Category Archives: North Carolina Music

Steep Canyon Rangers – Out in the Open

Album: Out in the Open

Artist: Steep Canyon Rangers

Label: Ramseur

Release Date: January 26, 2018

(www.ramseurrecords.net)

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

Suffice it to say, the Steep Canyon Rangers are not your typical bluegrass band. Or your typical anything band for that matter. Nor are they simply another populist outfit that draws audiences with their dazzle rather than their dexterity. Indeed, it’s their combination of astute songwriting and deft instrumental interplay that make categorization within any single genre all but impossible.  Their music veers towards a stylistic intersection where folk, country, rock and even jazz find clear compatibility.

Out in the Open, the band’s latest opus, is the band’s most fully realized offering yet, a seemingly improbable feat considering the excellence of so many of the albums that preceded it. Mostly on the soothing side, it’s populated by easy, rambling narratives boasting resolute yet sentimental sensibilities, and easily some of the finest songs Graham Sharp, the band’s primary tunesmith, has ever delivered. The tunes are of such a high quality in fact, that a rugged cover of the archival Dylan classic “Let Me Die in My Footsteps” finds an easy fit, as if it was penned along with the originals.

While the band’s instrumental dexterity still remains at the fore, the vocal harmonies supplied by every member of the band, save departed bassist Charles R. Humphrey III, have never been as prominent as they are here and now. While Sharp’s rich, resonant voice consistently comes to the fore, the vocal blend that illuminates such songs as “Out in the Open,” “Roadside Anthems,” “Can’t Get Home,” “Best of Me,” and the aforementioned Dylan tune play a prominent part in the mix. Producer Joe Henry manages to capture every nuance in the band’s multi-faced performance, creating something that ranks as a near classic of the genre, regardless of whatever genre the band delve into. Out in the Open defines the undefinable and gives it a new name… Steep Canyon Rangers.

DOWNLOAD: “Out in the Open,” “Can’t Get Home,” “Best of Me”

 

Superchunk – What a Time to be Alive

Album: What a Time to be Alive

Artist: Superchunk

Label: Merge

Release Date: February 16, 2018

www.mergerecords.com

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

It’s one thing to be a prolific musician who fronts a band with a 25 year long career and eleven groundbreaking albums to their credit. It’s quite another to found a successful record label that’s become a bastion to other indie artists. So credit Superchunk singer/guitarist/helmsman Mac McCaughan for accomplishing all that and more, including undertaking several side projects and mentoring other artists with similar designs. It’s a legacy to be proud of, and one that continues to unfold with every new undertaking McCaughan and his crew are involved in.

Their latest results, as embodied in Superchunk’s new album What a Time to be Alive, is similarly inspired, a steady, insistent set of songs of unceasing intensity and punk-fuelled passion. One wouldn’t expect such an intensive effort at this stage in the band’s career, but indeed, a single listen to songs such as “Lost My Brain,” “Break the Glass,” “Dead Photographers,” and “Erasure” offers the impression that they’re still the upstarts they were in the beginning, unrepentant and undeterred in their determination to make a frantic noise. An apparent commentary on our times (“…the scum the shame the fucking lies”) and its insidious origins (“Reagan youth/Taught you how to feel/Reagan your/Showed you what was real”), it’s an album that repudiates the half-truths and tactics of fear and suppression that seem to have become part of our national calling. The music seizes on those dire designs with spit and ferocity, –dark, defiant and fully roused.

Ultimately, Superchunk deserve credits for having not been tamed by success or their great degree of respectability. (This is the same group whose earlier album  once opined “I Hate Music.” An album flush with both vicissitudes and vitality, <I> What a Time to be Alive <I> resonates with its resolve.

DOWNLOAD: “Lost My Brain,” “Break the Glass,” “Dead Photographers”

Triangle Psych Fest Set for June in Raleigh

23 bands across three days, June 7-9.

