Tag Archives: Cat’s Cradle

R.E.M. BY MTV at Cat’s Cradle a special film screening and PopUp Chorus benefiting the Public Justice Foundation

There’s this.  It’s important. It’s fun. And it’s a damn good cause.

August 23, 2016 update:  Our beautiful and remarkable Vivian left us yesterday – peacefully, quietly in the comfort of family and friends.  We knew this day would come. Lauren Bromley Hodge said it way better than I ever could:

Yesterday, Vivian Connell joined the man in the moon, went to Heaven, became part of the universal flow of all things, Honestly, I do not know where she has gone, but I do know that she has left a hole in our world, and that I have lost a friend. A mother supreme, a ferocious fighter for justice, an advocate for public education, a towering intellect and force of nature like no other, Vivian loved music right up there with all else that she loved with such passion. Just over a year ago, Bernard Downing, Conductor Seamus Kenney, David Klein, Deborah Pardee Miller, Frank Heath and her husband, Paul Connell, worked together with many others, on an event to honor her, that benefited Public Justice, a cause that she held so close to her heart. We sang R.E.M. songs, screened their documentary, and watched her son,Hagan Connell join this kick ass band with Alex Maiolo on stage. Of course, he held his own, because he is a Connell, and they always hold their own. Re-watching this video and seeing her sing, laugh and love R.E.M., her family, friends and her community reminds me that life is precious, fleeting and beautiful. She made more of it that most. RIP beautiful woman, and may the community that you served with such passion bring peace and comfort to your grieving family. So proud to have known you. -LBH

R.E.M. BY MTV at Cat’s Cradle
a special film screening and PopUp Chorus benefiting the Public Justice Foundation

REMbyMTV

Carrboro, NC – A special musical benefit featuring the music of R.E.M. takes place at Cat’s Cradle, Friday, April 10, 2015 beginning at 6:30 p.m. in support of the Public Justice Foundation. The evening includes a screening of the documentary R.E.M. by MTV, a film about the life and times of R.E.M., and a PopUp Chorus of the audience singing R.E.M. favorites, “Man in the Moon” and “Losing My Religion.” The event honors Chapel Hill teacher and policy advocate, Vivian Connell. Advance tickets for the seated show are $15 and are available online now at http://www.catscradle.com. All proceeds benefit the Public Justice Foundation.*

The event springs from years of shared friendships and shared passion for social justice. Vivian Connell, an undergraduate in Athens, Georgia in the early 80’s, grew up in the burgeoning local music scene with the young R.E.M. As an emerging band,, R.E.M. performed their first benefit in 1984 for the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (L.E.A.F.). The young Connell, then Vi Riner, photographed this 1984 performance for The Red & Black, the University of Georgia, Athens student newspaper.

Thirty years later, after a two-decade teaching career, Connell graduated from UNC Law, passed the North Carolina Bar and was engaged in education policy advocacy, often working with long-time R.E.M. advisor Bertis Downs. But in March 2014, soon after embarking on her career in public interest law, Connell was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Following her diagnosis and despite physical limitations, Connell, a teacher, attorney, and policy advocate, continued to pursue public service, raising over $30,000 to lead a group of immigrant and marginalized students on a social justice trip to DC. On the importance of music, Connell observed, “Music has the power to unite people and to compel us toward a higher purpose,” adding, “R.E.M.’s music and politics have elevated our best ideals and inspired many, including me, to question the status quo and to pursue an authentic life of substance.”

Says Bertis Downs, R.E.M. advisor and co-producer of the documentary, “we are thrilled to have a screening of R.E.M. by MTV at Cat’s Cradle and to have it benefit The Public Justice Foundation, which does such vital work and is meaningful to our friend Vivian Connell. It is sort of a perfect circle; the Chapel Hill area has always been a special place for R.E.M. since their earliest days, and screening the film here gives us an opportunity to support and honor Vivian. The documentary has been well received by fans all over– and having PopUp Chorus join the event is a unique bonus.”

Click here to view Trailer for R.E.M. by MTV.

