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Thursday, May 28, 2015

NC Central's jazz program safe, dean and director say

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 5:56 PM

Jazz lovers winced this week upon seeing that N.C. Central’s celebrated jazz program had landed on a list of degrees to be cut from the UNC system. It seemed to many that it would simply be discarded like a low-selling title. The Daily Tar Heel first reported on the May 21 UNC Board of Governors meeting, where a vote to eliminate “less productive” degree programs speared both jazz and theatre at Durham’s HBCU. “I’m lost. Why are they eliminating the jazz degree at NCCU?” Mint Julep Jazz Band vocalist and co-leader Laura Windley wrote. Four members of Mint Julep...

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Stream the new Sit-n-Spin single featuring Schooner and Can't Kids

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 2:15 PM

Columbia, South Carolina’s Can’t Kids and Durham’s Schooner might seem like odd bedfellows. The former is fraut and frantic, its cello-abetted indie rock veering from crescendos of noise to moments of delicate uncertainty. Schooner, on the other hand, is far smoother, guided by the rich voice of Reid Johnson and guitar lines that echo through gossamer reverb, staying steady even when the distortion cranks. But the two bands make for fast friends, united by an energetic zeal and a willingness to wander wherever their creativity takes them. Their new split 7-inch will arrive on a most appropriate imprint—Sit n’ Spin...

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Hear Body Games' excellent new Local Love Vol. 1 EP in full

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 11:25 AM

If you line up the original versions of the four songs that Body Games cover on their forthcoming EP, Local Love Vol. 1, the runtime lasts for less than 15 minutes. But Body Games’ rendition stops just shy of the 20-minute mark. That difference is telling, as the electronic Carrboro trio both slow down songs by Museum Mouth, Rogue Band of Youth, Weller and Estrangers and tack on intriguing additions, from samples to saxophone solos. There’s the pitch-shifted interpolation of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” at the end of “Fools,” the browbeating bass-and-synth tangent in the middle of “Through Their Eyes, I...

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Carolina Performing Arts, Town of Chapel Hill announce pricy new art space

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 1:07 PM

It's been a rough year for the UNC system, with humanities departments taking particularly tough hits. In January, system president Tom Ross gave news of his resignation. And earlier this week, the UNC Board of Governors announced that 46 degree programs across 16 universities would come to an end. Despite the ominous beginning to the summer, but on the heels of an excellent 2015–2016 season lineup, Carolina Performing Arts and the Town of Chapel Hill united today to announce the creation of a new arts-centric space in downtown Chapel Hill. It's slated to open in August 2017 and will be...

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PopUp split-up: Founders of Durham chorus institution part ways

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 5:02 PM

Roughly a year and a half after helping to launch PopUp Chorus—an open chorus based in Durham, and a certifiable hit—conductor Seamus Kenney announced he’ll be leaving to start a chorus of his own, with an emphasis on local and independent music as well as original songs written by the artists who will run it. Beginning with only a handful of members in January 2014, PopUp Chorus’s numbers and reputation swelled as word spread. As the project grew, it was always of two minds. Kenney’s musical choices leaned toward music outside the mainstream, while Lauren Hodge, who runs the Community Chorus Project and...

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Video: After a three-year absence, Unknown Hinson haunts Southland Ballroom

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 3:45 PM

Unknown Hinson Southland Ballroom, Raleigh Thursday, May 14, 2015 It's been three years since Charlotte's Unknown Hinson has played Raleigh. At the end of 2012, the group decided to retire, citing costs related to touring. The move puzzled the group's rabid fan base, many of whom were turned on to the guitar-shredding vampire through the show Squidbillies. And now, as Squidbillies begins work on their 10th season, Unknown Hinson is back on the road with a healthy touring schedule. There's no word on what changed to bring the comically self-labeled "King of Country Western Troubadours" out of retirement. Having...

