Thursday, January 31, 2013

Interview with James May of Black Tusk

I got a chance to interview James May of Black Tusk for Heavy Metal. Check it out here. The band's split with Dead Yet? is out now on Hyperrealist Records.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Photos from the Mann's World 10th Anniversary Party

(Corvette Summer) 

Thanks to everyone who came out last night to the Mann's World 10th Anniversary party, including Corvette Summer, The Royal Nites and the Infamous Sugar. The evening turned out to be a sad one for many of us as news broke about the death of longtime Slim's friend Big Mike. The bands all dedicated their sets to him, and many High Life's were raised in his memory. 

Loincloth, Solar Halos and more at Kings

On Saturday (Jan. 19) I got a chance to see Loincloth, the instrumental math-metal band started by Confessor drum guru Steve Shelton and Richmond guitarist Tannon Penland. They've since added Thomas Phillips on bass and Craig Hilton on guitar.  This was their first Raleigh show, and it turned out to be a family reunion of sorts. I saw people I hadn't seen out in years. 

The band sounded fierce live, but if you want to hear any new recordings by the band, you'll have to wait a bit. Steve told me that even though they have a few riffs worked out, it will be a while before they record again. 

The lighting was very low during their set, so I got almost no photos. The video is very dark too. 
Loincloth - "Elkindrone" from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Saturday was also the first time I was able to see Solar Halos, a new droning, doomy band from Chapel Hill including members of Caltrop, Curtains of Night and Bellafea. I really liked what they were doing, and I'm looking forward to seeing them at the upcoming Bull City Metal Fest.
Solar Halos - "The Vast White Plains" from Mann's World on Vimeo.

See more photos.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

10 years ago ...

Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of my first post on this blog. I've been trying to come up with something to say about this for days. I thought maybe I should say something poignent or profound. Maybe something to wrap up the past ten years of music-listening and show-going. But nothing is really coming to mind.

So much has happened in my personal life in the past decade, and much of it has been inadvertently documented here. I started this blog because I was writing an article on blogging for The News & Observer. Back in 2003, blogging was something new and exciting. The fact that just your average person could start an online journal and reveal the contents of their life to the world was intriguing. Who were these people starting blogs and discussing their breakfast, jobs and sex lives with the world?

The paper, which actually had a weekly technology section at the time, thought there might be a local story, and since I was part of the online team, the technology editor ran it by me. I was dispatched to a meeting of the RTP Bloggers, who gathered for lunch at a restaurant in the park. Bruce and Katy Loebrich, who were my first contacts, were at the meeting, and they are still blogging today.

During that lunch, someone -- and I don't remember who, but it wasn't Bruce or Katy -- said, "You can't write that story unless you start a blog." He was right. Blogger was really the only blogging tool available at the time, so I signed up. It was stupidly complicated, even for someone used to working with content management systems. In order to add a photo I had to upload the image to Picasa, grab the URL, and include it as a link in the story. The ability to actually have images in the post, like the one you see above, didn't happen for a few more years. I couldn't even add a title to the post! Whatever the first sentence was, was the title of the post.

I barely posted that first year. I basically just put the blog up and forgot about it until a boyfriend found it and said he'd like to see me post more. So I guess that particular ex is the one you have to thank for this blog. Plus, having left my job as music editor for the Independent Weekly a few years earlier, I wanted an outlet for my music writing. This blog's focus has been all over the map. At first it was just about my thoughts on music. Then I had an interest in the Digital Music Copyright Act. Then I really got into the Mars Volta, went to see them a few times and posted about it. That really was one of the more WTF? moments in my music-loving history.

Finally, in 2005 I hit upon the idea of taking my crappy little digital camera to shows and recording bands. I discovered a lot of free tools -- Flickr, YouTube, Gmail and Google calendar -- that allowed me to upload videos and photos quickly and easily. My intention was never to create art, but just to document. And there was so much to document. As someone who loves music, I have been extremely lucky to live in a place with so many great bands of all genres, and with so many clubs that are eager to book great bands from around the world.

Along the way I tried podcasting, which turned out to be more work than I wanted. Plus, I really hated the sound of my voice. Usually I had to have at least one glass of wine before I could force myself to do the voiceover. I'm sure you can hear that in some of those old podcasts. I added ads, but basically found them useless. I think I've made $8 in the past 10 years. I just haven't gotten around to removing them from the site.

A low point came in February 2009 when, during the same week I began a brand new job, I was kicked off of YouTube. I had already had two videos removed from YouTube -- on of The Mars Volta at Hampton Coliseum, and one of Fu Manchu at Volume 11. There I was, sitting in my brand new cube, secretly checking my Gmail account, when I saw a cease and desist letter from a company claiming to represent Bryan Adams. The previous evening I had uploaded video of The T's performing "Cuts Like a Knife" during the Raleigh Undercover concert. The letter warned me to remove the video because it was a copyright violation. Not wanting to access YouTube at work (I thought being on Gmail was bad enough), I decided to wait and do it when I got home. By the time I got home, my account was suspended, and hundreds of videos were gone. I spent the next several months uploading all those videos on to Vimeo. That really sucked.

The high point came when I realized people outside of the Triangle might actually be interested in what I was doing. Blabbermouth linked to my video of COC at the Pour House, and Cosmo Lee wrote a long post on Invisible Oranges about my Horseback video from the first Bull City Metal Fest. That COC video has been played more than 11,000 times and has been embedded nearly half a million times. But believe it or not, the Mann's World post with the most page views was a post on Ryan Adams' engagement to Mandy Moore.

I've always loved metal, and a couple of years ago I realized that heavy music really was exciting more than anything else I was listening to. That's still the case now. So this blog has gradually been evolving again, away from local music, and more toward heavy music from all over the world. I'm writing for other publications more. Over the years I've written for New Raleigh, Tiny Mix Tapes, The Red Alert, 75 or Less and The Oxford American. Now I'm writing for Heavy Metal, The Independent and my favorite music magazine, Decibel. I have another article scheduled on one of my favorite regional bands in the March issue of Decibel. I've also, due to many reasons, been going out less. Back in 2008 I was going out five nights a week! My circumstances are so different I couldn't maintain that schedule now. And I wouldn't want to.

But while I'm slowing down, I'm not going to quit. At least I don't think so. I always privately thought I'd stop doing this when I turned 45. Well, now I'm 46. I don't know what form this blog will take moving forward. Over the years I resisted advice to move to Wordpress, but recently I started a Tumblr account, and I have to admit, I really like it. You may see me more there, but I definitely won't remove this blog.

You will certainly see me tomorrow night at Slim's, which is, hands down my favorite local bar and music venue. I've seen some great bands and some crappy bands there. I've been to shows that were so packed I couldn't move, and shows where I was one of two or three paying customers. I've rarely had a bad time at Slim's, and the times that I did, it had nothing to do with the music.

I'll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of this blog tomorrow night at Slim's with three of my favorite local party bands, '70s deep cuts gurus Corvette Summer, who have graciously learned a new song just for me, beer-swilling hard rockers The Royal Nites, and raunchy keytar god The Infamous Sugar. There will also be a special appearance by The Suge Nites. I really don't know what they've got planned for that one, but I know it will be entertaining.

Thanks for reading, and for going to shows and giving me encouragement. Thanks to the bands for playing, and the venues for hosting them. I'll see you tomorrow with a brand new post on tonight's Loincloth show at Kings.