Chris Hillman + Herb Pedersen = Soon!

chris_herb_lrg2010Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen
Sunday, August 18, 7pm – $20 (Friends), $24, $28 (DOS)
The ArtsCenter
Carrboro, NC

Pages of Life

He might have been just as happy as a cowboy.  Or a surfer. I, for one, am glad Chris Hillman discovered music and listened carefully to that sound in his head that would connect a musically curious generation to country rock back in the late 60’s.

Without Chris Hillman’s influence (The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, McGuinn Clark & Hillman, McGuinn & Hillman, Desert Rose Band), I’m not sure we’d be listening to the same Avett Brothers or Mumford and Sons we hear today. In the playlist of my life, rock (The Rolling Stones, The Who, etc.) instantly conjures memories of parties, concerts, and good times, man. Country rock (The Byrds, FBB, Poco, Pure Prairie League, etc.) will forever be connected to falling in (and out) of love.

The hardest part of interviewing, IMHO, is trying not to bore the interviewee, especially when they fall into legendary status. Rock and roll history is right there on the line and you’d rather chew pencils than pitch out the same old questions they’ve heard over and over and over, ad nauseam. I decided that if he wanted to talk about The Byrds and Gram Parsons that he was going to have to bring them up. It was a good call on my part.

He started right off by saying “They say some of the best banjo players come out of North Carolina.” Ok, I’m good with where this is going so far.

I knew I wanted to talk about the new crop of young bands joyfully incorporating traditional string music into their current sound. Alt-country, I think they call it. Whatever.

We went in a dozen directions – R&B songs to religion, songwriting to great American novels, heroin to herding cattle – none of them predictable, but all of them connected by a common thread – Chris Hillman himself. After five minutes I felt like I’d been talking with him for hours and he comes across as one of the nicest guys you ever want to meet. Plus he even broke into song several times. I mean, you have to be respectful of a man who can casually mention David (Crosby) without it seeming the least little bit pretentious or bragging.  It actually didn’t even take long before we were talking about Gram. But you have to read the entire Q&A for the whole story.

Chris and Herb Pedersen have known one another for 50 years, but didn’t play together in a group until the Desert Rose Band. With all those years, talent, and multi-stringed instruments between them, it’s a given that they’d make beautiful music together and that they’d share that with the appreciative audience that would be us.

Read the entire Q&A with Chris Hillman!

Bill Payne + Outpatience + Triple X + Shufflin’

Chapel Hill Magazine’s The WEEKLY column, June 20, 2013
Bill Payne
Tracing Footsteps – A Journal of Music, Photography and Tales from the Road
Monday, June 24, 2013 – $25-$28
Cat’s Cradle
Carrboro, NC
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Tracing-Footsteps-general-banner-499x208

It’s hard to imagine that first pre-Little Feat meeting between Bill Payne and Lowell George. The one in 1969 that would start with trading “musical quotes,” Lowell on acoustic guitar and Bill on a spinet belonging to Lowell’s mother.  A meeting that fell into place by Bill Payne’s own desire and drive, literally south from Santa Barbara to LA several times, hoping to find a musical home with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. But it didn’t happen quite like that. Instead Little Feat was born and Zappa helped them get their first record contract with Warner Bros. When not playing with the current incarnation of Little Feat, keyboardist Payne, the only surviving original member, is so respected in the music world that he’s in heavy request as a session player performing on albums with Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, The Doobie Brothers, Bob Seger, J.J. Cale, Jimmy Buffet, and so on.

BillPayne1Payne is one of those rare individuals blessed with natural talents that go beyond keyboards and songwriting. Picking up a camera from his son Evan only a few years ago, his immediate kinship with the lens exposed an eye that is a natural extension of his belief in discovering the connections between things.  In his own words:  “I don’t separate myself from my art. It is a revolving summation and continuance of what I am, what I was, and what I hope to be.”  And he’s also laid-back, extraordinarily collaborative, and intensely passionate about whatever he happens to be doing at the moment.  Which in this case is one of his most recent projects – Tracing Footsteps: A Journal of Home and the Road that combines stories, with multi-media showcasing his own photography, along with an audience Q&A.  Accompanying Payne to flesh out this powerful duo is Gabe Ford, current Little Feat drummer.

  “Tracing Footsteps,” according to Payne, “is the way I describe my journey in photography. It houses my philosophy of combining a host of influences: black & white, color, textured themes, landscape, people, photojournalism — my time travel, literally–all under one roof.”

