Joe Scudda is known mostly as the sort-of-country (and white) emcee who shows up unexpectedly on Hall of Justus tracks and delivers unforgettable, often-hilarious guest verses. This time, though, as part of the four-man rapping cartel Reservoir Dogs with fellow Hall of Justus emcees Rapper Big Pooh, Chaundon and Jozeemo, Scudda is finally steering the wheel. We asked Scudda a few questions about the upcoming Reservoir Dogs mixtape and his acting career.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: This seems like a very no-holds-barred project where everyone is just getting some very angry shit off their chest. What’s the reason for the collaboration? Who’s idea was this?
JOE SCUDDA: It was Pooh and Big Dho’s idea. You gotta keep shit in peoples’ iPods nowadays. You have to pump mad shit out. It took about five days. It was just us straight spittin’ and gotdamn rappin. There was no rhyme or reason to the shit, so we were just running around in the studio. It was a platform for everybody to showcase where they’re at right now with their bars. It’s just straight rap. It’s just us going in and jacking somebody’s beat. But we didn’t aimlessly rap over joints. We reworked some songs and had a little fun with it. We took the Jamie Foxx song “Blame It (On The Alcohol)” and talked about girls with no “Ass-At-All." [Editor's Note: Really?] We just wilded out and banged out a damn mixtape.
The Mountain Goats, going it solo with just John Darnielle and a guitar and maybe a piano, will join The Beast, Language Arts and a score of other local hip-hop and spoken word artists Friday, Aug. 21, at CCB Plaza (201 N. Corcoran St.) for the second annual Durham Be Easy celebration. DBE "encourages fun, togetherness, understanding, and celebration within the community. This annual event brings all walks of life together in the heart of downtown Durham to enjoy arts entertainment," according to its mission statement. The free event runs from 6-10 p.m., and, in the event of rain, will head into the Durham Armory.
4AD is giving away "Genesis 3:23"—a tune from Darnielle's new album, The Life of the World to Come, due on 4AD on October 6—here.
On Saturday, Aug. 29, Annuals, The Never, Hammer No More the Fingers and Birds of Avalon will play Cat's Cradle to celebrate the release of Hear Here: The Triangle, a 17-track compilation featuring loads of new songs (and a few old cuts) from several of the Triangle's best bands: The Rosebuds, Lonnie Walker, The Love Language, Birds of Avalon, The Kingsbury Manx and many more. A copy of the compilation—a joint production between Flying Tiger Sound, Terpsikhore Records and 88.1 WKNC FM—is included for $10 admission at the 8:30 p.m. Cradle show.
And it's totally worth it, if for nothing more than the best Lonnie Walker song yet ("Feels Like Right," which opens the disc) and the funniest The Rosebuds song yet ("Brad Cook Is Not Your Man," which closes the disc). A promotional video for Hear Here has been making the rounds, and it includes "Flesh and Blood," a Johnny Cash cover by Annuals that didn't make the final cut due to licensing rights. The video approved tracklisting will be waiting after the jump.
The Avett Brothers
Bojangles Coliseum, Charlotte
Saturday, August 8
Several minutes after their scheduled start time of 8:45 p.m. had passed, The Avett Brothers climbed the stairs of the head-high stage at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte. The crowd erupted. That thousands of fans had gathered to make the Concord band’s homecoming a major event is hardly surprising: From New York to Portland and at most places in between, thousands of fans gather most every time the Avetts set fingers to strings. What was surprising in Charlotte was the manner in which the consummate showmen managed to make even an arena feel intimate, such that the connection with the audience was occasionally as compelling as the songs themselves.
The spectacle at Bojangles Coliseum (formerly Cricket Arena) was meant to be the official release party for I and Love and You, the Concord quartet’s much-anticipated major label debut for Rick Rubin’s American Recordings. But as the album’s release was pushed back from early August to the end of September, the show went on minus the new record. The empty upper-level seats, then, might have been indicative of some fans’ disappointment with the change in plans. Still, the venue felt full, and the event carried a feeling of celebration in honor of the band’s by-most-predictions promising future—and its substantial past accomplishments.
I'm not going to devote too many words to Saturday's Sun Ra spectacular in Durham, only because the whole event defied language. It was one of the moments that made me feel proud to live in Durham. About 50-60 Egyptian pharaohs, space aliens, interplanetary travelers and their kin paraded from Durham Central Park through downtown to the Durham Arts Council, where all sorts of otherworldly sights and sounds threatened to levitate the building. The music, which included bowed saw, theremin, pedal steel guitar, saxophones, oboes and other instruments, was a first-class skronkathon, aided by a psychedelic light show behind the band. (Who knew George Washington could look so eerie projected larger than life on a white wall?)
The parade/ poetry chant/ music and light show was a prelude to the Durham Art Guild's exhibit devoted to Sun Ra and Afro-Futurism, which will open Aug. 21.
Record label Light in the Attic will soon add to the in-print catalog of Durham-born funk diva Betty Davis this fall with the release of Is It Love or Desire?, her last studio album, which was canned before release and hasn't even been bootlegged. The album was recorded in Louisiana with Funk House, Davis' backing band with deep roots in the Reidsville and Greensboro areas. It included her cousins, drummer Nicky Neal and bassist Larry Johnson, and their friends, Fred "Funki" Mills and guitarist Carlos Morales. For those who heard it at the time, the record was a breakthrough for the band and a new direction for Davis. Nasty Gal, her third album, will also receive reissue with extensive notes from researcher John Ballon and other rich detail. It's another overt, raunchy stab outward from Davis. Originally released in 1975, it includes an arrangement by Miles Davis of "You and I," in which she wrote and sang of their relationship. October 6 can't come fast enough for some of us. Stay tuned.
Fred "Funki" Mills will host a benefit in honor of his sister, Janice L. Mills, at N.C Central Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Mills was the dean of N.C. Central University's law school before her death in 2007. For more on that, jump beyond the break for our 8 Days a Week selection on the concert.
Darius Rucker & Rascal Flatts
Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek, Raleigh
Sunday, August 1
When I was in high school, three guys I knew started a band. These guys were not cool: They wore socks with sandals and went to church about 17 times a week. Maybe one of them had smoked one cigarette, but I doubt it. They gave themselves a biblical name and proceeded to rock. Those of us laboring under the mistaken impression that we were much cooler were rather surprised when their band developed a huge local following. Girls flocked to their shows. I didn’t have shows.
Rascal Flatts is that band times 1,000. They’ve sold a bazillion records, but they’re not even living in the same time zone as “cool.” Their music lacks even a whiff of cynicism. They sound happy. Lead singer Gary LeVox (real name: Gary Wayne Vernon, which is not cool) reaches for the rafters with every single note of every saccharine ballad. Their 2006 chart-topper, “Me and My Gang," bears the notable distinction of making the Hell’s Angels sound lame. Even their endorsements aren’t cool: These Rascals have a line of clothing at JCPenney (advertised in a commercial before Sunday night’s show) and special menu items at Denny’s.