Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Five questions with Clang Quartet!

The description on Clang Quartet's Myspace pretty much says it all: "13 years of NOISE for Jesus!!!" If you  know Scotty Irving, the Greensboro drummer who is the sole member of Clang Quartet, you know it sums him up too. Scotty loves some extreme music, almost as much as he loves Jesus Christ. Clang Quartet is his vehicle for expressing both. Clang Quartet will open for Lightning Bolt and In the Year of the Pig this Friday at Local 506.

1. How has Clang Quartet changed over the years?

When I started the show in 1997, I was still working out details on the show. I had a station wagon full of instruments and props and now I have just enough to fill a trunk of a normal car. The show is much more focused than it was. Imagine a slab of marble that is being chiseled away at in the act of making a sculpture. Each stroke makes it more like the object it is going to be. I feel the biggest change in the show occured in 2000-2001 when I truly began to trust that God was in charge and let God do the sculpting instead of trying to do it, myself. I'll watch some videos of the first few years of this show and I see a man trying to give it to God but failing to do so!

2. You once told me that born again Christians were often a more difficult audience than just your average rock club audience. Is that still the case, or are Christians starting to understand what you're doing?

I play shows for churches once in a while and sometimes Christians will come to other shows that I am performing. Overall, I still find that type of audience to be the most difficult to deal with, but it IS easier than it was! Because the show is largely based on starting my life without Christ, the stumbling blocks that I have fought to get around, and then my life WITH Christ and the much better results I feel I have gotten, many Christians can relate to what the message of the show is. Some are put off by the free-form drumming and the Noise aspects. But that can be the case with non-Christian audiences, as well. I guess it comes down to whether or not the person in question is familiar with sounds outside of their normal listening habits. Christians that come to my shows sometimes have an idea of me being a part of the Christian contemporary scene, which is not exactly what I am, eh? That said, I get e-mails, snail mail, and phone calls from people who call themselves Christians who feel that Clang Quartet has given them something to relate to as far as Christian music/sound/whatever is concerned.

3. What's your favorite underrated horror flick?

I don't think most of the ones I like are considered underrated. Some horror fans would probably feel that I am not really a horror movie fan because I have not seen some of the lesser known ones out there. That said, I am more into giant monster/dinosaur films.

4. What WOULD Jesus do?

I think the Bible says that better than me! I will add that putting Jesus first means that I look in the mirror and point fingers at myself more than I allow myself to point fingers at others for what I feel is wrong with the world. Clean up your own back yard before you start to yell about your neighbors yard! I try to allow Jesus to be an image that people see as something positive in me instead of the negative image that too many people have of him. I have met some people who told me that if they had met me early on they might have felt better about Jesus than they do now. I heard a quote from a movie that I think fits this question and I will add my own wording for the reading audience: God is perfect, religion is flawed. Why? Because MANKIND is flawed. People outside the Christian community sometimes try to blame God for the shortcomings of the followers. Christians are people. We will do things incorrectly as will all people. Like I said, clean up your yard before yelling at your neighbor about theirs! HA!

5. Any chance for a Geezer Lake reunion?

Outside of North Carolina I never get asked about Geezer Lake. Playing with Geezer Lake made me a better musician and more creative as a performer but it also became something of an albatross around my neck in the early days of Clang Quartet. Certain people acted (and still do) as if Scotty Irving now is nothing but a bad version of Scotty Irving then and I simply will not accept that. Although I could never have started the Clang Quartet show if I had never been a member of Geezer Lake, I have moved on to levels that Geezer Lake could never have taken me to. I am aware that some people will read this scornfully. Some of my former bandmates in Geezer Lake could be among them, although they probably would not admit it. As for a reunion, we did one in 2000 that I am happy to have been a part of, but I will have to admit that within five minutes of getting all of us together I remembered why I wanted out to begin with. It is amazing we managed to last eight years considering how much we could sometimes get on each others nerves. I am not the easiest person to be in a band with, so I will take responibility for my own actions as this time. I think I have said enough about this! Sorry if this answer is a let down for anyone.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Photos and video from TRK Fest!

