The boys from Valient Thorr, some of whom were in attendance at last night's killer Double Negative/ Birds of Avalon/ Whatever Brains house show, will kick-off their pre-SXSW tour a week from tonight (Sunday, March 1) at Tir Na Nog. It's a major coup in bartender Chris Tamplin's bid to position the Irish pub as a legitimate rock venue in the absence of King's. Chapel Hill's Caltrop, whose Murat Dirlik helped Thorr cover Funkadelic for their Raleigh Undercover set a month ago, are slated to open the $7 show at 10:30 p.m.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Lincoln Theatre, Raleigh
Friday, Feb. 20
In three short years with the Drive-By Truckers, the Georgia-based southern-rock stalwarts, Alabama native Jason Isbell was a model of efficiency: The eight songs he wrote for them, over the course of three albums, are among the group's finest tracks. (I would argue Isbell's "Outfit" is the best song they ever did.) Last night at Raleigh's Lincoln Theatre, Isbell--who now fronts his own group, the 400 Unit--sounded great, but had noticeably less restraint. The show, which included highlights from Isbell's tenure with the Truckers, as well as tracks from the forthcoming Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, his second solo record, was a DBT-esque two-and-a-half hours long, including a break and encore. Aside from a straight-ahead cover of "Psycho Killer," in which guitarist Browan Lollar sang the verse, Isbell was center stage from start to finish, and seemingly loving it.
Local music fans had tough choices in Raleigh Friday night: While The Pour House held a second release party for The Old Ceremony’s Walk on Thin Air, Slim’s hosted Gray Young’s Firmament release show. Though you couldn’t go wrong—both are fine CDs—those who decided to spend their whole night at only one of the venues missed some great music just yards away. Armed with a couple memory cards and bolstered by a late-night caffeine fix, I hustled to catch them both.
Midway through last night's packed show at the Lincoln Theatre, Jason Isbell asked the crowd if anyone read the weekly paper: "They didn't like me at all. They didn't think it'd be a good show. I think it's been a good show. I think they're full of shit."
We asked Marc Masters, who did [not] interview Jandek for the Independent, to come up with a five-song Jandek mix. Enjoy, and watch a video from his first public appearance after the break.
—N.C. Symphony releases a record; Menconi on the downtown amphitheater; Odessa and Hot Releases; Manchild 4
Ray Benson’s been playing western swing with his band, Asleep at the Wheel, for almost 40 years. The group’s latest album, Willie and the Wheel, encapsulates the genre’s history, of which Asleep at the Wheel has become an integral part. The record pairs Benson’s band with his longtime friend Willie Nelson, a former western swing singer himself.
With a 14-date tour supporting the album less than a week away, Benson took some time away from rehearsal to talk about western swing, building on a tradition and Willie and the Wheel. The band plays with Willie at Durham Performing Arts Center tonight at 7:30 p.m.
In 1985, John Trubee did something that—maybe?–one person's done since: interview Jandek. Trubee talked to Jandek for Spin, then in its first year, though the 50-minute tape wasn't released until the 2004 arrival of the documentary Jandek on Corwood. A Jandek fan named Jamie Morrison got around to transcribing the interview last year, posting the results on a Jandek listserv. Download the full transcript here, or read my favorite 300 words (and listen to a bit of it) after the break.
You gotta give this to Chapel Hill's Anoop Desai, who made it into American Idol's Top 36: He is a really sweet guy, even if, after tonight, he's not a part of the show's Top 12. After his first live performance drew less-than-stellar reviews from the judges Tuesday night, even the usually sharp-tongued Simon Cowell noted the UNC grad student's good nature, assuring Desai that he's got a very high "likeability" factor. Unfortunately for Desai and his disappointed supporters back home, that wasn't enough to draw the votes he needed to secure a place in the Top 12 contestants for Season 8 in Wednesday night's results show.
On Sunday, John Darnielle, the founder of The Mountain Goats, will make his first public appearance behind a keyboard since the age of 9. He'll share the stage with bassist Anne Gomez (of Cantwell, Gomez & Jordan), drummer Brian Jones (of The Agents of Good Roots) and Jandek, the Texas enigma who's been releasing albums on his own label for three decades but only began performing in 2004.
Last February, I played a 10-track mixtape for Darnielle in his Durham living room for a feature in the final issue of the late music magazine Harp. The closing track was "Locked Up," taken from Jandek's Newcastle Sunday, a recording of his second concert appearance ever. The track sparked a long conversation about Jandek, reprinted here.