Friday, October 31, 2014

Fundraising sale for children's cancer with a local music link

A few years ago I was contacted about a benefit concert at Snug Harbor for the daughter of Charlotte musician, Candice Tucker, singer for the band the Situationals. At just two-years-old Candice's daughter Cora was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that affects the nerve cells most often in children five and under.

I was particularly struck by Cora's story because she is only a month older than my oldest son. I am always pleased to get updates on Cora's progress (I feel the same about Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers' daughter Hallie, who has battled cancer for most of her young life).

Thankfully Cora has been cancer-free for two years now, but every November Candice and her friends and family throw a massive yard sale to raise money for children's cancer research through Cora Cadets, their CureSearch cancer walk team.

This year the annual yard sale takes place Sunday, November 2 at Tucker's home, 7026 Brookgreen Terrace in Matthews. Candice reports that they've received a ton of donations for the sale including furniture, electronics, sports equipment, baby gear, toys, clothes of all sizes, books and linens. My car is actually packed and heading there now if you're up for some unworn orange flats, an unopened chocolate candy maker (weird Christmas present, mom), goth curtains or a silver changing table.

All proceeds will be donated to CureSearch where 99 cents of every dollar goes toward pediatric cancer research. If you can't make the sale, you can make a monetary donation here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Coolio/Tone Loc
Friday  7 p.m., Fountain Plaza at NC Music Factory, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $25/$40 VIP, 
At its annual Music, Monsters, & Mayhem the Music Factory celebrates Halloween with the `90’s biggest hip-hop/pop crossovers Tone Loc and Coolio (who, through his acting, has flirted with the horror genre). Prices include admission into many surrounding venues. Best costume wins $2,000, plus other goodies.

Deniro Farrar & Denzel Curry
Friday  9 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 35th St., $15,  
If it’s new school hip-hop you’re looking for Deniro Farrar (born and raised in Charlottes) straddles edgy streetwise rap and enlightenment on “The Rebirth EP,” which is garnering national attention from MTV, Spin, and He ends his successful first national co-headlining tour with a Halloween homecoming show.

Slick Rick
Friday  9 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $20, 
Plaza-Midwood hosts even older school hip-hop at the 8th Annual Haunted Harbor which  features an unlikely pairing of colorful characters - influential `80s rapper Slick Rick the Ruler and neighborhood fixtures singer-songwriter Benji Hughes and over-the-top metal manglers the Poontanglers with DJ Justin Aswell.

Annual Halloween Fiasco/Dia De Los Muertos Fiasco
Friday & Saturday  9 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $7,
Each year the Milestone celebrates Halloween by having local bands masquerade, musically, as artists of yesteryear. This year they’ve added a second show Saturday. Friday’s tributes include INXS, Shania Twain, Beck, and the Bangles. Saturday it’s Prince, Nirvana, the Cars, Jimmy Buffet, Jesus Lizard, the Plasmastics, and the Pogues.

Ray Lamontagne
Saturday  7:30 p.m., Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., $59.48-$85.81,  
Fans that have longed for the acclaimed singer-songwriter, whose music hovers around the classic style of Tim Buckley and Nick Drake, to put Charlotte on his tour schedule. They finally get their wish following the release of his Dan Auerbach-produced fifth album, “Supernova,” which hit No. 1 on the Rock charts. With the Belle Brigade.

The Lone Bellow
Tuesday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $20,
The Georgia-bred, NYC-led roots combo preps the follow-up to its breakthrough self-titled 2013 album for a 2015 release. They’ll preview new material from the Aaron Dessner-produced record (the National’s guitarist), which promises to build on its gospel and soul rooted blend of country and folk-rock.

Drive-By Truckers
Saturday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33.58, 
Eleven albums, a revolving door of members (the latest of note being award winner Jason Isbell), and a near 30 year partnership between chief songwriters Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood, the Athens staple has made, in its latest album “English Oceans,” what even Hood calls its best since 2003’s “Decoration Day.” The group ends its tour here.

Ian Hunter (and the Rant Band) /Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby
Wednesday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 35th St., $25-$35,
The influential Mott the Hoople frontman and prolific solo artist - he sang “All the Young Dudes” and penned classic rock staples “Cleveland Rocks” and “Once Bitten Twice Shy” - heads up a bill that includes the married underground duo behind 1977’s oft-covered “Whole Wide World” (him) and 1996’s acclaimed “Diary of a Mod Housewife” (her).

