Must-See Sets at Shakori Hills and Indie Grits
It’s spring, when a middle-aged music fan’s fancy turns to comfortable footwear, intelligent retirement investments and, of course, festival season. Shuffle knows and appreciates how much you rely on us to filter through the Interwebs for you, so during the hue and cry of festival acts-sorting we’re glad to help out where we can with a suggestion or 10.
So, without further ado and brought to you on this occasion by John Schacht, our picks for the Must-Sees and Dark Horses at the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance (“It’s not just for hippies anymore!”) and Columbia’s Indie Grits Film Festival ( “It’s not just for pasty film dweebs anymore”) follow. —John Schacht
SHAKORI HILLS GRASSROOTS FESTIVAL OF MUSIC & DANCE @ Shakori Hills (April 19-22)
The Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance is a family-friendly celebration of music, dance, art and education over four days in Chatham County. This year, spread over four stages, will feature 60 music acts to supplement the healing arts seminars, indigenous crafts expositions and sustainability fair. Trumping all those happy-makers, though? Cold beer, sold on site for the first time. (More details here.) Musically, you shouldn’t miss any of these:
The Beast (Durham)
Newly minted Music Editor Jordan Lawrence did a bang-up job in his first full-length feature for Shuffle when he highlighted the Durham-based quartet’s collaborations in Shuffle No. 10, and the Beast has only grown beastlier since. Fronted by emcee Pierce Freelon’s fearless word-play, the band’s classic blends of vintage jazz and hip-hop beats focus on the too-oft-neglected politically conscious virtues of the genre. The result, especially live, is passionate and engaging and totally groove-alicious, and all the more poignant for providing progressive alternatives to the issues raised by the “ghetto CNN.”
Kin Ship (Ithaca, NY)
This is our dark horse pick, a quintet of up-state New Yorkers whose sound tilts vintage without devolving into empty retro symbolism. The band’s dreamy, reverb-friendly folk pop may recall the ancien régime, but it does so without relying on the usual suspects – in other words, more Preservation-era Kinks and Harry Nilsson than Beatles and Dylan. It’s wistful summer fare, too, judging by their early singles, therefore perfect for an evening sunset over Waterloo Bridge or the Piedmont hills.
Lydia Loveless (Columbus, OH)
This 22-year-old firebrand has rafter-clearing pipes and red hair, so the Neko Case comparisons are practically de rigueur. But that only extends as far as Case’s country era – say, Furnace Room Lullaby – as Loveless and her band actually sound more like Too Far To Care-era Old 97s. That is to say, Loveless was lured to country rock through the spirit of Loretta Lynn honky tonk, Tammy Wynette’s lonesome-woman twang and Exene Cervenka’s Knitters-punk, and her Bloodshot Records debut Indestructible Machine earned plaudits from a broad critical swath last year, each and every one of ‘em well-deserved. Like fellow rust-belt gals Freakwater, Loveless makes country music the way Nashville once did, fueled by raw emotion, tough times, humility, and outlaw attitude rather than focus groups, CMT and washboard-abs workout regimens.
The Mad Tea (Asheville, NC)
They’ve dropped the “Party” from their moniker, but in name only. The Asheville duo formerly known as Mad Tea Party after Lewis Carroll’s story (and not the Ron Paul ding-dongs) is comprised of Ami Worthen and Jason Krekel. After a brief flirtation with a bigger lineup, they’re back to making crazy garage pop as a two-piece. When your guitarist plays drums (simultaneously) and your singer a ukulele, are you anything but the right kind of crazy?
Rey Norteño (Raleigh, NC)
Originally formed by Huerta brothers Alejandro, Amoz and Fred – who hail from Hidalgo, Mexico — Rey Norteño has made their adopted home Raleigh something of a touchstone for Latin American music lovers. As the Hispanic population in the Carolinas explodes, so too does the level of musicianship, as this band’s rollicking waltzes, rancheras, corridos, Baladas and polkas make abundantly obvious. This stuff goes down particularly well with a cerveza or three.