By Blurt Staff

Organizers are touting it as a gathering of “bold, mind-bending and manic” music for three “unhinged, unforgettable nights”: Raleigh, NC, Thursday, June 7 at Kings, Friday, June 8 at the Wicked Witch and Saturday, June 9 at the Pour House. That would be the Triangle Psych Fest, and it’s shaping up to be one of the most eclectic music fests all year.

As co-organized by Daniel Chavis, of Carolina psych/shoegaze legends The Veldt, the event will feature his band, the Floating Children, Dead Leaf Echo, Timothy Eerie, Giant Red Panda, Heaven, Dex Romweber and plenty more. Both veterans and newcomers will be showcased over the course of the three days. (Full schedule below.) Chavis, commenting on the music scene, noted, “For a long time there’s been a steady stream of left field pop and rock pioneers in North Carolina who haven’t been recognized and celebrated as a closely knit community and a vital part of our state’s musical legacy. People easily associate Athens with ‘jangle pop’ or Germany with ‘krautrock’ or San Francisco with ‘Summer of Love rock.’ We’re shining a long overdue spotlight on North Carolina’s ‘psych rock’ scene.”

Explained co-organizer Mike Allen, the event aims to “build cross-generational collaborations and reinforce the comradery between purveyors and fans of experimentation and discovery.” And fellow co-organizer Pierce Clawson added, succinctly, “We’re the festival that’ll free, blow and expand your mind — and do it year after year.”

Ticketing details are below as well.

Pre-Psych Party, Kings, 6/7

Doors 6:00 / Show 7:00 p.m.

Curtains 1:00 a.m.

 

Midnight – Politburo

https://politburo.bandcamp.com/

11pm – Your 33 Black Angels

10pm – Night Battles

9pm – Micah Gaugh

8pm – Charlie Horse

7pm – Stray Owls

 

Wicked Witch, 6/8

Doors 8:00 p.m. / Show 9:00 p.m.

Curtains 2:00 a.m.

 

1:00am – Timothy Eerie

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1049069141774824&ref=content_filter

Midnight – Giant Red Panda

https://m.facebook.com/giantredpandaband/

11:15pm – Lazaris Pit

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=493949864134032&ref=content_filter

10:30pm – Tide Eyes

https://tideeyes.bandcamp.com/

9:45pm – Laser Witch Queens

https://m.facebook.com/LaserWitchQueens/

9pm – Andie L

DJ Pangean

https://m.facebook.com/DJPangean/

 

The Pour House, 6/9

Doors 1:00 p.m. / Show 2:00 p.m.

Curtains 1:15 a.m.

 

Midnight – The Veldt

https://www.facebook.com/VeldtThe/

11pm – Dead Leaf Echo

https://deadleafecho.bandcamp.com/

10pm – Heaven

https://www.facebook.com/HeavenbandNYC/

9pm – Lacy Jags

https://www.facebook.com/lacyjagsnc

8pm – Eyeball

https://www.facebook.com/eyeball.ensemble/

7pm – Pretty Odd

https://www.facebook.com/prettyoddnc/

6pm – Floating Children

https://www.facebook.com/floatingchildren/

5pm – Morning Bells

https://www.facebook.com/morningbellsband/

4pm – Dex Romweber

https://www.bloodshotrecords.com/artist/dex-romweber

3 pm – The Quarter Roys

https://www.facebook.com/thequarterroys/

2 pm – Double Quarter Panda

https://www.facebook.com/doublequarterpanda/

 

Tickets:

 

Two-day passes

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/triangle-psych-fest-2-day-pass-tickets-43290523120

Special Pre-Party at Kings

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/triangle-psych-fest-pre-party-kings-tickets-43290437865

Night One – Wicked Witch

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/triangle-psych-fest-night-one-wicked-witch-tickets-43286163079

Night Two – The Pour House

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/triangle-psych-fest-night-two-the-pour-house-tickets-43286216238

 

 

 

6 String Drag 3/9/18, Raleigh NC

Dates: March 9, 2018

Location: The Pour House, Raleigh NC

6 String Drag

N.C. Americana legends hosted an album release (and re-release!) party at the capitol city’s Pour House venue—and packed that House.

