I was at that show, and, yes, I saw him suplex, body slam and throw a few overzealous fans who thought that it was a good idea to hop onstage and attack him. It’s become a routine part of his shows. “The college towns are always the craziest places to go,” he says. “They get a little nuts. It’s getting a little out of hand.” It’s OK. He winds down later. Watch Action Bronson munching on a bunch of Time-Out chicken (at the 12:02 mark) in an installment of online food channel Munchies' series “Fuck, That’s Delicious.” He's joined by his homeboy, Retch. You’ve never wanted to hang out with Bronsilini as much as now.
Last night was surely exciting for the band, and also for plenty of locals who've seen them play smaller venues or even shared a bill with them. Future Islands' performance of "Seasons (Waiting on You)," from forthcoming LP Singles, possessed the same raw, pulsing energy that defines their live shows. Vocalist Sam Herring maximized the three-odd minutes of their performance (Future Islands cut the song's outro, likely due to time constraints) by growling several lines of the second verse, which are crooned on the album version, in his dense, low roar. He ducked and weaved and danced like a prizefighter, as local videographer and INDY blogger Dan Schram noted on Twitter. In what little time they had, Future Islands revealed a raw, slightly dangerous edge, a smart move as performers.
If you watch to the end of the video, you'll notice that Letterman's reaction seems genuinely impressed, even shocked. "How about that?" he exclaims, beaming. "I'll take all of that you got!" Network TV has a hell of a broad audience, and Future Islands' performance may be a first step onto a new level rather than a crowning achievement. That lofty plateau is not a bad place to be for a band that's never been afraid of heights.
Sunday night, local singer-songwriter Josh Moore opened for Deep Chatham at the Local 506. Considered by many to be one of the more under-rated and under-appreciated acts in the Triangle, Moore has begun working on his first solo album as he nears his 30th birthday.
Although he has a few releases under his belt with acts like Beloved, in recent years Moore had fallen into the background, popping up here and there to contribute to his friends' efforts. Now Moore is focusing on his own release, with those same friends helping him along. He's been working with Jeff Crawford of Arbor Ridge Studios, and about half of the album is completed, with a tentative release date of the beginning of 2014.
While we wait for that release, keep an eye out to catch Moore as he plays solo shows around the Chapel Hill area.
Below are a few clips from the Sunday performance: "New Morning," which is a newer song to be featured on his solo release; "How Sweet the Sound," from a Drughorse Collective 7" released a few years ago; and a cover of the Grateful Dead's "To Lay Me Down."
Thompson is an extremely accomplished songwriter and prolific flatpicker who, until recently, had not focused on his own solo career. Despite having a major-label record deal in the '80s, he met Guy Clark and realized he was not happy. Clark then took him on the road, and they have spent the last 30 years performing together. As Thompson mentioned during Sunday's performance, he came on board with Clark for the Old Friends album, and they soon became just that.
Thompson told many stories throughout the evening, including ones about his family from Binger, Okla., his time working for Loretta Lynn and, of course, his many travels with Guy Clark. Unlike many solo singer-songwriters who tell extended stories before performing a song, Thompson's were interesting, insightful and funny. We hope to see him in this neck of the woods often.
Below are a few clips from Sunday's performance: "The Guitar," "Darwettia's Mandolin" and "The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle."
Last week, however, Richmond native Matthew E. White took his six-piece band to the Duke Gardens to put on a hypnotic 90-minute rock ’n' roll show. White, who played an acclaimed performance at last year's Hopscotch, received much love from the crowd when he commented that the Triangle amounted to something of a second home for him and his music. The performance reflected that: From shouting out Megafaun's Phil Cook for his help with arrangements on Big Inner to his love for Duke alumni Bobby Hurley, White provided a lot of evidence for his statement.
In Durham, the group seemed a little less tied to the formal arrangements of Big Inner, able to spread out and jam a bit more. As the evening ended, White stood by the exit and thanked the crowd for coming as they slowly filed out into the cool Durham summer evening.
Below are a few clips from last Wednesday's performance. See you tonight.