The primary architect behind the Little Feat “Grassroots” movement, Payne instinctively recognized the synergistic benefit of personally involving the band’s massive and hugely dedicated fan base in the job of promoting the band, upcoming shows, recordings, merchandise, etc as well as populating the online music communities … there are about a half dozen “working fans”  in NC alone. They’re like Deadheads, only with Feat. What stands out above all else is the connection (there’s that word again), fierce loyalty, and admiration between the band and their fans who would do anything, including buying groceries, gassing up the truck, or simply running a not-so-glamorous errand. Just ask one of those NC-based fans – Gene Morgan, who lives in Clayton – if you can find him when he’s not busy running around putting up posters as I suspect he’s doing right now in advance of this show.Good man that he is, Bill Payne took time out to talk with me about Little Feat, cameras, Inara George (Lowell’s daughter), movements (both musical and grassroots) and to answer a handful of crowd-sourced questions from fans.  Read the rest of the Q&A online HERE.
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HeartbreakAn outpatient of love
Still a work in progress.  Tender days. Weepy nights. Chocolate does NOT cure everything. Neither does bacon.  Not even chocolate-dipped bacon.

Where’s Mr. Right Now when you need him?

Now interviewing for diversions.
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X and X and X Marks the spot

9am. Pick triplexa weekday. Any day. Let’s just say Tuesday. It’s not unusual for me to run by the post office on my way to work. My route takes me by an adult emporium. And not just one X. Not XX. But XXX.  Sometimes I slow down to count the cars in the parking lot.  At 9am on a Tuesday.  What ARE they doing in there???  Merely rhetorical. Smell the glove.
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ShuffleShufflin’ Hither & Yon (mostly hither)

Born Under a Bad Sign (Albert King)
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Bob Dylan)
Midnight Blues (Gary Moore)
Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You (Led Zeppelin)
It’s All Over Now (Rolling Stones)I Think I’ll Just Sit Here and Drink (Merle Haggard)

Roger McGuinn

RogerMcGuinn1Roger McGuinn
Friday, May 3, 2013 $33/$37
ArtsCenter
300 E. Main St.
Carrboro, NC, 27510

http://www.artscenterlive.org/
http://www.ibiblio.org/jimmy/mcguinn/

I was half kidding when I asked if Roger McGuinn was up for interviews before his show on May 3rd and next thing I knew I was emailing with Camilla, his lovely bride of 35 years (AKA Roger’s manager, road manager, stage manager, roadie, etc.) That was last fall so I had months in which to imagine a conversation AND get really nervous about it. I was in the music business for years and met hundreds of well-known people, but Roger McGuinn was a Byrd, for cryin’ out loud! If there was a soundtrack to my life, it came from the Byrds.

Aside from defining and inspiring an era while embracing sounds that would become instantly recognizable and positively American, Roger McGuinn was the connector between folk, rock and country. He was also a constant at the center of one of the most seminal bands of the 60’s and 70’s that would include a revolving door of equally influential cohorts – David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons, Clarence White, Gene Clark, Michael Clarke, Gene Parsons, and more. I’m not sure I want to even imagine where music would be today without him, but I’m dead certain that man has some amazing stories to tell.

Camilla directed me to the FAQ’s on Roger’s website and while she didn’t exactly say it, what she meant was – asked and answered thousands of times, find some new questions.

But I was going for a local angle. Roger’s favorite project, The Folk Den is hosted here at UNC –Chapel Hill on Ibibilio.org, a contributor-run, digital library that is a collaborative project of the School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Paul Jones is director of this home to one of the largest “collections of collections” on the Internet.

“I think that the McGuinn’s are a couple that have made some very smart choices doing what they love and sharing that love,” said Jones. “He loves playing but hated the hassles of managing a group as time went on. Now he gives away a song a month, right on time where ever he may be, and plays the shows he cares about going where he and Camilla like to go. He once told me that “touring with Camilla is like a kind of honeymoon at every show” They keep it simple but very high quality. I’m a great fan of both of them. Even someone completely incapable of playing guitar or singing on key (I’m saying me here) can appreciate Roger’s commitment to musicianship and his generous spirit.”

Having heard that Roger had made a guest appearance in his History of Rock class, I reached out to John Covach, rock historian and former Professor of Music Theory at UNC (now Chair of the College of Music at Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester).

