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Friday, October 31, 2014

Kool DJ Red Alert hits Five Star tomorrow night

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 4:54 PM

For monthly fixes of partying to the sounds of some of hip-hop’s most famed DJs, like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Young Guru, Ali Shaheed Muhammad or Spinderella, the usual prescription has been 9th Wonder’s monthly 95 Live series inside the Asian restaurant Five Star. But on Saturday night, some different purveyors—The Amazing Soul Diggers and Mike G of The Jungle Brothers—will be responsible for bringing the noise, which, on this post-Halloween occasion, will feature the legendary hip-hop fixture, Kool DJ Red Alert, in Five Star’s deejay booth. At age 57, the New York hip-hop radio pioneer and former manager of...

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Video: Alice Gerrard performs "Strange Land" at Duke Gardens

Posted By and on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 10:54 AM

It’s hard to imagine a better afternoon than a sunny, mild one spent in the presence of a powerful singer and songwriter. Last week, I got to do just that: I hit "record" on one of three cameras capturing Alice Gerrard, the 80-year-old bluegrass legend who released her latest LP, Follow the Music, last month. She sang “Strange Land,” the second track, with Hiss Golden Messenger’s Mike Taylor accompanying her on the guitar. Taylor produced Follow the Music and appears with her tonight as she takes the stage at The ArtsCenter to celebrate the album’s release. Gerrard is sharp-witted and...

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba Nominated for All Africa Music Award

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Securing a surprise nomination via email from a mysterious pan-African music organization based in Nigeria would rightly inspire some skepticism. “It was totally like one of those emails,” says Kaira Ba bassist Jonathan Henderson. But the band did some digging and realized this was no scam. Indeed, Diali Cissoko and Kaira Ba had been nominated for “Best African Group” by AFRIMA, the All African Music Awards. The awards are a new initiative to promote and preserve Africa’s musical heritage. The event is in partnership with the African Union. Organizers and partners worked together to curate nominations and design an award...

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Wayne Coyne to speak at the Carolina Theatre as part of a new film-and-music series

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 1:08 PM

When Wayne Coyne steps on the stage of Durham’s Carolina Theatre on December 15th, he won’t have a guitar in hand. The Flaming Lips won’t be with him. He won’t be in town to play music at all. “I don’t really do shows by myself. I don’t really do songs on my own,” he says from Oklahoma City, where he’s driving around town in an electric car so as to charge his iPhone. “I plan to talk a lot, but I don’t think I’ll play a song.” Coyne will indeed get the chance to speak plenty, as he’ll be in...

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Live: Jimmy Eat World celebrates Futures, a decade later

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Jimmy Eat World, Minibosses Lincoln Theatre, Raleigh Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014 With the queue outside the Lincoln Theatre still a few dozen long as showtime neared for Jimmy Eat World’s sold-out performance on their Futures anniversary tour, venue staff tried to direct traffic. “Guys, there are two lines: One for under 21 and one for over.” Hardly anyone budged. “Isn’t everyone here like 30?” the woman behind me asked. Although I happened to end up behind a pair of minors—which means they couldn’t have been older than 10 when Futures was released—she was right: The sold-out crowd was almost the...

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Monday, October 27, 2014

The N.C. State Fair loses $98,375 inside Dorton Arena

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Well, that didn't end well: For the last dozen days, I've received nightly updates from Sarah Ray, a public information officer with the North Carolina State Fair, citing the number of tickets sold for each night's headlining concert in the Dorton Arena. I've published the data here. Why, you might wonder? For the last few years, I've argued that the N.C. State Fair was spending a lot of money and assuming a lot of risk for concerts that just didn't cut it—shows that didn't reflect the diversity of the state, that didn't showcase the esteemed musical history of the...

