Vinyl Press: Version Blog-o-sphere

And you shall know us by our feedback

Posted in Uncategorized by vinylrecordsunc on November 3, 2008

Sunday night saw an epic live show, but not on campus, rather in Carrboro at the Cat’s Cradle. Deerhunter and Times New Viking, two of the most buzzoworthy bands in the indie rock scene at the moment, jammed and wailed and flooded the venue with waves of noise that left my ears ringing for hours, in a good way.

Yet in my opinion, the highlight of the show was the first opening set, starting at 9pm, featuring none other than Vinyl Records’ own artist Lake Inferior. The 5 piece, all student, indie rock act truly work to expand what that label can mean. Each member brings diverse musical influences to the table and their use of layered complex instrumentation, as well as samples from their laptop, enriches their already dynamic compositions. In true Lake Inferior form, they played a new song half way through their set called Vancouver, which relies heavily on reverb effects and a crescendo of blasting sound accompanied by Nasir Abbas’ haunting vocals. They performed with incredible composure and held their own with two of their genre’s “bands of the moment”, even to the point that Bradford Cox of Deerhunter sat on the corner of the stage for the entire set, nodding and swaying to the music.

Next, Times New Viking of Matador Records, a brash rock trio from Columbus, Ohio have garnered great reviews with their simple, in your face mix of smooth guitar licks, melodic mini keyboard effects (which are becoming more and more ubiquitous in this writers opinion), and crashing drums. In my opinion they sound like the Ramones if their microphones got drunk and they experimented with drugs (wait, the Ramones…drugs…?) But they sure put on a good show, albeit abbreviated, with almost all their songs lasting about 2 or 2 & 1/2 minutes. They were rough and frenetic, even to the point that Drummer Adam Elliott claimed they never use setlists, something they learned from Jack White.

Then it was time for Deerhunter, an experimental noise rock band from Atlanta, Georgia, led by frontman Bradford Cox, who sings comparably to Yoko Ono at times. Cox, who stands 6’4″, has Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder of the connective tissue that gives him abnormally long and spindly limbs, the same condition that the late Joey Ramone (them again?) had. They slammed the crowd with their atmospheric, often fractured dance rhythms, showcasing a lot of material from their new album, called Microcastle on Kranky Records, which displays their shift towards a slightly more pop-oriented sound. Although they certainly haven’t forgotten their more inaccessible, grinding, noise-rock sound that first put them on the map.

It was a great night for live music at the Cradle, and in particular for Lake Inferior, who quite simply rocked the house.

Shakori Hills…Shazaam!

Posted in Uncategorized by vinylrecordsunc on October 13, 2008

Before this weekend, I had never eaten a Veggie Thing. I’m happy to say that I am now among those that have been to Shakori Hills Grassroots Music and Dance Festival and tasted that wonderful bounty from the Sugar Shack. But there was much more to see and do than just eat delicious overpriced food. One of the surprises of Shakori Hills is the variety it offers in terms of musical genres, from bluegrass (of course) to Cajun and Zydeco to West African Groove, and the fun didn’t stop there. I learned a Cajun two-step (quick, quick, slooow) at one of the numerous dance workshops, all of which featured live music and were a sure cure for sore-bum-from-sitting-too-much syndrome.

The festival began for me on Friday around noon with a performance by Didgeridoo, a multi-faceted group featuring several UNC students including Andrew Magill, Erika Littman, and Liz Ross of Lafcadio.

Didgeridoo in action

Didgeridoo in action

Their set was eclectic to say the least, with a myriad of different drums and percussion mixed in with banjo, six-string guitar, and even singing saw, courtesy of Ms. Ross. Erika Littman even sang a traditional Irish ballad unaccompanied after Andrew Magill’s Ghanaian inspired rhythmic dance chant. Didgeridoo played with reckless abandon and certainly won over many fans with their diverse and talented musical exploration.

After pitching a tent (har!), I strolled through the festival grounds, located on the site of a farm in Silk Hope, NC, only 17 Miles from Chapel Hill as the crow flies. I found myself at the Dance Tent, in the midst of a swathe of enthusiastic fans of a local phenomenon known as Holy Ghost Tent Revival. A rollicking seven piece acoustic group hailing from Greensboro, NC where they formed in college, their uproarious music conjures images of 19th century riverboat dances and Dixieland hootenannies, full of triumphant banjo strumming and enough screamy vocals to equal any self-respecting punk band. These guys nearly brought the house down, literally, as every one of the hundreds of onlookers couldn’t help but jump and jive for over an hour non-stop.

Above all this festival was about discovery for me, and that was made most clear by the next group I saw, called Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers. The Oklahoma based group played to a somewhat placid cluster of onlookers but I was blown away by the powerful throaty vocals coming out of this slight woman with raven black hair. Backed up by a traditional guitar-bass-drum trio, she crooned out song after song displaying an unbelievable set of influences ranging from Radiohead to Cat Power to Mazzy Star. I would best describe it as alt-country/singer-songwriter in genre, but her live show really is beyond words. Poignant lyrics washed over me in waves while next to her the lead guitarist made brilliant use of a simple reverb peddle to create some of the most mournful and simple solos I have ever heard. I’m officially on the Samantha Crain bandwagon, look for me walking around campus with her t-shirt on, its got a skunkallo on it (buffalo that’s drawn like a skunk). Also please check out her record, it’s called The Confiscation, and although only a 5 song ep, it is a great introduction to her sound, albeit no replacement for the live act, and you’ll be glad you got a hold of her music.

