2019 Hopscotch Festival 9/5-7/19, Raleigh NC

Dates: September 5-7, 2019

Location: Various Venues, Raleigh NC

The annual cutting-edge music festival did not disappoint. Pictured above: Dirty Projectors


When the tenth annual Hopscotch landed upon Raleigh, so did Hurricane Dorian, some nice weather, and some unwanted heat. In three days, a lot can happen in North Carolina. Live music over twelve different venues was not stopped.

The first day of festival activities at City Plaza were pushed over to the Ritz because of Hurricane weather and the rest of the venues continuing at the same spots and times. Hopscotch was off to a rough start but that did not stop people from filling up the floors to see acts from all over. With one of the few metal showcases at Kings Barcade, curated by Solar Halos, featuring Mourning Cloak, White Hills and Boris to Lincoln Theatre’s Ric Wilson, Injury Reserve, and Joey Purp, and Earthgang, Hopscotch was off to the traditional start.

Day 2 was the most impressive day with astonishing performances from jazz drummer and percussionist Milford Graves, Raleigh’s Black Surfer, and Maryn Jones’s new band Yowler, previously of Saintseneca. The nice weather shined down upon Raleigh and along with it came a packed schedule of musicians that came extremely hard to choose from.(Watch a video of Milford Graves, below.)

One of the most intriguing performances of the night was Pharmakon, who had just released her brand-new album “Devour”. Playing to a packed venue, Margaret was unfortunately dealing with microphone and gear problems which led to a set that no one wanted to leave since they wanted to see her overcome technical difficulties and play her set. With difficulties in hand, she ended up forcing herself to finish the set which meant a larger than life performance that led to her do a full on “charging bull” through the crowd and flipping over her instruments. A performance that stung but will continue to leave a lasting impression. (Pictured below: Pharmakon)

As Hopscotch wrapped its final day, the City Plaza and Red Hat shows were a sight to see. Kooley High, Raphael Saadiq, Little Brother absolutely showed what a main stage City Plaza set was supposed to be like and then some. Crossing over to Red Hat where everyone continued to dance the night away with acts, Phantogram and Chvrches, you could tell that Hopscotch was coming to a close as you looked on festival-goers faces and all you could see was exhaustion along with satisfaction of another great year in the books.

Congrats to Hopscotch Music Festival and it’s ten years of keeping Raleigh on its toes. Here’s to ten more!

Solar Haloes

Milford Graves

Mourning Cloak






SCRUFFY AND THE JANITORS – Keepers of the Underdark Vol. 1 – What Are You Running From?

Album: Keepers of the Underdark Vol. 1- What Are You Running From?


Label: self-released

Release Date: September 13, 2019

Ace new single from the ever-brilliant Missouri band.


Where shall I begin with Scruffy and the Janitors.  For the better part of seven years, I’ve followed their career, their progression from lovers of all things Jack White, Cage the Elephant and Nirvana; blending modern electric blues with garage and straight-ahead rock n roll, a mix that was, at times, repetitive but almost always interesting.  From the home recorded “Pino” through 2017’s superb “Modeling is Hard,” Scruffy have shown that, not only are they musicians of a high caliber, they are a unit, a thre- man strike force ready to take on any band, any stage.  They are a band capable of just about anything; opening their minds to new concepts and styles, going from the a band that knew their limitations to a trio that refuses to have limitations, opening their minds to obscure garage rock like The Leaves and The Sonics to the full on mad hatter psychedelia of Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd and the great Captain Beefheart.

That brings us to their new single “Keepers of the Underdark Volume 1: What Are You Running From?” the first in a series of horror-based singles (released on Friday the 13th) that sees the band trying something new and it mostly works.  Steven Foster’s voice has never been so soulful and forlorn, soaked in echo and reverb as he sings of “going postal.” Foster’s bass lines are fat and steady, Trevin Newton’s drumming is confident and powerful as always while Teriq Newton’s guitar work rips through the night like a werewolf devouring its latest, hopeless victim, never letting go, choking the life from the listener and leaving him or her wanting more.