Robin Trower
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $47.87,  
Hunter’s junior by six years, fellow Brit Trower, is an equally influential English guitarist and sometime singer, who cut his musical teeth with Procol Harum before 1974’s solo smash “Bridge of Sighs,” which remains in daily rotation at classic rock radio. He’s also a guitar hero whose work once rivaled Hendrix’s.

This year's Halloween Playlist

For the past couple of years I've posted a Halloween playlist to honor my favorite time of year. As the years roll on I have to dig a bit deeper. This year I've included links to all (someone actually made a "Twilight" themed video for defunct Charlotte band the Stellas' song "Vampires"), but one. That one is apparently obscure enough to escape a Google search. You'll find ghost stories, murder ballads, blood spilling killers, and some that are just really eerie (those usually inspire my fiction writing). Some of these are also by local artists. Hope everyone has a happy Halloween. 

We begin with a haunting bluegrass song my dad's friends covered when I was a kid. 

The Country Gentlemen - "Bringing Mary Home"
Megan Jean & the KFB - "Skeletons"
The Stellas - "Vampires"
Bloody Hammers  - "TheTown That Dreaded Sundown"
Nostalghia - "Sunshiny Milk"
Veronica Falls - "Found Love in a Graveyard"
Siouxsie & the Banshees - "Rawhead & Bloody Bones"
Alkaline Trio - "This Could Be Love"
Benji Hughes - "Mama I’m a Zombie"
Cage the Elephant - "Spiderhead"
Shakey Graves - "Dearly Departed"
The Gunga Din - "Sang Her Every Song"
April Smith & the Great Picture Show - "Terrible Things"
The Barbarellas - "Teenage Werewolf"
Meg Myers - "Monster"
Lindi Ortega - "Murder of Crows"

Thursday, October 23, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Branford Marsalis & the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
Friday  8 p.m., Dale F. Halton Theater, 1206 Elizabeth Ave., CPCC, $40-$65,
Two weeks after his brother Wynton’s Charlotte concert, as well as days before the release of his latest album, “In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral,” the elder Marsalis (he's 54) continues to explore classical music with orchestral Baroque pieces by Bach, Telemann, and Albinoni in a show he’s dubbed “Well Tempered.”

The Cowards Choir
Friday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8-$10,
Songwriter Andy Zipf - last here with this summer’s Parlor Sessions collective - took a new name (the title of an old release actually) and a fresh direction that he’s been honing in on for a few years. He celebrates the “Cool Currency” EP (his second under the new name) with Tom McBride and Thomas Pagan Motta (the also latter plays an in-store at Repo Record at 6:30 p.m.).

Junior Astronomers
Friday  9 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., Free over 21, $5 under 21,  
For the past six years founding members Terrence Richard and Philip Wheeler have been celebrating their co-birthday with a free live music blow-out starring - not only their own nationally-touring indie rock band - but a few of their friends. This year they are joined by Girl Pants, Wunderbeast, and Small Sanctions.

Hurray for the Riff Raff
Friday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15,  
While drawing mainstream attention with modern folk classics like “I Know It’s Wrong (But That’s All Right),” this New Orleans combo led by Puerto Rican banjo player/singer Alynda Lee Segarra and transgender fiddler Yosi Perlstein is championing feminism, non-violence, and LGBT causes with brazenly breathtaking and fun folk.

Joe Ely
Friday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $20, 
This year the revered Flat-lander and Lubbock songwriter published his first novel, “Reverb: An Odyssey,” and unearthed an unreleased album from the `80s. “B4 84” was possibly the first record ever recorded on an Apple computer and it surprisingly doesn’t sound dated.

Los Lobos
Sunday  7 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $34.50-$54.50,
The globally acclaimed Mexican-American band, which formed while in high school in East L.A. in the early `70s, celebrates its fortieth anniversary by revisiting its post “La Bamba” 1989 album “La Pistola y El Corazon” with an acoustic set of Tejano and Mariachi folk songs as well as its best loved hits.

Sunday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $52.91,  
The Grammy winning R&B singer and hit songwriter (Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable,” Rihanna’s “Take a Bow”) previews material from his upcoming 2015 album “Non-Fiction” (including current single “She Knows”) in an intimate club setting, while revisiting past hits like “So Sick,” “Closer,” and “Miss Independent.”

Wednesday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $22-$25/$75 VIP,  
Given the sudden injury and paralysis of singer Ryan Key’s pro-snowboarder fiancĂ©, fans might expect its new album “Lift a Sail” to be a melancholy one. Instead it’s an anthemic, grand guitar rock album reminiscent of Blink 182 and 311’s best, most expansive work with the only cry from fans being “more violin!” (The couple is now married).