“Yes, Roger McGuinn visited my History of Rock at UNC about ten years ago,” said Covach. “There were 300 or so students in the class at the time and it seemed like they all showed up that day, along with many faculty and staff–the room was filled to capacity. Roger had two guitars with him; I asked questions, he answered, and then would perform a song or two. It was a fantastic session and the students demonstrated their appreciation by giving him a standing ovation. He was overwhelmed by this and I might have even seen a tear in his eye. It was one of those rare moments in education where everything works out perfectly. Somebody told me later that he really enjoyed the experience–I know I did!”

Roger and I talked about that visit, along with his collection of transistor radios, visiting the Beatles in LA, folk song collecting, technology, and music. Then he put Camilla on the phone. If you’re still dying to know the answers to all those asked and answered questions like “why did he change his name from Jim to Roger” go to his website. It’s all there, plus some.

Go here to read our interview!

 

 

What’s New? Spring? Speakers? Sofas? Shuffle?

Where is spring? My toes are cold.  I can hear my flip-flops whimpering from behind the closet door.
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BNG1One Saturday in March

Morning at my favorite table at the Blue Note Grill talking to Bill.

No, I’m not here watching live music or drinking before noon, I say, because I can hear you wondering.  Over the last two years, I’ve been hearing the speakers in my car snap-crackle-pop. Enough to drive a music lover bonkers. So I started a stash – $5 here, $10 there. Good thing too, because then the CD player started skipping. Uh-oh. Not good, and likely not cheap.  $10 here, $20 there.  Then I discovered Auto Acoustics lives right behind BNG. And who am I to ignore a sign when I see – or hear – one?

Speaker inauguration song:  Midnight in Harlem (Tedeschi Trucks Band)
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sofa2One Saturday in April

Riding in a red truck with Keith.  Looking at sofas at consignment stores since there is not a real furniture store between here and Raleigh.

Keith: You know you can buy sofas online, right?
Me:  Are you crazy? I’m not buying a sofa online.  <— I say to the guy I met online.
Keith:  (silence for about 20 seconds too long)
Me:  (silence followed by)  wow … I’d get a man online, but not a sofa.
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Guitars_McGuinn1One Friday in May

I’ve talked about interviewing Roger McGuinn so much, even I’m sick of hearing me go on and on about it.  Just go read the interview, ya’ hear?
Here’s what ran in Chapel Hill Magazine’s The WEEKLY:  http://www.chapelhillmagazine.com/blogs/chapel-hill-magazine-blog/byrd-call/

Here’s what ran in my head before an editor got to it:
https://sites.google.com/site/sizzle2simmer/chapel-hill-magazine-s-the-weekly-columns/04-25-13—roger-mcguinn

The show was amazing. I can’t remember the last time I had goosebumps at a music show.  Oh, wait, it was Itzak Perlman and Pinkus Zukerman.
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ShuffleSofa Shopping Shuffle:
Down on Me (Janis Joplin)
Torn & Frayed (Stones)
Red House (Jimi Hendrix)
Please Call Home (Allman Bros.)

My Back Pages

Roger McGuinn (04/25/13)

Roger McGuinn
Friday, May 3, 2013 $33/$37 day of show
ArtsCenter
300 E. Main St.
Carrboro, NC, 27510
http://www.artscenterlive.org/

http://www.ibiblio.org/jimmy/mcguinn/

I was half kidding when I asked if Roger McGuinn was up for interviews before his show on May 3rd and next thing I knew I was emailing with Camilla, his lovely bride of 35 years (AKA Roger’s manager, road manager, stage manager, roadie, etc.) That was last fall so I had months in which to imagine a conversation AND get really nervous about it.  I was in the music business for years and met hundreds of well-known people, but Roger McGuinn was a Byrd, for cryin’ out loud! If there was a soundtrack to my life, it came from the Byrds.

Aside from defining and inspiring an era while embracing sounds that would become instantly recognizable and positively American, Roger McGuinn was the connector between folk, rock and country.  He was also a constant at the center of one of the most seminal bands of the 60’s and 70’s that would include a revolving door of equally influential cohorts – David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons, Clarence White, Gene Clark, Michael Clarke, Gene Parsons, and more. I’m not sure I want to even imagine where music would be today without him, but I’m dead certain that man has some amazing stories to tell.

Camilla directed me to the FAQ’s on Roger’s website and while she didn’t exactly say it, what she meant was  – asked and answered thousands of times, find some new questions.But I was going for a local angle.  Roger’s favorite project, The Folk Den is hosted here at UNC –Chapel Hill on Ibibilio.org, a contributor-run, digital library that is a collaborative project of the School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Paul Jones is director of this home to one of the largest “collections of collections” on the Internet.