It’s easy to hear that Scruffy are trying something different, moving away from what they know to a song that would make HP Lovecraft proud, it’s subject matter and execution dark, the chorus is catchy and the solos are not overlong. Scruffy is a band on the verge of something great, ready to break out of the St. Joe bubble and take on the world.  Though it’s not a masterwork by definition, what it is however, is a tight, driving tune, perfect for the season of the witch that bares repeating.  Give “What Are You Running From?” a few spins and you’ll see what I mean, it’ll pin you down like a stake through the heart and force you to admit that Scruffy and the Janitors is one of the area’s best rock bands.  They are seemingly unafraid to try new things, to destroy the box they created for themselves and run headlong into the unknown wilderness that is the world at large.  Scruffy gives their fans a song to hold onto in trying times, times that show a new horror every time you turn on the television or read a newspaper, homelessness, mass shootings, unemployment, a less than competent President sitting in the big chair with his finger on the button.

These are dark times my friends and “What Are You Running From?” is the slice of escapism that we need right now. Scruffy, in their growth of nearly a decade together, have found the pocket, the nugget that should put them on the road to discovery, discovering who they are as musicians and as citizens of the wider world.

Is “What Are You Running From?” a commentary on the state of affairs that we find ourselves in, spinning our wheels as we wait for something new and terrible to happen?  Who knows?  Now’s the time boys, take your songs, take the talent that has been given to you and show the world that rock n roll is not dead, it was just hiding in the dark; ready for someone to shine a bright, white hot light on it once again.  With “What Are You Running From?” it’s Scruffy that is holding the flashlight, piercing the shadowy world and signaling for a sign of relief.



Parsnip 9/16/19, Chicago

Dates: September 16, 2019

Location: Empty Bottle, Chicago IL

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL.


Had the immense pleasure of seeing Parsnip last Monday night, September 16, at Chicago’s Empty Bottle, the kick-off to their first US tour.

If this was the nineties, this group of Australian ladies would’ve already had a cass-single out on K records, some dude called Cobain would be ranting-n-raving about em, they’d get signed to DGC, managed by Golden Mountain talent, done Lollapalooza, visited multiple re-hab facilities, broken up, each member attempting a solo record, only to end up on a sheep farm or running a kangaroo meat packing plant.

Well, thank GAWD it ain’t the nineties!!! You’ve got the chance to take in the Parsnips on their own healthy merits, become enthralled and shimmy, to their own brand of pure pop bliss. “The Tree Bears Fruit” is the first full-length release, issued especially for you by the fine Trouble in Mind family. The songs really seem to explode under an amped live setting and the harmonies sore in a live room.

Do yourself a favor — and I even recommend bringing the family and the family dog or cat. Tour dates follow the photos.

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL.

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL.

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL.

Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL.

Tour Dates:

FRI 9/20 — New York, NY – The Footlight w/ Waist, Air Waves, People’s Court
SAT, 9/21 — Philadelphia, PA – Jerry’s On Front
SUN, 9/22 — Baltimore, MD – Joe Squared
MON, 9/23 — Richmond, VA – The Fuzzy Cactus
TUE, 9/24 — Chapel Hill, NC – The Nightlight
WED, 9/25 — Asheville, NC – Static Age Records
THU, 9/26 — Nashville, TN – Third Man Records instore
FRI/SAT 9/27 & 9/28 — Memphis, TN – GONERFEST 16
SUN, 9/29 — St. Louis, MO – The Nest
MON, 9/30 — St. Louis, MO – Pizza Head
TUE, 10/1 — Kansas City, MO – Farewell Transmission, w/ Warm Bodies
WED, 10/2 — Omaha, NE – M.A.S., w/ Warm Bodies
THU, 10/3 — Minneapolis, MN – Gigs!, w/ Warm Bodies
FRI, 10/4 — Milwaukee, WI – Ground Zero, w/ Warm Bodies
SAT, 10/5 — Chicago, IL – Instore at Bric-a-Brac Records (All Ages)

The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard, by Brian T. Atkinson

Title: The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard

Author: Brian T. Atkinson

Publisher: Texas A&M University Press

Publication Date: September 02, 2019


Ray Willie Hubbard may not be top of mind to casual Country/Americana music fans, but he certainly influenced a slew of the musicians making that music today.