Sarah Jarosz & the Milk Carton Kids
Wednesday  8 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $30-$35,  
Twenty-three-year-old roots wunderkind and recent New England Conservatory of Music grad Jarosz teams with the California folk duo who are also fellow Grammy nominees and her “Austin City Limits” episode partners. As a gather-round-the-mic trio, they demonstrate just how exciting the future of roots music is.

Thursday  8 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $5-$7,  
The Cleveland trio capture `90s guitar fuzz and lo-fi indie rock, but blend it with an almost classic folk-rock aesthetic while avoiding noise for art’s sake (that can muddle the meaning) with traditional structure and audible lyrics. It’s new album, “Moments of Matter,” which was recorded at Asheville’s Echo Mountain studio, is out Nov. 4.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Marsha Ambrosius
Friday  8 p.m., McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St., $38.02-$47.58,
On her recent sophomore album, “Friends & Lovers,” Ambrosius - one half of the British duo Floetry - wants to create the new soundtrack to your love affair. Shifting from baby making to grown and sexy and channeling heartbreak in between helped “F&L” nearly crack Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop slot (it peaked at No. 2).

Courtney Barnett/San Fermin
Friday  8:30 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Ellizabeth Ave., $15, indie darlings with upcoming albums on the horizon. She’s an Aussie folk-pop songwriter whose wordy, detailed lyrics, bluesy guitar, and lackadaisical delivery are smartly charming. He’s a Yale educated Brooklyn band leader that brings his compositional strengths to pop music.

Jeffrey Osborne
Saturday  8 p.m., Dale F. Halton Theater, CPCC, 1206 Elizabeth Ave., $44-$65,
One of the strongest `80s balladeers this side of Luther Vandross, his classic R&B hits range from L.T.D’s “Back in Love Again” to his own “You Should Be Mine (the Woo Woo Song)” and “On the Wings of Love.” Also expect jazz-inflected tunes from his latest album, “A Time For Love.”

Kip Moore
Saturday  8 p.m., Coyote Joe’s, 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., $20-$25,  
The Platinum selling country artist behind “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” headlines CMT On Tour 2014: Up in Smoke with Charlie Worsham and Sam Hunt. After scoring three No. 1 singles from his 2012 debut, he promises more material from his upcoming sophomore album including, of course, current single “Dirt Road.”

Sons of Bill
Saturday  9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12,
The Virginian roots rock act with a literary bent has as much in common with R.E.M. and the Replacements as it does country and folk music. A couple of Charlotte fans are so confident in its fourth album “Love and Logic” that they’re offering refunds to concert goers that come out and don’t dig the show.

Steep Canyon Rangers
Saturday and Sunday 8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $17-$28,
The Grammy winning Brevard bluegrass band (who moonlights as comedian Steve Martin’s backing band) continues to evolve musically while firmly rooted in tradition. The group makes a weekend of it - first with Chapel Hill’s Mipso on Saturday and with fellow Brevard resident, singer-songwriter  Shannon Whitworth on Sunday.
Shakey Graves
Sunday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $12-$15,
Actor Alejandro Rose-Garcia (“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” TV’s “Friday Night Lights”) carves out a second career as an acclaimed folk musician whose gaining ground nationally. Esme Patterson, formerly of the Colorado-based band Paperbird, serves as the opening act and help out on vocals during his set. She appears on his album, “And the War Came.”

Tuesday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $25-$35, 
With the September release of all five of its major label albums on vinyl and reissues of three of its album on CD, the bulk of the Americana veteran’s 1997 lineup (Gary Louris, Marc Perlman, Tim O’Reagan, Karen Grotberg, and Kraig Johnson) hit the road to play material that hasn’t been played live in a decade.

Chris Eldridge and Julian Lage
Wednesday  8 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $13-$15,  
The accomplished acoustic guitar duo (who both play 1939 Martin guitars) brings together twenty-six-year-old former child jazz prodigy Lage and the Punch Brothers’ second-generation chamber-grass master Eldridge (his dad was in bluegrass great the Seldom Scene) who wow with finger-picking improvisations and flowery, lyrical playing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NoDa serves up food (trucks) and free music this month

Each Thursday in October CLTure and Pure Pizza present the NoDa F.A.M. Rally in the parking lot at Chop Shop. The food, art, and music event takes place between 6 and 9 p.m. and includes live music, DJs, and food trucks.

DJ Smitty will spin Thursday, October 16. He'll be joined by Pullman Strike October 23 and by the Cameron Floyd Band October 30. Oskar Blues Brewery, Pure Pizza, Cuzzo's Cuisine, and the Art of Baking will be serving food and drinks and other local businesses are part of the party.