PopUp Chorus founder Lauren Bromley Hodge, a NC based arts entrepreneur, met Connell through Downs in 2011 after founding the Community Chorus Project, whose mission is to create community and positive social impact through music. In 2014, Hodge introduced PopUp Chorus, conducted by Seamus Kenney, as a program of Community Chorus Project, run in collaboration with the Department of Music at UNC, Chapel Hill. Hodge and Kenney are thrilled that PopUp Chorus can help celebrate Vivian Connell’s work and passion, while allowing them to turn the audience into a PopUp Chorus singing two iconic R.E.M. songs.

Like R.E.M.’s first benefit, this event will support public interest law. A perfect circle, indeed.

* Public Justice fights for consumer and victims’ rights, environmental protection and safety, civil rights and civil liberties, workers’ rights, America’s civil justice system, and the wronged, the poor and the powerless. The Public Justice Foundation is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable membership organization that supports cutting-edge litigation, advocacy, and education around these issues.

Those unable to attend may make a tax deduction donation by clicking here! 

Learn more about Vivian Connell –read her story on her blog, finALS: My Closing Arguments.

Advance tickets – BUY NOW!

# # #

Contacts:
Vivian Connell, Advisory Board, Public Schools First, North Carolina Certified Teacher, English 6-12, ESL K-12, 704-995-2222,vivcon@gmail.com
Lauren B. Hodge, Community Chorus Project LLC, 919-428-1597, lauren.b.hodge@gmail.com

For more information or to arrange an interview:
Deborah Miller, 919.219.6877, dpmiller@bellsouth.net

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This will be our year + BI shuffle

ZombiesCatsCradleThe Zombies
Pat Sansone
Fri, April 18, 2014
8pm – $32.00 – $35.00

Cat’s Cradle
Carrboro, NC
http://www.catscradle.com

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As invasions go, this one didn’t seem either strategic or tactical, but being the mid-sixties, the British invasion left a permanent musical imprint. It was rebellious and cheeky, fueled by the skiffle craze that had already taken over the UK. It burst right through Bobby Vinton, Fabian, Skeeter Davis, and Bobby Darrin, taking a rightful, and righteous (IMHO) place next to The Beach Boys and Roy Orbison. Pop meet the next generation.

All of a sudden, our white bread ears were listening, dancing, and yes, screaming to The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, The Yardbirds, Peter & Gordon, Animals, Stones, and The Kinks. Factoid Alert: One May day in 1965, the USA’s Top 10 in the Hot 100’s was ruled by the British Commonwealth, with one exception, Gary Lewis & the Playboys.

And they kept on coming ashore. The Who. The Hollies. The Zombies. These mostly blues and guitar-based bands, bringing with them a healthy respect for their own R&B heroes, most of whom lived right here in the U.S. Long, floppy hair and mod clothes horrified our parents. These are the people they warned us about.

The Zombies “She’s Not There” took five months to hit #2 in 1964, followed a year later by “Tell Her No” which only got to #6. Odessey and Oracle (1968), released after the band broke up still enjoys critical acclaim and included “Time of the Season,” often sound-tracked as the definition of the 60’s.

To say I was looking forward to seeing The Zombies at Cat’s Cradle when they played there for the first time in 2012 would be as understated as a little black dress, matched only by my initial-excitement-followed-by-sheer-terror at scoring an interview with original member Rod Argent.

Half expecting their musical, road-weary age to show through the edges of their performance, their energy level and extraordinary talent circled around and surprised me. For weeks after, I chided everyone I know who didn’t go. I was now invested in The Zombies. Again.

In an unrelated email sometime this past January, Cradle owner Frank Heath added a quick PS saying “Zombies will be coming back to Cat’s Cradle in April, by the way.” Yes, I would be interested in talking with Rod again.

So, as not complete strangers this time, Rod Argent and I caught up a few days ago on all that’s happened since they were last here in 2012. And they haven’t just been laying about this last two years.

First big surprise for the band was the call that Eminem wanted to re-sample “Time of the Season” for his 2013 single “Rhyme or Reason,” an angry spew toward his absent father. Second, was the new Chanel perfume ad for Coco Mademoiselle airing on TV starring Kiera Knightly that’s set to “She’s Not There.”

