Monthly Archives: July 2016

Legendary NC Band the Fabulous Knobs to Reunite Only 27 Years Later


The Triangle was a much smaller musical place in the early ‘80s. Above: the band back then.

By Fred Mills

In 2016 there are scores of nationally and internationally acclaimed bands populating the North Carolina Triangle area (Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham)—it’s a given that in any given year there will be a breakout release from a combo. But I’m here to tell all you youngsters ‘twasn’t so in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s; in fact, you could pretty much count the number of groups making and performing original material on two paws. With that duly noted, my memories of that time remain vivid, and I trust that my peers who were also on the Triangle scene at the time feel similarly. (Raise your hands if you remember the H-Bombs, old-timers…)

As it turns out, one of the key bands from back in the day is apparently hatching a long-overdue reunion in August: Raleigh’s Fabulous Knobs, originally made up of Terry Anderson (Drums), David Enloe (Guitar; he passed away in 2007, sadly), Jack Cornell (Bass), Debra DeMilo (Lead Vocals), Keith Taylor (Lead Guitar), Dave Adams (Keyboards). You can consult the Return to Comboland blog for the back story; suffice to say that while they only left behind a couple of records, their live shows were the stuff of legend, as they were essentially the Triangle’s answer to the Faces and the Stones, with singer Debra DeMilo coming off as a cross between Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin and Pat Benatar.

According to Raleigh’s News & Observer, the Knobs will appear Aug. 13 at a multi-band concert dubbed Groove In the Garden. Writes Josh Shaffer, “Decades after their scene dissolved, long after they took careers as florists, painters, nurses and respiratory therapists, the surviving Fabulous Knobs will resurface to rock again for the first time in more than 20 years. Put them in a room together, all pushing 60, and they conjure a grittier Raleigh up all night.

“’Debra said, ‘Why don’t we do this?’ said drummer Terry Anderson. ‘And I said, ‘Yeah. Before we die.’

“Anderson joked that at their reunion show in August, they’ll keep the old folks entertained. But I’m going to guess the kids put the iPhones back in their pockets for this show, where their hands will be too busy waving in the air.”

Welcome back, folks. And thanks for the memories. (Below, watch a rehearsal video of the band that the newspaper posted online,)

NC’s Happy Abandon Announce Extensive Tour

artsy band photo

No excuse not to catch ‘em live, folks…

By Blurt Staff

Earlier this year the Blurt gang was suitably blown away by Chapel Hill’s Happy Abandon, who played our annual day party at Austin’s Ginger Man pub during SXSW. The orchestrally-inclined indie rock band — Peter Vance, Jake Waits, Alex Thompson, and Justin Ellis— previously released a well-received 2015 EP Heavy Lines (listen to it HERE), and they’re also about to hit the road for an extensive East Coast tour that will also find them dipping into the Midwest and Canada. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to check ‘em out.

Tour dates are below, and you can hear plenty of music over at their official website. Check out this live video from last November as well.

Thursday August 11th – Raleigh, NC – The Pour House Music Hall

Friday August 12th – Washington, DC – Rock and Roll Hotel

Saturday August 13th – Rehoboth Beach, DE – Dogfish Head Brewery

Sunday August 14th – Philadelphia, PA – Bourbon and Branch

Tuesday August 16th – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge

Wednesday August 17th – Newport, RI – Jimmy’s Saloon

Thursday August 18th – Lowell, MA – LBJ

Friday August 19th – Burlington, VT – Foam Brewers

Saturday August 20th – TBA

Sunday August 21st – Montreal, PQ – Le Divan Orange

Monday August 22nd – Toronto, ON – The Central

Wednesday August 24th – Chicago, IL – Quenchers

Thursday August 25th – Cleveland, OH – Barking Spider Tavern

Friday August 26th – Pittsburgh, PA – TBA

Saturday August 27th – New York, NY – Rockwood Music Hall

Sunday August 28th – Brooklyn, NY – Sunnyvale

Monday, August 29th – Asbury Park, NJ – Wonder Bar

Tuesday, August 30th – Highlands, NJ – The Chubby Pickle

Wednesday August 31st – Baltimore, MD – TBA

Thursday September 1st – TBA

Friday September 2nd – Wilmington, NC – Rat House

Saturday September 3rd – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506


Photo credit: Connelly Crowe Photography / Melanie Steinway Art

Track Premiere: Cotton Mather: “Close to the Sun”


Tune culled from the beloved Texas combo’s new album, natch, out today. Grab a free MP3 below as well.

