Thursday, June 27, 2013

This week's hot concerts

6 p.m. Friday, June 28, Fountain Plaza at NC Music Factory, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $10.
Band leader David Lowery - who is doing double time touring with both Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven this summer - helps close out the Friday Live! concert series with modern rock classics like “Low,” “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)” and “Euro-Trash Girl.”

Charlotte 1960s Rock n’ Roll Reunion
8 p.m. Friday, June 28, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $15.
Charlotte photographer Daniel Coston and the Mannish Boys’ Jacob Berger celebrate the release of their new book chronicling the NC rock scene during the 1960s by reuniting veteran artists the Good, the Bad & the Ugly, the Young Ages, Bobby Donaldson & the Ravens, and the Abbadons. G,B & U and the Abbadons play their first shows since 1994 and 1967, respectively.

Hated: A Tribute to GG Allin
8 p.m. Friday, June 28, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $8.
Some of the local musicians that knew the notorious punk figure, who spent time in Charlotte and recorded with our own Antiseen, pay musical tribute to him on the 20th anniversary of his death. Featuring members of Antiseen, Biggy Stardust, the Chalkies, Self-Made Monsters and others.

Jeremy Davis/Jon Lindsay
9 p.m. Saturday, June 29, Queen City Q, 225 E. 6th St. $ 5.
Two area songwriters (Davis as frontman for Elonzo and solo artist Lindsay) kick off Tangled Up in Q. The new monthly folk-rock series celebrates NC’s rich folk music history and is paired with another Carolina staple - BBQ.

NoDa Summer MusicFest
6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30. Chop Shop, 311 E. 399 E. 35th St. $10 single day/$15 two-day pass
Forty acts offer a diverse sampling of the regional and local music scene during this pre-Independence Day bash which features Jonas Sees in Color and Chasing Pedestrians among Saturday’s acts. Sunday’s lineup includes Wicked Jones (see video), Through the Fallen, Lifecurse, Blu Avenue, Leviathan, and Eternal Mortality.

The Hussy
9 p.m. Monday, Thomas St. Tavern, 1218 Thomas Ave. Free. 704-376-1622.
Descriptions like “face-melting and trash” may not indicate the actual melody that seeps through the cloudy layer of distorted that surrounds this Wisconsin duo’s trippy psychedelic punk, which Patti Smith guitarist and writer Lenny Kaye recently dubbed one of the top 10 garage rock bands to watch.

Jason Isbell
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $16.
The former Drive-By Trucker continues to prove his mettle as a stellar songwriter on his latest album, “Southeastern.” He’s joined by a dreamy duo with a playfully confounding name - Widowspeak - who sound like a folky American version of Mazzy Star.

8 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $13-$15.
A late entry following the `90s new rock trend, this California hard rock outfit expands its sound on 2012’s “Reborn” with synth and samples. The evolution isn’t a complete reinvention. The metallic emotionally charged feel and hooks remain intact.

Coca-Cola July 4th Festival
3:30 p.m. Wednesday, 2 p.m. Thursday, July 3 and 4, US National Whitewater Center, Free/VIP Tickets $45-$75.
The Apache Relay and Keller Williams headline this 2-day celebration. Cory Chisel and Mountain Heart join Apache Relay Wednesday. Thursday Swear and Shake and Big Daddy Love open for Williams, who’ll be accompanied by his funk ensemble More Than a Little. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Fleetwood Mac at TWC Arena

Fleetwood Mac celebrated founder and drummer Mick Fleetwood’s 65th birthday Monday with several thousand fans at Time Warner Cable Arena. With no opening act, the core group - now all well into their sixties - opened the two and a half hour set with a bouncy “Second Hand News” and the harmony-driven “The Chain.”  

Although 2012 marked the 35th anniversary of its seminal “Rumours” album, the group seemed at its most reinvigorated playing new material like “Sad Angel” or celebrating its 1979 album “Tusk.” After noting how unconventional and confounding to record execs the 20-track double album was for its time, guitarist Lindsay Buckingham led the charge through “Not That Funny,” “Tusk,” “Sisters of the Moon,” and “Sara.”

The sprawling “Tusk” was met with a standing ovation. Even a member of the arena staff whose parents probably weren’t even in middle school when the album was released applauded and beamed as the lights went up and the crowd roared.

Stevie Nicks’ alto, which has long lacked the range she was capable of in her twenties and thirties, fared best on songs that favored her lower register. Songs like “Sara,” “Gypsy” and “Gold Dust Woman,” for instance, were more forgiving than her opening solo on “Dreams.” 

The petite singer defies nature by looking better at 65 than she did on her 2001 tour. As expected she donned shawls to depict characters like “Rhiannon.” She soared during “Stand Back” - the only hit representing any of the band members’ solo work. The `80s synthesizers brought the crowd to its feet.

