According to Rebekah Meek, one half of Durham duo Eberhardt, the six bands that will share songs at the Great Band Swap Saturday met mostly at Joe & Jo's, a long-gone downtown Durham bar on Main Street. Funny thing is, most of them don't agree, at least at first. Rather, those bands recall front porches and water towers and record stores. We polled every band playing the Band Swap—where each band will cover one song by every other band on the bill—and asked them how they met the other bands. Not surprisingly, most of the bands don't have the same memory of meeting: Beloved Binge watched Megafaun play at Chaz's Bull City Records, but Phil Cook from Megafaun only remembers Beloved Binge from the first time he ate at a vegan potluck on the band's front porch months later.
That's a symptom of a small, healthy, vibrant, homegrown scene, where creative people collide so often they sometimes forget it. But they're in circles small enough that they eventually end up singing each other's tunes. These six bands have been instrumental in fostering such a scene in Durham, moving between rooms like Joe & Jo's, 305 South, Chaz's and now Bull City Headquarters, a nexus for their own community.
That's the charm, of course: These friendships create a web that's more like a family, the sorts of bonds that make you "...want to cut Thanksgiving short with your family to go spend it with your other family [in Durham]," says Midtown Dickens' Kym Register.
The proceeds, then, go to the family's home, Bull City Headquarters, a community center that members of three of the bands started and they've all played. Swap funds will provide rent money, heaters and utilities. It's a fundraiser and a family affair, plus a cap on a strong year for Durham music.
See the Swap Saturday, Dec. 1, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5. Proceeds benefit BCHQ. Disclosures: Rumors of a rare appearance by Man Blossom (featuring Independent Music Editor Grayson Currin) are true. Also, Catherine Edgerton is the News Clerk of the Independent.
[Catherine Edgerton and Kym Register met when they were 15 years old, became best friends and later bandmates.]
... FUTURE KINGS: Register met Future Kings founder Shayne O'Neill in Carrboro while working at TJ's. O'Neill helped Register book the first Midtown Dickens show. They toured together. O'Neill now writes songs for Edgerton, and Midtown often plays saw and saxophone with the band.
... BELOVED BINGE: Two years ago at a show at Chaz's Bull City Records where they bonded over Pacific Northwestern sounds, including K Records.
... THE WIGG REPORT: Through antifolk chamption Charles Latham, who has since moved to Philadelphia. They played together in Charles' band.
... EBERHARDT: Became friends after a show at Chaz's Bull City Records. Now run Bull City Headquarters together.
... MEGAFAUN: Met at a show of the pre-Megafaun DeYarmond Edison at Chaz's Bull City Records. Got to know one another through friends and BCHQ.
[Originally from Wisconsin, brothers Phil and Brad Cook moved to Durham from Raleigh in April. Drummer Joe Westerlund still lives in Raleigh.]
... MIDTOWN DICKENS: Met during a show at Bull City Headquarters, run by members of Midtown Dickens, Eberhardt and Future Kings. Phil now considers Midtown Dickens some of his best friends, and his fiancée works at BCHQ.
... FUTURE KINGS: Also during a show at BCHQ.
... EBERHARDT: Also through BCHQ. The Band Swap will be the first time they've seen Eberhardt play.
... BELOVED BINGE: Through invitation by Midtown Dickens to a series of vegan potlucks held on Durham front porches.
... THE WIGG REPORT: Will meet formally at The Band Swap.
[Shayne O'Neill was performing songs solo at house shows until he met his band through want ads and old friends. What's more, his brother is the keyboardist.]
... MIDTOWN DICKENS: O'Neill met Register through a convenience store. "She introduced me to Catherine, and before I could say 'Yay, new friends,' we were climbing water towers and breaking into abandoned buildings. Catherine and I fell in love and our bands have basically grown up together."
... EBERHARDT: Rebekah Meek drove O'Neill to a lake in her 1966 Chrysler convertible named Monique. He thinks it was payback for driving her to the beach in his 1977 Dodge RV named Myrna Chubbs.
... BELOVED BINGE: Saw them play at Chaz's Bull City Records and became their friends at Joe & Jo's. Now neighbors.
... THE WIGG REPORT: The Wiggs played with Charles Latham at Joe & Jo's. O'Neill didn't know either band beforehand.
... MEGAFAUN: Bonded over a love of beards at concerts, bars, front porches.
[Rob Beloved and Eleni Binge moved to Durham in 2005 and started playing shows at Joe & Jo's and Chaz's Bull City Records.]
... MIDTOWN DICKENS: After a Midtown Dickens show at Joe & Jo's. Enchanted by the harmonies.
... FUTURE KINGS: At Chaz's Bull City Records. They chatted about board games and decided to form Bull City Board Gamez, a group that would meet once a week to play board games at Joe & Jo's. They have met twice.
... EBERHARDT: Future Kings' O'Neill linked Eberhardt and Beloved Binge. They met through repeated Durham hangouts.
... THE WIGG REPORT: Beloved saw The Wigg Report play at The Scrap Exchange. Beloved Binge was invited to play Wiggfest, where they unwittingly plugged in for an all acoustic show. Everything turned out fine, thanks to Binge's peanut-butter ball party favors.
... MEGAFAUN: A show at Chaz's, where Belove Binge was struck by the depth, oddity and naturalness of the music. They later linked up with Phil Cook at a neighborhood potluck. "Yum," he said.
[Former whiskey buddies, Colin Booy and Rebekah Meek met long before they rocked.]
... MIDTOWN DICKENS: At a show one hot summer in Chaz's Bull City Records. "It's been kittens and butterflies ever since." Also, they run Bull City Headquarters together.
... FUTURE KINGS: Met Future Kings' O'Neill through Midtown Dickens during a midnight trip to the beach in an RV named Myrna Chubbs.
... THE WIGG REPORT: February's Anti-Folk Festival, a creation of Charles Latham.
... BELOVED BINGE: Durham hangouts, show at Chaz's, vegan front-porch potlucks: Love at first sight. "We said, 'I duo,' and that was that."
... MEGAFAUN: Through BCHQ and Megafaun's appearance at Midtown Dickens' CD release party in May.
[The Durham trio has served as an integral connector in this mix, their ramshackle delivery giving old pal Charles Latham and Midtown Dickens a scene to start.]
... MIDTOWN DICKENS: The Wigg Report was approached by antifolk singer Charles Latham. Wigg Stephen Mullaney backed him with Midtown.
... FUTURE KINGS: Recommended by Latham. "You know, crush-city, right?"
... EBERHARDT: Also through Latham and through Booy's work at the Bike Co-Op, located in the back portion of Bull City Headquarters.
... BELOVED BINGE: Beloved Binge introduced themselves to The Wigg Report at a Joe & Jo's show by handing them a CD. Toured together since.
... MEGAFAUN: The Wigg Report has never met Megafaun, but they love their songs.