Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review: Bonnie Raitt's welcome return to Ovens

When Bonnie Raitt sat down at the piano beside keyboardist Mike Finnigan to play the title track off her Grammy winning 1989 commercial breakthrough “Nick of Time,” there was such an arms-in-the-air eruption from the crowd you’d have thought the Panthers scored a touchdown. 

The crowd for Raitt’s return to Ovens Auditorium Wednesday was subdued and respectful (though obviously not dead), even following the instructions to put away their phones and enjoy the show in real time, per the pre-show announcement. Maybe that’s why their response wasn’t soft golf claps between juggled drinks and electronics. And honestly, it was nice not to have 30 phones bobbing in the air at any given time during the show (although it made it hard to take notes) – she did allow photos during the final song.

That attentiveness was reflected on stage as well. Less a “show” and more of a performance, Raitt and her band were of course supremely rehearsed (although with the caliber of musicians on stage little rehearsal is necessary), but it wasn’t the kind of rehearsed that results in the same show night after night. Her banter seemed genuine as did her interpretations of the songs, which change to some degree in order and choice nightly. 

Following the California Honeydrops (the hand-picked Bay Area jazz and blues-inspired funk and soul act who have been on the tour since March), Raitt sauntered on stage in a leather and sparkle accented blue top and straight legged slacks looking, at least from the crowd, as if she hadn’t aged since “Nick of Time.” 

Although she wrote a number of songs on her new album “Dig in Deep” (like the moving “All Alone with Something to Say,”), she often chose the standout covers like her opener, INXS’ “Need You Tonight” and later a rollicking version of Los Lobos’ “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes.” But Raitt is as much an interpreter of ongs as she is a vocalist and slide guitar player, both of which were spot-on. Has she ever known a bad note? She chose to honor her influences and mentors throughout the night playing Sippie Wallace’s “Woman Be Wise,” Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman,” and letting Finnigan take lead on B.B. King’s “Don’t Answer the Door.” 

Although hits like “Something To Talk About” and “Thing Called Love” were crowd favorites that had folks dancing in the aisles, it was just as fun to see Raitt and the band breakout of the blues and adult contemporary by taking on spiritual world music with Zimbabwean musician/activist Oliver Mtukudzi’s “Hear Me Now” and the encore of Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House.” 

Of course, Raitt couldn’t leave without belting out “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” which she sang slow and purposeful as if to demonstrate the depth of the ache in the lyrics. 

Raitt may technically be retirement age – she turns 67 on election day – but she shows no desire to pull back from the road. Her passion for playing and her audience’s passion for her playing remains vibrant nearly five decades into her career. And the show served as a reminder of why she’s remains such a revered presence today.   

Thursday, October 6, 2016

This week's hot concerts

Jennifer Nettles
Friday 8 p.m., Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St., $34.50-$69.50/$79.50 VIP,
Before she was frontwoman for arena-hopping country duo Sugarland, Nettles was an Atlanta-based blues-rock singer belting out numbers at clubs like Visulite. Now a Grammy winner whose ventured into Broadway as “Chicago’s” Roxy Hart and acting (Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”), Nettles got back to music earlier this year with her second solo album. “Playing With Fire.”
So Fest So Clean Festival
Friday and Saturday 9 p.m., Petra’s, 1919 Commonwealth Ave.; 9:30 p.m. The Station, 2131 Central Ave.; 10 p.m. Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $7 per show per night; $5 additional admission to other venues each night,
If you’re new to Charlotte or just curious about the local scene, this two-day, three venue Plaza-Midwood festival and neighborhood clean-up drive is an economical way to sample CLT music. Each club has three to five acts each night. Shadowgraphs, Jaggermouth, Dollar Signs, Ravages, Tigerdog, Known Ghost, and Totally Slow are a handful of Friday’s bands, while Saturday’s lineup includes Time Sawyer, It’s Snakes, Elonzo Wesley, Modern Primitives, Dollhands, Sinners & Saints, the halves and america is a mistake.
Latin American Festival
Saturday 12 to 8 p.m., Symphony Park, South Park Mall, 4400 Sharon Rd., $5, Kids 8 and under free,
The Latin American Coalition’s 26th annual cultural festival features a marketplace filled with food, visual art, and crafts and dance and music performances featuring Grammy winning international acts like Nicaragua’s prince of Salsa - singer-songwriter and percussionist Luis Enrique, 30 year Venezuelan ska vets Desorden Publico, L.A.-based La Santa Cecilia, a Mexican-American act that blends rock and world music with Latin culture, and a Caique Vidal & Batuque, who mix the music of Bahia with Afro-Brazilian and folkloric dance.
Bad Religion/Against Me!
Saturday 7:30 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $29.50,
Pairing a legendary punk agitator, Bad Religion with a band that’s bound for a legendary future on the Vox Populi tour makes for a fitting election year, HB2 state bill. BR hasn’t played a non-Warped Tour Charlotte gig in a generation and Against Me’s transgender frontwoman’s public transition and openness about her struggle has created a fresh perspective in songwriting. She’s actually telling stories we haven’t heard before.
Carl Broemel
Saturday 8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $15-$18,
You’ll probably never get a chance to see My Morning Jacket in a room as small as this NoDa institution, but you can witness MMJ guitarist Broemel up close when he stops in on tour for his solo album “4th of July.” His pleasant vocals give nod to classic bands, but his psychedelic guitar work gives “4th” a darker, modern spin. In fact, its trippy, fully-realized sound is on par with his day job’s output.
Elephant Revival
Saturday 8:45 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15-$18,
Dan Rodriguez and Bonnie Paine – primary singers for this orchestral folk quintet – bring such different voices to the string-laced compositions of hope and darkness on its latest album “Petals,” yet there’s a unity and cohesiveness present especially when they sing together. His delivery is matter-of-fact, while she is a spiritual daughter of emotive singers Sinaed O’Connor and Sarah McLachlan with her own unique delicacy and rasp.
Ceschi Ramos
Sunday 7 p.m., The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd., $10,
Since its revitalization 12 years ago, the Milestone Club has become a family that extends to touring artists who frequent it and fall in love with the club, staff, and patrons. This rapper/singer-songwriter who defies easy classification is one such artist. One on hand he’s toured with indie hip-hop leaders like Astronautilus and Busdriver, but as a one man band he’s all over the musical map from punk to folk.
Chrome Sparks
Tuesday 8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $12-$15,
Brooklyn based producer, musician and DJ Jeremy Malvin (aka Chrome Sparks) makes electronic music that’s equally thumping and cinematic. With a balance of foreboding and exciting, tacks on his new EP “Parallelism,” which relies on friends’ vocal samples, three synthesizers, and a tambourine, would be as at home on the dancefloor as they would a movie screen.