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Today: Know Your Poll party brings voting awareness to The Pinhook

Posted By on Sun, Oct 26, 2014 at 9:15 AM

North Carolina’s conservative-controlled government has been hard at work attempting to make it as difficult as possible for a critical mass of North Carolinians to vote. There are the controversial voter ID laws as well as still-contested restrictions on early voting times and locations.  But this afternoon, an event at The Pinhook spearheaded by Schooner’s Reid Johnson and sponsored by WXDU 88.7 FM seeks to ramp up awareness about early voting opportunities in Durham. Despite frequent public ambivalence, midterm elections do matter, especially if you’re dissatisfied with the political state of affairs in North Carolina. In addition to an afternoon...

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Live: Gabriel Kahane rules Chapel Hill with The Ambassador

Posted By on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Gabriel Kahane: The Ambassador UNC Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill Wednesday, October 22, 2014 As the crowd at UNC’s Memorial Hall settled into its seats on Wednesday night, a soft recording of crickets chirping greeted them. They were gathered to see the world premiere of The Ambassador, a staged performance of composer and songwriter Gabriel Kahane’s new album of the same title, which will visit the Brooklyn Academy of Music in December before hitting UCLA in February. The album, rooted loosely in rock and pop and polished by Kahane’s classical training, takes listeners on a journey through the city of Los...

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Live: Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge master the Carolina Theatre

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge Carolina Theatre, Durham Tuesday, October 22 I knew that Tuesday night’s performance by Chris Eldridge and Julian Lage would be good. The duo self-released a masterful EP last summer, Close to Picture, and finally followed it up with a full-length, Avalon, on October 7. What happened on stage at the Carolina Theatre in front of a crowd of maybe 75 people blew all of my album-based expectations out of the water. It’s difficult to pick out individual highlights of the show. There was “Amelia,” a sweet song written for them by Margaret Glaspy, as well...

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Live: The Bad Plus and Science Fiction

Posted By on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 7:07 PM

The Bad Plus performs Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 Baldwin Auditorium, Durham How do you judge a cover song? Do you compare it, moment by moment, to the original? Or do you hear its own merits as a standalone piece of music? By revisiting saxophonist Ornette Coleman’s 1972 album Science Fiction at Duke’s Baldwin Auditorium Saturday night, The Bad Plus forced the audience to consider—and then reconsider—their listening approach. In 2011, Duke Performances commissioned the trio to reinterpret Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, just ahead of that piece’s centennial. The massive, challenging project involved poring over...

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Friday, October 17, 2014

A running tally of the money lost or made at this year's N.C. State Fair concerts

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Ahh, yes, Fall is here: The leaves are changing colors. There's a gentle crisp in the evening air. Kids are talking costumes. And each night, for the next 10 days, if you bend your ear just so, you can hear rock, rap, gospel and country coming from the old concrete seats of the much-neglected Dorton Arena. That's right, it's N.C. State Fair time in Raleigh. Each year, I love to look at the numbers for what the state spends on the talent it brings to Dorton Arena. Part of it is a longtime fascination with how much has-been rockers...

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Video: Billy Joe Shaver in demand at Southland Ballroom

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Billy Joe Shaver returned to Raleigh on Monday night in support of his first new release in six years, Long In The Tooth. Shaver, who recently celebrated his 75th birthday, thinks it is his best. "Hard To Be an Outlaw" is perhaps the standout on the record, and at Southland Ballroom, he seemed to focus on performing this particular song with more urgency than the others. His line "It's hard to be an outlaw when you're not wanted anymore" felt like a sad and introspective footnote for a storied career. It received laughs throughout the crowd. With a considerable back...

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My Body Politic: NC Music Love Army's Caitlin Cary and Alex Kotch talk October releases

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Justin Cook Caitlin Cary and members of The Love Army in 2013 Earlier this week, The NC Music Love Army released My Body Politic, the second of four releases this activist collective has prepped for the weeks leading up to the election on Nov. 4. It's centered around a track by that name, a collaboration between Caitlin Cary and Shirlette Ammons that initially appeared on 2013's We Are Not For Sale: Songs of Protest, plus five remixes. The INDY caught up with Love Army organizer Cary and producer Alex Kotch, whose "My Body Politic" remix as Direwolf is the third...