It seems rather appropriate then that Hubbard’s peers and acolytes would come together to explain his musical brilliance in writing. The Messenger (272pp), though not the best book to explain the life and career of Hubbard (that one would be his own 2015 memoir, A Life… Well, Lived), it does a pretty solid job of explaining his appeal by those who know him best. Chronicled by Brian T. Atkinson, the book collects an army of interviews from friends, peers and followers; folks like Bobby Bare, Steve Earle, Ben Kweller and Chris Robinson, among many, many others. But the most touching tributes come in the forewords, by longtime pal Jerry Jeff Walker and relative newcomer (at least compared to Walker and Hubbard) Hayes Carll. One of the best stories recounted here is the 1973 live version of Hubbard’s “Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother,” covered by Walker on his live album with a shout out to the song’s author in the intro, a move that brought a lot more attention to Hubbard’s own work.

The book covers his early years, playing folk music in college as part of Three Faces West, and his evolution to a folk/country singer songwriter on par with Walker, Kris Kristofferson and Guy Clark. Like his memoir, The Messenger is pretty frank about his substance problems drawing a clear distinction between his pre- and post- sober career.  A strong book, paired nicely with A Life… Well, Lived, this latest entry in the Hubbard library is further proof of just how influential his music remains today.

Black Flag 8/28/19, Denver

Dates: August 28, 2019

Location: Oriental Theater, Denver CO

Live at Denver’s storied Oriental Theater, the current iteration of the legendary hardcore outfit – featuring founding member Greg Ginn – was in rare form.


The Oriental Theater keeps bringing the noise of old, new (wave) and plenty in between with previous/upcoming gigs by The Fixx, Hot Snakes, Killing Joke and yes, on this night, Black Flag.

The last chance I had to see Black Flag when I really wanted to was 4/7/84 in Philly (I remember the date cos’ it my pal’s birthday) and they all went to the show and I had to work (busboy at a restaurant). They played in Trenton several times in 1985 until the broke up in the Summer of ’86 but I wasn’t such a big fan of that Black Flag material so I never went to see them during those years.

I really wish I would have (and I did see the first ever Rollins Band gig) but alas…

Back to the present….i caught this version of Black Flag a few months ago when they were here for the Saboro festival in which they played a shortened set. Here they were back a few months later and headlining on this night (we missed the openers).

These days the band is founding member Greg Ginn on guitar with pro skater Mike Vallely on vocals and the rhythm section of Tyler Smith on bass and Isaias Gil on drums.  Though the band released an album in 2013, What The…. the set on this night consisted of old, classic material.

A few things, Ginn’s guitar still has that classic, rusty-chainsaw sound and Vallely is a classic growler in the Rollins vein  (a real throaty growl) and of the rhythm section Smith is solid but Gil is a really terrific drummer.

In the hour plus set we heard old chestnuts like opener “Depression,” “No Values,” “Fix Me,” “Gimme Gimme Gimme,” “Six Pack” ( the first B.F. record I ever bought, in 1983 or so).

They kept chugging along, with and extended version of “Slip It In,” “Revenge,” “Clocked In,” “Nervous Breakdown,” “TV Party”  and plenty more. They ended it sweaty and exhausted with a rousing version of “Louie Louie” and called it a night.

Oh and no theremin solos!

People have their own opinions of what this version of Black Flag means and represents and they’re certainly entitled to it but Black Flag in 2019 sounds fine to me and I’m glad I went (and will most likely go again).


Mark Knopfler 9/4/19, Atlanta

Dates: September 4, 2019

Location: Cadence Bank Amphitheater at Chastain Park, Atlanta GA

Great show and a beautiful night for an outdoor performance by the legendary Mark Knopfler and band, held at the Cadence Bank Amphitheater at Chastain Park – and not a note was wasted.