On Friday afternoon, members of the North Carolina Music Love Army played a few songs in front of the N.C. General Assembly. They'll reprise that performance with an appearance at today's 11th Moral Monday protest on Halifax Mall. Check out a clip from Friday's performance below, and see our cover story on NCMLA.
The last time legendary Texas songwriter Billy Joe Shaver visited Raleigh, he played the Hideaway BBQ just before that venue shut down. He returned this past Monday for a show at the Berkeley Cafe, just as its storied music hall prepares to do the same at the end of June.
Shaver, 73, played to a packed house and was as animated as ever, at times waltzing on stage while singing his songs, and at one point showing the women in the audience how to properly turn their fist over when throwing a punch at their mate.
Shaver ran through several songs from his 40-year-old classic album Old Five and Dimers Like Me as well as tunes from his latest studio disc, Everybody's Brother. It was hot in the music hall and even hotter on stage, but Shaver played for more than 90 minutes to an adoring crowd. Below are two clips from the show, including a story about writing "Ragged Old Truck" that involves, among other things, a suicide attempt and taking a sheet of acid.
"Ragged Old Truck":
"When Fallen Angels Fly":
John Fullbright, the darkhorse Americana Grammy nominee of 2012, performed Thursday, June 13, at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro. The 25-year-old Oklahoman, an incredibly versatile songwriter and instrumentalist, ran through most of his Grammy-nominated album From the Ground Up, mixing in covers of songs by Dan Bern ("After the Parade") and Jimmy Webb ("If You See Me Getting Smaller") as well as a few blues standards. Fullbright moved effortlessly through dynamic and at times brooding piano numbers, rendering a catalog of original material influenced by a variety of styles. Near the end of the night, he performed a powerful version of his song "Moving" for those beginning to rebuild after a devastating tornado ripped through his home state last month.
"After the Parade" (Dan Bern cover):
I first became aware of Brett Harris two summers ago, when I went to see Chapel Hill pop mastermind Chris Stamey play a Tuesday-evening acoustic show at West End Wine Bar on Franklin Street and Harris appeared as an unbilled opener. Between sets, Stamey spoke so highly of Harris' work that it seemed mandatory to check out his 2010 solo debut, Man of Few Words.
It was clear upon first listen what Stamey appreciated: Harris' skills as a tunesmith, arranger and vocalist instantly vaulted him into the top tier of Triangle pop musicians. In an interview several months later, Stamey elaborated a bit: "Brett did really interesting things on [Man of Few Words], I thought, harmonically. It wasn’t just the same diatonic; it wasn’t the same basic Crayola options." Indeed, from the punchy infectiousness of "So Easy" to the brooding cool vibe of "Drop the Needle" to the graceful confessionalism of "Unspoken" to the soaring melodic flights of "I Found Out," this was remarkably sophisticated stuff. Names such as Nilsson and Rundgren came to mind as comparative antecedents.
Three years later, Harris is overdue for a follow-up, but he's working on it. His posts on Facebook this past week included photos of horn players in action and sheet music being sketched out in pencil, encouraging signs of the big ideas he may have in store. It's been hard for him to find time to do his own music lately: Stamey ended up recruiting Harris not only for the Big Star's Third tribute shows that have taken place everywhere from Austin to London to Barcelona in the past couple of years, but also as a supporting musician with the reunited dB's, the influential North Carolina band fronted by Stamey and Peter Holsapple. (Harris travels to New York with the Big Star's Third crew at the end of the month for a June 30 show in Central Park featuring an impressive lineup of guest vocalists including Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile and Pete Yorn.)
All of which has provided Harris with invaluable experience, he acknowledges, but he seems increasingly motivated to get his own music back on the front burner. Earlier this year, he visited f/Stop Grooves Studio in Raleigh and offered up solo acoustic versions of a new song, "End of the Rope," and a cover of the Tomahawks' "Dear Mary" (rendered below on video, courtesy of Dan Schram and Gabe Nelson). Friday night, he'll be at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh opening for Jeanne Jolly (8 p.m., $12-$15); he'll be playing mostly solo, with steel player Whit Wright of American Aquarium sitting in on a couple of numbers.