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The Durham-Chapel Hill line 

A journal of music happenings in the Durham-Chapel Hill area

Hell doesn't freeze over
As many who've been following the story already know, on Wednesday, Oct. 8, the Chapel Hill Town Council voted on whether to adopt an ordinance requiring that fire sprinklers be installed in businesses that sell alcohol. A result of widespread fire code reassessment due to the Rhode Island pyrotechnics tragedy involving the group Great White, this tightly tailored ordinance would have only affected three businesses in Chapel Hill, all of them in the building at the corner of Rosemary and Henderson streets that houses the dance club The Treehouse, sports bar hangout Bub O'Malley's and the basement-dwelling hideout of Hell. Hell's owners, including Carrboro Alderman Mark Dorosin, and supporters started a petition campaign to "Save Hell." A website,, provided a forum where people could voice their disagreement with the pointed ordinance. The effect was better than many had expected. The council approved an amended version of the ordinance, which would only affect new businesses and not these three existing businesses. So, fans of those theme parties, dance free-for-alls and the solace of Hell as a regular "bar" away from the music scene's live music crowds can rejoice in the club's survival.

On the street corners
Around town recently there have been plenty of flashing lights of music, in bars, on jukeboxes and storytelling to rapt crowds ... On an ordinary Thursday night in Durham, the neighborhood bar downtown, Joe and Jo's, percolated with a soundtrack of the Stones' "Midnight Rambler," followed with Beastie Boys, Digital Underground and James Brown, while regulars propped up at the bar for baseball and burgers. One table played a game of Uno, while some chose to sit at sidewalk tables, cafe-style, as the bartender swayed to the music of the night...Over at Go! Studios in Carrboro, the Albuquerque, N.M., dark country duo the Handsome Family played noir-ish tunes to a mesmerized crowd. Joined by local Robby Poore on rhythm guitar, this fuller version of the band's murder ballads, peppered with Rennie Sparks' autoharp, mandolin and melodica, were interspersed with surreal, often hilarious, Barry Hannah-esque stories. Ms. Sparks would insert lines like "I used to shoplift a lot," as husband Brett told of the bizarre Child of the Earth insect his mother once described as having "the face of a little baby." Poore added a subtle electric feel to the set on Rickenbacker, opening up on a final number with a fuzzed-out lead of Jesus-and-Mary Chain proportions, while fans tipped pilsners and hollered out their favorites...

A helping hand to independent radio
Mark your calendars for the next WXDU 88.7 annual benefit show, on Friday, Nov. 7, at Duke Coffeehouse. This year's event features a roster of local music including The Rosebuds, 3.2.3 Contact (with members of The Sames), as well as a silent auction with CDs and gifts from lots of labels, gift certificates, and art works from local artisans. For more info, contact the station at

Shaking some action
Fall is the season for new releases, and local music in the Triangle is no different. Fresh out of the box items include a new full-length from Ben Davis and friends, Aided and Abetted, on Lovitt Records. The punk-infused rock songs include a laundry list of local luminaries from groups like The Comas, Poncho Holly, Fin Fang Foom and Des Ark, among many others. Speaking of the Durham duo, Des Ark have a full length due soon from Bifocal Media Records, whose video department will soon release Lovitt Transmissions, Volume One a DVD compilation including Davis' old Triangle group Sleepytime Trio, FFFoom and Milemarker, and many more. Look for a split seven-inch record coming from Cold Sides and Sorry About Dresden. Charlie Hearon, the music fanatic also known as DJ Nasty Boots, is starting a new vinyl label, tentatively called FrequeNC. First release? A Cold Sides 12-inch for their song "Interiors," with a remix and another new cut, due this fall. Carrboro duo Work Clothes have another record in the works, with help from knob-twiddler Brian Paulson, while there are demos and self-released EPs floating around from The Comas, Durham outfit Section Eight, and more. EndBlock

E-mail your local music news to the Durham-Chapel Hill Line at

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