Wow. Take all your expectations of Gillian Welch’s mournful voice and David Rawlings’s flawless guitar riffs from your favorite albums, whether it be the most recent The Harrow and the Harvest or the now 14 year-old Revival, and sum them all into one balmy evening. If you add a bit more guitar and bit more emotion, as well as interjections from Gillian and David, you just might have what we had the pleasure of experiencing August 3 at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Fans from all walks of life were pleased– old fans who had been with Gil since the beginning, or new hip 20-somethings who heard them on NPR. There were children with mothers, falling asleep to the lullaby sounds of slower numbers, and curly-topped youngsters bouncing to the banjo lines, and of course, the Rawlings tune “Sweet Tooth“. The brief rain couldn’t put a damper on anyone, not even Gillian and David. They were pleased with the temperature drop and claimed it wasn’t raining, just “really humid”. The rain brought more people to the front, some to dance, others to take cover in the overhang, and more still just to get closer to their folk idols. As a huge Gillian Welch fan, this was probably one of the best shows I’ve been to so far this year. Local artists came out, surely paying homage to one of their influences– I think I saw some members from Kickin’ Grass Band, Mandolin Orange, and Midtown Dickens.
Gillian and David get the award for mixing the new and the old impeccably. The crowd was especially pleased with “Red Clay Halo”, “Caleb Meyer”, and of course, “Orphan Girl” was requested at least a dozen times (though, notably, not performed). As an Ohio native, one of my favorites was “Look at Miss Ohio,” closely followed by one of the encores “Six White Horses”. Their minimalist sound and traditional instrumentation was perfect for this North Carolinian show, providing a sense of belonging when playing “Tear my Stillhouse Down”.
I will admit that I probably cried at least twice during the show, enjoying Welch’s melancholy melodies and bittersweet harmonies of Rawlings. I wanted to quit looking like such a wuss so I started focusing on the precision of David’s guitar. Then I got caught in a predicament– whether to focus on the guitar or the vocals. I was soon comforted by a fellow DJ’s insight; Gillian’s voice and David’s guitar complete each other. Awww.
This was the third of four shows I plan on attending at the North Carolina Museum of Art this summer; the line up has been so amazing. Check out blogs about Bela Fleck, Lucinda Williams, and soon to come, The Carolina Chocolate Drops. As always, if you’re looking for the best in Americana, tune in to Americana, Blues, and Company every Saturday from 10-noon.
Troubel is a budding local folk/bluegrass band comprised of former members of Carolina Roadkill. Two members, Adam and Anna (soon to both be Walton), came in to Americana, Blues, and Company on July 23 for a short interview and to play a few songs for us. Below you can find our discussions about local music, influences, and how we all got into bluegrass as well as performances of ”Darlin”, off their first album The Mountains. The Broken., and an unreleased song, “Lost at Sea”. Troubel is on tour throughout the first few weeks of August — come check them out! They are definitely a band to keep on your radar.
Check out the interview:
It was a hot Wednesday evening at the outdoor amphitheater at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Muggy, humid, and as Lucinda Williams described, “sultry”. I thought to myself, of course we’re enjoying the sultry weather, as I usually describe her voice as such. For those unfamiliar with Lu’s sound, I like to say that if Janis Joplin and Dolly Parton had a baby, it would be Lucinda Williams.
It was a late start for the show. Someone spoke of Lucinda’s potential stage fright, but I think it was more that she was waiting for the hot sun to go completely down before starting to rock. Blake Mills, an unannounced opener, played mellow guitar before Lu came out. Blake Mills is the former guitarist for indie rock band Band of Horses, and has been playing backup guitar for various artists. We were to discover one of the artists he has been playing guitar with was none other than Lucinda herself. Some members of the audience were pleased with his work, while some other die-hard Lu fans thought he wasn’t doing the songs justice. What do you think?
Speaking of die-hard Lu fans, there definitely is a type. They are strong, middle aged women with husbands (or partners) who usually wear button-up Hawaiian shirts to concerts. They enjoy picnics from Whole Foods and probably drive Subaru Outbacks. I love these fans. They get up and dance during their favorite songs, shamelessly and happily. Lucinda provided their favorite songs – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Greenville, Blue, and many others. What’s your favorite Lucinda tune?