It's free and family-friendly. Follow @NoDaFAMRally on Twitter for more information.

Songwriter and humorist Antsy McClain will play inside Chop Shop that night as well. Tickets for the concert are $19-$35. The show begins at 8 p.m. Check out for details.

Politically-minded NC musicians roll out new music in October

As November's mid-term elections near, the politically-minded musicians of the NC Music Love Army are rolling out a new EP every Tuesday in October. Yesterday saw the release of "My Body Politic" by Love Army co-founder Caitlin Carey and Shirlette Ammons.

"You Can't Tear Us Down" by Chapel Hill's I Was Totally Destroying It was released earlier this month. It also features members of Unifier.

Both include remixes and the I Was Totally Destroying It track is backed with a song by Lutie Cain. Both are available on the Love Army's Bandcamp page along with last year's full-length album, "We Are Not For Sale" and the remix EP of Carolina Chocolate Drops' Rhiannon Giddens' song "We Rise."

"Senator's Lament" and "Train Coming" will be released October 21 and 28, respectively. These follow the September release of co-founder and Charlotte pop songwriter Jon Lindsay's "Dear Mr. McCrory,"

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sons of Bill fans put money where mouth is

Rolling Stone may have put Sons of Bill at the top of its list of must-see fall country tours recently, but it didn't offer a money back guarantee. Leave that to two die-hard Sons of Bill fans calling themselves Fans of Bill.

Charlotte's Derek Farley and Carl Fochler are offering to reimburse anyone who attends a Sons of Bill show on the current tour in support of the new album "Love and Logic" and isn't blown away. Sons of Bill plays Visulite Theatre Saturday, October 18. 

It's a tall order and one I've heard thrown around by fans before. But none ever actually went so far as to put an offer out there in print. 

Farley, who owns a public relations firm, and Fochler, who co-owns NASCAR #77 team, are so confident in the Charlottesville, VA band of brothers and the strength of the new album that they are certain they won't have to follow through on the promise. 

If someone does want their money back they can direct message @fansofbill on Twitter for information on how to receive the reimbursement. Unsatisfied concert goers just need to provide a photo of their ticket stub.

"Our budget is zero because they are that good," said Fochler, who introduced Farley to the group when the two were roommates at West Virginia University. "Unless you're tone deaf or allergic to fun, you are in for a great night of music with our favorite band." 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This week's hot concerts

Megan Jean & the KFB
Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,  
Halloween is the perfect time to catch this nomadic married couple who recently converted a cargo van into a “livable apartment” in order to spread their macabre but fun vaudevillian, gypsy folk-punk year-round. With theatrical songs populated by dancing skeletons, fortune tellers, and martians, they make fantasy poignant.

Chatham County Line
Friday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $17-$20,  
On its fittingly titled sixth studio album, “Tightrope,” the Raleigh quartet evolves further into the gray area of new acoustic, chamber rock, and folk-rock while never abandoning the traditional bluegrass anchors of banjo and mandolin that it built the band on over a decade ago.

USNWC Fall Finale
Saturday  4 p.m., US National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Free,
Following an obstacle trail race, the Whitewater Center closes its concert season with the recently reformed Canadian new grass band the Duhks who reunited with soul singer Jessee Havey (although original fiddler Tania Elizabeth is now touring with the Avetts). Bluesman Jamie McLean and fast rising Utah rock band Desert Noises also play.

Old 97s
Saturday  8 p.m., McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St., $26.28-$36.47,  
Ten albums in twenty years isn’t bad for a band whose frontman Rhett Miller has kept up a busy solo career. The country-rocker’s latest, “Most Messed Up,” is definitely more of a rocker charging ahead with loud guitars, punky furor, and balancing twang and distortion like the Replacements, whose Tommy Stinson makes a guest appearance.

Chase Rice
Saturday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $27.51,
On the heels of his first No. 1 album, “Ignite the Night,” the rising country star partly responsible for writing Florida Georgia Line’s hit “Cruise” returns to his old stomping grounds. The versatile Asheville-raised former University of NC linebacker and “Survivor: Nicuragua” runner-up also once worked at Hendrick Motor Sports.

Macy Gray
Sunday  9 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $27-$30,
The Grammy winning soul-pop singer released her eclectic eighth studio album, “The Way,” earlier this week. On it she delves into her existence as a single mother of three and spikes world blues-rock tunes like the single “Bang Bang” and the uplifting pop single “Hands” with bright energy and that signature raspy voice.

