Austin Lucas, one of the moment's hardest-working folk singers, returns to Durham on Sunday. At Motorco, Lucas will present material from Stay Reckless, his latest release and first for the well-regarded New West Records.
When we recorded this session late last year at Bull City Records, his song "Alone in Memphis" knocked me over. It perfectly captures the loneliness of a traveling musician, balancing love for what they do with the grind of doing it.
I don't want to be alone in Memphis
I don't want to be alone in New Orleans
I don't want to dwell in cheap motels
And dirty sheets and hourly rates.
I just want to put the pedal to the floor
Burn up the stage like an old troubadour
I want to get stoned
But I don't want to be alone in Memphis anymore
The second song here is part of our North Carolina-written cover series. Lucas learned "Wild Hog in the Woods" from Fred Parks of Black Mountain.
Lucas plays Motorco on Sunday with Campfires and Constellations along with Severed Fingers. The $8 show starts at 8 p.m.
Hank Williams set one of many blueprints for singing sad songs with "Moanin' The Blues." When I first saw Mary Johnson Rockers sitting on a stage at the Shakori Hills Songwriter Circle, she was surrounded by several local Americana artists. Her delivery put her apart: With a touch of twang above all, she was "Moanin' The Blues" like many of her counterparts couldn't.
Though Johnson Rockers and her band The Spark do not perform too often, they present well-conceived arrangements that complement Johnson Rockers perfectly. Today, the group plays Saxapahaw's outdoor stage at the weekly farmers market performance series. The music runs from 6–8 p.m. Be sure to see the swan.
Mary Johnson Rockers & The Spark
"You Must Build A Fire," by Eric Bachmann
"Tre [Acklen], Chris [Hutcherson-Riddle] and I went on our first tour with Future Islands many moons ago. They took us up to Maine and back. Our van broke down on the way back home and we had to miss the last two shows. Even in those dark times, the experience of being on the road [with Future Islands] made Tre and I realize that playing music together was what we wanted to do. They also gave us our first legitimate Gross Ghost show to a packed house, and we sucked."
"I chose one of their songs to say thanks and to show them we can play our instruments now (kind of). 'Long Flight' is, in my opinion, probably the most visceral and raw of their songs. When I saw them play it live for the first time [in N.C.] before it was recorded, I remember thinking that they no longer belonged to N.C. but to everyone."
Today's Carolina Cover comes from Chip Robinson, covering "Who Carried You" from Asheville native Malcolm Holcolmbe's 1999 Geffen Records release, A Hundred Lies. When we set these sessions up and ask for a cover, folks sometimes do not have time to prepare because of scheduling. In this case, Robinson came in with what he said was one of his favorite songs; he delivers the song with a cleaner vocal take than the original but with the same finger-picked mournful spirit.
Chip has two area shows coming up this week: He plays solo tonight at Slim's with Mike Ferrio at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5. This is likely to be an environment to enjoy Robinson's quieter tunes, as we have presented them here. Saturday comes the big Backsliders reunion show at The Pour House. The 10 p.m. show costs $10. Both are highly recommended.
As a bonus we've included another tune from the Chip Robinson session. Here is the title track from his solo release, Mylow.
Today brings together another pair of local favorites, Jason Kutchma and Superchunk. As soon as Kutchma mentioned the song he'd chosen to cover back in July, I instantly became excited—it's one of those that you can hear in your head as soon as it's mentioned.
"When the first 20 seconds burst from the speakers, my heart races," Kutchma explains of the original. "I heard it in my twenties and it made me feel like a teenager. It had the same effect when I hit my thirties. One day I tried figuring how to play the damn thing and, though it has many pop song qualities that make it memorable, its twists make it enduring—the incredible soaring pre-verse guitar playing over atypical chord changes, the chugging rhythm masking a time change, loose guitars hiding an expanded bridge. 'Hyper Enough' is ridiculously catchy but not simplistically catchy. There's personality and identity all through the song but it's done with ease."
And so we present Jason Kutchma covering Superchunk's "Hyper Enough." Enjoy.
It's been about 10 months since we recorded this song with B.J. Barham of American Aquarium. Over that time, I've received sporadic text messages from Barham, on tour in different spots across the country, asking, "When are you putting that cover out?" With the year coming to a close, and after recording nearly 30 Simple Music Video Series session, it seems time to inaugurate a new video series, Carolina Covers.
Barham's decision to cover Mount Moriah seemed surprising. I had expected a Whiskeytown or Backsliders cover. "It was my favorite record of 2011," he explained. "Heather McEntire is one of my favorite songwriters and voices in the Triangle. That record was in heavy rotation in the van that year and continues to be."
In the weeks to come, we will be posting more interesting covers tunes. Until then, here is B.J. Barham of American Aquarium performing Mount Moriah's "Lament." American Aquarium plays the Local 506 Thursday, Nov. 29, along with The Mike Roy Show. Tickets are $8 for a 9 p.m. start.