BY TODD GUNSHER

String Drag held a party in Raleigh on Friday night, March 9, celebrating the release of their outstanding new record Top Of The World as well as the re-release of 1997’s Steve Earle-produced High Hat. Helping out Kenny, Rob, Luis, and Dan were Scott McCall on guitar and Matt Douglass on saxophone, who sat in on a few songs each. Celebrating over 20 years of making music, they put on a life affirming rock and roll show for the faithful fans who packed the Pour House spending the night dancing and singing along.

Go HERE to read the recent BLURT interview with 6 String Drag and HERE to listen to our premiere of Top Of The World track “Waste Of Time.” (Full disclosure: The new album and reissue are both on BLURT’s sister business Schoolkids Records, and our editor also helped craft the group’s official bio for Schoolkids.)

6 String Drag

6 String Drag

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6 String Drag

AMIGO – “And Friends” LP

Album: “And Friends”

Artist: Amigo

Label: Carlisle Beauregard Records

Release Date: January 26, 2018

www.facebook.com/amigotheband / www.amigotheband.bandcamp.com/

The Upshot: Stealth moments of Americana, indie rock, and garage that are guaranteed to creep into your dreamscapes and line your waking activities, from a gifted NC trio.

BY FRED MILLS

Let us dispense with formalities and summarily count the ways:  A rockin’ North Carolina—specifically: Charlotte, NC—twang/psych trio with classic ‘70s singer/songwriter and early ‘90s indie-rock smarts; ace guest turns from a slew of fellow NC virtuosos (among them, mandolin and fiddle ace John Teer, from Chatham County Line); recording sessions with Mitch Easter at his Fidelitorium studio, and mastering by Dave Harris at Charlotte’s Studio B. Sure sounds like a litany of TMOQ signage to this impartial observer. One hazards the statement that “And Friends” by Queen City trio Amigo is about as quintessentially Tar Heel as a Dean Smith tailgate party or a Sen. Sam Ervin memorial barbecue.

Okay, so maybe “this observer” isn’t exactly impartial, having seen the band awhile back—and in about as up close and personal a venue as it gets, during a record shop in-store performance. (Raleigh, NC, store Schoolkids Records, to be specific—the group loves breeding such intimacy, trust me.) So this reviewer doesn’t need much encouragement, having been a fan since 2014’s Might Could album: Frontman Slade Baird, drummer Adam Phillips, and bassist Thomas Alverson have the kind of musical mojo and natural stage charisma that’d create new friends whether appearing on a huge festival stage or sharing a post-gig beer at your local neighborhood pub.

There are elements of both classic and contemporary on “And Friends,” notably (for the former notion) the pedal steel, piano, and woodwind-adorned “I Wanna Live (UK Surf),” a stately, gently moving existential meditation that suggests a tuneful summit between Traffic and American Beauty-era Dead; and “Underground Medicine,” a full-tilt twang/garage raveup guaranteed to make those 2am last calls complete washouts as the audience absolutely refuses to let the group off the stage for another hour. Hey, next round’s on me, Slade.

Beyond that, there are stealth moments on this gorgeous collection that are guaranteed to creep into your dreamscapes and line your waking activities, from stunning opener “The Big Idea,” which conjures sonic memories of The Band (listen, in particular, for the Garth-like organ and some sinewy lead guitar); to an out-of-this-world cover of John Prine’s “Everybody” (did I use the word “raveup” yet in this review?); to a somewhat sneaky reprise of “The Big Idea” that gets retitled as “Almost Something Good” and is recast as a haunting acoustic guitar reverie eventually giving way to a lush country-rock arrangement.