The group seemed more relaxed and on its game than during its "Say You Will" Tour at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in 2004. That may have been due to the venue (it also played TWC Arena in 2009) and the scaled down production which featured a handful of projection screens, but the vibe was intimate for an arena show with the band members playing on the same level instead of having Fleetwood towering behind the rest of the group.

Buckingham was at the top of his game as well. Fleetwood called him the group’s mentor and inspiration while introducing the players during the encore. He’s right. Besides whipping out impressive classical and steel string guitar work on songs like his acoustic version of "Big Love" and scale climbing solos like "I'm So Afraid," Buckingham also oozed energy and charisma even when playing songs he's played hundreds of times. On "I'm So Afraid" - a heavier track written for Fleetwood Mac's 1975 self-titled album that's reminiscent of the bluesy work of the band under former guitarist Peter Green -  Buckingham's fingers wiggled all the way up the neck to the body and still managed to sound melodic instead of screechy.

While hits like "Never Going Back Again" and "Go Your Own Way" had the crowd singing along and on its feet, more intimate moments like Buckingham and Nicks' acoustic rendition of "Landslide" and an unearthed song, "Without You," that Nicks wrote when the couple was together in the early `70s before joining Fleetwood Mac. She told of how the song was lost for 35 years before she rediscovered it on YouTube. 

The group seemed happy to keep playing even after 2 hours and 19 songs. It returned twice with hits like "Don't Stop" and "Silver Spring" and the birthday boy's obligatory drum solo but there was the sense that its members could've outlasted fans long into the night. 

Tribute marks 20th anniversary of Allin's death

Twenty years ago this week Antiseen’s Jeff Clayton was in the studio when he received a call that his friend, notorious punk musician G.G. Allin, had died of an overdose. Clayton and members of Biggy Stardust, Self-Made Monsters, Dirty South Revolutionaries, the Chalkies, and Rapegoat pay tribute to Allin Friday at Tremont Music Hall with Hated: The Music of G.G. Allin.

In 1994 when I moved to Charlotte people in music circles were still talking about the time Allin spent here. I imagine the stories have trickled down to new generations of punk fans now.

“He would spend a week here after every one of his tours starting after the first time he got out of prison,” says Clayton whose band Antiseen backed Allin on the “Murder Junkies” album. “He was here a week before he died.”

Antiseen’s association with Allin began in the mid `80s when both acts were featured on a compilation double cassette release.

“We didn’t really think much about it until we saw an interview with him in ‘Maximum Rock n’ Roll.’ It didn’t have any crazy pictures, but hearing them talk about his shows. He was hitting on the same thing we did with that confrontational thing and maybe taking it further,” says Clayton of Allin’s controversial live shows which usually escalated in a near naked Allin defecating, smearing himself with feces, and belligerently inciting the crowd to riot or fight him - not a show for everyone. “He would always have magazines print his phone number in interviews. (Antiseen guitarist) Joe (Young) and I were talking - ‘We need to get him down here. We need to see this show.’”

Young called Allin and dared him to play Charlotte. They booked the building beside the Milestone Club which was then called The Church of Musical Awareness. Athens’ the Primates volunteered to back him.

“In the first 30 minutes everything we’d ever heard about happened,” recalls Clayton. “It was a blitzkrieg. Before you knew it, it was over. We had to make a hasty exit.”

Clayton pulled his car around and Young quickly escorted Allin - covered only in a trench coat and his own filth - outside.

“We took off and I’m just kind of staring at him and we both just started laughing,” says Clayton “From that night on we were in close contact.”

The two exchanged letters while Allin was incarcerated for assault. Some of those letters are part of a new limited edition book, “My Prison Walls” (pictured above), which is set for release in August. The book includes “30 Days in the Hole” - Allin’s handwritten journal chronicling his first days in prison - as well as illustrations, art and prose by Allin and correspondence with his family and convicted serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

“They were looking for the envelopes he’d customize and mail from prison,” says Clayton of the publisher. “I sent a couple letters. I had a file in my file cabinet of them - this is when he was alive. I wasn’t even thinking he wasn’t going to be with us much longer.”

Despite Allin’s on stage persona, Clayton characterizes him as just another friend.

“When he was just hanging out with us he was just like any of our other friends. People got this misconception of him being this introverted, miserable person. He seemed to love life. He was always laughing, always wanting to hear jokes, tell jokes, play jokes on people. When it was time for him to go from Kevin (his real name) to G.G. he could flip that switch in a second. I’ve seen the switch get popped first hand. When he was in G.G. mode he was a different person,” he says.

