It should come as little surprise that Durham's Pinhook leans pro-choice. The rock club is owned by members of Midtown Dickens, who willingly serve as ambassadors for the area's gay community. Last May, the venue hosted a large rally in opposition to Amendment One. This month, the bar is keeping up its socially conscious ways, hosting a pro-choice benefit on the 40th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that established the precedent that a woman's right to privacy extends to the ability to have an abortion.
Organized by NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, a group that works to protect access to the full range of reproductive choices in the state, Rock for Roe will be headlined by The Mountain Goats. In a press release for the event, Mountain Goat John Darnielle said his performance will be “one of the rare-these-days old-school just-John hesher-neck-snap take-requests style sets." If the promise of one of his intimate acoustic sets weren't enough, he also hopes to wrangle members of Midtown Dickens into playing with him as well.
Also on tap is a new collaboration built from two of the Triangle's best folk-rock acts: Mount Moriah and Hiss Golden Messenger. Under the name Blooz Travellerzz, HGM leader M.C. Taylor will join the full Mount Moriah ensemble to play "a number of classic rock covers in their own signature roots-y style." Adding to the special vibe is an opening set from Creedence Queerwater Revival, a cover outfit cobbled together from members of Midtown Dickens and Trip Knight to play CCR songs. DJ sets from on-air personalities at Duke University's WXDU will play between the bands.
Tickets cost $20 and will be available starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday at thepinhook.com. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m., and music starts at 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by WXDU. All proceeds benefit NARAL NC.
Fans of Frank Fairfield, rejoice! Frank has added a last-minute show this Saturday evening at Cup 22 at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw. So if you can't make his performance tonight at The Pinhook in Durham with Deep Chatham, you'll have another chance.
If you are not familiar with Frank Fairfield, he is a phenomenal old-time player. He utilizes fiddle, banjo and guitar in a rough-and-tumble style that harkens back to a more authentic presentation of how these old-timey songs were performed many years ago.
See Frank tonight at The Pinhook in Durham with Deep Chatham. Tickets are $8 and the show starts at 9 p.m. And Frank's show just added will be at Cup 22 at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw. This show will start at 8 p.m., and donations are encouraged.
Below is a clip of Frank Fairfield playing "When the Roses Bloom Again" from earlier this year in Saxapahaw.
The One Love Reggae Fest—billed as “the last big reggae festival of the year”—brings 10 bands, emcees and DJs to the Durham Armory Saturday night from as far away as Jamaica and as near as the Bull City itself. Former WNCU DJ Cayenne the Lion King assembled the line-up and will perform his own solo material, while author and artist Antony Leonard Pierre hosts the night.
Tickets are available via eTix for $20 in advance.
Driving home from work earlier this week, I was taken aback when I saw Morgan Freeman’s name appear on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds’ marquee at the corner of Hillsborough Street and Blue Ridge Road. Not only did I wonder why the hell an award-winning actor would be making an appearance at the Fairgrounds without some major publicity push, but I was also puzzled by the accompanying photo of a blonde teenager. (No, this is not the time for a joke about Freeman’s rumored relationship with his much younger step-granddaughter; we’re talking about Red here).
Subsequent research revealed that Morgan Frazier—a young country music starlet whose name, I found out later, appeared correctly elsewhere in the marquee’s rotation—is opening for John Michael Montgomery at Dorton Arena Saturday, Nov. 3. Growing up on a heavy diet of commercial country, I recognized Montgomery as one of the genre’s biggest stars of the mid-’90s. Although he hasn’t released an album in more than four years, Montgomery still has a handful of No. 1 hits to his name—including two tunes also made popular by R&B quartet All-4-One—and a strong set of baritone pipes intact.
If last night’s CMAs got you pumped for a big country show with Walnut Creek’s slate still months away, consider too that this show’s for a good cause—proceeds benefit the Raleigh Professional Firefighters Association, which promotes a number of causes related to the occupation and otherwise. General admission tickets are priced at $26 with doors at 7 p.m. and music at 8.
Update: The Thursday show in Greensboro isn't coming to pass. Friday in Durham is still on.
As he was in 2008, Mac McCaughan is out to motivate N.C. voters. This week, the Superchunk frontman and Merge Records co-founder will play three rallies across the state in support of early voting, including a Friday appearance at Durham Central Park. Wednesday he’ll be in Wilmington,
Thursday in Greensboro. At all three dates, he’ll be supported by the magnificently un-serious rock trio Spider Bags. In Durham, New Jersey's Titus Andronicus will play as well, lending their rabble-rousing bombast to the cause.
