Saturday, May 29, 2010

Videos from Spider Bags and Whatever Brains

This is going to be a quick one because I'm trying to get on the road to Morehead for the weekend. Planning to see Old Habits at Chef's 105 while I'm down there.

Anyway, Thursday was my second time seeing Spider Bags, and I liked them just as much as the first time (earlier this year at the Double Barrel Benefit). Guitarist/vocalist Dan McGee, who let me interview him earlier this week, graciously gave me a copy of the band's album "Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueller World", which I appreciated because I lost a lot of my music when my PC died.

Spider Bags from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Garage punks Whatever Brains opened the show, which kind of surprised me because I thought they were the better-known band. I'm actually pretty neutral about Whatever Brains. I don't really go out of my way to see them, but when I do, I usually like what they're doing, which was the case on Thursday.

Whatever Brains from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Five Questions with Dan from Spider Bags

I have to admit to a prejudice: I really never thought a couple of guys from New Jersey could play bluesy drunken fuzz rock the way Spider Bags do. The first time I heard them I figured they had to be from around here, or at least from some place where there's a good local road house specializing in bourbon and the blues. My only experience with New Jersey has been driving through as fast as I could in order to get to New York. Maybe New Jersey is cooler than I think, because this band, which now calls Chapel Hill home, play with the kind of road-weary experience that comes from a life full of heartbreak -- but no regrets. And they're starting to get namechecked among two other local bands that have perfected that particular genre, The Moaners and The Loners.

Dan McGee (vocals/guitar) and Gregg Levy (bass) are the New Jerseyites. Rock Forbes (drummer, formerly with trash rockers The Bad Checks) is the North Carolinian. Dan graciously answered five questions for me here. You can check them out this Thursday at the Local Band/Local Beer show at Tir na Nog.

1. How have you and Gregg changed creatively since moving to N.C.?

I've gotten better.  Every minute I spend in the south I get stronger and smarter.  I don't think I'll be writing any 'new grass' records though if that's what you're asking.

2. Who is the most underrated guitar player in the world and why?

Steve Cropper is one of my favorites.  He worked at Stax records in Memphis, TN.  He was a record producer and song writer, co-wrote (Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay with Otis Redding, and played guitar in Booker T. and the M.G.'s.  His guitar playing was all about tone and melody, really simple but really hard to do and kind of different from the way people play today.  He had control of not only the notes he was playing but also the way they sound.  He never played fast and he never played a lot of notes but his stuff is really subtle and a lot of fun to listen to.  I could listen his solo on Booker T.'s 'Hip Hug Her' a million times and probably have.  Look it up.  I don't think people mention his name a lot when they talk about great guitar players, but shit, anything you need to know about playing electric guitar you could find on one of his records.

3. What's your favorite hangover cure?

Kentucky bourbon on ice served in a coffee mug.  Drink two of those while watching the Bad News Bears.  If that can't solve whatever problem you're having you might not be human.

4. What's the story behind that photo of you and Gregg jumping into the pool? (See the photo and Indy article here.)

The owl photo just kind of happened.  We had to do something for an article in the Indy Weekly and I thought it would be a cool image or at least an interesting image and definitely better than the two of standing in front of a brick wall.  Luckily the photographer Jeremy Lange is a totally awesome dude and  great photographer and he was able to pull it off.  The Indy Weekly named it one of the best staff photos of 2009 which is funny as hell and says a lot about what a talented guy Jeremy is.

5. Was The Godfather II really as good as the original?

Yes without a doubt every bit as good. Completely amazing.  How is it possible that third one is such a giant piece of shit?

(Photo above taken at the Double Barrel Benefit, Feb. 6, 2010)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Check out my article in Our State!