“I think that the McGuinn’s are a couple that have made some very smart choices doing what they love and sharing that love,” said Jones. “He loves playing but hated the hassles of managing a group as time went on. Now he gives away a song a month, right on time where ever he may be, and plays the shows he cares about going where he and Camilla like to go. He once told me that “touring with Camilla is like a kind of honeymoon at every show” They keep it simple but very high quality. I’m a great fan of both of them. Even someone completely incapable of playing guitar or singing on key (I’m saying me here) can appreciate Roger’s commitment to musicianship and his generous spirit.”

Having heard that Roger had made a guest appearance in his History of Rock class, I reached out to John Covach, rock historian and former Professor of Music Theory at UNC (now Chair of the College of Music at Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester).

“Yes, Roger McGuinn visited my History of Rock at UNC about ten years ago,” said Covach.  “There were 300 or so students in the class at the time and it seemed like they all showed up that day, along with many faculty and staff–the room was filled to capacity.  Roger had two guitars with him; I asked questions, he answered, and then would perform a song or two.  It was a fantastic session and the students demonstrated their appreciation by giving him a standing ovation.  He was overwhelmed by this and I might have even seen a tear in his eye.  It was one of those rare moments in education where everything works out perfectly.  Somebody told me later that he really enjoyed the experience–I know I did!”

Roger and I talked about that visit, along with his collection of transistor radios, visiting the Beatles in LA, folk song collecting, technology, and music. Then he put Camilla on the phone. If you’re still dying to know the answers to all those asked and answered questions like “why did he change his name from Jim to Roger” go to the website.  It’s all there, plus some.

Missing in Action + Max + ENFP + Music

Lord, have mercy!  If you were in a romantic relationship with me, you’d have broken up with me by now, I imagine.  Please to forgive.  I don’t even know where to start with the last couple of months, much less if I actually should.  I have been d.i.s.t.r.a.c.t.e.d. Even as I start to beg for forgiveness, I let myself get diverted by some packages being delivered by UPS. Let no box go unopened, I say.  It might be a puppy.
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Max1 Pup would be a good place to start here. A friend who was watching me grieve for my beautiful Remy sent me a link on Petfinder. Even while protesting that I wasn’t ready for another dog, I was a goner before you could say “roll over,”  and was driving the back roads to Monroe one beautiful October day.  Max (a four-year-old mix of bearded collie and PBGV = Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen) was rescued and came to live in the little red house.  He’s a nut ball and he makes me laugh every time I look at his furry face.
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As the leaves were turning and I was falling in love with Max, I was trying to find my wobbly footing in another love that was going off-track faster than I could correct the steering, or apply the brakes. It was bad NASCAR slipperywithout a pit stop, or even a wall to stop the motion. When love is new everything in your field of      (and peripheral) vision is stunningly clear. Sharp. Gleaming. And achingly fragile … like an expensive Riedel wine glass. You’ve never been surer about anything in your entire life.  But when, and if, the shiny wears off and the cracks spider off into everywhere and nowhere, suddenly everything is muffled, dull, pillowed. And achingly fragile. When someone’s talking, you nod like you’re listening, but you’re not really. Suddenly you’re trying to walk through pudding or Jello® wearing 6” spike heels. Which in my case meant my flip-flops were skidding on every surface, every step I took. Downright treacherous, but that’s the thing about trying to make long distance love work. There’s all this empty space between in which to get trapped.

But ENFP says it best … me in love.  I kinda think they nailed it.

“Puppy love” is a good term for describing your take on romance: fun, frisky, playful, cuddly, and young at heart. No matter what your age or how many times your heart has been broken, you are an eternal optimist when it comes to love. You are not someone who proceeds cautiously when you meet someone you find attractive. You are likely to fall passionately in love – or at least lust – quickly, spontaneously, and with total abandon. Holding something back for later is a concept you can’t quite grasp, especially when it comes to the joy of creating a new and exciting relationship. Yes, COMMITMENT can scare you. That one word may explain why you are still single at thirty, forty, fifty, or beyond. But you love, absolutely love, the concept of intimacy, sharing, and relationships. If only you could find that special one, you would be set for life.
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And then there’s that new job thing. Should have led with that, right?  Landed upright and happy at what’s turning out to be the job that’s been looking for me, and I for it, complete with a dynamic and creative director. I can’t wait to get there every day. So all in all, life’s pretty good.

Diversions aplenty though!

Carrboro Music Fest – September, 2012
Another year, another success. And a day spent with my sister from Vermont and two old guy friends I hadn’t seen since the mid-80’s.  Kate, Ted, and Clay, thank you for such a day!  Loved hearing Saints Apollo!