The former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler is winding down a big tour in support of a new solo-release “Down the Road Wherever,” getting help on stage from musicians on stage, all of them multi-instrumentalists.    Tremendous detail in the acoustics and highly finessed performances by all.

After years of platinum records and arena tours, one gets the sense that low-key star Knopfler is far happier doing things his way, and not having to slog through the mega-hit gyrations of his Dire Straits rock star days from the 80s and 90s.    He is 70, and told the crowd sometimes he thinks he should retire but knows he’s got a pretty good gig and they’ll probably have to come take him away on a stretcher before he’ll stop.   Knopfler was born in Glasgow, Scotland and raised near Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Since Dire Straits disbanded in 1995, he’s made 9 solo LPs and produced film scores for movies, including ‘Local Hero’ and ‘The Princess Bride.’  No opening act, the band jumped right in with a long setlist which included only four Dire Straits songs, but I didn’t hear anyone complaining.  He’s Mark Knopfler who’s sold 125 million records and worked with the giants of his industry, including Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, and too many others to mention, so he can do what he wants.

He commented he remembers his first trip to Atlanta many years ago was by bus, and he recalled how thrilled he was being in the birthplace of blues-great Blind Willie McTell (1898-1959), noted in part for his syncopated finger-picking style.  Maybe that’s where Knopfler picked up on his own unique playing style.  Only got to shoot a couple of songs worth of photos, and from the soundboard, so not a lot of diverse photos but was glad to see Knopfler had his iconic Sunburst Les Paul strapped on for one of them.

There are dates left on this tour through the end of September – check ‘em out:


Also check out Ambassador Boydston’s  stuff on Instagram: @johnboydstonphoto

THE MONROES – The Monroes 2.0

Album: Monroes 2.0

Artist: The Monroes

Label: Tugboat

Release Date: May 03, 2019

The delightful ’80s San Diego outfit remodels and returns – and in fine form.


From the “it’ll happen when Hell freezes over” files… The Monroes, best known for their 1982 hit “What Do All the People Know,” have returned after more than 35 years! As aficionados of the New Wave era know, this San Diego band not only had one of the great songs of their day but also one of the most bizarre stories (read my article on The Monroes here).

The Monroes 2.0 is an apt title — not only because this is their second proper release but also because it presents a different lineup from the one on their 1982 EP. Singer-bassist Bob Monroe, in fact, is the only original band member in the current quintet. 2.0 finds him joined by guitarists Ronny Jones and Barry Scott, keyboardist Dave Hart Pomeranz and drummer Bob Sale — all of whom have been in the trenches for years, playing with a wide variety of artists. While original vocalist Tony Ortiz and keyboard whiz Eric Denton are certainly missed, this new lineup has talent to burn. Moreover, the band now boasts three strong singer-songwriters and, while Bob Monroe may be the leader, it feels like a democracy.

The first four songs on the new album are essentially flawless — and each one is different from the next. Monroe’s “White Lace and Blue Jeans” kicks things off in fine style. It’s a catchy paean to a woman who is “sometimes wild and crazy, sometimes so austere.” Next up is “Midnight in Hollywood,” which spotlights Jones (with some fine backing vocals from Laurie Beebe Lewis). In a just world, this song would be blasting from car radios in suburbia  — and it probably would have been in the ‘80s! Imagine a less corny Bon Jovi or a less quirky Goo Goo Dolls and you’ve got the idea. Scott’s “It’s a Good Thing God Will Forgive You” is third and Monroe bats cleanup with  “I Could Sing.”  These last two tracks are more topical and less relationship-oriented than most of 2.0  — but both are terrific.

