Sunday evening at the Cat's Cradle brought the Trekky Records-sponsored EP release for Phil Cook's latest effort, This Side Up.
The show, which was moved indoors from the Steel String Brewery to the Cradle, was a gathering of Cook's friends. Ryan Gustafson opened, playing solo acoustic and debuting a number of new songs. The Loamlands followed, with a new bass and rhythm section that added more depth to their previous duo lineup.
Cook took the stage starting off in his familiar solo format. He told a few stories and played a few songs before being joined by the rest of his band. In addition to playing a few numbers from This Side Up, they touched on a few numbers from Boomer's Story as well as Cook's previous release, Hungry Mother Blues. Below are a few clips from the performance.
"D.L.'s Holler," named after former INDY Week staff photographer D.L. Anderson:
"Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It There," a traditional gospel number dedicated to Cook's grandfather:
Last month, on the same weekend, two of the Triangle's most popular acts held release shows for their respective new albums.
On Friday, July 26, at a packed Cat's Cradle, The Love Language debuted Ruby Red in their retooled format. While it sounded as though the group was still ironing out a few arrangements, what they played from the new album mixed well with their back catalog. A three-piece string section, saxophonist, and vibraphonist Mark Simonsen complemented the band well. The encore included the McLamb brothers and Ben Carr of Last Year's Men performing "Stars" from the center of the crowd; nearly everyone sang along.
Below, see the group perform "Kids" and "High Life" from Ruby Red, plus the group's take on The Strokes song, "The Modern Age."
The next day at Raleigh's The Lincoln Theatre, Bombadil released Metrics of Affection. The group seems to be stronger than ever, presenting their material to a younger crowd who seemed to know the words to every song, no matter how dated or fresh. As the crowd danced to the upbeat numbers and swooned to the love songs, balloons dropped in the room, sending them into fits. When the evening ended, even getting out of the door seemed tough, as I'm uncertain the last time I saw a merchandise line so long.
Below are two new numbers from Metrics of Affection: "Have Me" and "Angeline," featuring Christy Smith from The Tender Fruit.
Kurt Vile & The Violators pulled into the Cat's Cradle on Thursday, touring behind Wakin on a Pretty Daze. A large banner with the band's name hung behind them as they walked on stage for the near-capacity show. The tempo of the tunes varied a bit, as Vile and company tend to lean back and stretch out live. But no one seemed to mind, as the group still packed a lot of new and old material into a 100-minute set.
Below, hear 2009's "Hunchback" and the new "KV Crimes."
On Wednesday evening, Raleigh favorites American Aquarium were set to perform at the lush Sarah P. Duke Gardens for the Duke Performances "Music in the Gardens" series. Due to expected rain, though, the show was moved indoors to Motorco Music Hall.
American Aquarium had planned a very quiet acoustic set that usually wouldn't fly in the loud rock clubs where the group typically performs. In the move to Motorco, some of the delicate songs were lost on a crowd who seemed to switch to bar mode spontaneously. Still, with the assistance of cellist Kaitlin Grady, the group put on one of their strongest performances to date, digging deep into their back catalog to pull out songs they have never performed live. American Aquarium is no longer a one-trick-pony playing only rock shows; it can turn on a dime and deliver a different type of performance now.
Below are two deep cuts: "Water in the Well" from Small Town Hymns and "Road to Nowhere" from The Bible and the Bottle.
Water In The Well
Road to Nowhere
Saturday night, Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers returned to Local 506 in Chapel Hill for the first time in many years. Cooley reminisced on his time living in Durham and the plethora of songs he had written and first played out in the Triangle. Throughout the evening, he picked his way through 20-plus songs in his deep catalog of contributions to the Drive-By Truckers. Some were quickly identifiable during the introduction, while many had been given new arrangements. Cooley displayed ninja-like skills to ignore a rowdy crowd in the front row; they constantly tried to talk to him and yell out song requests.
In the end, everyone got what they came for—an up-close look at a brilliant body of work sometimes lost behind a wall of muddy vocals and roaring guitars.
Below are a few clips from the evening, including a few stories from Cooley's time in the Triangle.
"Loaded Gun in the Closet"
Duke Performances' annual summer series, Music in the Gardens, kicked off Wednesday evening as JKutchma & The Five Fifths played a record-release party for Sundown, USA, which Kutchma released in two different versions (with the band and solo). Kutchma and company performed to a full crowd on the lawn of the gardens as, fittingly, the sun went down on a cool late-spring evening. They were joined by members of D-Town Brass and Prypyat as they ran through most of the new album and a few numbers of Kutchma's excellent previous release, Pastoral. Kutchma played a few numbers solo in the middle of the set. For more on the dual release of Sundown, USA, see Peter Blackstock's feature in the June 5 INDY Week.
Below are two clips from Wednesday evening's show.
Alternating between piano and acoustic guitar, James McCartney played solo Thursday night at the Casbah in Durham. McCartney is currently touring the Southeast, playing small clubs behind his debut LP, Me. The release showcases a collection of breezy pop numbers that at times touch on the abstract. The Durham crowd welcomed McCartney but seemed a bit unsure of what they were witnessing. The treat was an hour-long performance by a musician not likely to visit this area very often; still, he's a talented singer-songwriter and rangy instrumentalist who happens to look a bit familiar.
As the evening came to a close, much like any other performer playing an area for the first time, McCartney stood in the back of the club, thanking people for coming to see him. He signed every autograph.
Below is a number from last night's performance—"Life's a Pill," from Me.
Last weekend at Slim's, more than 15 bands played to show their support and raise funds for Paint Fumes lead singer Elijah Von Cramon at "LIJApalooza." As detailed in last week's Indy Week, Von Cramon recently spent considerable time in the hospital after being hit by a car. Those on stage and in the crowd responded, coming out to support Von Cramon, who was in attendance and front and center throughout much of the weekend.
If you weren't able to make the event but would still like to support, you can by purchasing Waste of Time: A Tribute to Paint Fumes from Bandcamp.
Last Year's Men
Friday night at the Casbah in Durham, the underground heroes of the Dex Romweber Duo took the stage. Running through a blistering set, the Duo showed no signs of rust, despite having not performed in some time. Romweber dipped into his extensive catalog of solo records, duo releases and Flat Duo Jets material.
Summoning a spectrum of rock ’n’ roll, surf rock and crooning county, they covered all the bases. Despite Duke playing in the NCAA tournament during set time, there was a sizable crowd for the Duo. They played only an hour, leaving the crowd waiting for the next round as they filed out of the Casbah just after midnight.
Below are two clips from the evening: The Flat Duo Jets' "Go Go Harlem Baby" and the Dex Romweber Duo number, "Is It Too Late?"
"Go Go Harlem Baby"
"Is It Too Late?"
Last Thursday, the Casbah in Durham continued its songwriters in the round series. The first installment featured Heather McEntire, Hiss Golden Messenger, Amy Ray and Phil Cook. The second installment featured an equally stellar lineup of Christy Smith, Justin Robinson, Shawn Luby and Katharine Whalen.
Kudos to the Casbah for setting up this series which really takes these performers out of their comfort zone while trading stories and debuting new material. I hope it continues.
Christy Smith (Tender Fruit): "Get Out of the Car"
Justin Robinson: "Space is the Deepest Silence You'll Never Hear"
Shawn Luby (Humble Tripe): "Old Time Friend"
Katharine Whalen: "All of Us"