The Secret Sisters
Sunday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $15-$20,  
Those who arrived early for Chris Isaak’s show at Knight Theater last winter caught the sublime, simple harmonies and charming banter of Alabaman sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers. Their T-Bone Burnett-produced sophomore album, “Put Your Needle Down,” is still rooted in tradition, but finds the vocalists breaking out as songwriters too.

Marketa Irglova
Tuesday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $20-$22,  
The actress and Oscar winning singer-songwriter (for “Once’s” “Falling Slowly”) hits town right after the musical version’s Charlotte run. She just released her second solo album, the ethereal “Muna” - a spiritual merger of folk, classical and world music built on layered vocal harmonies, European churches, and the search for self from within.

Nick Carter & Jordan Knight
Wednesday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $52.91,
Having previously collaborated on the NKOTBSB tour, the boy band favorites (34 and 44, respectively) teamed up earlier this year for the very grown-up “Nick & Knight” album and now pair those duets with solo material and their group’s biggest hits.

Wednesday  8:30 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $18-$20,
With a new Cavalera Conspiracy album (“Pandemonium”) set for release in November, Max Cavalera is hitting the road for a short October run with his other longtime post-Sepultura band. His sons Zyon (who also plays with Soulfly) and Igor’s band Lody Kong again opens the show.

Lady Rockstars extends musical empowerment to grownups

Growing up - at least in the `80s and `90s - it was common for a male child to receive a guitar for Christmas. If it clicked with him he'd toil away for hours in his bedroom mimicking Hendrix and Jimmy Page and Kirk Hammett. But I don't think it was all that common for girls to receive a coveted Christmas ax.

I was lucky. My father was an avid music fan and bought me an electric bass for my thirteenth birthday. My bass teacher was in Charlie McCoy's house band on "Hee Haw." I could watch him on TV every week when he wasn't showing me fingerings for "Summertime Rolls," "Paradise City" (the first song I learned) and "Glamour Boys."

But a lot of women didn't grow up in an environment as nurturing of their rock n' roll dreams. I put down my guitar a long time ago (except when I was locked in my husband's band practice space for three hours and had to figure out how to entertain my kids recently), but some women never picked up an instrument at all.

There's still time. Next week some of the women involved in this summer's Girls Rock CLT launch a similar experience for adults beginning with six week bass and guitar course. Lady Rockstars classes take place at Cube NoDa across from Amelie's and begin Wednesday October 15 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. and again every Wednesday through mid November.

Instructors Kristen Borrelli and Krystle Sauls met through Girls Rock CLT this summer.

"After witnessing the way music transformed girls into self-confident rock stars at Girls Rock CLT Camp, we wanted to do the same thing for adult women," says Sauls, who teaches bass. "Our goal is to create a supportive and fun environment where women can come together, learn, and build confidence in themselves."

The first session is aimed at women 21 and over and wine will be served (free of charge), but if a demand is established another class for ages 16 to 20-year-olds is probable. Borrelli and Sauls also offer individual lessons for females of all ages.

Now one might think, "It's 2014, aren't women on equal footing in the guitar playing field?" And yes, we've made super strides since Nancy Wilson and Lita Ford. That said, I know when I moved here even though all girl bands existed, putting an all girl band together (which was truly what I would've preferred given my favorite bands) was fairly impossible. There were a handful of powerful female performers and band leaders in the area to look up to then, but I'm very proud of where young women in Charlotte have come over the years leading and playing in bands. That environment just wasn't where I was 20 years ago. I imagine there are still musicians out there looking for others to play with and others just wanting to learn to play.

How Lady Rockstars works is that each student chooses guitar or bass, which they can rent from Howren Music if they do not own one already. Students learn basic chords and technique and by the end of the first class can play a song. Bands, who choose a song to cover, are formed. The session ends with a public performance on November 22.

The class is $150 for new students and $190 for returning students (once the second session takes place). Reservations are required and tuition is due in full.

"Lady Rockstar classes aren't about being perfect. They are about realizing that everyone has it in them to rock," adds Sauls. "We want to inspire women by helping them understand they are capable of anything.

Learn more at or contact them at

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Garth Brooks sets NC dates

Garth Brooks will make his long-awaited return to North Carolina in November with two dates at Greensboro Coliseum. His world tour, which begins a six-day run in Jacksonville, Florida Friday, hits Greensboro November 21 and 22. The shows mark his first in the Carolinas in over 16 years.

Tickets go on sale Friday, October 17 at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster outlets. Given demand, promoters encourage ticket buyers to register with ahead of time. You can also call the main line at 1-800-745-3000 or 866-448-7849 for Ticketmaster Express. 