If the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to the standard of those first four songs, it definitely has its moments. While Scott’s “Walking with Renee” is a bit overproduced to these ears, his “Tell Me Tonight” is top-notch, Beatlesque pop. Jones cements his credentials as the band’s rocker on “Gotta Get Gone.” And the disc closes with Monroe’s “Mad for You,” an unabashed song of love and devotion. It’s not every day that a band from more than three decades ago comes back sounding better than ever. If you missed out on the talents of Bob Monroe and his cohorts the first time around, don’t make that mistake twice.

DOWNLOAD:  “Midnight in Hollywood,” “I Could Sing” and “Tell Me Tonight”



Deerhunter + Dirty Projectors 9/5/19, Atlanta

Dates: September 5, 2019

Location: Variety Playhouse, Atlanta GA

Atlanta’s own Deerhunter headlined the city’s Variety Playhouse, and they did anything BUT disappear.
As of their hometown show, there were only a few dates left for Deerhunter’s current US tour – DC, Boston, and NYC. Then, following a few weeks’ break, it’s off to the U.K. and Europe on Nov. 2 and points farther east for this these indie-rock titans who never seem to not be touring.
But far from road-weary, they blasted onto the rock planet they occupy from the git-go and never sagged. The band is touring, incidentally, in support of their latest LP Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?  
Deerhunter is, of course, Bradford Cox (vocals and guitars), (original drummer) Moses Archuleta, Locket Pundt (guitars, vocals), and Josh McKay (bass, guitar).  Keyboardist Javier Morales is a welcome addition to the stage lineup.  His presence seems to geographically put the 4-members almost toe-to-toe and I think stage proximity allows even already close bands to really lock-in.  Whatever tangents they follow on disc, onstage they run a tight musical ship.  Are they rock, indie-rock, garage, industrial, pop, psychedelia?  Yes, they are.
And for something completely different, Dirty Projectors opened, winding down a co-headlining tour with Deerhunter.  Great world-vibe reminiscent of latter-day Talking Heads.   Catchy upbeat songs, powerful vocals, original hooks, all good.
The band – formed in 2002 by core member David Longstreth, played an hour-plus opening set, and the packed house was right there with ‘em until the last note, wanting more.   Other members are longtime bass guitarist Nat Baldwin, Mike Daniel Johnson, Maia Friedman, Felicia Douglass and Kristin Slipp.  Latest release I can find is 2018’s Lamp Lit Prose.
Check out Prof. Boydston’s other photo stuff at and on Instagram – he’s @johnboydstonphoto.

Bryan Ferry 8/15/19, Atlanta

Dates: August 15, 2019

Location: The Tabernacle, Atlanta GA

Taking a victory lap with a deep dive into both his solo and Roxy Music catalogues, and accompanied by a stellar crew that included UK guitar legend Chris Spedding, Ferry turned Atlanta’s sold-out venue, the famed Tabernacle, into his personal song-craft room of magic and mirrors. (Click on the images in the gallery, below, to enlarge them.)


Bryan Ferry is back on the road touring the world has he has done for many years – but this time it feels like a bit of a victory lap, and in a good way.  Ferry and the entire Roxy Music band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, and Ferry has said he appreciates the honor and loves the love.

If Ferry is feeling his 73 years he does a good job of hiding it onstage.   He’s loose, poised, having fun, and the onstage mutual admiration between this legend and his fans is remarkable and a sight to behold.   He’s also clearly leading the band, giving intro and outro cues, not that they need much direction once the show starts.  All top-notch veterans, and pretty much the same as he has toured with in recent years, including the great longtime Ferry/Roxy Music sideman and UK rock legend in his own right — Chris Spedding.  (Look him up.  We might not have ever had the Sex Pistols without his involvement.)

In fact, a highlight was the spotlight Ferry shared with Spedding for a solo during a rousing cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.” I was reminded of Ferry’s all-covers solo record years ago, “These Foolish Things,” worth checking out as are all the Roxy and Ferry releases over the years.  I didn’t own my first Roxy Music LP until a few years ago, so it’s never too late, so start at the beginning with their iconic debut LP Roxy Music.

Ferry’s currently playing the Roxy hits, and solo stuff.  The guy is still making solid records.  Did I mention he’s 73?

