lunchbox and Manifest (the latter is now owned by the FYE chain).

So a decade is in fact a big deal. Hence three days of great national and regional acts. Thursday and Friday the store sponsors individual shows at area venues and Saturday is the full outdoor festival. Thursday the Grey Eagle hosts the Sadies, Sonny & the Sunsets, and EDJ while Pete Swanson, Container, Profligate, and Bitchin Bajas play the Mothlight. Individual tickets are $15-$18 and $12-$15, respectively.

Mudhoney and Axxa/Abraxas headline Grey Eagle Friday ($20-$25). Moon Duo, Disappears, and Nest Egg are stationed at the Mothlight ($15-$18).

Saturday's lineup includes 18 bands performing on three stages at Blannahassett Island in Marshall. Tickets are $45-$60. Acts are the Clean, Lee Fields & the Expressions, Michael Hurley, Reigning Sound, Angel Olsen, Mount Eerie, Endless Boogie, Steve Gunn, Little Wings, Bassholes, Hiss Golden Messenger, Kevin Morby, Quilt, William Tyler, Sir Richard Bishop, Fountainsun, Wooden Wand, and Dylan Golden Aycock. Set times are TBA. Tickets can be purchased here. Learn more about Harvest and the festival here.