Chatham County Line @ YR15YR15! Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro – October, 2012.  Wow! YepRoc Records throws a memorable party to celebrate 15 years.

Finally seeing Nick Lowe after all these years … delicious!  Seeing Chatham County Line again … sweet!  Discovering Jukebox the Ghost … exhilarating!  Experiencing Los Straitjackets … perfectly fright’nin’!

Thank you, Glenn Dicker, for taking time to talk with me for Chapel Hill Magazine’s The WEEKLY!   Read our Q&A here.

Now get outta here … I’ve got a Twelfth Night/Epiphany party to go to and then Downton Abbey!   It’s all good in my world.  _________________________________________________________

ShuffleMusic for cooking a pot of Irish Beef Stew:
Creatures of Love (Talking Heads)
And it Spread (Avett Bros.)
Tears Dry on Their Own (Amy Winehouse)
Keys to Paradise (Trampled by Turtles)
Are we in Trouble Now (Mark Knopfler)
I Wish I Was Your Mother (Alejandro Escovedo)
Home (Phillip Phillips)
Schizophrenia (Jukebox the Ghost)

Pleasure + Island + seafood + blues = Gregg Allman

19th Annual Pleasure Island Seafood & Blues Festival
October is one of my favorite times at the beach.  Hell, any time of the year is my favorite if the ocean is involved. But fall is just a little more special. The air crackles. The sea reclaims itself after the throngs of tourists have gone home, and yes, the water might even be a little deeper blue.  That’s never more true every year than during the second weekend in October when the beach throws one of the best parties on the coast.  For nineteen years, the residents of the strand known as Pleasure Island, home to Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and historic Fort Fisher, have quietly built stages, set up booths to house a handful of local well-known seafood vendors, and invited some of the cream of the blues crop to come on down and play at the Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival right there on the banks of the Cape Fear River. And then they turn around and invite us to come on down too!  The Saturday night headliner this year is Greg Allman.

I was a reluctant first timer in 2010 when Leon Russell was the Saturday night big name artist. Been there, done that with festivals. I like little intimate venues where it feels like I’m yay-far from the stage and feeling up-close-and-personal with who I’ve come to see. Yes, I’m one of those … I want to see the sweat on the brow and the crazy faces the guys in the band make.  It turned out to feel like someone’s ginormous backyard party (albiet a really big, cool backyard that has a view of the Cape Fear),  and we were not all that many lawn chairs away from stage left. But wait. Two days of nearly non-stop music? More stages? Smaller ones, scattered around the park … one for blues, one for jazz … one of which was so close to the Cape Fear River you could almost party on the boats gathered off-shore. Local food vendors were filling bowls and baskets with seafood chowder, fried shrimp, and other goodies that were right out of the sea only days ago.

I even ran into a healthy handful of friends from Chapel Hill and Carrboro who begged me not to give away the secret. A tattooed, pony-tailed man from New Jersey who had perfected the slow rock that usually only true Southerners can claim, went lazily back and forth next to me in a big old rocking chair and told me he’d been riding his Harley down since Johnny and Edgar Winter headlined in 2008. He, like those before him, wanted it to remain a well-kept secret. 2009 featured Delbert McClinton, and 2011 brought in Jimmy Vaughn. It’s not just about the headliner. Opening for Allman is the Jaimoe Jasssz Band. Die hard fans will recognize Jaimoe as the legendary drummer and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.  You can also catch the Polar Bear Blues Band featuring Harvey Dalton Arnold (bass player and former member of The Outlaws), Damon Fowler, and a handful of some of North Carolina’s own homegrown blues artists.  My pop-up chair is already in the car.

19th Annual Pleasure Island Seafood & Blues Festival
presenting Gregg Allman
Oct. 13 & 14, 2012
FortFisher Military Recreation Area
Kure Beach, NC
910-458-8434
Gates Open 11:00
Two-Day Ticket in Advance – $40
Saturday Only – $50
Sunday Only –  $15
Children 12 and under Free

Follow the Pleasure Island Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival on Facebook.
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From 301 to 506 + Oh, Deer + Music on Shuffle

Music of the Night
Sound check on a Friday in September along that ribbon that starts at the Carrboro Town Commons and ends at Local 506 with a healthy stop at Cat’s Cradle for good measure.  Tift Merritt. Check.  Megafaun. Check. Mandolin Orange. Check. The Old Ceremony. Check. Morgan’s End. Check.  All local and all within a one mile stretch in one night?  How did we get so lucky with this once in a night time chance to see a handful of musical talent from Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham?