INDIE GRITS – April 19-29, Columbia, S.C.
The Sixth Annual Indie Grits Festival is a 10-day celebration of the best in independent film, art, music, craft, food, performance and technology held in Columbia, S.C. It was named one of the world’s 20 coolest film festivals by 2010 Movie Maker magazine, and in recent years the festival’s music bills are catching up with its groundbreaking film fare.
Friday, April 20
The Olivia Tremor Control @ New Brookland Tavern
Will Cullen Hart, Bill Doss and some guy named Jeff Mangum first formed the Olivia Tremor Control — one of the original Elephant 6 collective members — in Louisiana in 1988. Mangum left to focus on Neutral Milk Hotel, but the OTC rolled on for over a decade making strangely beautiful and paranormal psychedelic music and only occasionally putting it out on record. We then pretty much assumed they’d disappeared down the same acid-spiked rabbit hole that ate Magnum, when, in 2011, more than a decade after its last studio album, OTC popped up with the new single The Game You Play Is in Your Head, Parts 1, 2, 3. There’s more good news, too — the five-minute, blissed-out suite of vintage OTC twists and turns presages a new record they’re working on. If you’re looking for a parallel, OTC are the Southern heirs to Camper Van Beethoven’s eclectic mash-ups.
Tuesday, April 24
Modern Man @ 5 Points Pub
So, sure, it’s true that you can’t throw an actual shoe these days without hitting a new shoegaze act, but some shoegazing is clearly superior to others. Led by David Allen Glen, Greenville’s Modern Man takes a much heavier tack than many new-breed flange-fans (they prefer to dub it “darkwave garage psychedelia” anyway), creating dense layers of reverb and echo that wash over you calmly, but with near-physical insistence. Throw in the ghostly vocals, and the effect recalls the Verve’s classic psychedelic debut, A Storm in Heaven, more than the usual shoegaze signifiers (MBV, Ride, Slowdive, etc.).
Wednesday, April 25
Cinemovements @ Drayton Hall Theatre on the University of South Carolina campus
Led by conductor Morihiko Nakahara, the South Carolina Philharmonic will present music for a series of brand new silent films commissioned by Indie Grits. Good music almost by definition ignites active imaginations to visual imagery, so it’s usually twice as intriguing to see and hear the two brought together by others. This program features the works of Xi Wang paired with filmmaker Patrick Nugent; Fang Man paired with filmmaker Lauren Gregory; Dvorak paired with filmmaker Georg Kozulinski; and Dan Visconti paired with filmmaker Simon Tarr (using archival footage from the Moving Image Research Collections, part of the University of South Carolina Libraries).
Friday, April 27
Can’t Kids @ Fork and Spoon Records Showcase @ 5 Points Pub
This is my Indie Grits dark horse, and not just because they recorded their debut Shredquarters Demo on a Saturday on a hand-held Tascam field recorder with stretched pantyhose in front of it and had it up on the web for free by Sunday. The eight songs are a glorious sonic mess of compressed percussion, mangled guitar fuzz and mostly indecipherable boy/girl vocals red-lining the poor mic from the outset, and yet….beneath the maelstrom you can hear some seriously superior songs, like if the White Stripes were informed by Bakesale and Slanted/Enchanted rather than the bloated, rotting stinking corpse of Led Zeppelin.
Aleuchatistas @ Shuffle Magazine Music & Video Showcase @ Conundrum Music Hall
Asheville’s Aleuchatistas are one of the Carolinas’ great avant-garde outfits, conjurers of all manner of guitar-and-drums flavoring and complexity. Guitarists’ guitarist Shane Perlowin is equally at home drawing from his strings Western melodies, Eastern ragas or jazz/punk-fueled skronk. Drummer Ryan Oslance is an engine, a stop-on-a-dime-timekeeper, and one of the most musical skins-man you’ll ever hear. Together they craft complex compositions notable for how logical they sound yet emotional they come across. Experiencing the heat they generate live, too, can be one of life’s memorable pleasures.