Clayton disagrees with Allin being portrayed as a junkie.

“It wasn’t all drug and alcohol-fueled. People have the impression he was a junkie and he was not. He wasn’t even a full-time drug user. If you showed up with a handful of stuff he’d say, ‘Hey, sure,’” he adds.

The dichotomy of the real person versus the stage persona is one Clayton understands. The first time I saw Clayton he was dripping with blood on stage at The Ritz on Independence opening for the Ramones. I freaked out when I realized shopping at Repo Records where Clayton worked a few weeks later that the thick scar on his forehead meant that blood was real. Yet nearly 20 years later I know Clayton’s not a bleeding maniac all the time. It’s all part of the show.

“I understood it completely,” says Clayton who mimics professional wrestlers on stage by cutting himself and sometimes jumping through tack-covered, burning tables with his face covered in blood.

“We don’t incite the kind of interaction G.G. incited with his audience, but I could easily go into that if I was willing to. I have a little more at stake than G.G. did,” says Clayton who works a regular job and has three children in addition to still touring with his 30-year-old band. “G.G. literally carried everything he owned in a tiny suitcase and was ready to leave town in a moment’s notice. It’s not like he had to make arrangements. He’d just find a car going North, South, East or West.”

Although Allin threatened to commit suicide on stage - another reason his performances attracted gawkers no doubt - he died of an overdose after his most volatile performance.

“He wasn’t as much into self-abuse at that time as much as he was assaulting the audience. That show at the Gas Station (in Manhattan) was probably the most brutal show that happened. It spilled out into the street and people were having a riot out in front of that place. G.G. just walked away,” says Clayton. “G.G. just jumped in a cab wearing nothing but his jock strap and vest.”

Friday, June 21, 2013

Gay pride festival hits Salisbury Saturday

Gay rights isn’t just a city issue and Salisbury is stepping out to illustrate that this weekend with the Salisbury Pride Festival. With a population of around 33,000 the event is, according to organizers, the largest Pride Festival per capita in the world. 

The festival features a variety of drag and musical performers including Cierra Nichole, Justin Dionne, Ashley Joe Farmer Band, Caleb de Casper and the Foxy Jail Vixens, Lita Alexander Storm, Cinnamen, Laura Vella, Dakota Rain, the Charlotte Pride Band and others. It’s not just about entertainment though. Several speakers including V 101.9 FM’s Chirl Girl - a Salisbury native - will talk about equal rights, education, outreach, love and creating safe, accepting communities for all kinds of people.

I grew up in a relatively small town - big for West Virginia, maybe, but small compared to the rest of the world.  We had a kid at school that cross-dressed from seventh grade on. His willingness to put himself out there forced the rest of the student body to deal with transgender issues and acceptance early on. By the time I was in high school the issue had grown less controversial.

Caleb de Casper grew up in a small town in Georgia and had a similar experience. 

“Growing up in the South, being gay was seen as something that you needed to keep secret. If you were gay, you were automatically a bad person and influence,” he said via email. “I remember I had a boy who cross-dressed in my high school and to this day he is still one of my heroes. People treated him like a freak, but he didn't care. He was himself and thought everyone else could deal with it. While I am walking (through downtown Saturday), I will be thinking of him.”

De Casper welcomes others to join him Saturday as he walks through downtown Salisbury as a show of support for equal rights and the LGBT community following his afternoon set. 

He says he’ll also be thinking of the high school boyfriend who struggled with his sexuality.

“I suffered an immeasurable amount of pain during my adolescence trying to get him to realize he was who he was and that was something special. I don't want any young person to ever have to go through that. I will be thinking about that while I walk,” he says. “I will be thinking about all of the children who kill themselves because they are different - not just the gay ones. I will be thinking about all of the couples who were not allowed to be together while one of them died in a hospital. And I will be thinking about what else I can do to bring acceptance of all people to the entire world.”

As a teenager de Casper found comfort in making music. On his new EP he comes across as the lovechild of Amanda Palmer and “Glee.” He describes his music as goth dance-pop and there’s definitely a campy horror element to it, which I dig. Glam, horror, goth is an equation that equals “Fangorious” - the name of the EP. It’s an interesting combination. There's a little Elton John piano-pop spliced with the occasional rock guitar, dance beats, and a dark theatrical twist in the rock opera-vein of “Hedwig.” Based on the YouTube clips I’ve watched, there’s definitely a musical theater element to the show.

Pride kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday. An after-party will be held at Cooper’s in downtown Salisbury, where the event takes place. For more information and a full schedule of acts click here.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This week's hot concerts

7:30 p.m. Friday, June 21, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 707 Pavilion Blvd. $17.$117.30.
The Wilson sisters’ affection for Led Zeppelin is well known, but on the Heartbreaker Tour they team with opening act Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. The son of deceased Zep drummer John Bonham will join Heart for a Zeppelin honoring finale as well.