And they’re barely off the boat from a five-day Moody Blues Cruise performing with Roger Daltry (The Who), Carl Palmer (ELP), Starship and Little River Band. Argent claims they were almost too busy aboard the ship to attend all the shows. They’ve been having a ball and doing what they love. And there’s a new album in the works.

“I can’t remember exactly what our set list was,” Argent responded when I asked how this show might be different than two years ago. “Obviously, some of the staples are there. We can’t not do them, you know?”

“Some things from Odessey and Oracle, “Time of the Season,” “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No,” we have to do those. Also Argent’s song “Hold Your Head Up.” Plus a couple other early Zombies songs “She’s Coming Home” and “I Want You Back Again.” We love doing that one on stage now. Several songs from the Breathe Out album as well.”

I reminded him that when Frank brought me back to meet them that they had offered me a glass of wine, which I politely declined since I was my own designated driver, and in hindsight, I wished I’d taken them up on. I got a speeding ticket on the way home that night as I was blissfully singing “She’s Not There” at the top of my lungs. If I’d stopped, had the wine, that cop would probably have been long gone and I would have had wine with The Zombies.

His response: “Thing is, you should have had that drink then you could have apologized to him saying I don’t normally drive like this, but I’m a bit drunk.”

We both cracked up laughing and agreed not to let THAT happen again.

Special guest opener is Southern rocker and multi-instrumentalist, Pat Sansone, member of Wilco and The Autumn Defense.

Enjoy the interview!

DPM: Hi Rod, good to talk with you again. We’re looking forward to your return to Cat’s Cradle.

RA: You too, Deborah. We’re looking forward to playing there again.

DPM: I thought it might be fun to circle back and see what the last year and a half has been like. You were just beginning a tour in support of Breathe Out/Breath In.

RA: I’m not even sure where to start. The shows have been going great and a lot of cool things have been happening. We’re working on a new album. Eminem used “Time of the Season” in the background of his song “Rhyme or Reason” which is a sound-alike phonetically, but inserted totally the sentiment of the song and I thought that was great actually, to hear that, and throughout the song a lot of our original vocals were coming through and then he recorded a chorus himself with the new words and obviously rapping all over it.

That was very cool. Also there’s something that’s just come on, I don’t know if you’ve heard it or not yet, a big Chanel advert commercial on television with Kiera Knightly … very James Bondy … using “She’s Not There” which is very nice too. Lots of things going on and we’re having a ball playing as always.

DPM: One of my upcoming questions is what have been some of the biggest surprises this last year and a half supporting Breathe Out/Breathe In. Would Eminem resampling “Time of the Season” be a good answer to that question?

RA: Well, that was a pretty big surprise. I’ve got co-writing credits on his tracks, but I had to hear the version and okay it before it went out. He’s very secretive and protective of his tracks, and I can understand that. First of all, we were asked permission, and our publisher said “well, we’ve got to hear it first.” And he said “well, you can’t do that.” We said “How can we give permission if we haven’t heard it?” So he finally sent a link which only remained active for about a day or something where I could hear it. I can quite understand how he wanted to be protective of it. But I heard it and I loved it, absolutely no problem. I loved the fact that it was an inventive creative take on the original piece of material.

DPM: You said you are working on a new album. Can you and Colin actually find time and space to write while you are touring?

RA: Well, I can’t personally write while I’m on the road. I’ve tried and I can’t, but while we were back home, I’ve written a couple of things and there are couple of songs that are in the pipeline as well. So we started the recording of the new album. One track I like very much indeed that we’ve got down, actually both tracks we’ve got down I like very much, so that’s a start [laughing].

DPM: And you are recording in England?

RA: Yes, and that’s going to be hard this year because I’m moving house after 38 years and my studio’s in my house so I don’t know [laughing] how that’s going to work. When I get back I’ve got 38 years of furniture and everything else. It’s a big house, unfortunately, and it’s going to take a hell of a move, so that’s going to be taking up some of my time when I get home. It’s a question of actually finding the time to do the creative work and concentrate on that too.