Sings Baird, amid a swell of mandolin, pedal steel, guitar, bass, and drums: “What if I found something good? It’s just the way I feel – I only hesitate because the first time, it was almost something good. A little apprehensive ‘cause the last time was so fucked up.” As vulnerable a moment as you’re likely to encounter in this still-young new year—and a sentiment to let you know you’re not alone for the rest of this unfolding year as well. Lord knows, we’re gonna need some shoulders to lean on.

These guys, well… they’re your amigos.

Grab it on sweet heavyweight vinyl (w/download code included), folks, or on CD and digital should you require. You know what this reviewer recommends…

DOWNLOAD: “The Big Idea,’ “I Wanna Live,” “Underground Medicine”

 

A DETERMINED RETURN: 6 String Drag

“All you can do is bust your ass to make good music”: With new album Top of the World and a re-release of their Steve Earle-produced masterpiece, High Hat, this seminal Americana band from North Carolina marks another new beginning.

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

There’s a certain truth to the saying “timing is everything.” And there’s no more pertinent application to that adage than in the music biz. Being on top of trends, recognizing relevant topics, and tuning in to an audience’s interests and expectations are absolutely essential when it comes to maintaining a viable and prolific career.

Consequently, when North Carolina’s 6 String Drag made their bow and formed in 1993, it seemed an ideal time in terms of fertile possibilities. The boundaries between rock, pop, punk and country were breaking down, and bands like Uncle Tupelo in particular were opening the door in hopes of encouraging that slow but steady transition. 6 String Drag’s archival influences were obvious — Van Morrison, the Replacements, the Stones, the Kinks and George Jones all made the cut — but the rough-hewn sound they crafted was all inclusive, one that could appeal to anyone with a devil- may-care attitude as well as a taste for homegrown sensibilities.

All was well and good, but despite a razor-sharp sound, a contract with Steve Earle’s E-Squared Records, two strong seminal albums (their self-titled 1995 debut and its excellent successor, High Hat, which followed in ’97 and was co-produced by Earle), the band never got the traction they deserved. In late 1998 founders Kenny Roby and Rob Keller went their separate ways in pursuit of their individual careers and the other band members dispersed as well. Roby in particular went on to a prolific solo career, releasing five solo albums — Mercury Blues (1999), Black River Sides (1999), Rather Not Know (2002), The Mercy Filter (2006) and Memories & Birds (2013; reviewed HERE) — but though he garnered his fair share of critical kudos, the absence between albums served to stifle his momentum.

Indeed, timing is the one thing that 6 String Drag always seemed to lack. Although the elements seemed stacked in their favor, their early masterpiece High Hat failed to win them the attention that outside observers reckoned that they had coming.

“I felt like we were changing the world…making Sgt. Pepper,” Keller’s been quoted as saying. “High Hat was not received like Sgt. Pepper. It was critically acclaimed, yet it did not sell as well as was expected.”

Roby has his own reasons for the failure of the band to maintain its forward progress. “I can’t go out and scream ‘give me some love,’” he insists. “There’s no telling what people listen to or why they listen to something, or why things catch hold or don’t catch hold. Or for that matter, what things come together to sell a band. We kind of broke up as we were on the upward mobility slant or whatever you want to call it. By the time 6 String Drag had a gotten a little bit of press recognition and some radio, and the record had come out, we were opening for Son Volt. We were post- the Uncle Tupelo world, but pre- the 2000 Americana explosion, the Avett Brothers and all that. So we were kind of in a bit of a lull.

“Do I wish I could make a little more money doing music? Yeah, probably. And have a quote-unquote career? Yeah, I guess. But you can’t change just one part of your life, ya know.”

Could the fact that the band only put out a pair of albums before breaking up and reforming some 17 years later have had anything to do with it? Maybe, Roby says. “But 6 String Drag at the time wasn’t much of a ‘pop’ band. If you listen to High Hat, it doesn’t sound like total pop music. We could have gotten into a little niche probably. It wasn’t quite as poppy as a Whiskeytown kind of thing, and it wasn’t as super country twangy as a lot of the country bands were at that time. I guess if I had to come up with an answer, I’d have to say that it wasn’t country enough for country and it wasn’t twangy enough for Americana.”

