concert: hayes carll & corb lund @ southland ballroom

hayes carll @ local 506

hayes carll @ southland ballroom

well, you’re probably a democrat
why, what the hell is wrong with that?
nothing if you’re taliban
well, i bet you slept with half the south
oh, don’t you ever shut your mouth?
yeah, how much did you pay for that tan?

The top photo here is one I took of Hayes Carll almost five years ago, at the Local 506. It was the year Trouble In Mind came out, and he was starting to take off outside of Texas and Tennessee. It was also, to the best of my knowledge, the first show I shot with my first dSLR (my beloved and late lamented D60 Six). I took it with the kit lens, before Rusty fixed the front lights, and I was frustrated by my shots that night. I like this photo, now, in retrospect. I like it more next to the shot I took of Hayes Monday night at Southland Ballroom, partially because the lights are better — but mostly because I’m better.

On a day to day basis, it’s hard to see concrete growth in what you do, you know? But I hadn’t seen Hayes since that show five years ago, and I can look at those photos and say, I have learned things. I’m working through a bunch of stuff what with sobriety and all, right now, and I have had some moments of clarity over the last few weeks that have been important. None of them were more important than shooting Hayes last night, and feeling like I was somewhere better than I was five years ago.

So is Hayes, for that matter — in 2009, he played to a half full 506, and Monday, he played to a mostly full Southland Ballroom. His songwriting is as sharp and funny as ever, if not more so, and while Trouble In Mind got a lot of good word of mouth in the Americana blogging community, KMAG YOYO got even more critical acclaim. The old and new sounded good last night, and his band is tight as hell, with standouts Warren Hood on fiddle and Emily Gimble playing keys and backing / harmonizing with Hayes. “Another Like You”, one of my all-time Hayes songs, is a laugh-out-louder anyway, and with Gimble’s sly delivery and their obvious mutual musical respect, it was a high point of a high set.

hayes carll @ southland ballroom

And it’s five years later, and Hayes and I both seem to be doing just fine. (Also, dude, one of those photos from 2009? Hayes’ pedal steel player is smoking on stage. Back when you could smoke inside in the NC! I had almost forgotten.)

corb lund & the hurtin' albertans @ southland ballroom

corb lund & the hurtin' albertans @ southland ballroom

“A few years ago I decided there weren’t enough women at my gigs, so to rectify that I wrote an album full of military history songs.”

Corb Lund, on the other hand, I’ve never seen, though I’ve loved his wry Canadian take on classic country since 2006 and “Always Keep An Edge On Your Knife”. There’s something about Lund that’s aaaaalmost slick enough to be sleazy, but his charm is honest and I think it’s that, well, edge that makes his music — 7 full-length LPs worth — so charming … and occasionally deliciously sleazy. His band — a band full of really talented musicians and great hair — plowed through a good hour’s worth of set that spanned most of Lund’s records as Corb Lund & the Hurtin’ Albertans, including the tune he co-wrote with Hayes, “Bible On The Dash”.

It was such a fun night — a happy crowd, great musicians, songs I love. Full set here.

american aquarium @ the pour house

american aquarium @ the pour house

It depends on what you ask me, and when, about American Aquarium, whether I’ll be sentimental, or cheerfully cranky, or a million other things — but one thing I will always, always be is fond, is deeply affectionate for those five guys and all 28 ex-band members. There’s no other band where I can tell you the exact first time I heard so many of their songs; “PBR Promenade” at the acoustic Jason Isbell/Browan Lollar two-men-in-a-Toyota-Celica tour in March 2008, “Hurricane” with just Sarah on fiddle and Bill on upright to accompany BJ, opening for Caitlin Cary at the Pour House sometime that same summer. The original Bones version of “Lonely Ain’t Easy” years ago, maybe at the Lincoln, and the new version at Motorco this year, sometimes in March.

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shakori hills grassroots festival fall 2011

shakori hills fall 2011: toubab krewe

shakori hills fall 2011: mipso trio

shakori hills fall 2011: driftwood

shakori hills fall 2011: emily stewart & the baby teeth, bottom string session

shakori hills fall 2011: thousands of one

shakori hills fall 2011: the kickin' grass band

shakori hills grassroots festival fall 2011

I’ll write more about the festival this week, but for now, a selection from my two days; all 150+ images are here.

best albums of 2011, so far: april edition

adam arcuragi & the lupine chorale society @ local 506

I meant to do this at the end of March, and then it slipped away from me, and now April has slipped away from me, as well, leaving me at the end of the first … third of the year instead of the slightly more standard first quarter. But it’s all the passing of time all the same, and so let’s mark it by talking about your favorite albums that have been released thus far. Topping my list?

  • Slingshot Cash — From Aftermath to Exile. I’m biased, obviously, but I genuinely think this is a phenomenal record that way more people need to hear. It won’t go on any of my year end lists for lack of objectivity, but worth mentioning.
  • Ha Ha Tonka — Death of a Decade. My most anticipated album of 2011, and it hasn’t disappointed. “No Great Harm” makes me cry in my car regularly.
  • Dave Hause — Resolutions. Following on the 2010 theory that everything needs more Dave Hause. At Pinhook Monday 4/26, Triangle locals!
  • The Booze — At Maximum Volume. The best rock and roll album nobody’s going to hear this year. You love Sticky Fingers? You’ll love this record. Holy cow.
  • Smith Westerns — Dye It Blonde. So bad live. Such a phenomenal record.
  • The Low Anthem — Smart Flesh. This band breaks my goddamned heart sometimes.