DPM: What on earth prompted a move after all those years?

RA: Well, basically we wanted to move to a different area. It’s a very big house and it’s just my wife and myself in it now, and I guess we felt that if we were going to move then if we didn’t do it now, we’d never do it?

DPM: Downsize while you can still enjoy it?

RA: Well, it’s downsizing in terms of the property and the house. It’s like a sideways move really. We’re moving to an area we’d like to go to and it’s just a matter of doing that while it’s still possible [laughing]. The house we’ve got at the moment was built in 1815, it’s a very beautiful Georgian house, but strangely enough we wanted a bit more land now even though I want the building to be a bit smaller.

DPM:  2014 started off pretty great for you guys headlining on the Ultimate R&B tour in the UK with The Yardbirds, The Animals and Spencer Davis. Was it just members from those groups or actually the groups? That sounds like an incredible and amazing tour!

RA: Actually just members of those groups, which seems inevitable these days, but everyone’s been really enjoying it for real. Spencer Davis didn’t do it because he hasn’t been well, but instead we had Maggie Bell, who was great and is still singing beautifully. And a guy named Dave Berry, who had some big hits in the UK, though maybe not over here. He had a hit called “The Crying Game” which was beautiful.

DPM: Yeah, yeah, yeah … from the movie.

RA: Remember that? Yeah, yeah. Oh, good, you saw it. He was on the show and it was a lovely show. Great guys, really nice people. The Yardbirds actually had their original guitarist “Top” Topham from right at the beginning of the band with Jim McCarty and they were really great. All the bands were. It was a sold out tour, we were playing some beautiful halls. It was great.

DPM: I personally would love it if you would do one of those tours in the states, for crying out loud!

RA: Yeah, that would be good too. [laughing]

DPM: I’d buy a ticket to that. I was a big fan of all the British groups from the 60’s, but I think I told you that when we talked before.

RA: I think you did, and thank you for that.

DPM: And so now, you’re just off the boat! [laughing}

RA: {laughing] Just off the boat and THAT was great! Obviously we saw the Moody’s because we did the cruise last year as well and the Moody’s were obviously on the bill because it’s their cruise, but this time we had Roger Daltry. I saw his set which was brilliant, doing all the old Who stuff … really, really terrific to see that. I didn’t get to see all the bands because there’s always so much to do all the time and we had shows to do ourselves. But I saw, for the first time, a guy called Randy Hanson, who plays all the Jimi Hendrix catalog and Jim, our bass player, knew him from when he backed up the Kinks years ago. But Randy’s been authorized by the Jimi Hendrix estate to play Jimi’s material. He’s so bloody good. And it was great to see him. Being out there on a beautiful summers day listening to the wonderful Jimi Hendrix stuff was amazing. He’s toured with Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding of the original Experience.

DPM: I saw them in 1966 when they opened for the Monkees.

RA: You did? Well, there you go! Then you know exactly what I’m talking about. I loved Hanson’s take on Jimi Hendrix, so that was pretty great.

DPM: I know you’re busy and it’s your day off, so anything we’ve missed that’s important?

RA: It’s a pleasure to talk to you again, Deborah. We’re really looking forward to this show. I’ll say the same as I probably said last time, but we have a band that’s the reason that Colin and I are out here. It’s such a kicking band and there’s so much energy on stage. Probably the best band I’ve ever played with, I think. If anyone’s thinking of coming and haven’t seen us, do come along and check us out, because it’s really a great show and a great band.