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Love Language, Bombadil, more to play Raleigh Little Theatre's Rose Garden

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 9:11 AM

The season is filling up with weekly outdoor concert series. The Pour House and Younger Brother Productions have just joined the summer roster, announcing a special presentation in the Rose Garden at Raleigh Little Theatre for August 22. You won't need your lace gloves or cotillion manners for this Garden Party: It's a casual affair with an all-local lineup, featuring The Love Language, Bombadil, 6 String Drag, Laura Reed, Jack The Radio, Nuclear Honey, The Midatlantic and First Person Plural. Food trucks and craft beer stands will be on hand to fill you up, as well as sundry local art vendors....

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Carolina Performing Arts announces 2015–2016 season with blues, opera, butoh and more

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 8:00 PM

For its 2015–2016 season, Carolina Performing Arts has announced a slate of performances that draw on old and new traditions alike. There are fantastic American roots acts like bluesman Buddy Guy, as well as a night featuring bluegrass legends Del McCoury and David Grisman, saluting the songs of Woody Guthrie. But the rest of the lineup, announced earlier this evening, digs into deeper territory, pushing against conventions or preconceived notions about what collegiate performing arts programming should be. Indeed, rebellion is a major artery running through this season’s programming. “There are many ideas that we are focused on for this...

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Slim's employee and owner to open new Fayetteville Street bar and venue, Ruby Deluxe, in late June

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 5:15 PM

Just before Tim Lemuel and Van Alston pose for a picture amid the construction debris of their new Fayetteville Street bar and part-time music room, Ruby Deluxe, Lemuel slips out of one T-shirt and into another: “BOSS,” the new black sleeveless T reads across the front, in capital white letters. Alston simply shakes his head and laughs. “It’s just that he’s been my boss for so long,” explains Lemuel, “I’ve got to let people know who will be running this place.” Lemuel has worked for Alston for nearly a decade, first at the Glenwood South cigar bar Havana Deluxe and,...

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

TV on the Radio, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, X, Dwight Yoakam among Hopscotch 2015 headliners

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 9:59 AM

In the past several weeks, two camps of potential Hopscotch Music Festival fans have emerged: those who don’t think the lineup matters, because they’ll be there anyway, and those who wouldn’t dream of buying a ticket before the lineup drops. After a series of delays and leaks, the festival has finally announced the lineup for its sixth installment, scheduled for Sept. 10–12 in downtown Raleigh. At last, those sides have much more of substance to debate. As with last year’s Hopscotch, this edition will forego shows in Memorial Auditorium for an opening show in Raleigh City Plaza. Deerhunter and...

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Photos: B.B. King christening DPAC in 2008

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 10:06 AM

On a Sunday night late in 2008, B.B. King opened the Bull City's new Durham Performing Arts Center, becoming the venue's first headliner. (You can read the review here.) King went on to play DPAC two more times—June 3, 2011, and April 21, 2013. King died Thursday night, four months shy of his 89th birthday.   ...

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tonight: The great Jubilee launches the last weekend of Mosaic

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 3:31 PM

For seven years, Steven Feinberg and Keith Ward have been hosting spring and fall music festivals at Raleigh’s Mosaic. The idea is simple but sprawling—to highlight local talent and to promote dance nightlife and DJ culture. This year, Feinberg and Ward decided to make an essential change in format, allowing individual crews the chance to throw their own night. Squads like Jamla, Beatmaker’s Ball and Oak City Hustle have built several days and nights of quality local lineups—plus national headliners like Young Guru, Cosmo Baker, DeeJay Theory and Keith Evan. Tonight, the spring edition launches the final weekend of...

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Live: Redemption with Ryley Walker

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 5:41 PM

Yesterday afternoon, three people asked me the same question about my evening’s entertainment plans: “Why are you going to that show?” The gig belonged to Ryley Walker, an Illinois guitarist and singer-songwriter whose second record, Primrose Green, I dismissed as an act of “pure creative anachronism and affectation” earlier this year. Why, then, take a bus from Durham to Chapel Hill and catch a late-night ride back to Raleigh just to see someone you don’t like play music? It’s a fair question, I suppose. Thing is, though, I like Ryley Walker, a lot. His guitar playing (perhaps more informed by...