Start at the Carrboro Town Commons (tickets are free – if you can still get them) for a Cat’s Cradle in the Commons evening with Tift Merritt, Megafaun, and Mandolin Orange presented by the Cradle and the Town of Carrboro.  One time Chapel Hillian Tift Merritt, a little bit country and a whole lotta bit rockin’ soul, is celebrating her about-to-be-released new album “Traveling Alone.” I’m a Megafaun fan from way back.  Well, at least since 2009, about a year after they got together. Banjo and harmonies done thoughtfully and right.  Wikipedia describes them as an American psyche-folk band from Durham, NC. I’d agree with that. Mandolin Orange is just delicious. Can there really be that much magic in an acoustic folky-blue-grassy duo?  Yes. Yes, there can be.

But that’s not my final stop for the night … I’m strolling just down the street to Cat’s Cradle for a double dose of Megafaun as they kick off the evening for The Old Ceremony’s new CD release “Fairytales and Other Forms of Suicide” just out on the locally-owned Yep Rock Records label.  I like everything about Django Haskins, The Old Ceremony’s founder, including his name. I hope he was named after jazz-guitarist Django Reinhardt.

If you still can’t quite quit the night, turn right out of the Cradle and hit Local 506 on West Franklin Street.  There are enough musical styles in alt/indie band, Morgan’s End, that you’re bound to find some notes in there that appeal to you. The odd band out here is Hunter Valentine. They have absolutely nothing at all to do with the local music scene, but you may recognize their name if you watch The Real L Word on Showtime where the trio are cast members of the current bi-coastal series that follows a group of lesbians through the daily drama of their own lives in both LA and Brooklyn.

I’ll leave the light on for you.

Tift Merritt, Megafaun, and Mandolin Orange
Fri., Sept. 21, 5:30-9 p.m. – Free with voucher
Presented by Cat’s Cradle & the Town of Carrboro.
Carrboro Town Commons
301 W. Main St., Carrboro

The Old Ceremony CD release, with Megafaun
Fri., Sept. 21, 9:30 p.m. – $10-12
Cat’s Cradle
300 E. Main St. Carrboro
http://www.catscradle.com

Hunter Valentine with Morgan’s End
Fri., Sept. 21, 9 p.m. –  $8-10
Local 506
506 W Franklin St., Chapel Hill
http://www.local506.com
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The Dead Zone – Sept. 1, 2012

The last couple of days have been either a bonding experience with  my neighbors or something out of Stephen King short story.  You decide.

Thursday there was something in the air.  And it was not good. By Friday in the mid-90 degree heat, it was something altogether worse. Even Remy wouldn’t go gently into that good yard. I had to push him down the steps.  Friday evening my neighbor, Katie, knocked on my door. We discussed the smell and the fact that her other-side neighbors giant 16-lb cat was AWOL.  Uh-oh.  We walked the two yards, hers and mine, sniffing … me trying to stifle my serious gag-reflex … trying to locate the dead thing.  It was worse in my yard. Worser still on my back porch and I’m suddenly sure the dead thing is under my back porch. It had gotten dark enough that neither of us were going to go down on hands and knees with a flashlight to peek under the porch. After all, I’m the one who scoffs at characters in horror movies who go down in the basement without turning on the light asking “is anyone there?” We leave it that in the morning I’ll call our favorite man in the neighborhood.  The one who comes to the rescue of us suddenly-helpless girls and seemingly loves every minute of being our savior.  Back in the house, I lit candles and let loose an over-kill of room spray, but the dead thing was stronger than anything in a bottle or a jar. I fall asleep humming Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “That Smell.”

Saturday. Mid-morning.  The savior arrives waving a short-handled rake. All he needs is a white horse. Only the knee-pads jerk me back from all but hanging a glowing salvation-like halo over his head.  Yeah, I know, I’m a sucker for a ruggedly handsome savior.  The search begins. The dead thing is not under my porch. It is not under my shed. It is not in Katie’s backyard.  The savior walks the easement behind and suddenly sends up an “I got it.”  Our first question … “is it the cat?”  No, it’s a small deer.   By this time, Chad and Shaena, my other-side neighbors have gathered with us at the fence where we toss around ideas of what to do with what’s left of the carcass.  Black plastic bag at the curb knowing there’s no trash collection until Tuesday because of the holiday weekend. Sprinkling baking soda over to kill the smell.  Collectively we all voted for ashes to ashes, dust to dust … let nature take its course.