DPM: I can attest to that. Rod, thank you so much for your time and I look forward seeing you guys soon!
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BritishGuitarBI Shuffle (British Invasion Shuffle)
Well Respected Man – The Kinks
Heart Full of Soul – The Yardbirds
House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
Gimme Some Lovin’ – Spencer Davis Group
This Will Be Our Year – The Zombies

 

Mythmusica Psychosonic Expedition + instrumental shuffle

Mythmusica_Sm

Mythmusica Pyschosonic Expedition
with Jennifer Curtis, violin, and her UNC Violin Studio
Sun. Mar 23, 8 – until – Free
Cat’s Cradle Back Room
Carrboro, NC

BrownSlashBar-white-spaceRemember that really beautiful Sunday a couple of weeks back that was sandwiched between two winter weather events? I was enjoying an afternoon of Bows & Brews at Steel String Brewery in Carrboro. In a light cotton shirt and flip flops. I wasn’t there for the brews. I was there for the bows.  The bows of Jennifer Curtis and friends. They were playing Schubert’s cello quintet. There were five of them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of Jennifer. Musical totality. A natural and intoxicating extension of whatever she’s playing is dead-ahead commitment to the music from head to toe, inside and out. Her body and mind in constant motion. Her feet leave the floor and almost dance in the air as if the music might walk (or run) away with her, or she with it.

During a break the opportunity to duet with Dex Romweber presented itself. She on her violin, Dex on his classic Silvertone. It was a moment. Unscripted. Satisfying.

Jennifer-Dex
She was still in motion as she talked about Mythmusica Psychosonic Expedition, an inter-disciplinary, multi-instrumental, and multi-cultural mythological/narrative performance based on “The Waste Land,” by T.S. Eliot produced and created by Jennifer and a handful of her UNC violin students.  “Come. Meet my students,” she invited as she pulled me over to introduce me to two of her students, Ledah Finck (composer/violin) and Avery McGuirt (violin/mandolin, loop pedals/vocals).

Ledah, from Boone, was five when she started violin lessons and now can’t imagine doing anything else. “Violin has always been a strong presence in my life, but I’ve wanted it to be my career as well as my hobby since I was 15 or 16.”

Growing up in Charlotte, Avery also started violin early. Currently a chemistry major at UNC, he stays very involved in the music program. “I was steeped in the eclectic musical tastes of my father, and was inspired to take up the violin when I was five. I started out studying classical music,but soon branched out into jazz and bluegrass. Here at UNC, I take lessons with Jennifer, as well as participate in the baroque ensemble and my quartet.”

In learning that Jennifer, who holds degrees from Mills College and Juilliard School, will not be returning to UNC to teach after this semester, I was curious what Ledah and Avery’s one take-away was from studyingwith Jennifer. They were clearly inspired by her.

“In my time studying with Jennifer, I have above all come away with her ever present sense of enjoyment and exploration in music,” said Ledah.  “Playing with her is never a job or work but an exercise in curiosity. She’s helped me integrate my more academic and worldly interests with my music playing-which is really what Mythmusica is about.”

Jennifer has been an amazing voice of artistic humility in an oftentimes very self-important academic culture,” commented Avery. “Her appreciation and use of a huge variety of musical styles and cultures continues to be an inspiration.”

Additional artistic guests who will be performing in the Mythmusica Psychosonic Expedition include Ina Liu (violin/dance/visual arts), Kaira Ba’s Diali Cissokhi and Will Ridenour (koras and percussion), Robbie Link (bass), Chris Johnson (tabla), Skye Mcloed (cajón and bodhrán), and  film makers Prashant Bhargava and Petna Ndaliko. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few more surprises.

JenniferCurtisViolin
Somehow these two lines from “The Waste Land” seem utterly appropriate:

“…A woman drew her long black hair out tight
and fiddled whisper music on those strings …”

What the Thunder Said, from “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot

Click here to read the entire Q&A with Jennifer Curtis, Ledah Finck and Avery McGuirt online.

BrownSlashBar

ViolinNotesThe instrumental shuffle:

Jennifer Curtis & Dex Romweber: Minor Swing
Jennifer Curtis & Ledah Finck:  @ WCPE, the Classical station – performing a short excerpt from Mythmusica Psychosonic Expedition.