Her lifelong fans, the aforementioned dancing middle aged women, enjoyed the show. Me, a less-than-middle aged woman, found that I prefer the recorded versions. They sound fuller, deeper, and of course, can be heard out of the 100 degree heat. Despite the heat and the sounds hanging in the muggy air, it was a good show. Most current popular female country/rock stars lack the depth Lucinda carries. It was a musical treat most young women my age will not get to experience.
If you’ve never been to a show at NCMA, its a great venue. You just feel sophisticated sitting there. Bring a chair or a blanket and some snacks, and you’ll thoroughly enjoy yourself. Their line up this summer has been amazing and is consistently great from year to year. Next week, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings will take the stage. Definitely a show you do not want to miss. If you like the music of Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch, check out WKNC’s Americana, Blues, and Company every Saturday from 10-noon.
With an expansive lawn, selling out the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) proves to be quite difficult. However, the first show of the summer season on June 4, did just this. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones attracted such a varied audience that every inch of the lawn was taken — whether it be by hip young professionals eating olives, cheese, and wine or older couples eating a hot box of Bojangle’s fried chicken.
The show started around 8:15PM, the perfect time to sit back and enjoy the 90-something day finally cooling off. They played newer music off their most recent album, Rocket Science. And not to go with the intentional pun, but deciding whether to buy that album isn’t rocket science.
This show is different than many in the past few years, as Howard Levy joined the band yet again. Levy, an amazing harmonica player, seems to tie the whole group together. Percussionist Futureman is about as interesting as a percussionist can get. He plays a hand-made drumitar, and has many other unique inventions based in scientific principles and pure awesomeness. If you’reever wondering which one is Futureman, just look for the pirate. Futureman’s brother plays bass in the Flecktones and hot damn! is he good. I don’t usually like bass solos, but Victor Lemonte Wooten definitely had my attention. Of course, I hardly even need to speak of Bela Fleck’s virtuosity at the banjo. Futureman made the joke that Fleck is proof that banjo jokes aren’t true. Casey Driessen, violinist of The Sparrow Quartet joined in for more of the bluegrass/folk numbers.
The concert went on until about 10PM, the lightning bugs and ambient lighting of the grounds of NCMA provided a perfect setting for the soft strumming and beats of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. If you missed out on this show–do not fret– they will be coming back to North Carolina in August! Associate acts Ben Sollee and Abigail Washburn frequent this area, so be on a look out for them as well.
If you need your weekly Bela Fleck dose, you can always tune in to Americana Blues and Company Saturday mornings from 10-12, as we are known to play an occasional Bela Fleck number.
by cosmiccowboy on Mar.09, 2011, under Specialty
Imagine seeing Vassar Clements, John Kahn, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs and Tony Rice…. The Steep Canyon Rangers match the virtuosity of said musicians. The Rangers primed their music careers pickin’ and a-grinnin’ on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, where they frequently played bars on Franklin Street and fraternity houses. Now… Carnegie Hall!!! This is HUGE!
The Rangers played February 26 at the Lincoln Theatre in downtown Raleigh. Having attended this show and previous shows of theirs, one interesting observation to point out while attending a Rangers concert is the crowd dynamics. Ages range from 21 all the way up to 65. There are fraternity brothers and middle age women. Finally you have static dancers (people who wish to do the dancing in their heads) and full out flat footers!! So, if one were not to enjoy bluegrass music (God forbid), a Rangers concert is a great venue for people watching. Once again, the band proved to provide another entertaining show, picking fast songs, huddling round a central mic, and getting the crowd to make bird calls! The Steep Canyon Rangers will return to the Triangle area on May 21 with Steve Martin. This tour is promoting the album, “The Rare Bird Alert” that awaits release on March 15! It is a collaborative album created by the Rangers and Martin. So keep your ears and eyes open for this, and keep on ‘a pickin’ and a grinnin’, y’all!
The winners of the Mystery Roach t-shirt contest have been chosen. Congratulations to Cliff S. and Mark S.!
Many entered, but only two were deemed edible by a couple of chickens. If you did not win, but you would like a shirt, send an email to La Barba Rossa for more information.
This is the Noobhammer, and I bring you a gift from the universe! It is my interview with the Scumdog who lives in Antarctica. I am of course talking about the one and only Oderus Urungus of GWAR! Listen to us talk about bloody pits, Doctor Who, and whores.
Seattle’s Che Blaq has brought a new innovative sound to the genre of R&B by combining the sounds of electro-pop, hip-hop, and vintage soul. What makes Che stand out amongst other upcoming R&B artists is his smooth, yet soulful and powerful voice, catchy and fresh melodies and edgy production.