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Video: Navigating the rain at Shakori with Frank Fairfield and Auxiliary House

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 3:58 PM

The threat of rain didn't keep folks from attending the bi-annual Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival in Pittsboro over the weekend. Arriving at the festival grounds in the early afternoon, the usually open space between the entrance and the cabaret tent was teeming with life as the children's activity tent overflowed with parents and young ones energized by non-musical offerings. The music, of course, was bountiful as well. The soaring vocals of Dark Water Rising coming from the main stage echoed over the treetops. California-based musician Frank Fairfield sat in close by the infield chaos tooling with his banjo, surrounded by...

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Video: Phil Cook leads songwriters circle with Charlie Parr and Ryan Gustafson

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 3:11 PM

Friday night's show at the Haw River Ballroom featured an intriguing lineup and venue where three dynamic songwriters in the round made the most of an intimate setting. The rain began falling on this chilly evening as people slowly filled the upstairs Cup 22 area of the ballroom. A black curtain covered the view of the ballroom space and the area was transformed into—literally—a coffee shop setting for the performances. Ryan Gustafson, Charlie Parr and Phil Cook treated the audience to a nearly two-and-a-half-hour show. Each debuted new material and joined in on each other's songs as the mood...

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Video: Brett Harris shines at the Pinhook

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Fresh from a tour of the West Coast and Midwest, Brett Harris returned to Durham last week. The singer-songwriter opened for Joan Shelley at the Pinhook on a chilly Monday evening. His short set included a number of songs from his latest release, Mr. Sunshine. Harris, having toured extensively with the Big Star's Third tribute over the past few years has returned with mostly original material on his EP release. Below are two clips from the evening's performance including the finely crafted and melodic "Out of the Blue" and introspective tale "When You Get the Chance." At the end of...

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Jenks Miller expands his bands with Rose Cross NC

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Jenks Miller is spinning a lot of musical plates. He’s the guitarist in Mount Moriah, a fiery and far-reaching folk-rock band based in Durham. He’s also the mastermind behind Horseback, his eternally shape-shifting avant-metal moniker, which has touched on ambient drone and barebones electronica amid a bevy of other diverse ideas. Apart from those bands, Miller has long released solo material, spanning patient guitar improvisations, found-sound delicacies and assaults of jarring noise. But it would appear that these pursuits still weren’t enough to scratch Miller’s creative itch. Rose Cross NC, which sprang into life last year as the Jenks Miller...

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Live: A Spanish party in Raleigh with Jarabe de Palo

Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Jarabe de Palo, Carlos Salvo The Pour House, Raleigh Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014 The first thing to know about rock en español is that the term itself is completely insufficient; while describing everything, it describes nothing. Spanish rock group Jarabe de Palo’s trajectory is perhaps the most positive example of what proudly being a rockero en español can mean, though. During the last 18 years, the group has cultivated and honed their sound with genres as varied as funk, blues, jazz, flamenco, reggae, ska and a dose of power-chord pop, too.  The group’s current tour for their Grammy-nominated Somos is their...

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Guitarist Steve Gunn talks new album, his transition to songwriting

Posted By on Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 1:23 PM

For much of Steve Gunn's career, he's been the guitarist. In Gunn-Truscinski Duo, his playing was long, mantric, immersive. Even on solo albums, a rambling, raga-like style was key. But with the new LP, Way Out Weather, available through Chapel Hill label Paradise of Bachelors, the Brooklyn musician make his second foray into proper bandleader mode. The guitar playing is still excellent, but the focus here is songcraft. Gunn's style has long been evolving. In 2013, he ventured into songwriting with Time Off. And last year, Three Lobed Records' Record Store Day release, Golden Gunn, was an impressive, unexpected collaboration...