All seats are $67 after taxes and fees and there's no mention of a corporate sponsored presale (let's hear it for Brooks leveling the ticket buying field like it's the `90s!).

Brooks retired from the road to focus on his family in 2000 and released his last full-length studio album, "Scarecrow," in 2001. He performed sporadically usually to raise money for charities and did a lengthy residency in Vegas. He announced his return to full-scale touring in December. 

Brooks' new album "Man Against Machine" will be released November 11. Yearwood recently announced her upcoming twelfth album "Prizefighter," 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Stranger Day's "Graves" available free online

Last week I reviewed Charlotte-based rapper Shane Coble aka Stranger Day's new album "Graves," which featured several Charlotte musicians from varied musical genres. It's a great representation of what's going on here and I wanted to let folks know that the album is available as a free download at Stranger Day's website here.

The record features Elevator Jay, Lotta, Ally Hoffmann, Terrence Richard from Junior Astronomers, Alex Kastanas, Mr. Invisible's Justin Aswell, Jams F. Kennedy, Reese, Little Bull Lee and others. And if you read the review and were curious you can satisfy your curiosity with little effort. You can also buy it straight from iTunes if you want. I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

I feel like there's this perception that if something is free then that changes its value. People may think it might not be good (at least that's what I tell my husband when he and his band mates practically give away their own merch). But in this case free of charge doesn't mean worth less. You can hear how much work went into this album and given that Stranger Day is an underground artist he's giving it away to help spread the word.

This got me to wondering if the future generation (or possibly young people now) will expect artistic work to be free - books, music, visual art. So much of it is available at our fingertips. On the flipside, ticket prices to concerts, movies, stand-up, and other types of live entertainment are rising. So maybe live entertainment is where future consumers will find value and spend their dollars (of course there is always the ever-expensive vinyl - that's another blog too). This is all to be explored in another blog somewhere in the future, but it got me thinking much in the same way "Graves" did.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Coolio, Tone Loc head up Music Factory Halloween

This year's Music, Monsters, & Mayhem - the NC Music Factory's annual Halloween bash - will feature old school hip-hop headliners Coolio and Tone Loc performing on the Fountain Plaza stage Friday, October 31. (Who else texted their sister when this was announced?)

Tickets for the bar crawl, concert and Halloween party are $15 until October 10. Advanced tickets are $20 or $25 at the gate. That price includes admission into Label (until 11 p.m.), Texicali, Wet Willie's, VBGB, Osso, Small Bar, and Mattie's Diner. There's also a costume contest after the show (registration is at Small Bar). First prize is $2,000. A limited number of VIP passes are also available. Click here for tickets.

Full Q&A with Taking Back Sunday's CLT-based singer Adam Lazzara

Earlier this year emo-punk stalwart Taking Back Sunday released its sixth album and second since reuniting the original 2002 lineup. The album, “Happiness Is,” is a mature collection with singer Adam Lazzara - a High Point-native who now lives in NoDa with his wife and young sons - opening up lyrically in a detailed, personal, yet universal way. 
On Wednesday Taking Back Sunday ends the current leg of its tour at The Fillmore, which means transplants Lazzara and John Nolan (guitar) will get to spend Halloween and Thanksgiving at home with their families before heading to Europe. Lazzara spoke to The Observer Tuesday from Canada about the new album, being away, and his adopted home.

Q. This album seems pretty frank and personal. Do you consider it more so than usual and, if so, how did you delve deeper?
A. There’s always that voice in your head or that little editor inside me that says, “Oh maybe we shouldn’t be talking about this?” With “Happiness Is” (the goal) was just write. Once everything is down on tape then start to deal with that then. I think with all my favorite bands, artists or writers, they’re always just very honest and I want to try to maintain that too. With this record there was a conscious effort to not mask things as much. I love playing with words, but I wanted to make sure I played with words in a more simple way. I used to think to get a point or feeling across you needed to have the subject matter cloaked, just vague. So with this one we’ll try to be very direct. Hey, here’s how I feel or here’s what happened and see how folks relate to it.  

Q. There are themes of growing older and gaining perspective. As a band are you all in the same place where you could relate when you’re writing?
A. We all have very young families so I think that attributes to the subject matter.

Q. This is the second album back with the original group. Was it different making this one compared to the honeymoon phase or getting to know each other again on the self-titled record?
A. John was living in Kansas and once we started reconnecting he’d come to visit and we’d write and then they moved out there. It brought us closer both just as friends and with where we live in a physical sense. With the self-titled record that’s kind of like what that was. We were reconnecting and relearning how everyone worked. With “Happiness Is” everyone knew how to work with one another, when to lean on someone and when not to. It was more of a laid back process than to any of the records we’d done.