He pauses to reflect on that.

“I thought we were like a Doug Sahm kind of band, although we didn’t sound like Doug Sahm or the Sir Douglas Quintet,” he continues. “We were like a bar band that liked to embrace all kinds of music and the contemporary music of the ‘80s and ‘90s as well. Like a NRBQ or the Band. We have just as much fun playing to an intimate crowd at a corner bar dive with a bunch of people who like our music and sing along as we do on a theater stage. We’d love $30 a head and 2,000 people, but we’re totally comfortable being a bar band, a pub band. That’s when we’re at our best, just being loose and having fun.”

Likewise, he has a hard time coming up with a precise definition of exactly where the band fit in musically at the time. The explanation eludes him even today.

“We were like a lot of bands around that time, bands that took their cues from the Replacements and the Stones and Neil Young and Crazy Horse, kind of on the rootsier side of rock,” he suggests. “A lot of us grew up listening to punk rock and then getting into country rock. It was very similar to bands like Uncle Tupelo. That’s the kind of thing that appealed to us. I go back and listen to it now and of course I still like it. It’s like that slogan ‘three chords and the truth,’ which helped define punk rock. It’s like three chords and the truth for country, or three chords and the truth for blues…although sometimes there’s four. Maybe that was it. It was all the same to us. I never got into the super sophistication of bluegrass. I was never into progressive rock. I was into the Clash and Black Flag and the Bad Brains and Buck Owens and George Jones. It was always pretty simple, but it was also easy enough for me to do. I didn’t know enough about guitars or songwriting to play more complicated music than that. We didn’t think we were doing anything groundbreaking. It’s just these different waves of whatever’s popular. In the 2000s, they came up with this Americana thing. I thought Americana was a description for furniture.”

“We listen to a lot of different kinds of music and of course that rubs off on us,” Keller notes. “We get on this wavelength where we will get into things all at the same time. Recently, it’s been on the pop rockier side, from ‘60s Kinks to ‘70s glam rock, to ‘80s punk, and power pop. We probably would’ve made more records had we stuck together all these years because we’ve always been into this type of music.”

The sound he’s describing comes full circle on the band’s new album, Top of the World, due for release this March on Schoolkids Records. (Full disclosure: Schoolkids is BLURT’s sister business.) It’s their first undertaking since their initial post-breakup reunion, releasing the Roots Rock ‘N’ Roll album in 2015 (reviewed HERE). It also finds Roby and Heller still at the helm, with recent recruits — guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Luis Rodriguez, drummer Dan Davis, and producer Jason Merritt — offering able assistance. The album, clearly the band’s most effusive and assertive offering in terms of a genuinely accessible sound, follows the label’s vinyl (limited edition white vinyl at that) recent re-release of High Hat.

Roby, for one, is clearly excited about the new record’s direction.

“We recorded a lot of it at the same studio where we recorded the last one,” he explains. “But it’s more of a rock and pop record than the last one was. Real quick, real simple, ‘50s and ‘60s style songs. We tracked the record in four days. There were very few overdubs. For the most part the record was done by the time we walked out of the studio, except for the horns and the live vocals. Oddly enough, that’s the way we recorded High Hat, but High Hat was more of a rock record. We did basic tracks just like a basic rock band in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but we spread out the recording a little longer back then to give us time to absorb the songs. Some of it is done the same way, but some things were done differently. It’s got elements of all of our records, but also the contributions that the new guys bring. I can’t always put my finger on what that is, as far as stylistically, but it does sound a little more layered. It’s a little more mature, although I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing for rock ‘n’ roll or Americana.”

As far as the re-release of High Hat is concerned, Keller sees that as a valuable additive that helps underscore the band’s re-emergence. “High Hat has been out of print, so we really needed it in our present catalog,” he says. “Also, it being 20 years makes it a good time to celebrate it. We always want to look forward in creating, so we just coincidentally have this new record at the same time.”