I spent a lot of time earlier this year researching and writing about the newly conceived African American Music Trail, which commemorates the contributions of African American musicians living in a wide swath of Eastern North Carolina. I had the pleasure of interviewing some fascinating people, including Maceo Parker (who told me some wonderful stories about his days with James Brown) and the members of The Monitors. My story is out this month in Our State magazine. The magazine doesn't put its articles online, but they do have a fabulous video of The Monitors on their Web site. Please check it out!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"You're the music; we're just the band"

The title of this post is a direct quote from Pentagram's Bobby Liebling, who just might be the most grateful frontman in rock 'n' roll. Seriously, I lost count of the "God Bless You's" he delivered to the audience during the band's show Friday night at Volume 11. Never have I seen anyone so happy to be on stage, and so full of love for his bandmates (including original guitarist Victor Griffin) and for the people there to see him.

Despite a few amp problems, the band put on a solid show with many of the classics, including "Relentless", "Sign of the Wolf" and "All Your Sins."  Bobby mugged it up the whole time, dancing, leering and collapsing dramatically on the stage. During a break, he took the opportunity to tell us about the new baby boy he and his new wife are expecting, which obviously contributed to his joyous mood.

The audience was just as appreciative as Bobby, as you can see by this video of "All your Sins." The bald dude standing beside me was INTO IT! So much so that no matter where I moved the camera, that bald head sneaked into just about every shot.

Pentagram - "All Your Sins" from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Opening for Pentagram was Black Tusk, who are part of the whole Kylessa/Baroness Savannah scene. I liked them a lot, and bought the album (on pink vinyl!), though I will note that the digital download included in the album didn't work for me. The lights were down low for their set, so this video isn't much to look at.

Black Tusk from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Video of Mount Moriah at Tir na Nog

Blogging on the MacBook is giving me a few initial headaches, but now that I've gotten some technical advice from a Mac guru friend, I think it will be easier than ever. It took me longer than I wanted to upload the Mount Moriah, but here it is. Too bad it was one of the band's quieter songs, because you can hear a whole lot of crowd chatter in this one. 

This was my first time seeing Mount Moriah, and I might have to rethink my previous assertion that Ryan Gustafson has the best voice in the Drughorse Collective. Heather McEntire's voice is beautiful, high and sweet, and actually reminded me at times of Dolly Parton, though my companions thought that comparison was off-base. Check out the video and see what you think. 

Mount Moriah from Mann's World on Vimeo.

See more photos from the show.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dungen, Bowerbirds, Raekwon added to Hopscotch lineup!

The organizers of Hopscotch have released the second batch of band additions for the September festival, and it's a great one. When Grayson sent out the word, I wrote back and told him he had seriously made my day by adding Swedish psychedelists Dungen (above) to the bill. He wrote back and told me to make sure and tell all of you that. So, there you go. My day has been made.

A few more locals made the bill too: Bellafea, In the Year of the Pig and Bright Young Things.

Here's the full list of additions:
Actual Proof, The Away Team, Bellafea, Big Remo, Bright Young Things, Dungen, Floating Action, In the Year of the Pig, Kaze, K-Hill, Locrian, Raekwon, Rapsody, The Remix Project, Skyzoo, Tyler Woods, Woods 

Raekwon will join Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder of Durham Friday, Sept. 10, at Lincoln Theatre for a showcase curated by 9th Wonder. Nearly a dozen local groups will join that bill, including Actual Proof, The Away Team, Big Remo, Kaze, K-Hill, Rapsody, The Remix Project, Skyzoo and Tyler Woods. 

Also, if you are on the fence about going to this festival, or just too lazy to have gotten your ticket, you'd better get a move on. Grayson also told me that club tickets are moving fast, and probably won't last through June. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Five Questions with Ryan Gustafson

This week marks my return to the weekly Five Questions interview. I did this when I was writing for New Raleigh last year, but took a break from it when I decided to concentrate on my own blog. But I actually really liked doing the interviews (though they sometimes took up a surprising amount of my time) so I've decided to resurrect the feature here.