My iTunes ratings inform me that I’ve also really dug on Hayes Carll’s latest, KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories), Des Ark’s first full length, Don’t Rock The Boat Sink The Fucker, the new Decemberists, and the newest Ezra Furman & the Harpoons (reviewing upcoming next week). It’s been a quietly, steadily excellent year for music, as opposed to last year which was noisily and crazily good for music, and I’m delighted to discover all these albums lurking around in my iTunes, reminding me that there’s plenty I’ve been really excited about this year. There’s still things I haven’t heard — everyone in the Triangle is raving about the new Mount Moriah, which I need to pick up, and I just got the new Steve Earle yesterday — but those are the big ones doin’ it for me right now, in no particular order but how I thought of them first thing this morning. At the end of June, I’ll put together my first half list, subject as always to change in December.

I tried to think of stuff that I’m excited about coming up, and it just must still be too early in the day for thinking, because all I can think of is Frank Turner’s new record in June (the English language is not actually capable of conveying my feelings about Frank’s new album and subsequent tour, but Pam might be able to) and the new Felice Brothers, Celebration, Florida, which is due in a few weeks.

What are y’all digging thus far? What are you excited about, coming up? Can you convince me that the Smith Westerns are capable of being as great live as they are on their record, because I’m still unconvinced?

gambling the muse @ nightlight

gambling the muse @ nightlight

gambling the muse @ nightlight

I am trying really hard to make good on my goal to see more, new local bands this year, and Gambling The Muse is one of those bands — apparently, according to my Photojojo time capsule this week, I actually saw them play at the Dylan vs. Petty benefit last year, but that evening ended with me and shep. feeding the jukebox at the Cave dollars so I could play Leonard Cohen songs and I think that was one of the nights I yelled at Jay about being wrong on the internet about the Orioles, so the fact that I don’t remember seeing them isn’t entirely surprising.

My point being: I have seen Daniel Snyder front a bunch of bands, but until last night I hadn’t ever really seen him front his own band, and I was delighted by what I got to see. I’m deeply, deeply smitten by Daniel’s voice — he’s got one of the best voices in the Triangle, just rich and deep and shivery, and he knows how to deliver a song like nobody’s business. He’s playing with a great bunch of musicians now, too — I mean, for God’s sake, the drummer drove in from Johnson City, Tennessee the day of the show, self-admittedly couldn’t hear anybody during the set, and still sounded fantastic — and Gambling The Muse is just one of those local bands that I can now tell you will always put on a solid set. Sometimes they’ll be great — but they’ll never be a disappointment. They’re great musicians and Daniel’s a phenomenal songwriter, and they do this Gambling The Muse/Magnolia Collective/whoever’s around cover of “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” that just makes my heart ache with how much I love it.

Steph Stuart & the Boyfriends and the Pneurotics played, too, but it was about negative 20 degrees in the Nightlight last night so I didn’t shoot either of them; I was huddled on a red velvet couch for warmth.

top ten shows of 2010

superchunk @ the cradle

Today kicks off a couple of year end lists; tomorrow you’ll get EPs and tracks, and next week, a massive list of albums the making of which may make me more insane than usual, but which will be thorough if nothing else. Today, though: today you get my Top 10 Live Shows of 2010.

I saw 72 shows in 2010; less than 2009, but more than 2008. And, to my great delight, I didn’t see a single show I would say was a bad show, either. So making this list was hard; after the top five, all of which were standouts, there was a whole pack that could have populated 6-10. Some of these shows are here because of both the sets played and the nights themselves. And Brian & Dave have sat at the top of the list since January, when they were the first show I saw in 2010. Here’s hoping that I get to kick 2011 off with some shows as amazing.

(Not included: the 10th Annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. Because Bristol is so far and away more amazing than anything else I do at any point in the year. And no single show can ever compete with a Bristol lineup. Even if I did get punched during the Truckers’ set this year.)

  1. Brian Fallon & Dave Hause solo acoustic at the Black Cat, Washington, DC. This was my comfort go-to live set all year; Brian’s opening monologue about marriage and not cheating us out of our ticket price would have sold me, but the cover of “Ball & Chain” at the end, ugh.
  2. Two Cow Garage w/ Dave Hause at Kings Barcade, Raleigh, NC. The band that put out my favorite album of 2010, plus Dave Hause, who we are all learning is essential to good things happening. Needs more Dave Hause everywhere.
  3. Justin Townes Earle w/ Caitlin Rose at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC. Startling and stunning and gorgeous.
  4. Drive-By Truckers two-night stand at the Lincoln, Raleigh, NC. After these two sets, I smelled like beer for three days and felt like Mike Cooley had been punching me in the face all weekend. In the best way.
  5. The National w/ Owen Pallett at Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh, NC. For the a cappella set-closing version of “Vanderlyle Cry-baby Geeks” alone, but also for everything else.
  6. Ha Ha Tonka opening for Rocky Votolato at Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC. An opening set on this list? Yes. I’d been waiting more than a year to see them, and they were so far and away better than I had even hoped for, it made my heart soar.
  7. Superchunk at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC. The album release show was more polished, but lurching, deep-cut-playing, shaking-off-the-rust Superchunk was more fun.
  8. Stroke It, Noel: a Fully Orchestrated Performance of Big Star’s Third at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC. Break my heart, why don’t you.
  9. Malarkeygras w/ American Aquarium, Red Collar & Paleface at the Pour House, Raleigh, NC. The cover of “Thunder Road” that night was why I live where I live.
  10. Frightened Rabbit w/ Maps & Atlases & Bad Veins at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC. Hearing “My Backwards Walk” live was exactly what I needed at that moment in time.

Behind the jump, one photo from each show, except the Brian/Dave show, because I didn’t shoot it; the only show I didn’t shoot all year. Instead, you get a photo of Dave Hause from the Two Cow set. Substitution!

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