Amy Ray (solo, sort of) + shufflin’ off near Buffalo

Amy-RayCat’s Cradle Presents:
Amy Ray
with Heather McEntire
Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, 9:00pm – $15
Motorco
723 Rigsbee Ave
Durham, NC 27701

The two coldest and loneliest winters I ever spent were in Rochester, NY in the early 90’s. I looked for warmth anywhere and everywhere while my summer clothes never saw the light of day. In defiance, I taught myself to ice skate, drive in the snow, stack the perfect fireplace, and made achingly lonely mix tapes for all my friends back home in Tennessee. My job at the University of Rochester came complete with two interns, Melissa and Colleen, both from Buffalo. Their sure-fire tonic for the chill was the Indigo Girls “Southland in the Springtime” (Nomads Indians Saints, 1990). I was 42, they were 20. It blew me away and after I stopped crying, I went out into the frozen north and bought Rites of Passage, Indigo Girls, and Strange Fire.  Melissa Muenzner Dolan (who now lives in Cary and gets to experience true springtime in the South) and I have stayed in touch all these years. Coincidentally, she was on my holiday thank you project for this very reason.  When I told Indigo Girl Amy Ray that story, she double blessed it with a throaty laugh and a “that’s cool, that’s cool!”

Amy Ray has carved out a respectable and meaningful solo career on her own. (And, yes, the Indigo Girls are still together and touring this year.) For her new album Goodnight Tender (Daemon Records) recorded at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville (due out 1/28/14) she cherry-picked a band that includes some locally familiar players: Phil and Brad Cook (Megafaun), Heather McEntire (Mount Moriah), Terry Lonergan (Hiss Golden Messenger  and MC Taylor), and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). Then just for measure, and because she could, invited Susan Tedeschi, Kelly Hogan (Neko Case), and Hannah Thomas to add some harmonies. With another handful of musicians from Asheville and Charlotte, the result is rooted in old-time country, while lyrically new all at the same time. And it’s definitely Southern.  I haven’t stopped listening to Goodnight Tender since Thursday. It’s that good. There’s just something about melodic banjo and mournful fiddle that gets me right where I live. Not to mention lyrics like “Give me a moon to keep my fears at bay. Give me a dog that don’t run away. Give me a love that don’t fade. Oh, let me walk in decency.” – “Hunters Prayer”

Cat’s Cradle owner Frank Heath has long been a part of Amy’s life in music.  “I love Amy!” says Frank.  “Glenn Boothe (Local 506) and I were just talking about how we wished all performers were as on top of their shows and careers as Amy.  Even from the first time the Indigo Girls played at the Cradle back in the 80’s, Amy and Emily’s involvement in the preparation for their shows had a huge effect on the promotions and turnouts. And they’ve always played benefits, been involved in helping out younger artists, etc. on and on — more than just about anybody out there.“

Without Frank, I would not have just spent a Wednesday night talking with Amy Ray about playing in Chapel Hill and Durham back in the beginning, her very first song, writing melodies, who she kissed on New Year’s Eve, her new album, and her brand new daughter.

Read the entire Q&A with Amy Ray …

…and then check out this YouTube trailer for Goodnight Tender

musicnotes-long

Writing about Rochester and remembering all those mix tapes sent me on a revisit of what I was listening to back in 1992 … freezing cold … knee deep in snow fall … marriage falling apart … lonely as hell … happy ears :

Out of the Cradle (Lindsay Buckingham)
Automatic for the People (R.E.M.)
Unplugged (Eric Clapton)
Harvest Moon (Neil Young)
Blind Melon (Blind Melon)
Kiko (Los Lobos)
Ingenue (k.d. Lang)
New Miserable Experience (The Gin Blossoms)
The Extremist (Joe Satriani)
#1 Record/Radio City (Big Star)
Rites of Passage (Indigo Girls)
Doo Bop (Miles Davis)
Television (Television)

Gratefully Yours + anticipation + shuffling into 2014

One rainy October afternoon:
ExileMainStFeeling lucky to even be alive, which is another story altogether and for another day. Plugged in to my IPod, “Sweet Virginia” from The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street cycled up.  The opening guitar riffs, soon joined by harmonica, are unmistakable and instantly recognizable and suddenly there I was … back there … the day in Spring ’72  it came out … in Richmond’s  Fan district with friends sitting on their front porch which just happened to face Main Street … speakers balanced precariously in the windows blasting into the city street through a haze of smoke.  And us, balanced just as precariously on porch railings or steps or leaned back on two-chair legs in our Landlubber-with-the-3″-zipper- bellbotttoms.  Oh, we were exiled, alright. I will forever associate that song, that album with that time, that place, and that handful of people.