Ricky Skaggs
5 and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, Don Gibson Theatre, 318 S. Washington St., Shelby. $37-$42.
The Grammy winning country singer whose devoted the later part of his career to the traditional bluegrass and gospel that marked the early part of his career, returns to NC before the release of his autobiography in August.

Shooter Jennings: 
8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $15-$18.
The recently married second generation country outlaw proves again there’s more than “son-of” (as in Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter) to his version of country and rock with the new film and album, “The Other Life.”

The Broadway Dolls: 
8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St. $19.50-$39.50.
These musical mavens put a new spin on Broadway - reinterpreting some of the tunes they sang on Broadway stages, mashing others with contemporary pop music, or giving pop smashes like Britney Spears’ “Toxic” a new glow as they hit on 50 stage favorites.

Robin and Linda Williams: 
8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, Joy Performance Center, 202 S. Railroad Ave. Kings Mountain. $20.
The Charlotte native and his wife are a folk-singing staple. With its traditional blend of folk, bluegrass, and gospel, the couple have been regulars on “Prairie Home Companion” since its inception. They return following 2012’s “These Dark Hills.”

Fleetwood Mac: 
7 p.m. Monday, June 24, Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St. $62.45-$159.30.
The veteran rock group celebrates the 35th anniversary of its seminal “Rumours” album with its first tour since 2009 (still sans retired Christine McVie). Recent set lists promise the celebrated album will be heavily represented. Although don’t expect McVie-heavy `80s hits like “Hold On” or “Little Lies.”

Lord Huron/Escondido: 
8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $10-$12.
L.A.’s Lord Huron trades spots at high profile festivals and opening for Dave Matthews Band for an intimate headlining gig that showcases its pastoral psychedelic folk (think Blitzen Trapper or Band of Horses meet epic indie-rock). Nashville duo Escondido sound like Buddy and Julie Miller if they robbed a bank and headed for the desert.

Josh Ritter
7:30 p.m.  Wednesday, June 26, Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon $24.50-$31.50. 704-372-1000.
On his latest album, “The Beast In Its Tracks,” Ritter gives his most personal reading recounting his bitter divorce, but the album isn’t a complete downer. Our hero finds new love and has since welcomed a baby girl. That joy shows through too. With Milk Carton Kids.

Gladys Knight/The O’Jays: 
7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27, Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon. $39.50-$99.50.
These fellow Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame members kick off the PNC Bank Celebrity Series. Either could fill a concert revisiting numerous R&B, pop, and soul hits. Together this “Family Reunion” - as its billed - promises a night packed with classics.

SouthEnd Soul brings live music to my old block

SouthEnd Soul - a neighborhood block party that was originally scheduled for April - will take place Saturday, June 22, at the corner of Camden Rd. and Park Ave. That’s the lot across from Phat Burrito where the food trucks set up on Fridays. Food trucks will be out in full force and the event features live music from Elonzo, Ida Divine, the Hot Gates, the Business People, and Tanner Wayne. DJ Brad Pressley will DJ between sets. Camden Road will be closed and feature art, craft beer, and ping pong.

I managed a coffee shop and art gallery (the building you see in the picture that’s now Hot Sake) back when the original Art and Soul of SouthEnd arts festivals began. Those were crazy days for our normally quiet shop when I’d utter the phrase “we don’t make frouffy coffee drinks, but I can steam some milk” and my spiel on the advantages of organic, shade grown, fair trade coffee a million times (before it was trendy). 

I spent six days a week there for four years. I formed some of the best friendships of my life there and working there allowed my deceased father’s anxiety-ridden hound to spend the last years of her life in the company of a wonderful, welcoming group of people - not stuck at home in the crate that she’d spend all day escaping from while I was at work. I have fond memories of the space like when my boss lent us the shop for our wedding reception where we danced until the wee hours (or I did mostly) after all our guests were gone.

Back then the block wasn’t active enough to really sustain our shop for too long, but it has since blossomed - hence the reemergence of events like SouthEnd Soul. Many of the businesses that sprouted up around us remain (as do Phat Burrito and the Art League, which where there before us). The ones that came after brought new life to the neighborhood. 

I still get my hair cut and my framing done next door to our shop where close friends have their art studio on the second floor. I'll be there this weekend seeing old friends introducing my children to the 'hood and thinking about the ghost of my dog (yes, that’s an Edie Brickel reference) prowling the patio at Common Market while watching the Hot Gates' opening set.