As Keller tells it, he and Roby have always kept in touch over the years, and have even occasionally played some shows together. Still, Roby suggests that the extent of the band’s ongoing efforts has a lot to do with practicality, saying, “We’ll play weekends. We’ve been playing on weekends for the last two years since the last record came out… actually, before the last record came out. We’ve even been doing some weeklong stints. Luis has been with us since we laid down the last album and Danny has been with us for the last year. So we’ve played a good amount of shows. We’ll start playing here and there and get out of the immediate area. But I don’t know how we could go out on the road all the time. With guys in their 40s… I don’t know.

Likewise, Roby is realistic when it comes to measuring the band’s prospects for success this time around. “We still have a lot of fun doing it and the carrot is just to get better at it,” he maintains. “As far as recognition is concerned, you just have to do the best you can as far as making records. You can only do so much. You can work your ass off and nothing will happen. Or you can do nothing, and something will happen. I don’t know what that ‘something’ is.” (Below, “something” happening for the band a couple of months ago.)

Ultimately, Roby remains pragmatic. “Hopefully you have good records,” he muses. “When someone turns around to look at you, hopefully you did your best and you have some good work for them to notice. With us, we haven’t sold a ton of records, so a lot of this resurgence is about looking back and maybe checking out one of the earlier albums or a record from my solo career or whatever. You always want to have good work, because you don’t want people to say, ‘What’s all that bullshit hype about?’

“All you can do is bust your ass to make good music. I’d rather make good music than have more fans. It would be nice to have more fans, but the carrot is still to make the next record the best you can make.”

Read our 2013 interview with Kenny Roby: “Rock, Roll & the Art of Discipline”

Video Premiere: “Boom Boom Boom” – NC Musicians’ Tribute to James Olin Oden

“i gotta confess”: Putting the “pow” back in “empowerment” – and supporting the home team when a fellow rocker can benefit from the collective energy of peers and friends. Everybody pogo!

By Fred Mills

Back in October we posted news about Raleigh, NC, musician James Olin Oden’s hospitalization and battle with a rare cancer — and of the immediate and loving response from the Triangle music community, which found a slew of Oden’s peers convening at his hospital room and performing an impromptu jam session. Oden and these guys are friends of all of us here at BLURT, and and is was doubly inspiring to learn that the musicians decided to take that energy and turn it into a recording and video session in tribute to Oden. I’d call it, support the home team. Who can argue with that?

Joining organizer Billy Warden, frontman for the Floating Children, at Michael Graziano’s Thread Audio studio in Raleigh to cut the “Boom Boom Boom (In The Emergency Room)” track  was an all-star cast: the Floating Children’s rhythm guitarist Jeffro Holshouser (also of Hank Sinatra), drummer Jody Maxwell (formerly of A Number of Things and The Sex Police), lead guitarist Sam ‘Sammy Doddy’ McDonald (also of Uglyography), bassist/key-tarist Matt Thomas (also of Uglyography), and go-go queen Tracey Brown. Also on hand were fellow locals guitarist/co-writer Sam Madison of Hank Sinatra and The Bleeding Hearts, guitarist Larry Burlison of Demon Eye, bassist Steve ‘Stevey-E’ Eisenstadt, saxophonist F.O. Finch of Sidecar Social Club, vocalist Rose Higgins of Back Stabbeth, singer/guitarist Caroline Mamoulides, singer Will Warden of Warehouse Bastards, bassist/graphic artist Jer Warren, and trombonist David ‘Pops’ Wright of Squirrel Nut Zippers and Countdown Quartet.

Now you can check out the all-star results – including a cameo from Oden near the end of the video:

Commented Warden, “The song is about putting the ‘pow’ in empowerment, about using the power of music, love and humor to hit back at whatever life hurls at you. That’s what James did. The key line is simple and true: ‘Music is the elixir / Love’s the ultimate fixer.’ It’s about living with the volume up when the chips are down.”

