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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Talking with Banjo Player Kaia Kater: The Director's Cut

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 4:35 PM

This is a longer version of an article that appeared in print and online under the title "Tense Strings."  Kaia Kater never wanted to mix her racial identity with her music. She grew up in a mixed-race Canadian family where folk jams were the norm every Thanksgiving and Boxing Day, with a luthier grandfather who made her a guitar—a twin of her grandmother’s instrument—when she had barely started elementary school and her bluegrass-playing fourth-grade teacher gifted her with a bandmate’s banjo soon after. In her early teens, Kater saw an ascending Carolina Chocolate Drops perform at the Ottawa Folk Festival—for...

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Half a Century into His Career, Aaron Neville Keeps the Faith

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 12:13 PM

Aaron Neville claims he’s just a simple singer. When asked how he developed his signature falsetto, he says he never “tried to do anything special,” that he just expresses “his heart," and that his voice has merely changed along with him over the years. But he's clearly just being modest. Neville has one of the most distinctive voices in soul, one that will be on display when he kicks off the 2016–17 Duke Performances season Friday night in Baldwin Auditorium. It is his voice that has allowed him to sustain his fifty-five-year career in popular music. His trembling vocals add...

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Durham's Art of Cool Festival Announces Its 2017 Dates

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 3:53 PM

This evening, as part of Northgate Mall’s “Music on the Plaza” series, The Art of Cool Project is celebrating its five-year anniversary as the Triangle’s pivotal jazz and soul scene pillar. While the celebration undoubtedly hits its stride when AOCP cofounder and trumpeter Al Strong puts his horn to work alongside friends of an equally musical bent, it got an extra bump earlier today when the dates for next year’s Art of Cool Festival were announced: April 28-30, 2017. And yes, the festival will remain in its birthplace of downtown Durham. In the past, AOCF organizers announced the dates for the...

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Folkin' with Greensboro: The Gate City Hosts 2016's National Folk Festival

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 12:20 PM

National Folk Festival Downtown Greensboro Friday, September 9-Sunday, September 11, 2016 It's like a free, all-you-can-eat buffet. The National Folk Festival's second coming to Greensboro makes you want to load up your plate with goodies and gobble 'em up till you're so full you can't move. It may be a three-day event, but once it's laid out in front of you, it will be hard to resist taking it in as much as you possibly can. Although the festival officially began Friday night at six p.m., Saturday's noon kickoff seemed like the best starting point. Eleven-year-old N.C. native Presley Barker's...

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Come Out and Show Them, an All-Star Anti-HB 2 Benefit, Set to Light Up Raleigh

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 11:43 AM

Wow, just when you thought the last big festival was over and things had settled down a bit music-fest-wise, here comes another one, and it’s big. Come Out and Show Them is a large-scale anti-HB 2 benefit that will involve thirty-two musical acts at five venues in Raleigh on October 7 and 8. It brings together an all-star slate of Triangle’s finest—Sylvan Esso, Mipso, Mount Moriah, Tift Merritt, Mac MacCaughan, Tres Chicas—uniting forces for a two-night event that aims to raise funds to not only defeat the state's absurd bathroom bill but to take back the state itself. The proceeds...

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hopscotch, Night Three: Hail, Baroness

Posted By on Sun, Sep 11, 2016 at 4:50 PM

Hopscotch Music Festival Downtown Raleigh Saturday, September 10, 2016 We made it! If you’re like me, making it to the end of Hopscotch weekend meant surviving a continual onslaught of Kind bars, realizing that your shoes aren’t quite as comfortable as you previously thought, and occasionally Googling to determine if hyponatremia should be an actual concern after constantly downing water for three days. Though the fatigue from a long Thursday evening followed by back-to-back all-day marathons was in full force midway through Saturday night, Baroness made it worth pushing through when it took the Lincoln Theatre stage to cap the...

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Hopscotch, Night Three: A Big Beat Closeout

Posted By on Sun, Sep 11, 2016 at 4:19 PM

Hopscotch Music Festival Downtown Raleigh Saturday, September 10, 2016 One quick note about Erykah Badu’s Friday night Hopscotch performance, because despite everyone’s crankiness over her showing up to Red Hat Amphitheater nearly two hours late, there's one major takeaway from the situation. For the previous six years, Hopscotch never seemed able to draw as many African-Americans as it did that night for Badu’s set. Not for Public Enemy in 2010, The Roots in 2012, nor De La Soul in 2014. But of course, many of those African-Americans who attended the Badu show were single show-ticket holders, which meant that they...

