Last time Brooklyn quartet AKRON/FAMILY played the Triangle, they left feeling as though the folded arms of a scant Chapel Hill crowd cared less if they ever dipped below the Mason-Dixon again. But, back down for its first show here since that Local 506 disappointment in 2005, Akron/Family found out Duke Coffeehouse loves them. Their two-and-a-half-hour set Saturday night looked as if it would end with a massive conga line. Just before the house lights came on, though, the audience—led by a group of enterprising fans celebrating Chinese New Year with confetti and whistles—pushed the Family on, chanting the lyrics of "Blessing Force" until the band could do nothing but play it. The party kept going for another 30 minutes, the lights eventually coming up to reveal broken glass, crushed cans and sweaty, smiling people. Is there a more instinctively intoxicating band touring in America right now?
Before the revelry, though, HEATHER MCENTIRE (Bellafea, Un Deux Trois) harmonized with Akron/Family on "Love is Simple," a song from their new album due in May on Young God Records. During the Duke mayhem and the next night in Asheville, Sweater Weather drummer BOBBY SWEATT became the band's de facto auxiliary percussionist.
BIRDS OF AVALON opened the show. They're in preparations for three months of touring behind their Volcom Entertainment release, Bazaar Bazaar. The band will play 70 dates before the middle of June, including many at South by Southwest in Austin. They'll play a CD release party on the eve of Kings' impending destruction in early April.
Former Squirrel Nut Zipper and current first half of Maxwell/Mosher TOM MAXWELL has scheduled his first solo show ever. Maxwell, who penned the Zippers' 1997 hit "Hell," will play original material at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 16 at Chapel Hill's The Cave. If you're going below Franklin Street for "Hell," though, you'll likely ascend disappointed: "I figure that, since the Zippers played a bunch of my songs at the Cradle, I no longer have to be in the employ of my former self, and will not be performing any of my Zippers songs," says Maxwell. The Zippers, who reunited for a string of early February dates and plan on touring later this year, have no dates scheduled.
Two songwriting legends, JOHN D. LOUDERMILK and GEORGE HAMILTON IV, will speak at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hill Hall Auditorium Tuesday, Feb. 27. Some 275 UNC students taking the university's "Introduction to Country Music" will be in attendance. UNC officials say Hamilton and Loudermilk may play a tune or two. Hamilton and Loudermilk play a Habitat for Humanity benefit Wednesday, Feb. 28 at University Baptist Church.