Raleigh's Gray Young—whose first record was praised by this paper and second record was panned—is raising funds via Kickstarter to record its third LP. This Friday, with 11 days left to reach its $5,000 goal, the band will play Slim's in Raleigh to raise awareness for its fundraising push.
"It's a free show because it's all about thanking the people who have contributed and trying to raise awareness to the people who don't know about it," says guitarist and vocalist Chas McKeown. There will be a computer at the show for people who want to contribute to the Kickstarter. Mostly, he says, it'll be free rock and roll—donations optional. The yet-unnamed, yet-unwritten record will be self-released, much like debut album Firmament. Gray Young wouldn't go into detail on its relationship with 307 Knox Records, which released sophomore LP Staysail.
"So we basically figured $10,000 is what we are needing to get everything done," McKeown says of the entire recording and production process, plus PR. The Kickstarter campaign aims to fund half this amount. As of Tuesday afternoon, the band had raised $2,572.
"I was apprehensive about doing it, but I've come to see it as a way to bring people into the process with us and less of us asking people for money," McKeown says. "It's more of a way to simultaneously pre-order a record while investing in it."
The band posted a new video Sunday, featuring demo track "Dead Air" (below). In a symbolic hint, a tugboat pushes a container ship toward its destination.
Perhaps you could say the tugboat is giving the container ship a kickstart. Eh? Eh?
The Brickside Festival, Duke University's spring music celebration, might not appeal to your average college kid, but it's shaping up to be a music nerd's wet dream. The initial lineup for the March 24 event included blissed-out garage star Kurt Vile in addition to Supreme Dicks, Tanlines and The Postelles. Today, the festival added three more names that should make a small number of people very excited—and will likely floor any uninitiated attendees.
The Gunn-Truscinski Duo, the stellar pairing of hypnotic blues guitarist Steve Gunn and gifted percussionist John Truscinski, will play alongside Royal Baths and Mark Kozelek, known for leading both Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters. The Gunn-Truscinski Duo, who laid down one of the best day party sets at last year's Hopscotch Music Festival, find spacey avenues within the structure of a traditional blues duo, somehow melding cymbal crashes and elliptical riffs to create a gorgeous wash of sound. Royal Baths just released their second LP, Better Luck Next Life, which adds a darkly distorted veneer to psych rock a la Velvet Underground, creating twisted garage gems that are as menacing as they are catchy. Kozelek's solo work is an oddball treat, sometimes dominated by gorgeous acoustic folk covers that come from left-field places: His 2001 LP What's Next to the Moon is all AC/DC covers.
The festival is presented by WXDU, Duke Coffeehouse, College Concert Series and Major Attractions. All the acts announced so far will play at the Coffeehouse, but more bands and venues are set to be unveiled. It's perfectly possible that the rest of the festival will hew to more traditional college crowd-pleasers. For now, though, let the nerds rejoice!
This is going to be a big year for Lost in the Trees. They are about to release one of the Triangle's most anticipated 2012 LPs, the dramatic and emotionally fractured A Church That Fits Our Needs, on March 20. As with any group preparing to launch what could be the breakthrough of their career, the Chapel Hill folk orchestra is preparing an extensive tour. Tonight at Local 506, you can witness their impromptu tune-up.
This afternoon the band announced that they will open for Islands, giving hometown fans a chance to catch them before they hit the road in March. The tour will lead them through two dates in the U.K. before a whirlwind trek across the U.S. and two dates in Canada. The last show will be April 20 at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, the Triangle release party for the new record.
Chances to see Lost in the Trees in such an intimate setting are becoming more and more rare, so show up early. They've made a habit of filling the much-larger venues. Even on short notice, the 506 is likely to be packed.
Fifty years ago a group of young, angel-voiced California boys showed up late for the surf rock craze that had stormed the nation. Against the odds, those Beach Boys became one of the most successful groups of the '60s and one of the most influential pop bands of all time. As unlikely as their accomplishments were, the notion that they would be back together, playing in Raleigh in 2012 may have seemed even more impossible.
Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love, the surviving members of the original Beach Boys, are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a world tour, and on April 29 they will stop at the Raleigh Amphitheater. The sure-to-be-coveted-tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Feb. 25. It's the first time the original members of the band have reunited in more than two decades.
The obvious question: Are these surf anthem veterans ready to ride, or are they all washed up? This Sunday's Grammy Awards offered clues as the Boys and their large backing band took to the stage to offer up a rendition of "Good Vibrations," perhaps their most recognizable hit. In sound, it's hard to fault them. Their harmonies were immaculate as ever, and that high-pitched Electro-Theremin wail is still just as cool as it was in 1966. Still, the trio, especially Wilson, looked a bit tired, like playing just the one song took tremendous effort. They might just need time to get into touring shape, but doubts as to their energy are still hard to repress.