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hopscotch, Night Two: Mic Checks and Balances

Posted By on Sat, Sep 10, 2016 at 2:48 PM

Hopscotch Music Festival Downtown Raleigh Friday, September 9, 2016 Was it something we said? After a smooth start to the festival, night two of Hopscotch was plagued by timing issues that led to extended periods of waiting around and listening to endless streams of piped-in house music, thanks to the delayed sets of two key performers. But amidst those snafus—more on that later—Friday also brought some very impressive highs that helped smooth things over. First, there was Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals, who claimed the middle slot at City Plaza. Admittedly, I’ve always had a hard time connecting with...

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Hopscotch, Night Two: Timing Tangles Erykah Badu and Young Thug

Posted By on Sat, Sep 10, 2016 at 11:19 AM

Hopscotch Music Festival Downtown Raleigh Friday, September 9, 2016 How was your second day of Hopscotch? This year’s Friday ‘Scotch was a solid night of music filled with some stellar shows, a few of which were marred by that perennial problem of multi-venue festivals, aka the domino effect that results when acts go on late. If you were a fan expecting to see resplendent Atlanta rap star Young Thug or neo-soul icon Erykah Badu (or both) in addition to the rest of the festival’s programming, you probably had a rough night. Attendees flocked to the newly-Hopscotchized Red Hat Amphitheater to...

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Hopscotch, Night One: A Hurried Ramble Around Raleigh

Posted By on Sat, Sep 10, 2016 at 10:25 AM

Hopscotch Music Festival Downtown Raleigh Thursday, September 8, 2016 Biking back and forth from one venue to another may be convenient, but it’s completely overrated in all of its zippy and unsociable bee lines, as I learned on night one of my seventh year attending Hopscotch Music Festival. For one, you miss the opportunity to bump into complete strangers who may mistake you (in this case, an African-American male) for a rapper. Not any specific rapper on the festival lineup, but just any rapper with a set of teeth. Secondly, while it’s great that downtown Raleigh’s streets are demarcated to...

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Hopscotch, Night One: Semi-Charmed Kind of Start

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 10:33 AM

Hopscotch Music Festival Downtown Raleigh Thursday, September 8, 2016 Not every Hopscotch is created equal. Poor weather always threatens to throw a curveball, as those who saw The Roots play a waterlogged set at Hopscotch 2012 may recall. The same goes for the looming possibility of acts throwing up a last-minute cancelation, as with Deerhunter last year. The winds of fate have so far been blowing in Hopscotch’s favor this year; Thursday’s proceedings went off with nary a missing band or raincloud to speak of. Friday’s shows, which include Hopscotch’s first at Red Hat Amphitheater, ramp the festival up, and...

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Old Dog, New Grass: A Q-and-A with Mandolin Monarch Sam Bush

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2016 at 10:58 AM

When Sam Bush started his career in the early seventies, he was an unlikely candidate for bluegrass royalty. Accompanied by a band of scruffy, long-haired pickers, his irreverent takes on bluegrass were met with scorn and outright enmity by many of the older fans. But the elder statesmen of the time were surprisingly open to what Bush was doing, and in time, older fans grew to appreciate his dedication and talent. A new generation grew up revering Bush for his innovative ideas, incorporating the works of Bob Marley into his sets (“One Love” and “Coming in from the Cold” make...

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Listen to "Radio," a Sharp New Song from Sylvan Esso

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 9:41 AM

Durham's Sylvan Esso has been laying low for much of the year after spending most of 2014 and 2015 tearing up the road in support of its self-titled debut LP. But overnight, the duo released "Radio," a bouncy new tune that jabs at the exhausting media machinations that boost and bully so many musicians.  The song isn't quite a departure from the Sylvan Esso's earlier cool electropop, but it seethes with a fresh urgency—and at times, even aggression—that makes for a sharp and interesting edge. You can grab "Radio" on a twelve-inch single that's out out on November 18...

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