Che’s debut album “Fearless” will be arriving in stores soon and promises to be filled with songs written, produced and arranged primarily by himself.
Aside from his solo endeavors, Che is one half of R&B duo, The ARq, along with Jay Dot, who recently released their second album “Untouchable 2.0″. He is also the CEO of HouseHold Entertainment/Island Hills Publishing.
Q: How would you describe your sound?
A: Electro-pop-soul. It’s a complex mixture of ambient undertones, heavy rhythmic patterns, and bright synths. Really emotional epic stuff.
Q: Who are your primary musical influences?
A: Sade, Sting, Seal, Daft Punk, Placebo, Donny Hathaway… I don’t really have a traditional ear for music. I try to keep an open palette.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish through your music?
A: I want to give a voice to the so called “different”. The people that don’t really fit in. The ones that seem to always get picked last. We all have a story…
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
A: Being able to create something that the world has given so much love to. Doing what you love to do for a living is truly a blessing.
Q: If you weren’t singing, what would be be doing?
A: I’d probably be a wrestling promoter…lol. I’m such a fan!
Q: Guilty Pleasures?
A: Krusteaz DIY chocolate chip cookies, anything Batman, and scary movies.
Q: Fave TV show/cartoon?
A: Fringe, Law & Order SVU, Spongebob, and Kid vs. Kat
Q: Celebrity crush?
A: Eva Mendes and Rosario Dawson…lol
Q: Biggest Pet Peeve?
A: Being late.
Q: Anything you’d like to add about yourself in two or less sentences?
A: If you see me online, scream at me. I’m a pretty easy going guy.
Look out for Fearless later this year.
The 4th annual North Carolina Underground Music Awards (NCUMAs) will be held on March 19 in Greensboro, NC.
The NCUMAs is the brainchild of Carl Major Potter III and sister Sanedria Potter and is a chance for unsigned, independent and local R&B and Hip-Hop artists, deejays, and producers and to be recognized and rewarded.
The nominees have already been chosen (by the fans) and voting is currently open up until two weeks before the show. Performers will be announced shortly.
It was a great year for Americana, as always. I had a lot of favorites for this year, but for simplicity’s sake, here’s a top five (in no particular order) of the music I love:
Crazy Heart soundtrack
Jeff Bridges as a country singer? You’d better believe it. A good blend of contemporary artists, classic country, and some originals written for the movie by T Bone Burnett (and performed by Jeff Bridges and sometimes even Colin Farrell) make a great soundtrack that stands alone to perfectly complement the movie.
Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues
Justin Townes Earle’s latest effort doesn’t have a single song I’d skip. There’s a wide range of musical stylings here, from the dark gospel sound of the title track, to the Elvis rockabilly of “Move Over Mama,” to the singer-songwriter tradition of “Christchurch Woman.” Earle puts on a great live show, as well, and shouldn’t be missed.
Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows
Most, if not all, of the singer-songwriters today owe something to the words of John Prine. For some reason, Prine has always flown under the popular radio radar, but he has a devoted following among listeners and fellow artists alike. This compilation of covers is genius with unexpected artists like Bon Iver right next to Americana favorites like the Avett Brothers. Standout tracks for me were the Josh Ritter cover of “Mexican Home” and the Avett Brothers version of “Spanish Pipedream.”
Carolina Chocolate Drops – Genuine Negro Jig
This is the album that carried the Carolina Chocolate Drops from local favorites to national recognition. Plays on NPR catapulted their status, and with good reason: this album updates bluegrass for a new generation, including a cover of the R&B song “Hit ‘Em Up Style” that adds a whole new groove.
Twistable Turnable Man
Not many people realize that Shel Silverstein penned several of the old country classics of yesteryear. Perhaps the best-known is Johnny Cash’s hit song “A Boy Named Sue.” This tribute album has a strong lineup (Todd Snider, My Morning Jacket, and Sarah Jarosz with Black Prairie, just to name a few), brilliantly covering the songs of a well-known wordsmith.
by DJ Elly May on Dec.17, 2010, under Specialty
It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since we lost two of my favorite artists of the twentieth century, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. I began reflecting on this fact as I was creating my “Top 5 Albums of 2010″ list for the WKNC blog. Number 5 on my list is Jimi Hendrix’s posthumous release Valleys of Neptune which includes previously released material as well as never-before-heard tracks. It occurred to me as I was adding it to the list that it had been just over 40 years since we lost Jimi (November 27, 1942-September 18, 1970), and I recalled the loss of Janis Joplin (January 19, 1943-October 4, 1970) in an autumn forty years ago that must have seemed like a devastating blow to a counterculture already reeling from the backlashes against the “Summer of Love” in 1969. Less than a year later, they lost Jim Morrison (July 3, 1971) of The Doors as well.