As I reflected on music shared with me through the years, I spent the next few weeks listening to my collection differently … with the idea that I’d actually stop and make the time to offer thanks for 1) either introducing me to something new – or – 2) encouraging me to go back and listen more carefully to an artist I hadn’t given much time to – or – 3) simply creating a new and indelible memory through the power of music. Much to my surprise, it became an over-arcing and joyful project as I began to write notes of “Thanks Givings” for gifting a particular piece of music, art, book, recipe or favorite restaurant. If part of this reads familiar, you’ve already heard from me … if you haven’t received yours yet, stay tuned, this is a long-range project!

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2014 Hi-Ho’s
All that I got to experience this past year just to make a new column for Chapel Hill Magazine’s The WEEKLY happen was an extra-large goodie bag overflowing with the stuff that make life shiny and bright – music, art, wine, food, and books.

In all, an embarrassment of riches that included interviews and small intimate concerts with long-time heroes Roger McGuinn, Bill Payne and Chris Hillman. An afternoon hearing Peter Ostroushko and our very own Danny Gotham. Talking Lovesick Blues with Chris Stamey via email. Musical evenings spent with my Cat’s Cradle co-conspirator, Liz Holm, both of us blissfully unaware that we didn’t have that much time left together. Watching Tess Mangum Ocaña rise up and conquer with Sonic Pie Productions. Another honey-we-got-the-band-back-together high school reunion. And, maybe best of all, meeting you all who came up to me at various events and places introducing yourselves (Mike and Ron, you know who you are), then making my day by telling me you came out to this or that because I told you to (Leah, Henry, Carol, Peter, et al).

FBYear2013
Liz
I liked Liz immediately the first time we met, which, of course, was at a Cradle show – Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers. I introduced her to drummer Jody Stephens, and we were off and running. We quickly discovered all the things and people we had in common (I grew up in CH and went to CHHS with her sister, music groups & artists we shared a love for, small bars like the OC Social Club and the Dead Mule, etc. the list went on and on.) She was instrumental in my first real “big get” interview with the Zombies, followed by Little Feat.  And she humored me by coming to see groups she at first really had no big interest in hearing just so we could hang out … thanking me afterward for dragging her to Mickey Hart and Trampled by Turtles 🙂 And with colorful scarves and wraps, she always saved us the best seats in the house – stage right 2-3 stools back.

Her love and her pride for her incredibly talented virtuoso concert violinist daughter, Jennifer, was so bright and intense that she was the light in the room when talking about her.  Every show we attended, or every time we were together, we’d sit side by side and she’d update me on her successes, showing me picture after picture on her phone.  It was easy to feel I knew Jennifer already, even though we had never met.  My sadness at her loss was/is acute, made worse by having to miss her beautiful memory day out at the Haw River Ballroom. I miss you everyday, babe!

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Anticipation-junkie that you know that I am means I can’t wait to see what’s coming in 2014. Already penciled in are King Mackerel & the Blues are Running (Feb. 27 & 28/Playmakers Theatre), a South Wing show (Feb./TBA), Crosby, Stills & Nash (Mar. 24/DPAC), and Desert Rose Band (Aug./The ArtsCenter).

A while back as I was walking in my usual hurry-up with an old friend, he (being about 10 steps behind me) whoa’d me down and seriously wounded my strong sense of Southern-inity by saying that I had clearly lost my mosey.  Glory be, he was right. All too aware that life is full of every day gifts that fly right past unopened, my plan for 2014 is to take back my mosey. And, oh yeah, I’m counting on your help with that. For all of you who just saw me through one of the scariest bits of my life, I love and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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ShuffleShufflin’ in to 2014
Home on the River (King Mackerel & the Blues are Running)
Story of Love (Desert Rose Band)
Marrakesh Express (CSN)
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Simon & Garfunkel)
One Short Night (Grace Potter & the Nocturnals)
Everything by Mandolin Orange

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

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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)

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)