“We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band,” says Spider Bags singer Dan McGee. “We’re not political at all, but I think voting is important and to have people come out and do something that makes people aware that there are places to go to vote and places to go to register, that’s cool. We’re not involved in politics at all. Having said that, if the Republican Party called and asked me to play, I don’t think I’d be inclined to do that. It’s tough. There’s a lot of people that are not happy, but nobody really knows what to do about it. But any way you can make people aware of the political process and how they can be a part of it is important.”
In 2008, Superchunk played two N.C. dates with Canada’s politically potent Arcade Fire to bring voters to the Democratic primary. There was also an early voting event at UNC-Chapel Hill that year that included appearances from England’s protest-inclined Billy Bragg and local acts such as Bowerbirds and Megafaun. Though their music espouses no political ideology, Titus Andronicus’ energetic bar-punk anthems are rife with social issues, inhabited by bitter burnouts who scream furiously at the world that put them down. But singer Patrick Stickles isn’t playing the blame game. The band’s new LP, Local Business, is a bruising battle cry in support of personal accountability.
“With freedom comes a lot of responsibility,” Stickles says of the record’s message. “You have got the power to make your own values and stuff, but that’s a little bit scary too. Nobody can really do it for you. It’s something that you have to do yourself, and it takes a lot of responsibility and you kind of have to put yourself out there with a little more than just going with the herd and just following whatever society says is important.”
The Durham rally runs 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and is free to the public. More details and the lineup are here.
Check your bank statements: It's time to throw a lot of money into the tills of Duke Performances. The just-announced calendar for the 2012–13 season features a glut of talent and variety. Artists based as close as the Triangle (Lost in the Trees) and as far as the orchestra pits of Asia (China National Symphony Orchestra) will grace stages across Durham in the coming year, presenting shows or participating in illuminating collaborations.
Season highlights include a two-night stand with soulful cellist Meshell Ndegeocello (Oct. 19 and 20), a transcendental evening with The Mountain Goats and New York-based a cappella quartet Anonymous 4 (Oct. 6), and a percussive journey with Glenn Kotche, Megafaun and On Fillmore (Feb. 22). The calendar also touts artistic offerings of wild musical comedy (Reggie Watts, Oct. 26), acclaimed tap (Savion Glover, Jan. 23), cabaret (Meow Meow, Feb. 12–14), and monologue theater (Mike Daisey, presenting a new work Jan. 30–Feb. 3).
There are also plenty of piano and ensemble sounds to delight the more refined palate. The popular Piano Recital Series has several bookings and an expanded format to include recitals by solo guitarist Eliot Fisk (Sept. 28) and violinist Leila Josefowicz (March 8). There's also a chance for gospel fans to get in on the action, thanks to three stellar quartets: John P. Kee and The New Life Community Choir (Sept. 14 and 15), The Mighty Clouds of Joy (Nov. 16 and 17), and Richard Smallwood and Vision (March 30).
World-class artists will also be breaking from the confines of campus to play downtown Durham venues. Béla Fleck and The Marcus Roberts Trio will headline a night at the Carolina Theatre (Nov. 8). Tift Merritt and Simone Dinnerstein will take over the First Presbyterian Church of Durham (April 4). Lucky jazzheads will have five chances to see bands out downtown—notably The Bad Plus at Motorco (Sept. 21 and 22) and the Fred Hersch Trio at Casbah (Jan. 25 and 26).
Ticket availability is staggered for this year, with season tickets on sale Tuesday, June 26; single tickets on sale Tuesday, July 17; and Duke student passes available Tuesday, Aug. 21. Visit dukeperformances.org for information about these and many more performances.
Before his opening performance for M. Ward tomorrow at Duke University’s Page Auditorium, Sonic Youth guitarist and sometimes-singer Lee Ranaldo has a treat for the rest of Durham: He will perform solo material tonight at 6 p.m. at Bull City Records. The event is free.
Between the Times and the Tides—arguably Ranaldo’s first proper solo album, released earlier this year by Matador—still pushes pop-rock from the mainstream while keeping it extremely catchy. On Times, he employs eerie vibes to fetch sounds of The Yardbirds, Cream, Captain Beefheart and beyond, ball them up and present them to you now live. Assortments of muffed acoustics and snare-to-tom palpitations rumble the pop into experimental plains. Although enticing openings of tracks hint at Sonic Youth, by the time you reach the chorus, the essence of Ranaldo’s own work is apparent, showing little recognition of the bigger band. Check some songs out here, or read a dissenting opinion from Indy Music Editor Grayson Currin at Pitchfork.
