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Raleigh Rhythms 

Notes on the Raleigh music scene

"Base" and Brass
In the entire music scene, there is hardly a better feeling than showing up to see a headlining band just to be swept away by the 45 minute set of some nameless opener straining away for a few dollars and even less of the crowd's attention.

The Baseman Trio was that proverbial (and, sometimes, impossible) needle in the haystack late last month when they grabbed the opening spot for a Dirty Dozen Brass Band gig at The Lincoln Theatre. The Trio--a guitar/bass/drum offshoot of Raleigh's The Mighty Burners--roared relentlessly during their short Lincoln set, leaving pockets of the audience in utter disbelief as they boogied through Coltrane's "Naima" and rode Chris Boerner's stompbox-wizardry through a deft re-working of Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop." Drummer Iajhi Hampdon and bassist Nic Slaton packed a steamrolling rhythm section as tight and dense as any in these parts. Coupled with Boerner's imaginative guitar work, the trio stamped its psyche-jam-blues-jazz rock with an intensity that left anybody listening in awe.

The trio doesn't have any gigs in the area for the time being, but The Mighty Burners (a more restrained and calculated trio plus an additional guitar and two turntablists) just wrapped up sessions for their debut, Hot Ones Now, with former Collapsis guitarist Ryan Pickett. The band plays Thursday at Margaux's in North Raleigh, and will play at Retail to celebrate the release of the record later this month.

As per normal, The Dozen brought the party. There were, of course, songs about weed, women, and booze, divided up nicely by some of the most explosive brass blowing to be found anywhere. Behemoth trombone man Sammie Williams was shaking it all over the stage from start to finish, as standout trumpeter Gregory Davis sustained one note for some three minutes in the midst of crowd eruptions. By the end of the night, some two dozen women ended up onstage dancing with Williams and sharing drinks with the band.

Cecil Johnson, longtime Raleigh horn-man for Raleigh's favorite soul sons, Hobex, sat in during most of the gig, often manning two saxophones at once and dancing around with the rest of the outfit. Hobex--who released U Ready, Man? on Boston-based blues heavyweight Tone-Cool Records in October to rave reviews--returns to The Pour House this Saturday.

The Blues is the Blues
People have really been yearning for jazz and blues--two former staples of the Raleigh circuit--in recent months. With Yancey's Jazz and Blues Cafe in City Market shut down some six months ago and the Triangle Blues Society quickly settling into its own ruins, traditional jazz and blues enthusiasts have been a bit bored lately.

The Second Annual Turner & Josh Big Blues Barbeque, held June 1 at The Berkeley Cafe, was the most recent attempt to curb club owners' aversion to blues acts downtown.

"Lots of clubs around here have stopped doing guarantees for blues bands, and those guys are used to getting one each night ... so they just won't bring those bands in these days," says the event's disgruntled co-founder and host Josh Preslar. "So we have these, and no one makes any money off of it. It's a big volunteer effort just to get people back in the scene."

It seems to be working. Over 200 people packed The Cafe, paying a meager $7 for eight hours of music, all-you-can-eat pulled pork, Cadillac poke, Mike Davis' fabulous golden grits, crayfish ettoufe, cornbread and sweet tea. The Josh and Turner Blues Band (the creatively dubbed outfit of Preslar and event co-founder Turner Brandon) played, along with six-string champion Lil' Dave and local street bluesman Simon Taylor. Pushing the party on into the wee hours of the morning, The Countdown Quartet cranked out its original New Orleans numbers with guests Rob Farris on keys and Ray Duffy on percussion. The college students danced, and the kids over 40 bobbed their heads. Blues in Raleigh? Perhaps.

Check out Josh and Turner's blues jams at The Berkeley Cafe every Wednesday night.

Also of Note ...
Speaking of barbecues, one of Raleigh's hottest bluegrass acts, Chatham County Line, will host one of its own at The Pour House Sunday night to celebrate the release of their self-titled debut, released last week on Bonfire Records (the bluegrass-booster imprint of local Yep Roc Records).

"It's a lot different from the first record I always pictured for us, but that's the way it will always be," says the band's frontman and current Carbine guitarist Dave Wilson.

The disc--an inspired, passionately traditional take on down-home fiddle breaks and songwriting produced by Chris Stamey--includes a gorgeous cover of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" with Tift Merritt, as well as a free-for-all paean to John Hartford.

The Mars Volta pulled out of their opening slot on the Red Hot Chili Peppers tour only days before last Thursday's date at Alltel Pavilion due to the death of Volta soundman and band member, Jeremy Ward. Ward, 27, had been the mastermind behind the Defacto project and had worked with The Mars Volta on their 2002 EP, Tremulant, as well as their upcoming De-Loused in the Comatorium.

Ryan Pound--one of Raleigh's favorite acoustic songwriters--has officially found a band: The Ready Set. The Ready Set debuted at a Kings show in early May.

The Dexter Romweber Duo will rock Kings on June 21, five days after two of Romweber's more famed devotees--The White Stripes--play Disco Rodeo. EndBlock

  • Notes on the Raleigh music scene

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