“Plus, you can dance to it — or at least pogo,” added Holshouser. “Everyone who was part of the recording grabbed onto the spirit of the song right away. The band laid down the basic track in the morning, and then guests started pouring in, whooping it up and casting their own brand of voodoo. Including James, of course.”  (Below: Warden and Holshouser of the Floating Children in full flight.)

The video itself was directed by David Iversen of BriteSpot Collaborative Studios.

And we’d remiss if we didn’t report some extremely good news: According to James, after intense chemotherapy and other treatments, his cancer is in remission. We got your back, good sir.j And we’ll never view a hospital stay in quite the same fashion after having this video for consultation…

 

Below: Rose Higgins, Jeffro Holshouser, James Olin Oden

Watch Short Film w/NC’s Jeffrey Dean Foster’s Music

Longtime BLURT fave and North Carolina indie rock scene mainstay also working on soundtrack for forthcoming executive-produced Scorcese film.

By Fred Mills

We’ve written about Winston-Salem artist Jeffrey Dean Foster often enough in the past (do the proverbial website search for recent and earlier coverage). Suffice to say he’s one of our North Carolina heroes, an indie rock/Americana mainstay whose work continues to inspire each time out.

Film director Alex A. Klein has served up a short film that features Foster’s music throughout that is particularly timely, and timeless. We hope you’ll take a look/listen. The description of Klein’s clip is as follows:

“A short film inspired by and containing Jeffrey Dean Foster’s songs “I Will Understand,” and “Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts,” from his album, “The Arrow.” A face-off and reconciliation of selves.

Starring Julianne Harper, who choreographed her own badass moves. Conceptualized, produced, directed and edited by Alex A Klein. Cinematography and overall awesomeness/patience by Mitch Perrin. Stedicam operation by Jonathan Pfundstein. Body double for Julianne by Mariah Perrin. First A.D. by Annie Dillon, who literally lent me the shirt off her back. Overall help and moral support on our Trade St shoot by Ella Klein. A big Thank You to the following downtown WS/NC establishments for lending us their space: The Wherehouse Art Hotel, Test Pattern, Mary’s Gourmet Diner and Dye Pretty. Filmed in Winston-Salem, NC.”


Foster’s not resting on his laurels, either. He informs us, “I’ve started compiling songs for a new record and spent last year writing and recording the entire sooundtrack for Abundant Acreage Available starring Amy Ryan and executive produced by Martin Scorcese.”

More details as they are revealed. Easily some of the most impressive news about the Tar Heel music scene in years, period. Check him out: http://www.jeffreydeanfoster.com/
https://www.facebook.com/jeffreydeanfostermusic/

Track Premiere: 6 String Drag “Waste of Time”

Ace tune by the gutsy North Carolina band taken from smokin’ new album, due out in early March. (Pictured above, L-R: Luis Rodriguez, Kenny Roby, Dan Davis, Rob Keller)

By Blurt Staff

Americana fans with long memories know well the name 6 String Drag: the hard-twanging Raleigh (NC)-by-way-of-Clemson (SC) outfit that helped usher in the golden era of alt-country in the early/mid ‘90s, predating both Ryan Adams’ Whiskeytown and scene bible No Depression. And although the members went their separate ways in 1998, 6 String Drag wound up reuniting in 2014 and released an acclaimed comeback album in early 2015.

Indeed, Roots Rock ‘N’ Roll (Royal Potato Family) was reviewed here at BLURT, our editor hailing the mix of power pop, rockabilly-esque twang, and bluesy soul: “It lives up to its title in every sense of the word—it’s rootsy as hell, and it’ll rock your ass off.. Maturity means you get to do a few things you didn’t quite have the skills or savvy to do 20 years earlier, and it also means you and the folks around you get to savor things because the moments of now tend to hover, deliciously, even while the memories of then continue to linger.” (Go HERE to listen to a track we premiered here in 2015.)