And who better to start with than Ryan Gustafson? Seriously, the buzz surrounding the whole Drughorse Collective (Max Indian, Love Language, Light Pines and more) is just growing and growing.  And Gustafson is right in the center, with a fabulous voice and a slightly twangy sound.
Gustafson is opening for Superchunk this Friday, May 21, at Cat's Cradle.

1. You are in at least three bands (Max Indian, Light Pines and your own) with Carter Gaj and James Wallace. How does your musical interaction with them change in each band?

it has made us very tight, as well as influenced by eachothers strengths. we push eachother further creatively i think. we can read eachother really well. carter and i have been playing so much guitar togather sometimes we wont even realize that we're bouncing parts off of eachother. i'll leave space for him to play, and right when i come in he'll leave space for me to play with out ever having gone over it before. we've learned to read the very small things about eachother like little eye, or body movents. aswell as just listening to eachother. 

2. The Drughorse Collective's "Drughorse One" was released in March. Can we infer by the title that there will be follow ups? 
yes. not sure when though. 

3. Are you a good cook? If so, what's your specialty?
i think im a good cook. but i dont use recipes so sometimes the food is pretty strange. lately ive been making big breakfasts. sauteed veggies (in olive oil not butter), with tofo and herbs, 2 poached eggs on toast with pepper and some avacdo. thats about as far as i go. i havent been as broke as i usually am latly so ive been able to make nicer food. 

4. You've said before that your parents played music, and that was a great influence on you. Did they ever have a band together?
no, they never played in bands. my dad did sing in a traveling chior though. my mom was never serious about music but she did have a guitar around. my great grand parents generation had a full family band with about 12 members in sweden i think. 

5. Where would you rather be: In a city, on a mountain or on a deserted beach?

hmmmm. thats a hard one for me. inbetween a mountain and a city. ive been thinking about this one for a long time. ive always been atracted to the idea of "of the grid" living that can be easier to get in the mountains, but im also one of the people that love the energy of a big city. probably a little bit of both. 

(Photo of Ryan Gustafson, above, by Nicole Coyle)


Friday really does seem to be the best day for rock in the Triangle. In addition to the Superchunk/Ryan Gustafson show, there's Small Ponds and Luego at the Pour House, Gray Young at the Pinhook, Greg Humphries at the Six String Cafe, and of course the mighty doom rock legends Pentagram at Volume 11 Tavern.

Thursday you should not miss Mount Moriah, who will be opening the Local Band Local Beer show at Tir na Nog. Also on Thursday, The Bronzed Chorus will be at the Pinhook with Hog, and Black Skies and Music Hates You will be at Local 506.

On Saturday, Caltrop and Minor Stars are at Dive Bar and Actual Persons Living or Dead are at Pinhook.

If you are in Raleigh on Saturday, please come to the Bee Ball! It's an annual event sponsored by The Beehive, of which I am a member. It's a good excuse to get really dolled up and dance your butt off. Plus you get to cast your vote for such local luminaries as Trent Bowles, Geoff Gann and Abby Nardo. Last year's kick off event was totally fun, and I expect this years to be so as well. 

And I must apologize to APLOD, Dave Cantwell in particular, because I told them I would include an .mp3 from their new CD here to promote their show, but in the last week my old HP computer, which was just barely hanging on, up and died on me altogether.  That's in addition to the refrigerator, which died yesterday. Yours truly went TODAY and bought a brand new Mac Book, so, yes, I finally made the switch from a PC to a Mac, and I think I'm going to be a lot happier with it. That's a long way of saying I don't have the ftp/iLife thing figured out, so I don't have an .mp3 to give you just yet. That will come soon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This week's cool shows: Insplosure and more

This weekend's best show isn't a show at all. If you find yourself wandering around at Artsplosure (whose musical line up isn't doing much for me this year), definitely pop into the Pour House to take a look at what some amazing local artists are doing. This year's stable of artists includes Greg Clayton, Leigh Griffin Harris, Chris Williams (Plastic Flame), Troy Jeffries, Kirk Adam, Julia Hoffman and many, many more.Plus it's a good spot to stop and get a cocktail before heading back out into the sun. 