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

An evening and interview with Big Freedia, twerk goddess

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Big Freedia The Pinhook, Durham Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 When Big Freedia, bounce music’s self-proclaimed Queen Diva, hit Durham’s The Pinhook last Wednesday, she necessitated a rumpquake. Freedia’s sweaty, exuberant and way-over-the-top bounce show played to a crowd jammed shoulder-to-shoulder from the stage to the front door. There was an hour’s wait just to get inside, with the line snaking down the block and around the corner. Inside, a relentless sledgehammer beat assaulted the senses, like the heartbeat of a reanimated disco corpse. Patrons mingled and jockeyed for viewing position inside the cramped club; one free spirit vogued in the...

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The story behind King Mez's great new "Morris" video

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 9:25 AM

For the most part, Raleigh-raised hip-hop artist King Mez keeps mum about what he's been up to since late July, when he temporarily migrated to the West Coast to work more closely with Aftermath Records producer Dawaun Parker. But these Instagram photos, which picture Mez hanging out with Dr. Dre in a recording studio, suggest that the My Everlasting Zeal emcee’s experience in Los Angeles has exceeded his initial expectations. Now, add that good fortune to Raleigh-based production company Myriad Media's agreement to fully fund and produce the music video for Mez’s “Morris," released Tuesday. (Disclosure: Tina Haver Currin, who also...

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Monday, October 6, 2014

The Ritz purchased by Live Nation, undergoing $1 million renovation

Posted By on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 7:05 PM

One of Raleigh’s biggest and oldest music venues is getting an expensive facelift from its new owners: Live Nation, the world’s biggest concert promoter, has purchased The Ritz, a 2,000-plus capacity club just inside Raleigh’s beltline, with a long-term lease on the property. The Ritz will be owned and operated by House of Blues, a division of Live Nation, with the goal of presenting at least 80 concerts in the space annually. The move could bring a lot of new bands—and another touch of competition—to the market. “It’s an unbelievable room with tons of heritage and history,” says Grant Lyman,...

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IBMA, Day Five: Creating a future for bluegrass from the past

Posted By and on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Early on the final day of IBMA’s weeklong Raleigh shindig, I caught Hubby Jenkins, a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops who plays similarly vintage music solo on the side. Between songs, he talked about the history of his songs, which included stories about slavery, minstrel music and black diaspora tunes from the South in the early 20th century. Before one song, he explained how complex Southern laws that essentially re-enslaved black people after the Civil War helped pave the way for a modern-day justice system that disproportionately imprisons people of color. Unfortunately, the mostly white, mostly middle-aged crowd didn’t...

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IBMA, Day Five: Ups, downs and workarounds

Posted By and on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 2:49 PM

For all the fun I had throughout the IBMA festivities during the weekend, I must admit that the final day started with disappointment. Jesse McReynolds, IBMA Hall of Fame mandolinist and half of the legendary sibling duo Jim & Jesse, wouldn’t be playing the noon slot at the Raleigh Convention Center ballroom, his only scheduled appearance of the festival and one of the first things I circled when the slate of shows was released. “Good, bluegrass should have some broken hearts,” a friend responded when I texted him the bad news. Just a few minutes earlier, there was an announcement...

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IBMA, Day Five: Friends join and celebrate Bobby Hicks

Posted By on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 2:45 PM

The set had already been advertised as an all-star tribute to 2014 North Carolina Heritage Award winner Bobby Hicks, featuring long-time collaborators Tony Williamson, Terry Baucom and Ron Shuffler. But shortly before the performance, the unmistakable white pompadour of Del McCoury moved through the Convention Center Ballroom and toward the backstage area. Indeed, McCoury joined his fellow former Bluegrass Boy and Masters of Bluegrass collaborator on-stage, but this program was all about Hicks. Speaking briefly near the end of the set, Hicks discussed receiving the Heritage and how it was more of an honor and prized possession than his 10...

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