Resuming operations clearly gave the band a sense of momentum, and now they’ve got a smokin’ followup to RRNR due on digital, CD, and vinyl on March 9 via the Schoolkids Records label (formerly Second Motion and, full disclosure, our sister business). Titled Top of the World, it’s 11 tracks of pure 6SD, produced by – as was RRNR – Jason Merritt. By way of preview we are very proud to unveil the track “Waste of Time.” Check it out below; we guarantee it won’t be a waste of your time.

Guitarist/vocalist Kenny Roby—who is joined by co-founding bassist Rob Keller, plus guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Luis Rodriguez and drummer Dan Davis, plus guests John Ginty on keys and Matt Douglas on horns—notes that Top of the World “isn’t quite the almost live and somewhat frantic approach, like 1997’s [Steve Earle-produced] High Hat. And Roots Rock ’N’ Roll was really intentionally recorded like a ’50s and ’60s record. This record isn’t super layered but it isn’t always just a raw 4 piece approach. It just depended on the song — we just took it song by song in what we felt the song needed or wanted.”

Roby and Keller both acknowledge that the group has always been influenced by artists like The Band, Van Morrison, the Kinks, Rolling Stones, and Beatles, and that if one listens closely to the new album, traces of Rockpile, Thin Lizzy and Mott the Hoople might even be detected as well. As Keller explains, “We listen to a lot of different kinds of music, and of course that rubs off on us. We get on this wavelength where we will get into things at the same time. Recently, it’s been on the pop rockier side from ‘60s Kinks to ‘70s glam rock to ‘80s punk, power pop. We probably would’ve made more records like this had we stuck together all these years because we’ve always been into this type of music.”

But wait, as the saying goes, there’s more: The aforementioned High Hat, which was originally released on producer Earle’s E-Squared label, is getting a 20th anniversary reissue next month, on Jan. 11 (also via Schoolkids)—including as a limited/numbered white vinyl edition. So those Americana fans with long memories mentioned in the first paragraph will have even more reason to celebrate, as High Hat remains an acknowledged touchstone of the genre.

More details on the band and 2018 plans at their official website or at their Facebook page (where, incidentally, they recently announced being part of a special New Year’s Eve show in Raleigh).

Worth additional note: the above-referenced 6SD reunion came about after Roby invited Keller to play with him at a solo show promoting his 2013 solo album Memories & Birds (reviewed HERE), and they wound up doing some old 6SD faves. Around the same time BLURT published an in-depth interview with Roby, and you can read it HERE.

 

New David Childers Profile via Southern Songs & Stories Podcast

By Fred Mills

Since the BLURT braintrust hails from North Carolina we are partial to Tar Heel musicians – among them, the mighty David Childers (aka “the rock ‘n’ roll lawyer”). The gifted singer/songwriter, author, and visual artist is the subject of a new podcast episode from our friends at Southern Songs and Stories, who have been responsible for a number of superb audio and video profiles of our fellow Carolinians (recently on video: the Jon Stickley Trio).

Below is the link to the new podcast about Childers and his new Don Dixon-produced album, Run Skeleton Run. It’s described by SS&S thusly:

“In this episode, we explore the world of North Carolina singer songwriter, painter and former lawyer David Childers, showcasing his music and some of his influences, along with interviews of David, son Robert, label head Dolph Ramseur, producer Don Dixon, Avett Brother bassist Bob Crawford, and writer, musician and WNCW radio host Carol Rifkin.”

Link to: You Don’t Have To Say So Much: The David Childers Story

SS&S’s Joe Kendrick adds that coming up for them is a podcast that details “the history of Green Acres Music Hall, the little musical Shangri-La that could, which brought luminaries like David Grisman, John Hartford, Newgrass Revival, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Rodney Crowell and many more to a quiet corner of Rutherford County NC, from around 1979 to 1999.” We’ll be looking forward to that, Joe!