Years ago I spent three weeks living on a farm in Saxapahaw, and came to the conclusion then that, despite popular belief, it's actually a hell of a lot hotter in the country than it is in a city. I thought about that Saturday at TRK Fest while witnessing several local musicians, and a whole lot of local music fans, on the verge of passing out due to heat exhaustion. Poor Ryan Gustafson (below) looked like he was just going to melt up on stage. The only good thing I can say about the heat is that I sweated so hard I only had to make a trip to the dreaded port-a-potty - in which it was easily about 30 degrees hotter -- once. 

I had decided early on I wasn't going to stay till the bitter end, mainly because I didn't want to drive back to Raleigh from Pittsboro after Megafaun's 11 p.m. set. I got there right before Ryan Gustafson took the stage and stayed through Mount Moriah (below), catching Veelee (top) and Butterflies in the process. I would have liked to have taken the Piedmont Biofuels tour and stayed around for Midtown Dickens, but I was just spent by that point. See more photos from the show

I was glad to catch Butterflies for the first time, and more impressed with Veelee this time around. But Mount Moriah stole what little of the show I saw. Midtown Dickens and Phil Cook from Megafaun even joined them for "Lament". Other highlights of the day included making my first tie-dye since college, and finally trying an Only Burger, which was pretty tasty indeed. 

Mount Moriah from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Veelee from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Butterflies from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Ryan Gustafson from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Five questions with Will from Trekky Records! plus more great shows this week

Do you really need me to tell you why this Saturday's TRK Fest at Piedmont Biofuels in Pittsboro is the show of the week? OK, here are a few reasons:

* A full day of bands, including Megafaun, Mount Moriah and Ryan Gustafson.
* Awesome food vendors including Only Burger (yours truly hasn't tried them, but I see at least one Facebook update a day from one of their many rapturous fans)
* A chance for those of you who are upset over the oil spill to tour Piedmont Biofuels and learn how to be less dependent on fossil fuels
* Pants-off Dance-off.

Thanks to Trekky Records co-owner Will Hackney who answered five questions for me before the show. And here's the answer to the bonus sixth question: Camping isn't technically DIS-allowed, but it's also not encouraged.

1. How did Trekky Records end up in a partnership with Piedmont Biofuels for TRK Fest?

When we were developing the idea for TRKfest, we knew we wanted the venue to be somewhere slightly strange, where you wouldn't generally see a show. Our friends in Phosphorescent and Castanets had just played an impromptu show at Piedmont Biofuels, and that planted the idea in our heads. We went down to meet with them about it and they were very excited and supportive. We also really respect the work that Piedmont Biofuels and The Abundance Foundation do in the worlds of alternative fuels, sustainability and local food.

2. Please explain the Pants-off Dance-off.

The Pants-off Dance Off is a highly competitive, but extremely inclusive dance competition in which I play Outkast and people dance as hard as they can. It happens after the sun goes down, so its a nice, cathartic break from watching music all day in the sun. Its pretty amazing to watch a few hundred people groove really hard in front of a biodiesel processing facility. The winning team of the Pants-off Dance Off is awarded with the Trekky Records Catalog and, more importantly, much valued bragging rights for the year. Also, it should be noted, pants are not required to be off, but it may help participants score some points with the judges.

3. I've never had an Only Burger. What's so great about them?

I'm a vegetarian, so I've only had the veggie burger and the fries (which are delicious). But I'm pretty sure they use local meat, which I'm in support of. The best thing about OnlyBurger is they show up right when you need them. I was at the This Machine Kills Cancer benefit in Durham last night, and I had just performed and I was tired and famished. Then, as if they sensed my hunger, OnlyBurger drove up and made me some french fries. Magic! We're really thrilled to have those guys coming down for TRKfest, because it means people can really hang out all day and not have to leave for food. Lunch and dinner will only be a few steps away.

4. Is "Trekky" a reference to Star Trek, and if so, which do you prefer: The original Star Trek or Star Trek the Next Generation.