Later that night as I told the story to a friend, two things suddenly occurred to me … at no point had any of us thought that it could have been human remains because that would have just been too horrible to imagine and not one of us, all bright, educated, and articulate, had even thought of digging a hole and burying it.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
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Music on Shuffle
Loan Me a Dime (Boz Scaggs & Duane Allman)
Live and Die (The Avett Bros.)
Sweet Spot (Tift Merritt)
Star by Star (The Old Ceremony)
The Longest Day (Megafaun)

Little Feat + noise makers + plus music to conga by, with and to


Little Feat at the Cradle
 

Wowie zowie, what a show! It was a night full of signs and magic and meant-to-be’s.  Finney and I were running late and I wasn’t looking forward to driving all over Carrboro looking for parking. But we drove through the lot just in case and there was a spot right in front of the door, almost as if it had been waiting for us all night. 8:30 and the place was packed to the gills with expectant Feat fans as we elbowed our way toward the front to find a good vantage point. As we leaned against a wall stage right, a woman turned to me and offered us their seats when they decided to move closer to the stage. It only got better from there. Even down to Craig Fuller (former Pure Prairie League founder and one-time member of Little Feat) joining them on stage for a goose-bumpy “Amie” and then sticking around for a 10 minute version of “Dixie Chicken” … which is a perfect segue right into my recent column in The WEEKLY:

If you’ll be my Dixie Chicken …
by Deborah P. Miller

I’m confessing right here and now that I have my own personal rock anthem.  No, not exactly written for me, though if truth be told, I have inspired a song or two. I’ve actually had several anthems, each a punctuating high note for my life at the time.  My first was Brown Eyed Girl (still applicable today), followed by Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild, then The Stones Sweet Virginia, and Springsteen’s Born to Run. But, at the top of the list, pretty much since it came out in 1973, is Little Feat’s Dixie Chicken.  I can’t explain why except to say that the song moves me to get up and move. 
Little Feat always felt indefinable. Were they rock? Were they blues? Were they New Orleans funk? How about all the above. They sure can boogie and their energy level on stage is always on the upper range of smokin’.  They are the one band that’s as good live, if not better, than they are on album. No surprise, considering the serious pedigree of the band, various members of which came together by way of Frank Zappa’s Mother’s of Invention. 
Back in 1978 when I was living in Atlanta and working for the Warner Bros. Artist Development Director, he got sent in one direction and asked me to go the other direction for a few shows with Little Feat, who were touring in support of Waiting for Columbus. To say I was excited would be an understatement, but to discover that I’d actually be working with them in my own hometown of Chapel Hill was just a really fine bowl of sausage milk gravy. They stayed at the old Holiday Inn on the Boulevard, played Carmichael Auditorium, and when they asked if I could set up a golf game for them, I turned them over to my Dad, who took them out to Finley Golf Course, and even played 18 holes with them.  I ultimately received a gold album for my insignificant role in that tour.  Maybe it IS the little things. Except that little BIG thing got stolen along with my Cars platinum album.
I was just as excited recently for the opportunity to talk with Paul Barrere, guitarist/slide player/lead and background vocalist for Little Feat prior to their upcoming August 4th show at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro.
When I mentioned that former Chapel Hill visit to Paul, his memory pulled up one nugget.  “Wasn’t that the basketball arena?” he asked.  When I confirmed that it was, he said “I just remember that Dean Smith wasn’t pleased that we were playing on his court. Even though they covered it, he was still worried about the floor.”
Once he and I got past all the reminiscing, the so and so says “hey,” and I’m a friend of “what’s his name,” we got down to the business of talking about what’s new with Little Feat.
Rooster Rag, their 16th album, and the first with new material in almost 7 years, just gets more enjoyable with each listen. I was hooked from the first track, a jumpin’, jivin’Candyman Blues, an old Mississippi John Hurt classic.
Paul was as eager to talk about Little Feat and Rooster Rag as I was and our phone conversation was peppered with lots of teasing and laughter.  Does it get any better than this?
We got cowbell!
Finney happened upon Just Drums one day in his travels around his own neighborhood in South Richmond and he couldn’t wait to take me there.  Lordy, Lordy … it was better than shoe shopping. Too easily said by someone who primarily slips her “I’ve Got The Blues For Red” painted toesies into flip flops every day even in the winter, right?
When was the last time you tested tambourines?  Once the 2 row, 2 metal (brass and stainless steel) version hit my hands, it was all over.  Dual sounds … dry & bright … with more sustain.  I like staying power 🙂
You probably already know that about me though.
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The conga’s stare at me every day.  Sometimes they just taunt. My hands are sore. But I am determined.  I’m told that the way to learn the hand positions is to do 10 minutes of each on each hand.  I may never leave my living room again. Hell, as bad as my hands hurt, I might not be able to manipulate the door knob.  My knife skills in the kitchen are minimal at best for the time being as I pray to get past the initial knuckle shock.
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Music to conga by:
Evil Ways (Santana)
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking or Sympathy for the Devil (The Rolling Stones)
Udu Chant (Mickey Hart)