Adding to the excitement for Beach Boys devotees is news that the reunited line-up will also be releasing a new LP with Wilson, the famed producer of classics such as Pet Sounds and Today!, back behind the boards. Wilson's recent studio work doesn't exactly assure this will be a success. While his 2004 revision of lost Beach Boys album SMiLE and 2008's That Lucky Old Sun show he's capable of approaching his old glory, questionable calls like last year's In the Key of Disney breed trepidation. But will anyone in Raleigh be there to hear new songs?
The Raleigh date is the third on the tour following stops at New Orleans' Jazz & Heritage Festival and Atlanta's Chastain Park Amphitheatre. The tour will then take the band across the U.S., including stops at Tennessee's Bonnaroo Music Festival and Milwaukee's Summerfest before the Boys head off to Europe in August. More info at thebeachboys.com.
UPDATE (March 1, 2012): A fourth venue has been added to this show. Tift Merritt, Bombadil, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, The Small Ponds and Brice Randall Bickford will play The Lincoln Theatre on Friday, March 23. As with all venues, doors open at 7:30 p.m., and wristband pickup will be available at all four venues. Tickets go on sale today at noon via etix.com. These tickets permit access to Kings, Tir Na Nog, The Pour House and The Lincoln Theatre—space, as always, permitting.
Little more than a year ago, Jed Gant, downtown editor for local news blog New Raleigh, gave a ride to a friend. It was a pretty typical weekday afternoon in downtown Raleigh, and his buddy needed a lift home. During the drive, Gant's then 1-year-old son Oliver sat in the back seat screaming, apparently in tremendous pain. His father attempted to adjust the harness on his car seat, but the child continued to cry. A few days later, Oliver was diagnosed with cancer.
The friend, as it happens, was Grayson Currin, music editor for the Independent and co-director of the paper's annual Hopscotch Music Festival. Currin was tapped by Chris Tamplin, who booked a benefit for Oliver at Raleigh's Tir na nOg last month, to help out with his event. With this as a spark, Currin started to envision something bigger. Racing the Cure—a one-night, three-venue mini-fest in downtown Raleigh benefiting an ailing 2-year-old and his deserving family— is the result.
“I barely think about the fact that my friends have kids,” Currin explains. “I don't really think about the fact that my friends have kids with cancer.”
As you can see in the schedule above, Racing the Cure, set for March 23, is among the biggest local music benefits in Triangle history. Nationally recognized folk superstars (and old friends of Gant) The Avett Brothers will take a break from playing amphitheaters and arenas to throw down in the 250-capacity rock club Kings. The fest will also inhabit The Pour House and Tir na nOg and includes 15 other bands, some of the biggest names in Triangle music. Rag-tag pop-rockers The Love Language, energetic pop outfit Annuals and stately rock band The Old Ceremony highlight a line-up rich with local heavyweights. The $25 tickets, good for admission to all three venues, go on sale at noon today, Feb. 8.
“For us, I think it means a lot that we've been able to … not stand on the shoulders of other people, but have other people help us out,” Jed Gant says of the assistance the community has offered his family, which has already included two benefits in Raleigh.
The past year has been rough for Oliver, his mother, Stacy, and Jed. Oliver was diagnosed last February with a sacrococcygeal teratoma, a type of germ-cell tumor. It was malignant, but luckily hadn't yet metastasized. His doctors gave him the standard treatment for his condition, which started with chemotherapy before a June surgery to remove the tumor. Two months after his surgery, doctors discovered the cancer was beginning to grow anew. Oliver was given a new formula of chemotherapy and had another major surgery in December.
If all goes according to plan, the festival may well serve as a celebration of Oliver's health. He recently completed what his doctors hope will be his last round of chemotherapy and is recouping now at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. Cautiously optimistic, Jed says that the support of their friends, family and community has been invaluable in helping them through this crisis.
“We feel there are a lot of things that we would have struggled to do without help from other people,” Gant says. “We see other families at the hospital who don't have this support, and it's very sad. We feel very supported in a way that we're able to focus on Oliver. I think that's very crucial for pediatric cancer care, that the parents are able to focus their energies on their child and on the treatment and are able to be there as much as possible to monitor the needs of their child.”
Any proceeds from the festival that don't go to Oliver's family will go to CaringBridge, a free online service that allows families dealing with pediatric cancer to tell their story and communicate with other families in similar situations.
In the last few years, N.C. State's student radio station WKNC 88.1 FM has become one of the most reliable champions of local music in the Triangle. Their steady stream of N.C. talent—during regular blocks of programming as well as their Local Lunch and Local Beat segments—is a vital resource to area artists. Their annual Double Barrel Benefit has become an extension of that mission, a two-night celebration that exposes local bands to audiences that might otherwise remain ignorant. The lineup for this year's event, which takes place Feb. 3 and 4 at Raleigh's Pour House, continues that tradition. (Here's the Facebook event.)