I actually have never seen an episode of Star Trek or the movie or anything. All I know is that the guy from Reading Rainbow was on it? The genesis of the label name comes from the fact that Martin Anderson, who founded the label, was in a punk band called Doctor Spock, which was actually a reference to the baby doctor. But everyone thought it was a Star Trek reference, so he jokingly called his label Trekky Records. This was when Martin was 12 years old, so we don't hold it against him.

(Karen's note: I'm flabbergasted that Will's never seen Star Trek, but then again I have a friend who has never seen Star Wars, so I guess it's not that crazy after all)

5. What's the one book you can't live without?

I just re-read The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner, so right now I'd say that one. The great thing about that book is it is so dense and complex that you can read it a dozen times and still get new things out of it. I have a new revelation about the characters with every re-visit. Faulkner's my man.

Also this week: The Bowerbirds play an early show Wednesday at Duke Gardens; Embarrassing Fruits with Yardwork and Whatever Brains for Local Band Local Beer, Thursday at Tir na Nog; Tonk at Goldbug Studios, also Thursday; Invisible Hand with Naked Gods Saturday at Slim's; Caltrop, Black Skies and Hog Sunday at Local 506; and Asheville's Town Mountain, with an early (7:30 p.m.) show Sunday at Tyler's Tap Room.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Five questions with The Beast! plus this week's cool shows

Deftly mixing hip hop and jazz, The Beast is one of the most musically adventurous and intelligent bands in the Triangle right now. They also have a deep need to give back to their community, having taught jazz education seminars at local high schools with the N.C. Jazz Repertory Orchestra. And it must be noted that MC Pierce Freelon is the son of local jazz great Nnenna Freelon, who will collaborate with the band once again on a "jazz an hip hop mix tape" to be released this fall. 

In the meantime you can check out the band during this Thursday's "Hip Hop vs. Rock" event with The Beast, Mosadi, Swaso and Freebase 808 at Broad Street Cafe. As you can see from the band's answers below, the event's not a contest as much as it is a musical discussion. "Who will win?" the band asks. You will if you go to this show. 

1. What's up with the Hip Hop vs. Rock show? It looks like all the bands have a little bit of both (and more!) in their sound, so is this really a "vs." situation?

You hit the nail on the head. All of the bands on our "Hip-Hop vs. Rock" bill have a healthy amount of hip-hop and soulful poetry in their music and an equal amount of adrenaline pumped, progressive indie/rock n’ roll as well. So the "vs." could be a reference to the duality that exists within each individual band. We each transcend traditional genre boundaries in some way. This show is aboutembracing Hip-Hop and Rock - as well as Soul, Jazz, Funk, Blues and all of the other "genres" that inspire us. 

The "vs." brand was really more of a marketing tool than anything else. It's likeAvatar. It's nice to have a big hollywood movie about environmentalism and respecting the rights of indigenous people, but it's much more marketable to play up "The Battle for Pandora". We're pandering to people's penchant for Darwinian-style battle royal competition between these mega-genres called Hip-Hop and Rock. Who will win? Pay $5 and find out on Thursday.

2. Where's the best place in the Triangle to watch the World Cup?

Steve Coffman our drummer says: “Tobacco Road in downtown Durham!  This is a new bar in those weird office buildings overlooking left field of the Durham Bulls stadium.  Although I am not usually a sports bar kind of guy, this spot had so much energy for the USA/England I watched on Saturday.  It was almost like a final four basketball crowd vibe.  There were numerous "USA!" chants, which I have to admit, usually make me feel uncomfortable, however the whole bar was so into it, I was screaming like a little girl.  Also, they have great beers and above-average pub fare. Go U S and A!”

3. The Beast has given music education seminars at local schools. Tell us about that, and why it's important to do so. 

Exposing young people to music, art, culture and extracurricular activities is important because it enriches their lives. Unfortunately, our school systems here in North Carolina are struggling with very little money and scrambling to make ends meet - so it's up to us, the people in the community, to fill that void. That's why we partner with dope organizations like SEEDs and Seesaw Studios and work with progressive schools like Durham Central Park School and Durham School of the Arts to bring jazz, hip-hop, music education and African American studies into the lives of the young people who make this city cool. Enriching these kids also enriches our collective lives as Durhamites and North Carolinians. If we nurture young, progressive, revolutionaries, they will carry the torch and keep our city alive, cutting edge, and vibrant. It's also our obligation, as privileged members of the community who got to go to college, to bring that knowledge back home to share it with our people. Lastly, it's about self-determination. When we were in high school, we would have loved to have taken a course on Hip-Hop, but didn’t get the opportunity. Now that we are in a position to create opportunities for others, we can't pass that up. We are writing, performing, creating and teaching what we love, and that passion compels us to find a way to share that joy with others. 