The schedule looks like this: The Hot Gates at 5 p.m., the Business People at 6:15, Elonzo at 7:15, Tanner Wayne at 8:30 and Ida Divine clsoing things out at 9:15. The block party runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and it’s free. Find out more here. (Photo courtesy of Historic SouthEnd).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Prince Rama presents weirdest show of the week

If you like your live music packaged with unique and unusual performance art and a fully realized crazy concept then Prince Rama's show at The Haunted Mill in Belmont Tuesday shouldn't be missed. The tour is in support of its 2012 twelve album "Top Ten Hits of the End of the World" and they're not kidding. 

The record was conceived as a compilation featuring songs by ten different bands that perished during the apocalypse. The soundtrack to that futuristic apocalypse features Prince Rama performing as groups described as cosmic disco, motorcycle rock, tribal goth, and ghost-modern glam (they all died, you see). If you're already saying, "Wha?" get a load of the some of the photos of the fictional bands its  come up with. At the top is Black Elk Speaks followed below by the Metaphysixxx, Guns of Dubai, and I.M.M.O.R.T.A.L.L.I.F.E. 

Last weekend the group premiered "Never Forever" - a film described as Now Age psych-opera - at the Moma PS1 Dome 2 at Rockaway Beach. The film, directed by Lily X. Wahrman stars Prince Rama and includes songs from "Top Ten Hits..." If the above trailer and photos don't pique your curiosity, well I'm not sure what could.

Prince Rama plays the all ages Puttluck XXI (potluck, putt-puttt and a show) at The Haunted Mill (6325 W. Wilkinson Blvd.) Tuesday, June 18 with Crop Graves and Yr Fuzzy Friends. Admission is $7. Click here for more information. 

This week's hot concerts

Yacht Rock Revue
6 p.m. Friday, June 14, NC Music Factory’s Fountain Plaza, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $10.
The Atlanta cover band focuses on the decadent late `70s, early `80s era of Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, and early Hall & Oates with a wink and a tip of its captain’s hat - fun whether you’re a fan of the time period or not.

Elizabeth LaPrelle
7 p.m. Friday, June 14, Great Aunt Stella Center, 926 Elizabeth Ave. Free (donations encouraged).
This 26-year-old Virginia musician and storyteller sings Appalachian ballads in the traditional unaccompanied style with a voice that can go from low aching moan to a ringing bell. She helps Charlotte Folk Society close out its 30th anniversary season.

The XX/Grizzly Bear
7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15, Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $35-$60.
The UK group combines the cool, hypnotic chill of slowed down electronic dance music and the sultriness and heart of R&B. Its quirky Brooklyn-based tour mates similarly straddle harmony-driven, electronic indie-pop and rootsier psychedelic folk-rock.

7:30 p.m. Monday, June 17, Stage Door Theater, 5th and College St. $10.
The dual vocals of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig anchor this Brooklyn combo’s sweet pop songs, which run from bubblegum ear candy to playful and intelligent, harmony-driven rock that’s already been heard on Fox’s “New Girl” before its full-length debut is released in the fall. 

David Byrne & St. Vincent
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. $29.50-$84.50. 704-372-1000.
The Talking Heads frontman turned heads with this collaboration with songwriter Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent). The pair replaced traditional rock instruments with a big brass band, which joins it on stage and on the album “Love This Giant.”

Two Gallants
8 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $14-$17.
The seemingly troubled San Francisco indie-folk rock duo recharged after a van accident and solo albums with an apparently new lease on rock. Its 2012 record “The Bloom and the Blight” is a gnarly, moving psychedelic garage rock opus.

Billy Joe Shaver
9 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $18-$20.
The prolific Texas songwriter’s autobiographical tunes became country standards from Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. His life reads like a country song - from his wife’s death  to his guitarist son’s fatal overdose to going to trial for shooting a man. That’s just in the last 14 years.

8 p.m. Thursday, June 20, The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $10-$12. 
Though its Morrissey-on-depressants vocals hide under a crumbling wall of distortion, reverb, and noise, there’s a thread of pop charm and melody that recalls late `70s/early `80s art rock. In another era it would’ve been a fixture at CBGB’s.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Girl Talk headlines AWOL Festival

DJ and mash-up artist extraordinaire, Girl Talk, will headline the third annual AWOL Festival at Symphony Park. This year the festival, which previously took place in April, will be held July 13.

AWOL has featured headliners Matt and Kim, Mike Posner, and Robert Randolph in previous years while introducing up and coming national artists as well as local acts to Charlotte audiences. That continues this year with an eclectic bill that includes several up and comers in addition to Girl Talk - the Pittsburgh-based former bio-medical research engineer who rose to fame dicing and splicing other artists' tunes for the club.

