Each year, spring comes along to rescue us from the ashtray character of rock clubs that's supported our habit since last autumn started turning too cold. And while cities like Raleigh beef up their outdoor entertainment with new, big-name music ventures, music in the summer means a chance to escape into the countryside, if only for an evening.
This year's most promising series comes from Saxapahaw, a town of 1,400 people between highways 54 and 87 as they lead west and north from Carrboro and Pittsboro. The Saxapahaw Rivermill--an austere collection of apartments, townhomes and lofts on the bank of the Haw River--presents Saturdays in Saxapahaw for the second year. The weekly summer evening celebration combines an already-operating farmers' market with outdoor activities for kids and adults alike (from canoes to zip-lines) and some of the region's best musicians. This year's inaugural Saturday in Saxapahaw begins at 5 p.m. on May 6 with Memphis, a Chapel Hill rock band with its Southern roots exposed to the sunlight of California psychedelic sunshine. Europa Jazz follows them with a set at 6:30 p.m.
Most shows are one-band bills, like Django Haskins on June 10, Carolina Chocolate Drops on June 24, Brown Mountain Lights on July 15 and Maxwell/Mosher on Aug. 12. The series runs every Saturday through Aug. 26, after which the Rivermill takes a musical respite until its now-annual Oktoberfest on Oct. 14. For the complete schedule, see www.rivermillvillage.com.
The Waterfront Concert Series at lakes Wheeler and Johnson, sponsored by Raleigh Parks and Recreation, also begins on Saturday, May 6. Appropriately, it kicks off with zing, as Carnavalito and Saludos Compay espouse a lot of Latin flavor on the day after Cinco de Mayo at Lake Wheeler. The series runs once a month until October, with scheduled appearances by beach-music favorites The Rickey Godfrey Band on June 11 and reverent reggae band Jah Creations on Aug. 26. Tickets for each show are $6 for adults and $4 for seniors. Kids 5 and under get in free. For the complete schedule, see parks.raleighnc.gov.
Fearrington Village also continues its Music in the Air series, with tentative dates in May and June. For details, see www.fearringtonvillage.com.
The Wee Hours Revue, the second album from Wilkesboro/Chapel Hill quintet Roman Candle, will finally see release via V2 Records on Tuesday, June 20. Portions of the album were release as Says Pop in 2002, and these re-recordings by Chris Stamey were originally slated for release on Hollywood Records. But, finally, it may be time for big things. --Grayson Currin