Musically, this week's cool shows include Citified and Fan-Tan at Local 506 on Friday, Pontiak with Arboretum and Caltrop at Nightlight on Saturday, and Richard Bacchus and the Luckiest Girls with Rat Jackson at Slim's, also on Saturday. 

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Check out the video for Future Islands' Tin Man

Future Islands - Tin Man from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

It's been out for about a month, but I just now got around to watching it. LOVE the fact that it was partially filmed in my hometown. Lots of great, iconic Morehead City views from my childhood, including the vista from atop the Morehead/Beaufort bridge. And it's really funny that Janie Davenport (Miss Morehead 1970, spied briefly in the video) is a family friend. Great video and great song!

UPDATE! Jake Seaton rightfully reminded me that Future Islands did a killer session, including a version of Tin Man on Sessions from Studio B. Check it out!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What's the Triangle's most musically walkable city?

The awesome new blog Prison for Jerks asks that question. Since I spend a lot of time in the Slim's-Landmark/Remedy-Tir na Nog/Pour House triangle, I have give Raleigh the nod. PFJ thinks otherwise. What do YOU think?

This week's cool shows: Mystery show and more!

This week's show of the week is undoubtedly the Thursday show at Tir na Nog that we've all been asked not to post on the Internet (after it was posted on Facebook). You probably know who it is already. If you're friends with Chris Tamplin on Facebook, then you definitely know who it is. The idea is that this should be a word-of-mouth only show, so I won't reveal it here, though I will say that I'm glad the band is making good on a favor they've owed Tamplin since January.

The other big show of the week is Megafaun and Mount Moriah at Cat's Cradle on Friday. Richmond's Great White Jenkins are opening. Greensboro's Citified will be at Slim's on Friday with Gray Young, and Broad Street Cafe on Saturday with Free Electric State. Static Minds are playing Abe Quinn's birthday blowout Saturday at Slim's so expect the alcohol to be flowing for that one. Future Islands are holding their CD-release show with Lonnie Walker TONIGHT at the Berkeley. And finally Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are at Cat's Cradle next Tuesday, May 11.

Finally, this isn't music-related, but I really love this particular organization and believe in what they do: The Coalition to Unchain Dogs is holding its Fashion Unchained fundraiser on Saturday at Marbles Kids Museum. Please check it out!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Hot nites

It's no secret that Sir Arthur & the Royal Knights were one of my favorite bands around here. I even had them play my birthday party a couple of years ago. I loved their Nuggets-style nasty garage rock. So when Arthur quit  and the band decided to go on as the Royal Nites with Abe Quinn singing, I kind of had mixed feelings, especially when I kept hearing that the band sounds vastly different now.

Friday night at Slim's I found out that sounding different is an awesome thing, because now they sound pretty much like AC/DC, which is of course my second favorite band in the world (next to Led Zeppelin). The main force driving the AC/DC comparison is Abe who sound almost exactly like Brian Johnson, but yet has all of Bon Scott's swagger. I'll admit that they sounded a bit more original with the more garag-y sound, but I love them ten times more like this.

Check out the video below.

The Royal Nites from Mann's World on Vimeo.

The Spring Collection, which is the new band with Sam Madison, Greg Rice and Mark Connor (sorry, don't know the drummer's name), had the un-enviable duty of following the Royal Nites. This was their debut show, and I really wasn't sure what to expect. Turns out that it's intelligent, skinny-tie pop, reminding me very much of early Joe Jackson. Good stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

Oh, and btw, Slim's has upgraded their sound system, so all the bands sounded great. I didn't stick around for the Loners, but I imagine they sounded fine too.

The Spring Collection from Mann's World on Vimeo.