By Blurt Staff

So there’s a guy in Austin, Texas, who we’ve been tracking pretty much since BLURT got started, and his name is Robert Harrison. At the time, he was fronting a visionary outfit called Future Clouds and Radar (go HERE for some of our coverage), but all along, he had in his back pocket his former band, acclaimed ‘90s indie rock outfit Cotton Mather (about which, not so coincidentally, you can spot some of our enthusiasm HERE and HERE, when the band played our SXSW party in Austin). So here comes a brand new CM album, Death of the Cool, and we have a choice track to premiere for you today, “Close to the Sun.” Check it out:

The backstory: It didn’t take 15 years for Cotton Mather’s Austin-based main man, Robert Harrison to write the 64 songs that comprise his latest musical vision, one song for each hexagram (or reading) of the I Ching, that’s actually the amount of time that has passed since the last full-length album of new Cotton Mather songs was released.  With so much new material on deck, it seems like Harrison is making up the difference.

Death of The Cool is the first of four anticipated albums comprising Harrison’s endeavor to write and record 64 songs for each of the I Ching’s 64 hexagrams. Four additional non-album tracks can be heard now via with additional non-album tracks forthcoming. Keep your eyes peeled for a review here at this media portal, incidentally.

You can find the gentleman at multiple points sitting on the dock of the Web, below.

Photo credit:  Valerie Fremin

Watch New Video from BJ Barham (American Aquarium)


Track from the singer’s upcoming solo album.

By Fred Mills

Raise your hand if you are a fan of American Aquarium, the edgy, hard-touring Raleigh-based Americana combo which we’ve commented favorably upon more than a few times in this space (including their 2015 album Wolves).

Frontman BJ Barham – interviewed at Blurt last year, in fact – has a solo album, Rockingham, set to drop on August 19, and he recently unveiled the first video from it. Check it out, below. And we’ll have a review of the album soon, of course. You can also check out an intimate performance of album track “The American Tobacco Company” here at YouTube.



Video Premiere: Cantina – “A Letter of Rejection”


A Texas supergroup by any other name, indeed. Track culled from brand new album.

By Blurt Staff

Dallas-based Cantina debuts this week with the most excellent album Sea Of Keys (We Know Better Records). And we are proud to be able to unveil the group’s new video, for album track “A Letter of Rejection.” Check it out:

“A Letter of Rejection” is exactly what it sounds like. A friend of guitarist/vocalist John Dufhilo gave him a framed copy of a letter Andy Warhol received in 1956 from the Museum of Modern Art rejecting his work for their collection. The lyrics of the song are lifted nearly verbatim from the letter, so the song is really a co-write with Alfred H. Barr, Jr. from the museum,” explains Dufhilo. For the song’s music video, banjo player Marcus Hollar asked Dufhilo to visit him in Pilot Point and play his guitar in 100-degree heat. “I had no idea what he was putting together,” Dufhilo says.

The backstory: “We are basically a band of drummers,” adds Dufilho. Accurate, but when considering that Dufilho also plays with Elephant 6 co-founders The Apples In Stereo (as well as his beloved solo project, The Deathray Davies), bassist Jason Garner (Dufilho’s friend of a quarter-century) can be found among the throng that is The Polyphonic Spree, and Philip Peeples (the only drummer in Cantina who actually drums in Cantina) is member of The Old 97’s, maybe not basic  Rounding out Cantina’s lineup is Dufilho’s Deathray Davies cohort Andy Lester, along with Hollar (late of Dropkick Murphys singer Mike McColgan’s punk band, Street Dogs.)