I remember the first time I heard “The Wind Cries Mary.” My dad always listened to Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan when I was younger. I was bugging him while he worked in the garage one weekend morning when I was probably about 11, and the classic rock station started playing this song. It was magical, and even though I’m sure I must have heard it before that morning, that was the first time I realized that music could move a person in a way that nothing else could. I stopped talking (which my dad probably thought was a miracle) and just listened. The hushed electric guitar, the riddling lyrics, the slowly swaying drum beat—they all captured me for three and a half minutes while my dad continued working away. When the song was over, I asked, “Who was that?” He told me it was Jimi Hendrix. I asked if he was still around, and my dad told me no. It was devastating, but it started me on a quest to hear as much of the wonderful music as possible.
Janis Joplin came to me later in life. As a kid she always came paired up with Jefferson Airplane for some reason. If I heard “Piece of My Heart,” I always felt like “Somebody to Love” or “White Rabbit” should follow. For all I knew, they could have been the same person. But before you all shriek in terror at the idea of confusing Grace Slick with Janis Joplin, let me say that at least I was aware of the innate greatness of both. My memory of how I “discovered” Janis is a bit hazier than my memory of Jimi, but when I heard “I Need a Man to Love” in high school, I felt like I had found my soul. Janis’ performances of such songs (and if anyone’s seen footage of her live performances you know what I mean) awakened a feeling in me I hadn’t felt since the first time I heard “Voodoo Child.”
While I would never argue that either Janis or Jimi revolutionized music forever (they certainly had a lot of help at a great time in music), I would say they changed my experience of music forever. It’s been a long 40 years, and now we have artists like The Black Keys resurrecting blues rock and The Black Angels making psychedelic rock accessible again. Artists are taking the polish back off their work and getting back to a more raw sound. 40 years later, Jimi and Janis are gone, but their influence lives on.
Which artist(s) completely changed the way you listen to music? Use the comments to share your memories.
This Saturday, 11/20/2010, A/V Geeks founder Skip Elsheimer dredges deep into the mucky recesses of our collective pop culture subconscious to find some of his favorite novelty songs. (His words.) In addition to the joke songs we all know and love(They’re Coming To TakeMe Away, Junk Food Junkie) and parody songs (Another One Rides the Bus, 99 Dead Baboons), we’ll be listening to songs
that reflect the fads of the day (The Streak, Convoy, Pac Man Fever), odd 70s patriotic rap songs, answer songs and more!
Tune in Saturday morning, 8-10am.
Talk to you then.
-La Barba Rossa
Robert Earl Keen gave Sweet Annie Rich a call and, in spite of Sweet Annie Rich’s technology issues, gave a spectacular interview. He talked about his time at a big Ag university (Texas A&M) similar to NCSU, his favorite song lyrically, and how touring with Reckless Kelly and the Randy Rogers Band is just a mix of “all the right ingredients.”
Authenticity, in stores 10/12, is the follow up to the Grammy-nominated and critically acclaimed Leave It All Behind, which featured hits “Daykeeper,” “All Or Nothing,” “Take Off The Blues,” and “I Wanna Know.”
The Foreign Exchange is comprised of Hip-Hop underground legend Phonte of Little Brother and Dutch producer/musician Nicolay. The duo met on the message boards of Okayplayer.com in 2002 and formed the group without having ever met, hence the name The Foreign Exchange.
The Foreign Exchange will be having a listening party for Authenticity Sunday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the Six Plates Wine Bar.
Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is an annual American Library Association event observed during the last week of September. Banned Books Week celebrates free and open access to information and intellectual freedom. NCSU Libraries celebrates this annual event with Banned Books Soundwave, a website offering sound clips of excerpts from banned books read by members of the NC State community including faculty, administrators, and students.
Marian Fragola, Director of Program Planning and Outreach for NSCU Libraries, will discuss Banned Books Week and the Banned Books Soundwave project on Mystery Roach. We’ll also listen to some banned songs and hear a few recordings from the Banned Books Soundwave project. Should be a fun morning.
Tune in, Saturday 9/25/2010, 8-10am.
Talk to you then.
-La Barba Rossa