4. What's the best unknown, or little known, music act in the Triangle right now?

Keith Ganz and Kate McGarry are a husband and wife, guitar and vocal duo.  They just relocated to the Bull City (right around the corner from Steve) from New York to live the good ol' southern life.  They are world-class jazz musicians who have played with all of the big names in the jazz world and are settling down here to focus on their original music.   Looks like they have a show this Wednesday Duke Performances’ Music in the Garden series.  Everyone should check them out! 

5. Any chance you guys will perform on a Nnenna Freelon record?

There are a couple opportunities to catch a Nnenna Freelon/Beast collaboration. The first would be on our first EP, Belly, where Nnenna scats at the end of our sentimental ode to mothers, "Come Closer." The second would be on her recently-released album, Homefree which features a verse from Pierce on the re-arrangement of James Weldon Johnson's Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”  Actually, Steve’s drumkit was rented to the studio for Nnenna’s rhythm section to track on.  Does that make this song count as a Beast collaboration?  The third and most spectacular Beast/Nnenna collaboration is an upcoming project called Freedom Suite It's a jazz and Hip-Hop mixtape produced by The Beast and Nnenna hosted by 9th Wonder, which is coming out this fall.


Wow, this weekend there is just no shortage of great shows to see. In addition to the Hip Hop vs. Rock show on Thursday, there's also a Benefit to fight Multiple Sclerosis with a fabulous line up at Cat's Cradle. Mount Moriah and The Sundowners are among the bands scheduled on this bill. At Local 506, Static Minds and Richard Bacchus & the Luckiest Girls open for Dead Meadow. In Raleigh there's metal with Colossus at Tir na Nog, and the genre-bending (though mostly alt-country) Holy Ghost Tent Revival at Pour House.

For those who like it early and free, start off Friday evening at Sadlack's with The Spring Collection and Richard Bacchus & the Luckiest Girls. From there head down to Deep South for IWTDI, River City Ransom and Charlotte's Marco Pollo (about whom I know nothing about). 

Finally, looking forward a little bit, Bowerbirds will be at Duke Gardens next Wednesday.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This week's cool shows: Rebus Fest, Love Language opens for Phoenix and more!

By now you've probably heard the big news that The Love Language will open two dates for Phoenix, including the big Koka Booth show tomorrow night in Cary. You probably won't see me at this show. While I'm mildly curious about Phoenix, I'm not $32.50 worth of curious. If someone can find me a couple of $10 tickets, I'm there. But I do congratulate LL on securing this spot. I have a feeling they'll be headlining that place before long.

(Photo of Stu, above, by Jason Arthurs)

And just to get you in the mood for this show, here's an .mp3 from the band's soon-to-be released "Libraries" CD on Merge.

Of course the other big show of the week is the fourth annual Rebus Fest, happening from noon-6 p.m., Sunday at Rebus Works in Boylan Heights. There's a lot going on that day, so I asked Rebus Works owner Shonna Greenwell to tell us about it with 5 Questions.

1. What can we expect to see, hear and taste at this year's fest?

We have more vendors than ever this year, including both new and returning artists that will be selling a wide range of handmade items. We hope that attendees support these artists setup outside, and that each artist has a successful day, good enough to ensure their return next year. Without these artists, there would be no RebusFest!

To highlight a few of the vendors, we have Edge Barnes who integrates horse hair and bird feathers into his ceramics, Matt Butler is bringing his linocuts, and Caitlin Cary will have her collection of great baby clothes. Many of the artists have images that are on the web page that Sarah Blackmon put together for the event.  