The first night is heavy on quality talent, if a little off-balance stylistically. Revitalized Durham "acousti-core" heroes The Future Kings of Nowhere headline. Shayne Miel, who is back at it after a long battle with lymphoma, leads his band through explosive acoustic-punk love ballads and newer, more mature rock songs with near endless vigor and charm. (Take that proclamation with a grain of salt: I sometimes work for the label that's releasing the band's new EP.) Dreamy folk trio Birds and Arrows and experimental outfit Organos are a well-suited pair in the middle of the bill. MAKE opens the night and is among the better metal bands in the Triangle, patiently unleashing ominous tones in the doom tradition, but they don't make much sense as a lead-in to the tuneful fare that will follow. Still, it will likely be worth a laugh watching college rock devotees cope with MAKE's volume.
Night two, on the other hand, is one of the best bills Double Barrel has ever put together. The Kingsbury Manx headline, and their immaculately crafted chamber pop is one of the Triangle's truly under-appreciated treasures. Live, their chemistry as an ensemble is wowing. Garage rock spark plug Gross Ghost, whose forthcoming debut LP Brer Rabbit is a burst of relentless momentum, rev things up the middle of the night alongside Boone's Naked Gods, who liven Wilco's weirdo folk with slanted and enchanted indie rock energy. The opener here may well steal the show: Raleigh's Heads on Sticks have quickly become one of the area's most thrilling live acts. David Mueller, bassist for psych-rock heavyweights Birds of Avalon, leads his outfit through darkly distorted dance-rock that's scary-good fun. On Saturday, the dance party may well trump the rock show.
Last year’s inaugural Bull City Metal Fest saw sets by some of the best heavy music in the Triangle, from Jenks Miller’s widely praised brainchild Horseback to blues-metal blacksmiths Caltrop. The second is now scheduled to happen Feb. 3-4 at Durham’s Casbah, and it promises a continuation of this theme. With such diverse bands aboard as Braveyoung and The Body (hard to list them separately, considering 2011’s excellent split), Asheville’s Shadow of the Destroyer and Bitter Resolve, there’s little pattern beyond this: It’s heavy, it’s good and it’s all on the same weekend.
“I tend to always define things more liberally, and I think it’s one of the highlights of not only the fest, but our local metal scene,” says Steve Gardner, fest organizer and Casbah talent buyer. And while this inclusive approach may have cost him the participation of a certain death metal band (they only play with bands of the same sub-genre), he’s happy that he can showcase exciting, ever-splintering niches within the heavy music world.
“Other regions in the country are known for specific types of metal,” he says, mentioning Savannah’s long history with sludge. He says the Triangle, as a relative newcomer to the heavy game, hasn’t yet crystallized to this degree. As such, there’s enough variety to keep metalheads interested, but it’s not so specialized or compartmentalized as to scare off curious newcomers. With only two repeat acts (MAKE and Hog), the upped ante of headliners Black Tusk and the aforementioned Braveyoung/The Body pairing and more bands to be announced, this already sounds like a good excuse to grab your earplugs and head for Durham.
In the wake of recent Raleigh tornado benefits at Kings and Tir na nOg, and another next week at The Pour House, the city will officially throw its own musical assist next month. The event—dubbed Rise Up Raleigh headlined by The Connells, The Love Language and Marcy Playground, or that band who sang “Sex and Candy”—will take place June 3 at the Raleigh Amphitheater, the outdoor venue the April tornado missed by less than a mile. Also aboard are talented locals like Motor Skills, Kooley High and The Small Ponds.
A few questions come to mind, though: Why is the event free? The city could easily have charged a cover. True, the multi-sponsor show gives attendees the opportunity to donate, and funds will be administered by United Way to four local charities. But by making the event free, this benefit concert loses revenue that—frankly—people would be happy to pay not only because the clout of The Love Language and the legacy of The Connells but also because, well, it’s a benefit. People will generally pay to help their friends, even if it’s just a few bucks and even if it’s just to giggle at Marcy Playground. Speaking of which, if this is a game of “one of these things is not like the other,” I think we’ve spotted the odd band out. Hopefully this means Candlebox’s Kevin Martin will be busking through the city the night of the benefit for charity.
The June 3 event starts at 5 p.m. For more details, check the city’s very, well, special website here.
We’re losing a good one: Greensboro’s Andrew Weathers, an avant-garde composer whose evolution can be traced from his solo guitar-via-laptop work as Pacific Before Tiger to the more recent classical drone-folk of the ensemble that takes his name, is finishing at University of North Carolina-Greensboro and summarily moving to California. Good for him, but otherwise dammit.
So if he absolutely has to leave us, at least seeing him complete his degree in Music Composition should be a memorable sendoff. His senior recital happens at 9 p.m. tonight at Greensboro’s CFBG. He will be joined by, for this evening, what he’s calling Andrew Weathers Ensemble Auxiliary Orchestra. Review to come.
The Canadians and the Californians will bring their tour to UNC-Chapel Hill's Memorial Hall Friday, June 25. The Dutchess and The Duke open. Oh, well: You can't win ’em all.