This year's lineup includes reggae-infused and hip-hop influenced pop singer-songwriter Cris Cab, Manhattan-based rapper Skizzy Mars, and buzzing Atlanta trio, Watch the Duck, who bridge classic soul and electronic music to create a genre dubbed Soulstep. Charlotte acoustic rockers Simplified, EDM/hip-hop duo Styles and Complete, singer-songwriter Brandon Kirkley and his band the Firecrackers, and country group Early Ray represent Charlotte. Tony Arzadon and DJ XJ4000 will keep the party going with DJ sets.

The all-day festival, which kicks off at noon, is a BYOB event. Tickets are available at as well as locally at Dandelion Market, Connolly's, and Prohibition.
VIP passes, which include stage side seating, access to a private bar and unlimited drinks, are also available.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Avetts make tabloids

If there was still any question about the Avett Brothers level of fame outside of Charlotte following the Concord trio's Grammy nomination and appearance and a national Gap commercial, the hometown heroes have reached another level - tabloid fodder.

Earlier today Seth Avett announced on the band's website that he and his wife of five years are divorcing. He revealed that the couple has been separated for some time. followed his announcement with an exclusive report that the younger Avett brother is dating "Dexter" actress Jennifer Carpenter. The story quotes unnamed sources about the "secret affair" and includes Carpenter's old tweets about her "favorite band" leading up to the release of the Avetts' album "The Carpenter" last September.

Locally the rumor has been circulating for some time. I googled it months ago and found nothing. The "news" signals a new kind of fame. In his post on the band's site Avett asks for privacy, prayers, and understanding during this "difficult and painful time." Read his message here.

SC's Roberts helps relaunch Sun Records

Country singer and Lancaster, SC-native Julie Roberts announced last week at a CMA Fest fan event that she'll partner with legendary Sun Records on her upcoming album "Good Wine and Bad Decisions," which is scheduled for release October 29.

The new album marks Sun's first new release in decades. At its height the Memphis label was home to legendary artists Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Earlier this week Roberts launched a PledgeMusic campaign to pre-sell the album. Fans can "donate" funds to the cause, but in return they get everything from an immediate download of her new single "Gasoline and Matches" to a full band concert for the top supporter amount of $10,000. Click here to pledge.

"It's always been a vision of mine to work with new music at Sun," Sun Records Vice President Collin Brace said in a press release. "I knew it had to be the right artist...We found something special in Julie Roberts. Her enthusiasm and music bring new life to an icon like Sun. With Julie we are continuing to write the rich story of Sun Records with authenticity and a fresh spirit."

The collaboration not only signals Sun's return to the label game, but continues Roberts ascent back into the country music mainstream.

Roberts struggled to reignite her career following the initial success of her 2004 Top 20 single "Break Down Here," a gold debut album, and a respectable 2006 follow-up. She took time off to focus on acting for a film that never materialized. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and lost her home to the Nashville floods in 2010, but made a confident return as an independent artist with the 2011 album "Alive."

She teamed with NASCAR for the lively single and video "NASCAR Party." Earlier this year she auditioned for "The Voice," but wasn't chosen to compete.

Friday, June 7, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Modern English
6 p.m. Friday, June 7, The Saloon, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $10.
The Friday Live! concert series turns back the clock a bit farther with the UK band whose “Melt With You” helped define the `80s. Most of the original lineup reformed in 2009 and has a new album promised for 2013.

Will Dailey/Tom McBride
8 p.m. Saturday, June 8, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$15.
If you’re a sucker for contemporary songwriters like Josh Ritter, Greg Laswell and Ryan Bingham then this pair deserves a listen. An award winner in his native Boston, Dailey is featured in the all-star soundtrack for the John Mellencamp/Stephen King musical “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.” McBride channels Orbison, Springsteen and Buckley on his latest record.

Langhorne Slim/Matrimony
8 p.m. Saturday, June 8, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $13.
Conan O’Brien’s favorite band teams with Charlotte’s next hope for national acclaim. The rootsy, pop-rocking locals celebrate the release of its Columbia Records debut - the “Montibello Drive” EP - with a full-length planned for fall.

Earth Wind & Fire
7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9, Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $35-$105.
Still led by `70s era founder/members Verdine White, Philip Bailey, and Ralph Johnson (keeping with the family vibe with Bailey’s son on backing vocals), EW&F keep jazz-inflected funk alive with a tireless 12-piece band that cranks out the hits.
PJ Morton
8 p.m. Sunday, June 9, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $23. The Maroon 5 sideman and solo songwriter and producer recently released his third solo album - this one his major label debut for Lil Wayne’s label. It’s a classic take on modern soul, R&B and pop with a nod to Prince and Stevie Wonder - the latter makes a guest spot along with Adam Levine and Busta Rhymes. 