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Live: Lila Downs' multicultural Mexican translations

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 3:50 PM

Lila Downs Carolina Theatre, Durham Friday, May 2, 2015 Lila Downs swept onto the Carolina Theatre stage in a hot pink mermaid skirt, her black top emblazoned with matching roses. Black braids hung from her head; a clutch of flowers, just starting to wilt, hung from her microphone stand. Behind her and her cantina-ready band, visual and lyrical translations appeared on a projection screen, while house lights flickered in time with the music. With her prodigious vocal talents in evidence, Downs’ stage show drew wild acclaim from the Durham audience, all completely on board for a sense-saturated ride through indigenous...

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Live: Sufjan Stevens' deep explorations of death

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 1:12 PM

Sufjan Stevens, Moses Sumney Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Thursday, April 7, 2015 “Can I tell you a secret?” Moses Sumney cooed near the middle of an all-too-brief opening set on Thursday night in Durham. “My wings are made of plastic.” Accompanying himself with finger-snaps and guitar strums, it was a disclosure that stood for the entire evening at the Durham Performing Arts Center, from Sumney’s quiet brilliance to Sufjan Stevens’ massive spectacle of grief: the fabrication of the magical, the construction of closeness. Though I missed the beginning of his set, Sumney offered an enormously intriguing presence, combining the vocal...

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dig in to a new single from Heads on Sticks, Decision/Surrender/Landscape

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2015 at 11:55 AM

During the past few years, Heads on Sticks—led by Birds of Avalon bassist David Mueller—has maintained an impressive output pace. Since 2010, he has refined his brash mashups of brain-melting indie rock and propulsive dance grooves, reaching a new peak on the excellent Phantasm in Tutu in 2013. That was the fourth year in a row Heads on Sticks mustered at least one EP or LP, an impressive studio run matched by an increasingly scintillating live band. It was a bit surprising, then, when 2014 passed without a new release. But Heads on Sticks did put out new music last...

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Five Words with Matthew E. White, in Durham tonight

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2015 at 9:04 AM

During “Steady Pace,” on his 2012 LP, Big Inner, Matthew E. White croons, “As long as we are moving at a steady pace, baby, we can take our time." The song is about relationships, but it offers a suitable motto for his own steadily ascending career, too, wherein he blends soul, gospel and rock into slick and beautiful songs. The excellent Big Inner gradually earned White international attention. His March follow-up, Fresh Blood, is a sharper, more confident elaboration on that beginning. He’s backed by his super-tight Spacebomb Records crew out of Richmond. As a collective, Spacebomb revives the house-band style of recording, so popular...

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Deep South gets the State Fair's music contract, but flubs its own Oak City 7 series

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 5:46 PM

During the last six months, several people have asked me what I would do differently if I booked the bands at the N.C. State Fair. It’s not a random question: For several years, seemingly excessive expenditures by the Department of Agriculture for acts inside and around Dorton Arena have been a strange personal fascination. In December, the weird hobby culminated in a story that revealed the state had lost nearly $900,000 on such sets in four years—that is, after hiring an agent with little-to-no experience. That’s when the questions, for which I still have no definitive answer, began. Lucky for...

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Live: Mandolin Orange warms to its homecoming

Posted By and on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 11:56 AM

Mandolin Orange & Ryan Gustafson Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill Saturday, May 2, 2015 When Emily Frantz introduced “There Was A Time” Saturday night at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Memorial Hall, she called it an “old one.” The barbed, heartbreaking tune appears on 2013’s This Side of Jordan, Mandolin Orange’s most recent album before the new Such Jubilee. But from the weary looks on the faces of the hard-touring Frantz and her partner Andrew Marlin, two years can be a long time on the road, wearing you down differently than merely sitting in an audience. The popular Carrboro pair took sometime to settle...

