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Tune in to a local band competition

That David Figueroa--the president and founder of Media Moguls, Inc. --is just slightly self-important is more than slightly self-evident. Sitting on the front deck of the East Village on Hillsborough Street on a sunny, springtime afternoon a few weeks ago, Figueroa lounged back in his chair, dressed like a cool cat in a short-sleeve, bright Chaps shirt unbuttoned halfway to reveal a bleached white t-shirt and a shell necklace. Beneath sunglasses, he constantly glanced at a group of four college girls sitting at the other end of the deck, pausing his flamboyant but convincing talk of how his local media upstart is going to be a national phenomenon that puts Raleigh "on the map."

Figueroa, fresh out of N.C. State University and full of statements like, "Yeah, I have pull with Arista," plans to get that done through a series of television shows he conceptualized and produced himself.

He started It Figuers a few years back, billing it as something of a variety show replete with the great times, drinks and tunes to be had in Raleigh. He and a troupe of cameramen would visit local hotspots and bars, filming the action and having contests to keep things interesting.

From there, Figueroa moved on to the scene of acoustic music, or at least rock music played with acoustic guitars, by starting Hardcore Live, a show aired on community-access television to give local musicians air time and a chance to present their songs in an intimate, all-acoustic setting.

Figueroa flipped the format on Hardcore Live, though, turning it into a competition in which songwriters play on the show and then move onto the next round based on the decisions of a panel of on-air judges. The winner (Jason Adamo, formerly of Blacksburg, Va., for the first round) then wins an opening spot at the Lincoln Theatre.

Sound familiar? Thought so.

The third phase of Figueroa's media conquest, however, is his most ambitious. Second Sunday will match four bands against each other on the air every second Sunday of the month, presenting one taped song from each act recorded at the Lincoln. At the Lincoln show, Figueroa will have a panel of local rock celebrities judge the performances. The winner will be announced on air and move into a championship competition with three other bands.

It's a convoluted hybrid of American Idol and Star Search, just with tattoos, long hair and nose rings.

"My new show, Second Sunday, is going to be one of the biggest shows on the market, maybe nationwide but definitely in the Triangle," Figueroa says, maintaining that major networks are interested in the show. "I mean, I've had bands like Sister Hazel, Vonray and Jason Mraz on my show before ... I've been so successful so fast so far, I don't see a reason it will slow down for me."

Hardcore Live airs Monday, May 10 at 8 p.m.

Merlefest locals
Judging from the ear-to-ear grin smeared across the face of Wilkesboro native Logan Matheny Sunday afternoon, one probably could have guessed that he was living something of a childhood dream. And, in many ways, he was. On stage at the 17th annual Merlefest bluegrass extravaganza in Wilkesboro, Logan--vocalist and guitarist for Chapel Hill's Stones-gone-country quintet Roman Candle--looked like a kid in a candy store, playing the Hillside stage that Nickel Creek had played the day before and from which Donna the Buffalo had just stepped.

"I guess I was 10 when this whole thing started, so it took me a few years to come, but my brother Skip [the band's drummer] and I haven't missed many years here," he said. A good-sized crowd showed up for the Metheny's homecoming debut despite the fact that at the same time, at another Merefest venue, the John Cowan Band, playing their first set at the festival in years, had Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones sitting in with them.

"I remember working the spotlights at the Watson stage for Bela Fleck and some others," Matheny told the crowd. "It was great."

The band played a solid 50-minute set despite mixing troubles early on (and a persistently sharp mandolin during Neil Young's "Out On the Weekend"), covering Thad Cockrell's "Once-a-Year Girl" in brilliant fashion and drawing nods of approval from the audience with yodeling during a Hank Williams tune. The originals went over as well as the covers though, giving those in attendance a banjo break through some rock 'n' roll guitar and meaty hooks that sounded as if they were meant for The Kinks but played by Uncle Tupelo.

Skip and Logan's parents were on hand as well, taping the set and sporting black Roman Candle T-shirts for most of the weekend. A three-track sampler of rough mixes from the band's work with Cockrell and Chris Stamey from The Speakeasy in Carrboro earlier this month was available in the massive Merlefest Mall for $6, but a few in the audience had old copies of the band's Outlook Records' Says Pop debut in hand to get signed by the Matheny brothers. The re-release of the Chris Stamey-produced Says Pop will be ready on Hollywood Records later this year.

In other 'fest news, Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line came in a lofty third in the Bluegrass category of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest, losing the championship by less than four points to Iowa City's Mike Finders, who won for his tune, "Adeline."

Unfortunately, you won't hear the song Wilson entered, "Dark Clouds," until the band plays The Pour House Music Hall on June 4. Then, CCL heads out of town for a two-and-a-half-week run through Oklahoma, Mississippi and Colorado in late July. If you don't own their debut, you know what to do.

Big shows
Alltel Pavilion at Walnut Creek seems set to have one of its best concert seasons yet since opening its gates in 1991. The venue already has 26 shows on its summer schedule, including three of the most talked-about tours of the summer--Fleetwood Mac, The Dead and the (allegedly) last Ozzfest. Perennials like the Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Chesney and MAZE all have dates set for Raleigh this summer. The Kenny Chesney show is sold out already, so desperate bachelors need to begin seeking other avenues for the week of July 17. There has been no Lollapalooza announcement for Alltel Pavilion yet, but with a two-day lineup that includes Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth and (freak out, folks) Morrissey, it's time to start crossing those fingers. EndBlock

Please e-mail Grayson with your Raleigh news: dgcurrin@unity.ncsu.edu

  • Tune in to a local band competition

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