Cantina previously released two albums under the name I Love Math before the addition of Hollar. Dufilho notes that while 60% of the members of  Cantina are drummers (“three of us make a living playing music, the other two are the smart ones”), as a hard and fast rule, no cymbals are ever used on A Sea of Keys. So, don’t listen for that, and don’t listen for these guys to perform “that song” from “Star Wars” either.


Seriously, A Sea of Keys arrives with a pedigree: AllMusic previously referred to the band as a “supergroup,” and the masterful sensitivity of the songs on A Sea of Keys do little to detract from that notion.  Dufilho’s thoughtful tunes (the Austin Chronicle previously described him as “a ravenous songwriter working without a net”) take cues from country-rock, power pop, and the charming harmonies of the Everly Brothers. The songs never overstay their welcome; each is a conversation that never suffers an awkward beat. No pun intended.

Cantina (L-R): Jason Garner, John Dufilho, Marcus Hollar, Philip Peeples, Andy Lester. Photo credit: Karlo X. Ramos.





Video: Ryan Adams/Infamous Stringdusters on Colbert Show


That’s a Tarheel boy….

By Fred Mills

Last night on Late Show With Stephen Colbert Ryan Adams, joined by the Infamous Stringdusters and singer Nicki Bluhm, did “Oh My Sweet Carolina.” It’s part of Adams’ promotion for the recently-released expanded edition of his 2000 classic Heartbreaker. Watch them, below.

Guided by Voices for Fall Tour; Gillard Back in Lineup


Pollard and Gillard also start new side project.

By Fred Mills

If you’re a Guided by Voices fan, there’s a good chance that the 1997-2004 lineup featuring erstwhile Death of Samantha guitarist Doug Gillard is one of your fave periods for the band. Now, word arrives that Gillard has returned to the fold and the band will tour starting next month. The lineup will be Gillard, founder Robert Pollard, Kevin March, Bobby Bare Jr., and Mark Shue. (Gillard has been touring with Nada Surf of late, and apparently plans to keep working with them as well.)

Meanwhile, Gillard and Pollard, along with bassist Shue and drummer Travis Harrison, have put together side project ESP Ohio. You can listen to first single “Royal Cyclopean” below; it will be officially released via Rockathon on Oct. 21. At that point it is presumed that GbV, meanwhile, will have completed September recording sessions for a new album.

Guided by Voices tour dates:

8/13 Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom
8/14 Dallas, TX @ Trees
8/16 Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
8/17 Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up Tavern
8/19 Los Angeles, CA @ The Teragram Ballroom
8/20 Los Angeles, CA @ The Teragram Ballrooom
8/22 San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
8/23 San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
8/26 Seattle, WA @ Neumos
8/27 Portland, OR @ The Crystal Ballroom / Project Pabst
8/31 Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
9/01 Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
9/03 Chicago, IL @ The Metro – on sale on Friday
9/16 Ottawa, ON CityFolk Festival
9/17 Toronto, ON @ Toronto Urban Roots Festival
10/07 Charlottesville, VA @ The Jefferson Theater – on sale on Friday
10/08 Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory Lot / Project Pabst
11/04-06 Bastrop, TX @ Sound On Sound Festival

08/13-09/1 with Broncho supporting except:
08/20 DTCV
08/27 Summer Cannibals
10/07 with Destroyer

Sandy Pearlman 1943-2016 R.I.P.



Had a major hand in shaping the musical world we know today. Above: Pearlman, center, with Mick Jones and Joe Strummer of The Clash.

By Fred Mills

Less than 2 weeks ago the news arrived about a GoFundMe campaign being mounted to help producer Sandy Pearlman pay the enormous medical bills he’d accrued in the wake of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Now, sadly, we learned that he passed away yesterday, July 26, at the age of 72. Reports the NY Times, “[He died in Novato, Calif…He had suffered a debilitating cerebral hemorrhage in December, and died of pneumonia and other complications, Robert Duncan, his longtime friend and conservator.”