We also have DJ Yes! sputnik this year starting us off for the first hour. He specializes in indie, electro, disco, funk and new wave. He will be filling in between sets as well. The first band is Pecosa (formally Tin Star) from Durham. They have a female singer whose voice is soft and ethereal. Second is Starmount with their atmospheric instrumentals that make any moment seem dreamy. Third is the The Small Ponds, which features the great songwriting duo of Caitlin Cary and Matt Douglas. Forth and going in the opposite direction is Torpor who describe themselves as grunge, thrash and crunk. The show will close with  Natural Science  (formally Heavy Pets) with the recent addition of a keyboard.

I'm very excited about the food choices this year.  Only Burger has been coming to Raleigh on First Fridays, (setting up outside of Rebus Works) and I've tried one of everything they offer, and it's all delicious!  They use "happy meat", a local butcher, a local baker and serve handmade french fries and veggie patties.  I can't say enough good things about this company. 

This will be the debut for Fired Flour at Rebus Works and they will be offering 10"  wood fired foods from $6 to $8. They do not currently have a website, but you can view a PDF about them on the RebusFest page.
Then finish off your meal with a tasty Locopop or baked goods from Crumb.  YUM!

And, of course, there will be plenty to drink from Carolina Brewing Company!

2. Why was it important for Rebus to sponsor a festival like this?

The idea for RebusFest grew from an artist lecture that was held at Rebus.  We (Sarah and I) were complaining about the lack of recognition and celebration that was happening in Raleigh at the time for both artist and musicians.  Basically the artist said "stop complaining and do something about it". That's exactly what we did, with the help of family and friends we pulled off the first RebusFest with only one month's worth of planning. We had also been advised that we should offer some type of food for day-long event. This has always been the most difficult part of planning but I really think this year we scored on the food choices. Overall, it is important for Rebus to sponsor this festival because we can. We have the space, the resources (artist and musicians) and it falls into our mission statement to promote community events. It all really boils down to bringing the community together and making something positive happen in Raleigh. I think from the time we started RebusFest to now (four years later!) there has been a tremendous amount of growth in the recognition of local talent.  

3. What's your favorite Locopop flavor?
I love all Locopops!  But if had to pick one I would go for the Mexican Chocolate, for the cream flavor, and Mojito for the sorbet.  

4. Tell us about the show up in the gallery now, "Life is Rich and Full" by Luke Miller Buchanan.
Having Luke Buchanan work up for RebusFest 4 is perfect.  His theme for "Life is Rich and Full" is all Raleigh-based imagery with layers and layers of content.  This is by far his best body of work to date and I believe this is just the start for Luke.  He is one of those artist who is interested in becoming better by doing.  

5. Any chance Rebus Fest will expand and become a larger festival?
This year's festival is larger. We have over 30 artist who will be set up outside, more food and music. I can not imagine being larger, I already ask Sarah Blackmon (the gallery manager and graphic designer for Rebus) to do way too much.  Sometime small is good, it's rare but it has it's place. 

And if the food choices aren't enough for you, the rumored Landmark-Two T's joint party is happening this Sunday evening with a fish fry on the patio of the Landmark. You should go ahead and ask for Monday off now.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

$18 for two beers

 I could ruminate on a lot of things about the new Raleigh Amphitheater after last night's opening. I could discuss the good things, such as how walking with the crowds downtown made Raleigh actually feel like a real city,  how you can get food from your favorite Empire eateries, or how the shimmer wall is really pretty stunning when viewed from that angle. And I could write about the not-so-positive things, such as how the amphitheater itself is really pretty charmless and is in fact built RIGHT BESIDE the railroad tracks. The Amtrak and a CFX came through during the short time I was at the show, and both times the train horn drowned out the music.  And then there's the ultimate insult-to-injury of having to walk by the empty lot where Kings once stood. It truly appears that the City of Raleigh bought that building and tore it down for nothing. 

But the thing that just kind of stuck in my craw was having to pay $18 for two beers. Granted, they were local micro brews (a Big Boss Bad Penny and a Lonerider Shotgun Betty), and they were the 24 oz. variety. I know this is probably what I would pay for a beer if I went to RBC or Walnut Creek, but I wasn't at either of those out-of-the-way venues. Three blocks away I could get both of those beers for $5 apiece. And the truly irksome thing is that the $9 per beer price tag was actually kind of a deal; the $16 oz. varieties are $8 apiece. 