8 p.m. Monday, June 10, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $12-$16.
The noisy Copenhagen outfit bashes about with dark late `70s/early `80s ferocity as if someone pressed fast forward on a drug-fueled brawl between Jesus & Mary Chain and Joy Division, yet the songs are still anchored in melody. With fellow punk Danes Lower.

Charli XCX
8 p.m. Monday, June 10, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $15.
The 20-year-old UK dance-pop songwriter’s notoriety is growing stateside thanks to her collaborations with Icona Pop (she wrote and appears on the smash “I Love It”) and Marina and the Diamonds. This may be a case of: “I saw her in a little club when…”

Valient Thorr
8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $13-$15.
The NC metallic hard rock band continues to outdo itself on its June release “Our Own Masters.” With a frontman that rivals the most charismatic in metal, twin guitars that echo Maiden, and songs that nod to Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, and their `70s and `80s brethren, it’s a wonder they aren’t the biggest band in hard rock.

8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St. $27.50-$37.50.
The Grammy nominated R&B singer (who happens to be married to former NBA star Grant Hill) returned after a long hiatus in 2012 with another award nominated collection, “Beautiful Surprise.” Her “Beautiful Tour” is here as part of Black Music Month.

Purity Ring
8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $20-$23.
The Canadian duo’s dreamy and atmospheric indie electro-pop - the result of Corin Roddick’s experimental ear-tricking production and vocalist Megan James’ sweet, Brit-pop style vocals -is a favorite of indie taste makers like Pitchfork and Sirius/XMU. It hops over to Charlotte before making its Bonnaroo debut.

Beach House
8 p.m. Thursday, June 13, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $25-$28.
The Baltimore duo, which makes its Charlotte debut, became one of the hottest acts in indie-rock with 2012’s “Bloom” and its ethereal marriage of swirling, restrained guitar work, hypnotic synthesizers, and Kate Bush-like vocals. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Bonnaroo effect is upon us

If you’ve looked at the local concert calendar for the next two weeks and wondered how Charlotte managed to score so many indie rock, electronic, and buzz bands in such a short time span when for so long we've been bypassed in favor of college hubs like Chapel Hill or even Asheville - I give you the Bonnaroo effect.

It kicks off with Charlotte’s own Matrimony, who plays Saturday at The Fillmore in celebration of their new EP “Montibello Drive” before making its Bonnaroo debut next week. Its Charlotte date doesn’t really have anything to do with their appearance at the 4-day festival taking place June 13-16 in Manchester, Tennessee. 

But you can bet our proximity to rural Tennessee has something to do with the rest of these acts, many of who are making their Charlotte debut.

British hip-hop flavored dance-pop songwriter Charli XCX (pictured above), who helped ring in one of the biggest pop singles of 2013 - Icona Pop’s “I Love It” - headlines Visulite Monday, June 11.

Canadian duo Purity Ring (pictured above), whose odd name pops up on my SiriusXMU station frequently, brings its sweetly sung, dreamy electronic pop to Amos’ Southend Wednesday, June 12.

The likeminded Beach House - also a male/female duo that makes ethereal music which is more guitar and synthesizer based - visits Neighborhood Theatre the very next night, Thursday, June 13.

That same night dance-rock outfit Passion Pit returns to the Fillmore and brings Cults with it. The show appears to be Passion Pit’s final club show for a while.

Dreamy, slow, ethereal music seems to be the overall theme with yet another act Britain's the XX hitting Uptown Amphitheatre Saturday, June 15. Another Bonnaroo scheduled act, Grizzly Bear, joins the UK act.

Just as actually attending Bonnaroo is an opportunity to check out lesser known acts, this run of shows offers Charlotteans a chance to check out new sounds without leaving town (and you can stream Bonnaroo - so there). Brooklyn alt-pop act Lucius (pictured above)
is one of those lesser known up and comers. It plays Stage Door Theatre at Blumenthal Arts Center Monday, June 17.

David Byrne may not fall under that same unknown category, but his duo with St. Vincent is certainly something Charlotte’s not seen before. The Talking Heads frontman and his oft buzzed about NYC-based collaborator play Belk Theater Tuesday, June 18 following its set at Bonnaroo.

San Francisco duo Two Gallants (pictured above) brings an end to the short-lived phenomenon Wednesday, June 19 at Visulite. “The Bloom and The Blight” - its first album in five years - is a rootsy, psychedelic, gritty guitar rock ride. 

I’d actually recommend any and all of these shows. I had to import a babysitter (my mom) for a week and a half to accommodate such a busy week. Come December when we’re whining there’s nothing to do, you might regret not making a week of it too. 