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In the sandbox: A review of Sylvan Esso's new remix website

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 10:17 AM

Sylvan Esso's new supplemental website, hskt.co, has one function—to remix "H.S.K.T.," a track from the voguish Durham dance-pop duo's self-titled 2014 debut. The site is minimal; what little text appears instructs you to use the space bar to start the beat and then to explore the keyboard to find other instrument and vocal tracks. You can then build the song again from zero, or shape your own version of it. It's a cool idea, a potentially clever way for this minimalist electronica outfit to allow fans to deconstruct and reconstruct Sylvan Esso—especially ahead of the just-announced remix collection for "H.S.K.T.," out...

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Live: Old Crow Medicine Show and Sturgill Simpson cut through classics and more

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 6:52 PM

Old Crow Medicine Show, Sturgill Simpson Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Cary Saturday, May 2, 2015 Playing one of the first dates of his band's spring tour Saturday night in Cary, Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor tried to explain how the group has kept busy while off the road—including traveling to Los Angeles to pick up Grammy statues for 2014’s Remedy. "This is from that hillbilly country album that won in the folk category because Nashville doesn't remember what country is like," Secor said, introducing “Tennessee Bound,” a reworking of an old bluegrass song. With breakneck fiddle and banjo meeting an instantly...

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Live: Jazmine Sullivan puts it on at The Ritz

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 4:22 PM

Jazmine Sullivan The Ritz, Raleigh Wednesday, April 29, 2015 “We’re about to get a little ’hood,” announced Philadelphia vocalist Jazmine Sullivan on Wednesday night to a nearly sold-out Ritz. It was the setup for “#HoodLove,” a track from her recent Reality Show LP. “Is that OK with everyone?”  In 2009, shortly after Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows” climbed to popularity, my precious 1994 Toyota Corolla was the victim of a late-night window bashing. I heard it happening as I was entertaining company inside of my south Durham apartment. Within minutes, a squad car arrived, and the officer arrested the first person...

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Friday, May 1, 2015

No FLOTUS for Hootie: Peter Holsapple on playing one of David Letterman's final shows with Hootie & the Blowfish

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 4:30 PM

More than two decades ago, Columbia, South Carolina’s Hootie & the Blowfish made their national TV debut on The Late Show with David Letterman, performing “Hold My Hand.” That appearance—and Dave’s enthusiastic approval—represented perhaps the beginning of the avalanche that became Hootie’s multi-platinum debut success with Cracked Rear View. It is now co-ranked as the 16th best-selling album of all time in this country. So it was lovely and appropriate for the band, with whom I’ve performed and recorded for about two decades now, to be asked back for Letterman’s victory lap, as he ends his 33 years on...

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The Hit List: Looking back at some of Mandolin Orange's best tunes

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 2:50 PM

Since forming in 2009, Carrboro’s Mandolin Orange has grown in most every respect. They’ve shifted from an earnest bluegrassy duo to a more mature outfit that handles full-band finesse as easily as simple duo songs. They’ve moved up and up through bigger local rooms and toured internationally. It was five years ago Tuesday that the band played the release party for their first LP, Quiet Little Room, at Chapel Hill’s 250-capacity Local 506. On Saturday, the band celebrates LP number four, Such Jubilee, at the 1,400-seat Memorial Hall on UNC’s campus. For the occasion, we’ve culled some of Mandolin Orange’s...

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It's May 1st. Where's the Hopscotch lineup?

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 1:31 PM

Exactly a month ago, via Twitter, the Hopscotch Music Festival promised they’d announce the 2015 lineup “this month.” April Fools, perhaps? Four weeks later, there’s still no word on when the lineup announcement will land. For the festival's first five years, the lineup has been released between March 31st and April 24th, but there's been very little said about this year's festival, the first under new ownership. Hopscotch has at least dropped heavy hints about acts via Twitter—Battles, Chelsea Wolfe, Father, Sheer Mag—but they’ve only officially proclaimed two bands: industrial metal titans Godflesh and improviser-in-residence Owen Pallett. But those...

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