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Festival Coverage

Drumstrong 2014 – Festival Review

I had high hopes for the Drumstrong Rhythm & Arts Festival this past weekend, and it most definitely did not disappoint. Right from the get go, the music was solid. Starting off running with Modern Primitives on Friday afternoon, and ending with Dom Flemmons Sunday night, everyone’s musical pallets should have been whetted. From indie to bluegrass to electronic and nearly everything in between, Drumstrong definitely covered their bases with this lineup. The shortest setlist award goes to The Mantras, whose 30+ minute jam on Saturday definitely got the crowd’s interest. HRVRD’s creative use of looping and vocal effects was a crowd favorite on Friday night, and Railroad Earth blew the non-existent roof off the festival during their Saturday night headline slot. There were plenty of bands local to the triangle that showed up as well. Lost in the Trees, American Aquarium, Chatham County Line, and The Love Language just to name a few.

Not only was the music fantastic, but the artists and vendors had something to offer people of every taste. Including talented painters like Sarah Goodyear, and even handmade drum vendors, the amount and quality of local crafts was extremely high. Sponsorship from PBR and Starr Hill Brewery in addition to multiple food trucks from the Charlotte area meant that refreshments were of quality and in high supply. All of these elements, along with the pleasant location of Misty Meadows farm set a great backdrop to a great festival that offered much more than great music.

Then there was the drum circle. Starting off at about 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, a huge crowd gathered underneath the tent with drums, tambourines, cowbells, and five gallon buckets in hand. For the next 24 hours, everyone drummed non-stop while the entire event was broadcast worldwide. As people got tired, and as hands got blistered, people would switch off and take breaks. However, there were always a few people always willing to drum through the night, and into the early morning. Catching up on Sunday afternoon, we were able to witness the culmination of this year’s efforts, into an almost deafening roar of percussion as the clock counted down to zero. When the 24 hour mark was reached everyone stopped in unison, which left a strange silence after the constant pulse that had been present. I think that it’s safe to say that this year’s Drumstrong Rhythm & Arts Festival was a big success, and here’s hoping to an even bigger weekend next year.

– Ben Goodson

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The Main Stage at Drumstrong

I spent this past weekend at the Drumstrong Rhythm and Arts Festival. Upon arriving at the festival grounds, I was surprised at how big the stage setup was. There were huge banners in front of the speaker stacks, ample stage lights, and huge soundboards. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect music-wise, having only heard a few songs by the artists on the bill, but I heard a lot of good music that weekend. Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite acts that played.

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Jesse Clasen of HRVRD

The first band that threw me for a loop was the Friday night headliner, HRVRD. They’re a Charlotte-based band that plays a darker style of indie rock and alludes to post-hardcore at times (thinking of Circa Survive). The bassist and drummer did a fantastic job of holding down the mood of their songs. Meanwhile, the lead guitarist laid down some gloomy-sounding chords. Awesome set from these guys.

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Miami Dice throwing it down

Miami Dice is an electro-pop group that makes reference to the 80’s in both style and sound. They somewhat remind me of CFCF, a band I remember enjoying quite a lot in past years. Miami Dice’s slightly odd stage act is worth mentioning. They come fully equipped with blazers, Ray-bans, and backup dancers. They played a very danceable set on Friday night, and I’m interested in seeing what they’ll do in the future.

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The Futurebirds

Futurebirds are a laid-back country rock band off of Fat Possum Records. Their extended song lengths give ample time for vibing out, and it’s hard for me to not imagine their practice space being a big barn somewhere in rural Georgia.

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Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line

Chatham County Line are a renowned bluegrass outfit from the Triangle region. Their set Saturday did not disappoint, and it’s clear that they were some of the most skilled musicians at the whole festival. They just released their sixth album this week, entitled “Tightrope”, off of Yep Roc Records.

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Joe Pug Trio

Joe Pug is a singer-songwriter currently based out of Austin, TX, and the guy knows his way around a folk song. The first song he played Sunday was “Hymn #35”, a contemplative tune that comes off like a riddle. From that moment I knew I was going to enjoy his set. His music has themes of vagrancy and regret, and his narrative lyric style is reminiscent of Bob Dylan. Pug has also stated literary influences of John Steinbeck and Walt Witman. Definitely check this guy out if you’re looking for some good folk.

I look forward to seeing what the guys over at Drumstrong have in store for next year!

-DJ Nasty Nate

Categories
Concert Review Local Music

Aquatic Americana and Counting to Ocho

Friday night I had the privilege of seeing three great acts at the Pour House. The night started off with a solo show by BJ Barham of American Aquarium. He played some of his own material as well as stripped down versions of songs by the band. One gentleman in the balcony took the opportunity between songs to heckle, and BJ quickly turned the tables. Several minutes of hilarious banter ensued and by the end of it, BJ had clearly conquered the room. Besides hilarity, the music was great, even if some of the lyrics were a bit worn.

Luego took the stage after BJ and played tunes from both their Taped-Together Stories album as well as their forthcoming Ocho album. The performance lacked some of the energy I had seen in previous Luego shows, but the sound was amazing and the new songs had just as much confidence and southern swagger as the older songs.

During Luego, I also had the tremendous privilege of meeting Caitlin Cary. Caitlin was formerly a member of Whiskeytown with Ryan Adams and has now teamed up with The Proclivities front-man Matt Douglas to form Small Ponds. She still puts out great Americana, and she’s even sweeter in person than the thoughtfully romantic lyrics she belts out on-stage. Douglas still croons and swoons with the greatness of The Proclivities, but the new depth added by Caitlin and her violin made for an amazing ending to my Friday night.