Modern English show moving indoors Friday

The NC Music Factory's Friday Live! concert series is seeking shelter. The Modern English concert scheduled for the factory's Fountain Plaza Friday, June 7, will be moved inside The Saloon due to the  tropical storm that's expected to effect the area tomorrow.

Anyone interested in attending the show should get tickets early as The Saloon's capacity is 400 people. Modern English is the `80s new wave band behind the classic alternative track "Melt With You." Most of its original members reunited in 2009 and are working on the band's second post-reunion album for release later this year.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door, but given the new venue there may not be any at the door. Tickets are available here.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Summerland signals good time for `90s nostalgia

Music from the 1990s is ever present as I guess every generation’s music is 15 years or more after it happened. WEND 106.5 The End never let go of the decade in the first place, but with package tours like the Summerland Tour hitting Uptown Amphitheatre, the decade of grunge, nu-metal, rap rock, and Britney Spears is back. I wouldn’t say it’s bigger than ever, but instead of eyeing it suspiciously in our rearview mirrors music fans are meeting it with warm nostalgia.

Everclear’s Summerland Tour, which hits town Sunday, and Barenaked Ladies’ more pop-oriented Last Summer on Earth Tour both return to Uptown Amphitheatre this summer. Everclear (pictured above) recruited Live, Filter, and Sponge to round out tomorrow’s lineup. Barenaked Ladies’ bill, which hits Charlotte July 25, includes Ben Fold Fives and Guster.

NC Music Factory’s Friday Live! series has long stirred `90s nostalgia with bands like Soul Asylum, Tonic, Fuel,
and Spin Doctors filling complex’s after work concert series’ calendar. Cowboy Mouth and Cracker close out the series June 21 and 28, respectively.

I’ve been experiencing my own `90s nostalgia, but it has little to do with new rock radio and more to do with bands I discovered while working at The Record Exchange in the mid to late `90s. Some of those acts have recently released new albums following 2012 entries from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Dinosaur Jr., Soundgarden, Soul Asylum, No Doubt, and Hot Water Music.

Violinist/singer-songwriter Lisa Germano (pictured above), who started out as John Mellencamp’s fiddler, was a constant in my college years. She captured beauty, humor, and depression with intimate, confessional, but quirky piano and string-laden tunes. I lost track of her after 2003’s “Lullaby for Liquid Pig,” but I’ve been getting reacquainted with her through her 2013 release “No Elephants.” It’s as strange as when I left her. It’s not quite as accessible as the albums she recorded for the 4AD label in the `90s  (there were some downright pop moments on “Happiness,” “Excerpts from a Love Circus,” and “Slide”), but her dreamy vocals and almost stream-of-consciousness style of writing are still there. Lullaby is an apt description, but hers are sonic experiments of ethereal dysfunction. They’re never too dark though and there’s a lot of hope on this one.

England’s 4AD label also released The Breeders’ “Last Splash” for its 20th anniversary, which is celebrated in a recent “LSXX” box set - another slice of `90s nostalgia.

 When I wasn’t listening to pretty 4AD records in the `90s I was listening to what I think of as snooty indie-rock with my co-workers and fast-paced punk rock (which those same co-workers poo-pooed). Clutch was one that I originally considered a “boyfriend band.” I got rid of the boyfriend, but kept the band. Clutch never took a break, but its new album “Earth Rocker” is my favorite thing the bluesy/metallic hard rock group has made since the `90s. It’s mostly fast, heavy, driving, and groove-oriented - a very consistent album.

Boyfriends introduced me to countless punk bands that grew to be favorites (Rancid, Naked Aggression, NOFX, Avail…), but one I found on my own was Face To Face who plays Amos’ Wednesday. I bought all the group’s albums until its 2004 breakup. My husband surprised me with tickets to see them in Asheville after the birth of our second son two years ago. I was wishy washy about making the drive with a girlfriend of mine. Were our pop-punk show days behind us? We went anyway and that show was a fabulous reminder of everything I loved about Face To Face and breakneck poppy punk shows to start with. What’s interesting about its new album “Three Chords and a Half Truth” is that it mines new territory 20-plus years into its existence. You can hear more Clash and Social Distortion in its sound than before. It’s not simply rehashing tried and true tricks.

Those releases just touch the surface. I feel like it’s a good time for music from bands new and old. If its bands that had a presence in the `90s that you’re looking for, several of those are reappearing. Stephen Merritt’s Future Bible Heroes have a new one. Hardcore band BoySetsFire releases its first album since 2006 next week. The Goo Goo Dolls, Jimmy Eat World, SIgur Ros, Donna the Buffalo, and System of a Down’s Serj Tankian (doing a symphonic record) have new records out in June. If you loved a band in the `90s, Google them - they’re probably releasing something soon.  

(Photo by James Dean from