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Live music 

Looking for space as the venues endure a shake-up

Raleigh

Salvation for this year's closing quarter of live music comes in some unlikely forms, at least in two Triangle vertices: In Raleigh, the venue problem has been pre-eminent ever since Kings I closed its doors in April to make room for a parking deck's staging area (expect to hear about Kings II by the end of the month). But the rock has moved just west and north, concentrated in a three-block section that includes Tir Na Nog and The Pour House (Blount Street), Slim's (Wilmington Street) and Downtown Event Center (Martin Street). In a smart partnership with N.C. State University's student-run radio station, WKNC 88.1, Irish restaurant and pub Tir Na Nog hosts Local Beer, Local Band Thursdays every week. Free samples of a regional beer come with the sounds of an area band. Acts on the slate: The Proclivities (Sept. 20), Bombadil (Nov. 1) and Red Collar/Left Outlet (Oct. 25). Brian Walsby's Manchild III, which features a CD of unreleased Melvins demos, will be released at Tir Na Nog on Oct. 5.

The Pour House continues to pick up the occasional Kings show (like Akron/Family on Sept. 17), too, and Slim's—the longtime watering hole on Wilmington Street—is booking more than it ever has with the help of Bleeding Hearts/Luckiest Girls guitarist Joe Yerry. Former King's doorman Mike Dillion is managing the talent at Downtown Event Center, the once-haunted space called Martin Street and Raleigh Music Hall. The Rosebuds, Phantom Family Halo, Filthybird and Double Negative all have played there recently, and there's talk of a December engagement with Big Star. Finally, big stars return to Disco Rodeo, née The Ritz: The Liars with Interpol (Sept. 16), The Hold Steady with Art Brut (Oct. 24) and Brand New with Thrice (Nov. 28). Unfortunately, major arts programming at N.C. State remains underfunded, with its CenterStage series set for only five dates before 2008, followed by a (relatively low) peak with Benin's Angélique Kidjo in April.

Also of note: The N.C. Symphony celebrates its 75th anniversary and gives a year-ending series of gospel and classical concerts in December, while Hideaway BBQ continues to build a reputation as one of the chief stops for roots and alt.country music on the East Coast.

Durham

click to enlarge John Vanderslice: Not a Duke graduate student - PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN VANDERSLICE
  • Photo courtesy of John Vanderslice
  • John Vanderslice: Not a Duke graduate student

With 305 South on indefinite, city-imposed hiatus due to bathroom renovations since May, Durham faced a similar venue challenge over the summer. But Bull City Headquarters and Broad Street Café, two spaces managed in pursuit of different goals, have tugged the slack, and now they've got company: Working from a substantial university financial base, Duke Coffeehouse already has scheduled 40 shows for its first semester under new booking manager Jen Fuh. There's big-time indie rock like San Francisco sound mastermind John Vanderslice (Sept. 21), the ultimate power noise pair of Yellow Swans and Mouthus, and ex-Pedro the Lion leader David Bazan (Nov. 3 as part of Troika Music Festival, which begins Nov. 1). Smartly, the coffeehouse is also investing heavily in getting local openers onto national bills (and even putting the locals in the top spot) and offering strong hometown-only showcases, like Bombadil and Midtown Dickens (Nov. 9). It's fitting that the university's less formal entertainment avenue blossoms just as Duke Performances hits a new Duke-Durham interface (see "Duke Performances"), bringing names like The Kronos Quartet, Booker T., The Blind Boys of Alabama, Mavis Staples, Maceo Parker, Charlie Haden and Solomon Burke to one city in seven months.

Chapel Hill

Carolina Performing Arts (see "Ambitious live arts programming at UNC and N.C. State") remains strong, bringing Harry Belafonte, Diane Reeves, a quartet featuring Sam Bush and Edgar Meyer and Kathleen Battle to Memorial Hall before the new year. And, for all the talk of Asheville stealing Cat's Cradle's thunder, Frank Heath's touring band favorite continues to hold high court. Just feast on this two-week spread in October: Dave Barnes (Oct. 11), The Donnas (Oct. 12), Devin the Dude (Oct. 13), Cat Power (Oct. 16), Jesu and Wolves in the Throne Room (Oct. 17), Mason Jennings solo (Oct. 18), Mary Gauthier (Oct. 20) and BORIS (Oct. 24).

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