Q. The band was originally all based out of New York. Does it feel like a hometown show when you play Charlotte?
A. It’s starting to now. It didn’t feel that way for a long time. It’s a  really funny thing. I felt for a long time like, I’m from here. I don’t know why nobody likes us here. It’s starting to grow over the years. When we play there family and friends are there. It feels like a hometown show in that sense. It feels like there’s a lot more urgency to make it more of a hometown show for us.

Q. I remember you telling me at one point a while back you thought the Fillmore was too big.
A. There’s that worry of what if nobody comes to see us and I live here? It’s funny with the perception people have. They think, you’re in this rock band and tour all over and you’re a huge guy and you never worry about it. I think about it.

Q. Does living in a city that’s not a “music city” offer anonymity?
A. With the friends we’ve made everyone is very creative. So it’s not a big deal. These guys write songs and that guy paints and that guy makes movies. It’s just a communal appreciation for one another. Being in Charlotte too, unless we’re at a show, I can just be a guy.

Q. Tell me about the USO shows you did. I thought it was interesting you’ve done the USO shows, because I would imagine a lot those soldiers appreciate heavier rock music and something that’s more current when we hear about older artists going over.
A. We did it through Navy Entertainment. We’ve done all over Europe and Dijibouti  and Kuwait - these places you see on the news. (The song) “We Were Younger Then” - that’s what that was based around. We were in Bahrain. When you play those shows there’s a lot of folks that don’t necessarily know or haven’t heard of your band. It’s more of trying to give them a feeling of home. I don’t know how they do it. They’ll be out from nine months to a year and a half. I have so much respect for them. We’ll complain about being gone from home on tour, but now that we’ve had that experience we think twice before we complain. It takes a strong person to do that. We were in Portland the other day and there was a guy with one of the opening bands and he came up to me and said, “I was in Kuwait not too long ago and you guys came there and played. I just wanted to thank you for that.” I immediately went into, “Thank you. I don’t know how you did it.” It was a pretty cool thing.

Q. Do you feel like Charlotte is home now?
A. I do. Which is funny too. When I left North Carolina to join the band I always said I’m never coming back here. Now I’m back. It does feel like home. Just even the way people talk. It feels right.

Q. You released a solo track last winter that’s got acoustic guitar and harmonica. Being in a heavy rock band fans have expectations, is there a desire to make a different kind of music?
A. That’s what I like, loud rock n’ roll music. It works out, but there’s layers to everything. There’s oftentimes where I’d much rather play very gently. That’s where that other song came from. It’s actually cool how the whole thing worked out. We made a quick video for it. Shamus Coneys lives in the neighborhood. He makes great videos and films. We were talking in the backyard one day. I said, “Hey would you want to make a video for me?” Our friend (visual artist) Will Puckett, his family has this veterinary hospital right outside of town. We went out on there on their land and filmed it at 6 in the morning. It was a big communal Charlotte thing.

Q. Is your family still in NC?
A. My dad’s still in High Point. Mom’s in Winston-Salem. (My wife) is one of seven. Her mom is there right around the corner. Her sister and two of her brothers live here. They’ve all been migrating.

Q. You’ve been gone a lot with this tour. I saw you were overseas when your son started kindergarten. Is it different touring now with a family back home?
A. I remember the days where I’d tell our management and our agent, we don’t care if we’re home, keep us working. Now it just gets harder and harder to leave. You know, I don’t want to do anything to hurt my kids. Luckily the flipside of that is when I get home I can just be with them the whole time. I look at it if I worked a normal job or a nine to five I’d only see them for an hour or two in the morning and an hour or two at night.

Q. It’s good her family is here for when you’re gone. Raising two little ones alone could be really hard. I’d never get the dishes done.
A. I couldn’t imagine life not having them around or even having my folks not far. It definitely gets tough. I start to feel like the worst guy for being gone, so that helps.

(Photo by Natalie Escobedo. Left to right: Bassist Shaun Cooper, Lazzara, guitarists Eddie Reyes and John Nolan, and drummer Mark O'Connell).

Thursday, October 2, 2014

This week's hot concerts

St. Lucia
Friday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $16-$18,  
There’s something charmingly dreamy about the Brooklyn synth-pop project from South African-born Jean-Philip Grobler. Songs like the modest hit “Elevate” ring with optimism and melodies and vocals reminiscent of those `80s radio wonders whose names you can’t remember, but whose songs you can’t forget.

