I love fall. Maybe because it’s the season of my birth. My energy level crackles and I get incredibly nostalgic. Something uncontainable gets let loose at exactly the same time as I’m craving familiarity.
When I heard that Brice Street Band was playing in Durham, it was as if the 70’s snuck right up and tapped me on the shoulder. If I close my eyes just right, I can almost conjure up the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in Chapel Hill. Like when Halloween meant families and their children came to Fowler’s parking lot at the foot of Mallette Street to ride on the back of a fire truck. Orchestrating ways to sneak on to campus every fall to hear Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts play at Granville Towers or some frat party. All those years of UNC’s Jubilee music festival that everyone still talks about with reverent pride. Cat’s Cradle opened and Robbin’s Department Store became Town Hall offering perfect venues for local area bands like Arrogance, Southwing, Heartwood, Bro T. Holla, and Brice Street Band, who trucked over regularly from Greensboro. Town Hall regulars and favorites, though not local, were Blackhawk/Hi Ho Silver and Flood. Seeing several of these bands reunite is a real treat, especially to watch the fun they are clearly having. Hearing them is even better. So what if they aren’t all intact with exactly the same members? (Aside: stay tuned for a possible Southwing gig, along with a column, in February.)
I wish my camera and I had done a better job of documenting those days.
But back to Brice Street Band. Throughout the 70’s, In hopes of a record deal, they focused on the studio, playing out only a couple of times a week. But a record deal doesn’t come without a following, which they built by hitting the predictable college circuit which included Greensboro, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Greenville, plus every beach joint between Wrightsville and Virginia Beach. Before long, they were filling clubs everywhere they went becoming known for their Beach Boys covers.
When I asked Jack Atchison (drums and lead vocals) if there was a single most memorable night playing in Chapel Hill in the 70’s, he laughed and reminded me of their very first booking at Town Hall. The place was fairly new and the entrance still had the left over department store glassed-in window displays. While playing “Gimme Shelter,” a handful of bikers got in a fight out front and someone got thrown through the windows. “We evoked the spirit of Altamont,” said Jack, laughing at the memory. I was there. Town Hall owner Michael Strong ultimately got them their album deal with the Record Bar’s fledgling label, Dolphin Records and they would record two albums Rise up in the Night (1980) and Imagination (1983).
Though the original band was all but disbanded by 1986, Atchison would keep Brice Street alive and well with varying members, most recently with another original member, Doug Dennis (bass and vocals), and newest addition Jack King (guitar and vocals). But don’t for a second discount the power of a trio. Just like back then, they rock the house and pack them in still performing all those songs that make you get up out of your chair and dance like no one is watching – Van Morrison, ZZ Top, Hendrix, Cream, The Police, and, yes, they still do the Beach Boys. Get out there this weekend and revisit. As Van would so eloquently say “my, how you have grown.”
Sat. Nov. 9
Brice Street Band
8pm – $8
The Blue Note Grill
4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd
Durham, NC 27707
We are not even going to talk about those 18 days in the hospital. Not yet anyway.
Life on shuffle
No Woman, No Cry (Bob Marley & the Wailers)
Right as Rain (Adele)
It Ain’t Right (John Mayall & the Blues Breakers)
Gravity/Falling Down Again (Alejandro Escovedo)
November Blue (The Avett Bros.)