Friday, September 30, 2016

This week's hot concerts

Darrell Scott
Friday 8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $27-$32,
Whether as an astounding songwriter covered by over 70 artists, including the Dixie Chicks and Travis Tritt, as a sideman for Robert Plant in Band of Joy, or as an equally brilliant instrumentalist, this Kentucky native is nearly unparalleled as an Americana Renaissance man. His latest acclaimed album, “The Couchville Sessions” were recorded 15 years ago - around the same time he released some of his best work.
Friday 10 p.m., Keg & Cue, 2135 S. Tryon St., $5, (704) 333-0074
Few local musicians lead as nomadic a lifestyle as founder Bryan Beilanski, who has toured everywhere from Budapest to Bangkok. His travels took he and drummer Bethany Graham to Chicago to record with legendary producer Steve Albini, who produced albums considered alternative rock gold by Nirvana and the Pixies. The duo celebrates the album’s release tonight before setting off on a 51 date US tour.
Gov’t Mule/Blackberry Smoke
Saturday 6:30 p.m., Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $20-$65,
NC native and Allman Brothers’ band member Warren Haynes and his side project turned headliner, look back at its beginning with the album, “The Tel-Star Sessions” - a collection culled from demos recorded in 1994. The album resonates with improvisation, a focus on grittier basslines, and putting the “power” back in power trio – 22 years later, the band’s now a four-piece. .
Miami Dice
Saturday 9 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $10,
After four months off the stage, Charlotte’s disco funk architects (and snappy dressers) return in anticipation of its limited cassette mixtape, “Venus in Retrograde.” It’ll be available digitally or you can order one of the cassettes at the show. Astrea Corp, DJ Justin Aswell, and Latin-tinged Patabamba fill out the bill.
Jessica Lea Mayfield
Saturday 9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $15,
Before she starts recording her fourth album, the angelic-voiced songwriter whose last release was a tribute to Elliott Smith with pal Seth Avett, is trying out new songs on the road. Having trekked through Charlotte last year solo, she brings the band this time around and her array of effects pedals so she can show off her growing shredder skills.
Tuesday 8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $25-$30/$40 VIP,
The Christian hair metal band who crossed over to secular rock audiences in the `80s with hits like power ballad “Honestly” and “Calling on You” celebrate the 30th anniversary of the album that spawned those hits, “To Hell With the Devil.” Expect all four original members to even sport signature yellow and black. Stylistically they’ve evolved in 30 years. Their latest album “Fallen” is heavier than that of yesteryear.
Wednesday 6 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $29.50-$75,
Having spent the summer sharing the stage with Rob Zombie – both long running `90s stalwarts – Jonathan Davis and company embark on the Nocturnal Underground tour with another generation of hard rock bands, Breaking Benjamin, Motionless in White, and Silver Snakes. Fans may be treated to a preview of its 12th studio album, “The Serenity of Suffering,” due Oct. 21.
Esperanza Spalding presents Emily’s D+Evolution
Wednesday 7:30 p.m., McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St., $29.50-$54.50,
Best known as a jazz bassist, Spalding explores her other side, which she calls Emily, on her latest album and tour. On record it’s a fun, funky ride through all sorts of genres. It’s reminiscent of her one time collaborator Prince in its sense of adventure and recalls the early days of MTV when genres weren’t so clearly separated.
Wednesday 13
Wednesday 8 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $15-$18,
China Grove’s answer to the Prince of Darkness kicks off Halloween month – on a Wednesday no less. The NC native (now based in LA) who started out fronting `90s goth punks Frankenstein Drag Queens in the QC, is not only playing horror camp classics “I Walked with a Zombie” and “Bad Things,” but tracks from his sci-fi conspiracy theorist leaning, “Monsters of the Universe” and even tattooing fans.
Charlie Puth
Thursday 7:30 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $25,
The New Jersey raised songwriter knows how to pick a collaborator. “See You Again,” he and Wiz Khalifa’s tribute to actor Paul Walker for the “Furious 7” soundtrack  became a worldwide hit charting at No. 1 in 101 countries. He’s since released singles featuring Meagan Trainor and Selena Gomez, which only ups his cool quotient with the younger crowd. Joel Adams, and Hailey Knox also play.