Ian Anderson
Friday  8 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $54.50-$99.50,
The Jethro Tull frontman and flautist performs the best of Tull with his new band as well as material from his new album “Homo Erraticus,” which continues the ongoing story of the fictional character Gerald Bostock who first appeared on Jethro Tull’s 1972 album “Thick as a Brick.”

Lee Fields & the Expressions
Saturday  9 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $15-$18,  
The Wilson, NC-raised soul veteran’s career has been on an upswing since teaming with Truth & Soul Records and releasing some of the grittiest, most authentic old school soul out there. His latest is the stellar “Emma Jean” and his live shows - a throwback to the classic shows of the `70s - aren’t to be missed.

David Childers & the Serpents of Reformation
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,
The revered Mount Holly singer-songwriter and band leader’s latest album “Serpents of Reformation” and first solo record on Ramseur Records in over a decade, is a haunting blues and gospel record that’s got son Robert Childers’ and co-engineer Neal Harper’s (2013 Wolves) prints all over it. It’s like Blind Willie Johnson meets Johnny Cash.

White Violet
Sunday  10:30 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $5-$7,  
The Southern atmospheric pop quartet teamed with engineer Scott Solter (Superchunk, the Mountain Goast) in Kernersville for its just-released, fittingly titled album “Stay Lost.” More of a band effort than its predecessor “Stay Lost” cranks the tempos while marrying tinkling shoegazer guitar, happy hooks and Southern gothic psychedelia.

Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer
Sunday  7 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $29.50-$49.50,  
The Nickel Creek/Punch Brothers’ mandolin virtuoso joins the upright bass’ elder statesmen for the simply titled collaborative album “Bass & Mandolin,” which intertwines their deft instrumentalism through ever adventurous classical and roots music.

mewithoutYou/Appleseed Cast
Monday  7:30 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $15-$18,  
Before releasing its sixth album in 2015, the talky Philadelphia group takes a look back for the tenth anniversary of its breakthrough album “Catch For us the Foxes.” Its paired with long running combo Appleseed Cast, whose dynamics-driven post-rock is pretty much the definition of emo.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
Tuesday  7:30 p.m., Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St., $20-$84.50,
Consisting of some of the world’s best known jazz soloists, the big band led by musical director Marsalis hits on compositions by jazz greats like Mingus, Ellington, and Coltrane as well as originals from Marsalis, Ted Nash, and other JLCO members.

Taking Back Sunday
Wednesday  6:45 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $38.23,
Fifteen years in, the returning original “Tell All Your Friends” lineup (which is partly based in Charlotte) released its second album since reforming earlier this year. The album, “Happiness Is,” manages to be both sonically and lyrically mature while still laying on the hooks and sing-along harmonies for the emo and punk kids.

Isaiah Rashad
Thursday  8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $20-$25,
This Chattanooga rapper may be hip-hop’s next big thing given that he’s signed with the same folks behind Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q, his status on XXL’s current Freshman Class, and 2014’s “Cilvia Demo” EP cracking Billboard 200’s Top 40.

Rebecca Loebe
Thursday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8-$10, 
The sweet-voiced singer-songwriter who radiated kindness and warmth as a contestant on the first season of NBC’s “The Voice” hasn’t rested since her short run on Team Adam. She’s toured Japan and Europe and has continued to build an acclaimed folk-pop career.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Anthony Hamilton set to release holiday album

Last winter when I spoke to Grammy winning Charlotte-based soul singer Anthony Hamilton about his most recent Grammy nomination, he mentioned he was working on a Christmas album. That album, "Home for the Holidays" will be released October 21 on RCA Records.

Hamilton's first Christmas album features six original songs including "Spend Christmas With You," "Coming Home," and "Tis the Season" as well as collaborations with fellow Grammy winners Chaka Khan and Gavin DeGraw and hot young soul singer-songwriter ZZ Ward. There are standards like "Little Drummer Boy" and "Away in a Manger" (featuring Ward). He also covers James Brown's "Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto" and Chicago soul girl group the Emotions' "What do the Lonely Do at Christmas."

"This album is for the people who really love the holidays and what feelings they bring. For the families that get together and love a good time," said the father of six. "I wanted to remember every joyful, wholesome, tender, raw moment you feel during the holidays. I feel like some of the things we enjoy most, we can only feel with our hearts. Having an emotional connection to this project was essential because I want my fans to be moved by the music and associate each song with a time where no other feelings mattered but love."

Hamilton returned to Charlotte after kickstarting his singing career in New York in the `90s. He was a backup singer for D'Angelo before breaking out as a guest artist on Nappy Roots' 2002 hit "Po' Folks." He's released six albums since then, including his latest Grammy nominee "Back to Love."