The Neville Brothers and Dr. John
Memorial Hall, UNC Campus—You'd be hard-pressed to find musicians who are more associated with a city than the Neville Brothers and Dr. John are with New Orleans. Tom Moon, writing in 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, nailed it: "They're the only family outfit whose nightly repertoire includes New Orleans parade marches and ridiculously funky jazz and, of course, the poignantly quavering voice of Aaron Neville singing 'Tell It Like It Is.'" Where the Neville Brothers' music is full of surprises, Dr. John's is full of mystery. Let's call it voodoo stew. I still remember his "Right Place, Wrong Time" spooking me as an 11-year-old, his voice such a mix of authority, menace and illicit activity that I just knew the song was the product of a preacher-gone-bad sitting down to a piano in a graveyard at midnight. In hindsight, it's not. Soup's served at 7:30 p.m., but you'll have to scalp your way to this full table. —Rick Cornell
Regulator Bookshop—When Duke historian Tom Robisheaux considered writing a historical novel, witchcraft was about the last subject he wanted to cover. "My mentor is a well-known historian who also wrote about witchcraft, and I did not want to write on a subject he knew so well," says Robisheaux.
But during a stay in Germany where he spent much of his time combing through castle archives in Nuenstein, the historian decided to investigate the mysterious death, on Shrove Tuesday in 1692, of a young mother in Langenburg.
Robisheaux was intrigued when he was presented with documents regarding the trials and execution of Anna Shmieg, a miller's wife accused of witchcraft and murder. "The archivist brought out a dossier as thick as three telephone books and I was amazed. It's rare—very rare. Normally witch trial records are disappointing and frustrating: a few protocols, a summary of the conviction, a hint of a life tragically coming apart."
Robisheaux's fascination resulted in his debut novel, The Last Witch of Langenburg: Murder in a German Village. His work is a delicate blend of sweeping narrative combined with hard-hitting factual research and a riveting account of superstition that overtakes a society in crisis, feeding on its easiest targets. "Most accounts of witchcraft explain what happened, but it's terribly difficult for us to understand why and how they stirred such fears and passions," he says. "A story is the only way to do that." Robisheaux reads at 7 p.m. —Kathy Justice