Basically that means if you're going to a show at the amphitheater and don't feel like going through the hassle of sneaking something in, go across the street to Deep South, or next door to Poole's and get your drink on beforehand. 

We got to the show right before
The Loners from Mann's World on Vimeo.
">I Was Totally Destroying It's last song, which was a cover of "In a Big Country," which they nailed. If they're going to keep doing the '80s covers, I want to hear them do Paul Young's underrated "Come Back and Stay."

I could have gotten a little closer, but they started playing this song right as we got there, so I just stopped where I was and started recording.

IWTDI at Raleigh Amphitheater from Mann's World on Vimeo.

After IWTDI, Raleigh legends The Connells played to a sedate but appreciative crowd. It really did seem like family night at the amphitheater with small children running everywhere. I wonder how many of those parents are aware of the Connells kid-friendly off-shoot Mommie. I honestly wasn't in the mood to do much shooting last night, and just retired to the small lawn area to enjoy the ambiance and my overpriced beer.

Afterward we ended up at Isaac Hunter's Tavern, a place I really don't go to that often (usually I'm at The Remedy or Landmark). It took over the spot formerly inhabited by the Capital Room/Fayetteville Street Tavern, which used to be the one unpretentious place to get a drink downtown. It's a little more upscale now with a good North Carolina beer selection, a DJ, and a Wii. If you were there last night and saw a couple aggressively playing Wii tennis (and knocking over a Dewars in the process), that was me and the Wiz. The place was packed, but I didn't see anyone I knew, which can be a very good thing.

After Isaac Hunters we headed over to Tir na Nog, getting there just before the end of The Loners set. I got a quick photo and video, then got a quick photo of Red Collar before leaving. Both bands put on energetic shows as usual.

The Loners from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

This week's cool shows: Raleigh Amphitheatre opens!

Sorry, but I am not going to call that thing the Bud Light Amphitheatre, just like I've never called Walnut Creek anything but that. I do admit to using RBC Center. Not sure why that one doesn't offend me. Anyway, we can all rejoice that the Backstreet Boys will NOT go down in history as the first band to headline the new downtown venue, which opens this Friday with a big, gala concert. That honor will go to Raleigh's own Connells (above), who, as true local legends, probably deserve this honor more than anyone. Small Ponds and I Was Totally Destroying It are also among the bands listed for this show. Get the full line-up at New Raleigh, and read Grayson's article about why the Triangle still doesn't have a decent amphitheatre.

Since this show is happening on a First Friday, I can guarantee that downtown Raleigh will be a madhouse. If you are up for braving the crowds afterward, be sure to catch Red Collar and the Loners at Tir na Nog. Blag'ard and The Last Tallboy are at Slim's. If you prefer metal, Here Lies ... is right around the block at the Berkeley Cafe, and for bluegrass there's Swift Creek Revival and Old Habits at The Pour House. Seriously, you've really got no excuse not to see some great live music in Raleigh this Friday night.

Also this week: The Misbehaved Fest with Beloved Binge, Scientific Superstar and more is at Pinhook on Saturday; the Michael Gardner Benefit for Parkinson's Disease with Nantucket, PKM and Sidewinder at at the Lincoln on Sunday; and Lonnie Walker and Mount Moriah play an early show (6:30 p.m.) at Duke Gardens next Wednesday, June 9.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Video of Old Habits from Morehead City

Usually when I go home to Morehead City, I'm just looking forward to eating seafood and hanging out on the beach. I got to do plenty of that this past Memorial Day weekend. I also got to see one of my favorite local bluegrass bands, Old Habits, in a pretty cool location: outdoors at a new place called Chef's 105. If you're familiar with the Morehead City waterfront, it's where Finz used to be. The band played outdoors on a nice breezy evening, to a crowd that was really low-key. It was a great show and a nice addition to a very relaxing weekend.

Old Habits, "Long Black Veil" from Mann's World on Vimeo.