Only a few US dates left, this week in Dallas and Austin, TX.  Then moving west to Denver, CO and onto California.  Dates here:

One other uniquely Bryan Ferry thing – he allows and encourages photographers to shoot the entire show.  NOBODY of his stature does that.  Usually it’s 3 songs and, get outta here, you weenies.  That says so much about his personal confidence – and it’s smart, because a photographer willing to take the time can capture all moods and visuals as the show progresses. A Bryan Ferry show heats up as it goes.

Bigger and more photos from the show are here:
Check ‘em out and give me a follow on Instagram at @johnboydstonphoto.  Sometimes I have dog photos, too. (I can second that emotion. – Blurt Dawg Files Ed.) 

45 Reviews: The Dickies / Jack Ellister / Hater

Album: “I Dig Go-Go Girls” / “When an Old Cricketer leaves the Crease” / "Four Tries Down"

Artist: The Dickies / Jack Ellister / Hater

Label: Slope / Fruits de Mer / Fire

Release Date: August 09, 2019

“I Dig Go-Go Girls” (Slope:  / “When an Old Cricketer leaves the Crease” (Fruits de mer: / “Four Tries Down “(Fire:


I rarely get a chance to review 7” records these days, so when these three recently showed up I was beyond excited.

No need to rehash The Dickies’ long and storied punk history, but on this slab they decided to cover Cheap Trick’s “I Dig Go-Go Girls” and the results are stunning. This song, in The Dickies’ hands, rips and snorts with an aggression that is about as perfect a slab of summer as you can get. The vocals are bitchin with an extra bite courtesy of Monkey from The Addicts.  The infectious nature of a Cheap trick tune is amplified to stratospheric heights and buffed to perfection with a punk sheen.

B-side “The Dreaded Pigasaurus”, a Dickies original, is no slouch to its A-side brother. It’s a storming anthem replete with saxophone and what sounds like Hammond B3, stretched over a menacing throbbing bass line. Leonard Phillips vocals provide just the right dose of pop-punk to the proceedings that transported me back to the 1980’s. Short, sharp shock, just what the doctor ordered!


On Jack Ellister’s latest 7” he tackles two rather disparate tunes. The A-side, “When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease,” by the late British icon Roy Harper, is a nostalgic number that Ellister tackles, strikingly capturing the original’s somber beauty. Ellister’s voice, along with his old Polish piano, are as much a perfect combination as were Harper and his guitar when he first recorded it. Stunning!

The B-side sees Ellister turn his sights to Black Sabbath. Here his take on the super heavy “Supernaut” is to give the track a decidedly narco-haze and sing in an almost Mark E. Smith acid snarl. Every thud of the drums, drone of the bass, and wailing of the synthesizer is simply spectacular. A killer cover that sees Ellister not only inhabit the track, but modernize and push its boundaries a tad further.

Fruits de Mer have done it once again. Get this 7” from your local shop on colored vinyl with a fold-out poster.


Meanwhile, Malmo, Sweden, outfit Hater will drop their new single next month (September 6, to be precise) and it’s a lovely slice of pop that, to this reviewers’ ears, recalls elements of ‘90s era Tanya Donnelly and Lush, with a smidgen of Broadcast thrown in for good measure. Those may be the touchstones to convey to people what they’re in store for, but that’s not meant to say the band lacks creativity; in fact, it’s just the opposite. Side A’s  “Four Tries Down” is a mighty seductive slab of pop that is clear, effective, and memorable; it combines so many elements hitting sweet spots in my brain—from the deep female vocals at the opening, to the beat and catchy melody—that I played it over and over and over… okay, you get the message. The flipside’s “It’s a Mess” is another addictive gem. The understated vocals that border on whispers are seductively dreamy and left me under the singer’s pied-piper like spell. Me wants more!


DOWNLOAD: We here at BLURT recommend physical therapy, but if you must go digital, download all 6tracks from these two singles direct from the labels or the artists’ websites so they are guaranteed to get your dough!