I finished off the night by salsa dancing to Puerto Rican favorites Plena Libre and then crazy white-boy flailing to the awesome twang and pop of the kora and ngoni from the West African inspired Asheville group Toubab Krewe, who put on as good a show as ever, bursting with energy and life.

The next morning, after a great night’s sleep in the crowded woods, I made my way to the main stage for a unique performance by a group called the Belleville Outfit, an old-timey ragtime band from Austin, Texas whose sound harks back to the prohibition era swing clubs and men dancing in ridiculously nice suits and shiny shoes. I was also lucky enough to witness a part of western North Carolina’s Appalachian culture, namely Clogging, courtesy of the Apple Chill Cloggers, who performed complicated routines tirelessly.

Caleb and David in action with the Apple Chill Cloggers

Caleb and David in action with the Apple Chill Cloggers

UNC senior Caleb Rudow and UNC alum David Hamilton tapped their toes and clicked their heels with the best of them and, might I add, looked smashing in their suspenders.

Next it was time for a crash course in slam poetry, courtesy of an immensely talented UNC student. After twenty-odd poets performed in the slam poetry competition, I was lucky enough to hear Kane Smego, an award-winning poet and UNC student who was also last year’s poetry slam champion.

Kane at the poetry slam

Kane at the poetry slam

Kane proved why he is one of the most exciting and talented artists in the country by magnificently delivering a piece, entitled “X Chromosome”, dealing with patriarchy and rediscovering the connection to ones feminine side, beginning with the emphatic verse “I pledge allegiance to my X chromosome”. His poetry was a treat to hear as always, he is one of the most gifted writers I have ever heard, instantly conjuring up memories of Saul Williams with his smooth style and unassuming air. If you graduate without having heard him spit his magic, you’ve truly missed out on a UNC treasure.

From there it was a whirlwind of musical giants and raucous dance music, beginning with Del McCoury, arguably the elder statesman of bluegrass music. A Grammy winner From Nashville, Tennessee, but born in Bakersville, NC, and marking his 50th year making music, McCoury has not lost his style or his spirit, playing a fantastic set completely comprised of requests and suggestions yelled from the crowd.

Del McCoury at the Meadow Stage

Del McCoury at the Meadow Stage

He was good natured about forgetting the lines to an old favorite, “Moneyland”, sneaking offstage to his guitar case and returning to deafening applause after relearning his own song. He played such classics as “Vincent” and “Lights Coming Over the Hill” and exceeded all my lofty expectations.

Then it was back to the Dance Tent for local favorites the Carolina Chocolate Drops, whose banjo-fiddle music rips through audiences with its sheer velocity and virtuosity. They are an anomaly in this day and age; drawing heavily from traditional Piedmont musical heritage to craft their upbeat string-band sound, “Cornbread and Butterbeans” is a particularly infectious heel-kicker.

The end of my night was Donna the Buffalo, an American Festival institution, a band that is socially conscious and yet completely danceable. They actually started the Grassroots Festival 18 years ago outside of Ithaca, NY in order to raise money for local charities and showcase the sounds of talented musicians. Now, years later, they are still going strong with their singular brand of zydeco-boogie-roots rock, and in my opinion its never sounded better. Their memorable and inspirational songs are lyrically accessible and yet display their considerable musical talent.

Alls well that ends well, and although some bad apples stole half our food and an empty cooler from us, my Shakori experience was never dampened by rain clouds or low spirits. I thoroughly enjoyed every performance I saw, and was fortunate to learn as well as observe. The atmosphere at Shakori Hills is relaxed and while it continues to grow in size in its 6th year, welcoming roughly 7500 music lovers on Saturday alone, it is far from discovered, rather it remains a gem tucked away near Pittsboro, NC, just waiting for you to unearth it and be a part of its magic.

Heads Up to Shakori Goers

Posted in Uncategorized by vinylrecordsunc on October 7, 2008

Hey! You! Listen to this!

It seems like everyone but me is going to Shakori Hills this weekend. From October 9th-12th, a bajillion bands are convening there for the Shakori Hills fest, and if you don’t have your ticket yet, there’s good news – you can go to http://www.shakorihills.org/ and pick them up! And I have better news after you do that – a member of the Vinyl Records family is performing!

Liz Ross, one-third of Vinyl’s own Lafcadio, is involved with a band called Didgeridoo. Here’s what Ross says about the group:

“We are playing everything from Celtic sean-nos to blues and African chants. That is, we be world music.”

Five band members are expected for Didgeridoo at Shakori – Andrew Magill, Erika Littman, Austin McCall, Habib Yazdi, and the aforementioned Liz Ross. Between them, they’ll cover fiddle, banjo, guitar, singing saw, a plethora of drums of all shapes and sizes, and of course, didgeridoo.

So go check it out. Didgeridoo will be playing at Shakori’s Meadow stage at noon, Friday, October 10th.

– Matt