While Chatham County Line bassist Greg Readling and principal songwriter/ vocalist/ guitarist Dave Wilson have long used Stillhouse as their electric outlet, banjoist Chandler Holt and fiddle/ mandolin player John Teer have finally found their own channel for tunes that don't fit CCL's ever-evolving acoustic catalog thanks to The Jackets. With Wilson out of the picture, the songwriting talent of Holt—who contributed "Coming Home" to CCL' s Speed of the Whippoorwill and "Whipping Boy" on IV—is given room to shine on harmony-rich AM pop numbers like "Holding On," one of the first Jackets collaborations. The video below is from The Jacket's December 9 debut at Raleigh's Berkeley Cafe.
Girl Talk, Ben Folds
Duke University’s Main Quad, Durham
Wednesday, April 22
Aboard the Duke University bus that transports folks between the school’s east and west campuses, two girls greeted each other yesterday through a sea of backpacks and limbs:
—Are you excited about the show?
—Yeah! Have you heard of anybody?
—The Gym Class ones, but nobody else.
Torche, From Monument to Masses, Dredg
The Brewery, Raleigh
Tuesday, April 21
I don’t imagine I speak only for myself when I suggest that hearing Miami quartet Torche had reverted into trio form after parting ways with guitarist Juan Montoya made me a bit skeptical for the band’s show Tuesday night at The Brewery: Meanderthal—the band’s terrific sophomore triumph, released last year by Hydra Head—found much of its charm in its ability to weld unrelenting Southern metal ballast to pirouetting pop melodies. For instance, “Healer” and “Across the Shields,” which comprised the album’s perfect pop-rock center, offered instantly memorable hooks with doubled riffs and vocals. But that was supported from beneath by a thick rhythm section and two guitars that saturated the lumen between the drums and the voices. What’s more, Montoya—a smiling sort with long black hair he’d let fly in circles during Torche’s sets—was a captivating performer and a really nice guy.
Last night, Torche waylaid any skepticism I had:
D.C. emcee Wale sprinted past me on the way to his tour bus immediately following his performance Thursday night at Cat’s Cradle during the opening night of Signal's big four-day weekend. For much of the festival, I followed suit, sprinting up and down Franklin Street, trying to catch as many acts as possible at the festival, all the while rushing to get into certain near-capacity spots like Vespa, where the fire marshals were playing gatekeeper.
For any locals entering Vespa last weekend, what they saw had to shock: No, there weren't carnival-style two-headed goats on display or Gorgoroth-like animal sacrifices. But the Italian restaurant had fully converted into a dance club, complete with front and back rooms, and it was packed Friday. Shoulder-to-shoulder packed for Signal Electronic Music Festival.
Time is running out for Chapel Hill's hometown American Idol: Tonight, two of the remaining seven singers will go home, and the race is tightening at the top. With strong frontrunner Adam Lambert surprising and delighting the judges and the voting public week after week, it's turning into a race for second place as the pop music show winds down to its grand finale late next month.
But don't count our local contestant out just yet. After a few vanilla performances in a row, he's turned up the spice in recent weeks, taking more risks with his song choice and his style (debuting this week: the hint of a mustache, a modern hairstyle and a slightly less frat-boy wardrobe). For this disco-themed week, Desai took on "Dim All The Lights," the 1979 Donna Summer megahit. He eased the tempo and won over three of the four judges with his personal spin. (Simon Cowell gave him the thumbs down, but that's not much news.) In an episode that featured judges joking about fellow (male) contestant Kris Allen "shopping in the women's department" after he successfully reconfigured another Summer hit, "She Works Hard for the Money," Desai got off pretty easily in the judges' comment portion, collecting kudos for hitting the hard notes with only minimal cracks about his carnation-pink sweater.
But Desai has an uphill battle—and tough competition—for the top slot, but he's certainly grown as a singer and a performer since squeaking into the top 13.
Pull out your planners or your iPhones or however it is you keep track of what you'll be doing in a few weeks, and jot down the dates of Duke Performance's Music in the Gardens series. Mixing stand-alone bills featuring area favorites like Eric Bachmann and Dex Romweber with new local lights like The Love Language and Megafaun, the series represents another coup for Duke's ground-level, plugged-in booking under the leadership of Aaron Greenwald. All shows begin at 7 p.m. in or around the Duke Gardens, and each shows cost $10 for the public and $5 for Duke employees. Duke students and children under 12 get in for free. A rad series for the right price.
On the heels of its Cat's Cradle debut Friday night for Signal Fest, The Foreign Exchange has issued the second video for Leave It All Behind, the excellent sophomore album released last year by emcee Phonte Coleman and producer Nicolay Rook. The first three minutes of the video, set to "Take off the Blues," are simple enough: Phonte Coleman sits around a table in a posh bar, joking with friends like Darien Brockington (who sings here, too) and Yahzarah (nope, we don't know why Muhsinah isn't featured). He spots a pretty woman across the bar, buys her a drink and dances with her. His happy-man soft-shoe gets a tad happier, and, half a minute later, he's swept her off her feet.
But here the song fades a minute sooner than it does on Leave It All Behind, putting the synth-and-drums outro on the cutting room floor and segueing into "Valediction," LIAB's break-up track. The video jumps to Phonte sitting at his kitchen table in the dark when his lover of one year ago arrives. He lets her off while holding her hand as two minutes of flashbacks—moments both romantic and bitter, reflecting mutually lost interest in the relationship—splice the chat. Interesting idea, and well executed by director Matt Koza. Check it after the jump.
When Cy Rawls, local music super-fan and keeper of the flame, passed away last fall, his friends and family endeavored to keep his memory alive. CyTunes, a repository of songs donated by bands all over the country, is chugging along. They also continued supporting the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University, which did so much to help his battle against cancer. And they'll be taking part in the Angels Among Us benefit 5k run on Saturday, April 25, under the appropriate Tar Heel-oriented team name, "Cy Rawls Has a Posse."
Tomorrow night, you can help them strengthen their fight without having to lace up the old sneakers, thanks to karaoke. Bull McCabe's in Durham hosts a fundraiser with a ton of prizes, like a signed Superchunk poster and exceedingly grand gifts from local businesses. The fun starts at 8 p.m. and goes to closing time. You can also donate to the cause or join their running team here: http://www.angelsamongus.org
Here's a bit from the organizers: "We're gonna ding ya for $3 per song, but you get two for $5. There will also be a raffle with some awesome prizes from your favorite local restaurants and stores! If you are participating in the event on the 25th, you can pick up your 'Rawls' shirt for $20."
During his packed Thursday night show at Carrboro's Cat's Cradle for the opening night of the 2009 Signal Electronic Music Festival, D.C. rapper Wale welcomed a special guest to the stage: Wearing a leather coat and, as Wale noted, Jordan 3's, Durham's Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder ambled onto the stage, greeting the hometown crowd before mentioning Back to the Feature, his long-awaited mixtape with Wale. Neither Wale nor 9th offered a definitive answer as to when the tape would finally be available, but the pair did reveal more details about 9th's contribution to Wale's forthcoming Interscope debut, Attention: Deficit, due later this year. The track includes Def Jam soul singer Chrisette Michele. Excited to hear that.
After Wale launched into a diatribe about saving hip-hop, 9th brought the crowd back around by "introduc[ing] a friend of mine who came out here to work with me for a coupla days." The guest, Mississippi rapper David Banner, had been lurking in the shadows at the back of the stage in a green Adidas jacket and thick-rimmed black spectacles.