Among Pearlman’s many accomplishments over the years: he worked as a rock critic; reportedly coined the term “heavy metal”; produced and wrote lyrics for Blue Oyster Cult; produced such iconic bands as the Clash, Dictators, and Dream Syndicate; and was a co-founder of digital platform eMusic.

Go to the above links for more about Pearlman and his colorful life.

Long Ryders Announce U.S. Tour for November


Real native sons at that, folks.

By Blurt Staff

They enjoyed an extremely well-received European tour this spring and also notched rave reviews for their 4-CD, 76-song career retrospective box set, Final Wild Songs that Cherry Red issued in January. Now The Long Ryders have announced their first full-fledged U.S. tour dates in 29 years, for November. It’s a relatively brief jaunt, as the members all have their own full-time jobs, but unlike the one-off guerilla shows they’ve had on occasion during the past 5 years or so, it definitely qualifies as a tour.

Fans of the band’s pioneering proto-Americana won’t need any coaxing. The Long Ryders last toured the States way back in 1987 in support of Two Fisted Tales, their final album before disbanding later that year. So here comes the classic line-up that recorded three highly acclaimed studio albums and toured extensively, including the recent dates in Spain, Ireland and England: co-founders Sid Griffin (guitar, vocals), Greg Sowders (drums) and Stephen McCarthy (guitar, vocals), and Tom Stevens (bass, vocals). Reviews were, in a word, rave:

“Another spine-tingling moment in a gig that had so many” –Craig Chaligne, Louder Than War(UK)

“The band have lost nothing in terms of musical ability and passion, and if anything they’re playing better than ever” –Jonathon Kardash, Bristol 24/7 (UK)

“They are able to produce the whole tradition of American roots rock that flows from the wide rivers of Dylan and Roger McGuinn into the fast flowing tributaries of Buffalo Springfield and Gram Parsons in front of our dumbstruck faces without batting an eyelash.” –Fernando Neira, El País (Spain)

Check out some tunes following the dates, below.

November 2016 Tour Dates:

11/10 Bowery Ballroom – New York City, NY

11/11 ONCE Ballroom – Somerville, MA

11/12 Cafe Nine – New Haven, CT

MP3: Download a Live Case/lang/Veirs Show from 6/16/16


A distaff CSN, perhaps?

By Uncle Blurt

With their new collaborative album in stores and notching critical kudos left and right, Neko Case, kd lang and Laura Veirs are clearly on a roll. A month or so ago they did a live webcase performance for Oregon Public Broadcasting that was aired over HDTV, and the audio has now been posted online for free download via the Big O gang. You can nab downloadable artwork as well.

MP3: Case/lang/Veirs – OPB Studios, Portland, Oregon; June 16, 2016.

The music is about as sweet as it comes, showcasing not only their album but their uncommonly fine group vocals. Below, check out the complete tracklisting.

      Track 01
. Atomic Number 3:42 (6.2MB)
      Track 02
. Honey And Smoke 3:13 (5.4MB)
      Track 03
. Song for Judee 3:18 (5.5MB)
      Track 04
. Blue Fires 3:28 (5.8MB)
      Track 05
. Delirium 2:55 (4.9MB)
      Track 06
. Greens of June 5:06 (8.6MB)
      Track 07
. Behind the Armory 3:02 (5.1MB)
      Track 08
. Best Kept Secret 4:10 (7.0MB)
      Track 09
. 1000 Miles Away 3:28 (5.8MB)
      Track 10
. Supermoon 4:00 (6.7MB)
      Track 11
. I Want to Be Here 3:30 (5.9MB)
      Track 12
. Down I-5 3:44 (6.3MB)
      Track 13
. Why Do We Fight 3:06 (5.2MB)
      Track 14
. Georgia Stars 4:53 (8.2MB)