In the spring of 2010, Chicago-based artist and theater wiz Dave Buchen executed the first edition of Baudelaire in a Box. He and his songwriter friend Chris Schoen adapted some of the notable wine poems of famously macabre 19th century French poet Charles Baudelaire, setting them to music and illustrating them with scrolling images that played within a series of boxes. The performance was so successful that Buchen, a founding member of Chicago's Theater Ooblek, decided to expand the project. The plan now is to adapt the entirety of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal by 2017, the 150th anniversary of Baudelaire's death.
Producing a new show every few months, Buchen has made his way through New York, Chicago and Puerto Rico, incorporating new musicians along the way. On Memorial Day weekend, Baudelaire in a Box makes its way to the Triangle where a team of local musicians will put their own spin on Bauedelaire's cherished words. Dexter Romweber, JKutchma, Curtis Eller and New Town Drunks will provide original music for a new batch of Baudelaire's poetry in a show entitled "Bad Luck." The group of musicians will play along as Buchen spins his art at Carrboro's ArtsCenter (May 25), Durham's Pinhook (May 26) and Raleigh's Pour House (May 27).
For an early listen as to what these shows will entail, you can check out a rough cut of New Town Drunks' "Ill Starred," one of their Parisian-flavored contributions to the show, streaming below.
In less than a month, North Carolinians will vote on the so-called defense of marriage amendment, which would permanently prohibit same-sex marriage and all forms of non-marriage civil unions by codifying the ban (which already exists in state law) into the state constitution.
Before that happens, though, three of the state's finest songwriters will offer a loud stand against the proposed amendment. The Mountain Goats, Mac McCaughan (of Superchunk and Portastatic) and Greg Cartwright (of Reigning Sound, Compulsive Gamblers and The Oblivians) will take the stage at Motorco to raise money and awareness on behalf of the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, an equal-rights organization working to rally voters against Amendment 1.
The Mountain Goats' frontman John Darnielle—no stranger to local benefit gigs—announced the show via Twitter this afternoon. Tickets for the April 19 event are $20, but a $100 VIP option guarantees a meet-and-greet before the show and a song-request inserted into any of the three acts' set list. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts an hour later. Comedian Tara DeFrancisco will open and act as MC. Tickets are available here.
It's likely tickets will move quickly for this gig; they would no matter the cause. The Mountain Goats (and Darnielle's novelistic folk songs) are known for their fervent following. McCaughan's legacy is well-defined as the co-owner of Merge Records and leader of Superchunk and Portastatic, but a recent spate of solo gigs have all been well received. And Cartwright is garage-rock royalty whose cult-favorite band The Oblivians are preparing a new album for release this fall. So for tickets, and against Amendment 1, the time to act is now.
Endangered Blood strikes an intimidating tone with its name, but it’s actually a reference to the short-lived Comedy Central series TV Funhouse. That irony is fitting for the band: Its members arrive bearing stacked résumés in the out-rock and contemporary jazz realm. The band’s most well-known member outside of jazz circles, bassist Trevor Dunn, has collaborated with John Zorn, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas and Melvins, but saxophonists Chris Speed and Oscar Noriega, and drummer Jim Black, aren’t exactly unknowns, either. All three play in various well-regarded combos, and Speed runs the excellent Skirl label.
But despite its members’ outré excursions beyond this quartet, Endangered Blood is about as focused and song-oriented as a contemporary jazz band can be without losing its edge.
“We’re a jazz band,” Speed told me last weekend. “We’re two saxophones and bass and drums, and there’s a certain thing that we’re going for with that instrumentation. It is what it is, and we’re not trying to be something we’re not, but to do something that’s unique to us.”
True to his words, there’s a stream of traditional jazz racing through Endangered Blood’s veins. But it doesn’t bog down the band, either. It might dip into the classics, as on the reverent revision of Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy,” which appears on last year’s self-titled debut, but the foursome doesn’t play it straight. Their “Epistrophy” is a lurching thing, shaded with darker tones than Monk’s original; it pays homage, but as Speed suggests, it shows a band that approaches standards “as open and creatively as we would with our own music.”
In their originals, Endangered Blood make space for Black and Dunn’s heavy rhythms. Black drives grooves deep into funk territory; Dunn lends enough rock heft to keep things propulsive. The reedsmen match fluid, lyrical melody with sudden bursts of frenetic free jazz. It’s a rare band with muscle and agility.
The band captures that balance on record. And it’s likely they’ll have that on stage at Motorco tonight, too. The last-minute gig arrives after a year of touring behind the record, and it’s the second show on the band’s short Southeastern tour. They plan to record a follow-up album in May, before Dunn returns to the Melvins for a few months this summer.
The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10. Motorco will also be screening David Lynch’s 1986 thriller Blue Velvet in the main room.