The Zombies + congas + hot food + hot music

Rod Argent / The Zombies

What’s Your Name? Who’s Your Daddy?
I fell for the British invasion hard. Like a rock. The Animals. The Yardbirds. Them. The Kinks. The Zombies. I couldn’t get enough and couldn’t spend my allowance fast enough on 45’s at The Record Bar on Henderson Street in Chapel Hill.

 I first saw The Zombies in the cult classic film Bunny Lake is Missing (1965). Filmed in black and white AND in widescreen, it was gritty film noir at its most psychologically thrilling. There’s a scene in a London pub, all of about 1 minute long, where The Zombies are playing Just Out of Reach in the background. I walked out of the Varsity Theater and went straight to The Record Bar. Time of the Season and House of the Rising Sun were two of the first songs I loaded on my IPOD. I still crank them up a little louder when they shuffle past and am instantly transported back in time.

Breathe In/Breathe Out, released in 2011, is a beautiful collaboration musically and vocally. No, these are not the raw, spare Zombies songs of the 60’s that made dramatic use of today’s equivalent of “white space” … pauses full of meaning and longing followed by the almost religious chording from a Hammond B3. Instead it’s like a long visit with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. Their musical talent is maybe even more impressive; the vocals fluid and touching. In an era where too many of my favorite singers on this side of sixty have started to deliver barely recognizable vocals, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent still have it, and then some. A Moment in Time and I Do Believe are my favorites …but then I have a weakness for soaring piano. Each listen I hear something new and wonderful. Playing with them on this tour are bassist Jim Rodford (Argent and the Kinks), Rodford’s son Steve play on drums and guitarist Tom Toomey.

Given the chance to interview one of the original members, keyboard player Rod Argent (also front man for Argent 1968-1976), made me giddy like a little school girl. He was open, amusing, and charming, and it took little to send him off in various directions with a true story about this or that. Whether it was the visit the band made to Graceland to find Elvis, working with Director Otto Preminger on Bunny Lake is Missing, or the 2008 live London performance of their classic Odessey & Oracle when it was performed in it’s entirety for the very first time.
CLICK TO READ THE ENTIRE Q&A WITH ROD ARGENT
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Uh-oh … shame on me … I forgot all about you.   Well, not really, but I’ve been what you might call a little distracted. Who knew that falling in love would both give clarity and focus to some things and turn right around and take it away from others?  Apparently I’d forgotten about all the fall out when you fall in.  Even Remy is feeling slighted.  Please to forgive!

And, oh yeah … Dear October, Hurry up and get here already.  It’s just too hot for comfort.
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The day the Tycoon’s came to stay

The conga drums came to live on my street. In my living room. They promptly made themselves at home.

My neighbors have not complained yet, which I’m taking as a good sign that I can continue my thrumming and thumping to my hearts content.

Now I just need to find a good teacher.

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Define busy.  Some days  I’m not sure there are enough hours to go along with all the things I honestly intend to do.

Crossed off the list since May 23, the last time I was here =  a treasured evening with two dear friends at Magnolia Grill before they closed + ten days at Sunset Beach with the wacky Williams cousins + a book reading by Robert Goolrick (one of my favorite authors) at Flyleaf Books + Stray Dogs Howlin’ jammin’ at The Blue Note Grill + Johnny Winter at The ArtsCenter + a biker bar adventure in Richmond + Bro’ T. Holla at The ArtsCenter + SideDish interviews with Mel Melton & Joe Taylor (Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse), Mickey Maloney & Marshall Smith (Glasshalfull), Jimmy Crippen (Fire in the Triangle), Susanna Reich (Minette’s Feast), and Dick Barrows (Kitchen) + The WEEKLY interviews with Rod Argent (The Zombies & Argent) and Paul Barrere (Little Feat) + make that two biker bar adventures in Richmond = me worn out just typing all that.

More to come. SunJam 2012 is this weekend and I’ve got resting up to do.