Friday, April 30, 2010

TOURCAST: Hobex Live From Shakori Hills

It's a crisp April night, 'round midnight, and you're standing in a dewey field at Shakori Hills, waiting for Hobex to come on.

I make it a point to see Greg Humphreys' soulful swamprockers every chance I get. So I was particularly bummed that I missed their late show last Thursday night.

Lo, a video appears. The full concert on Tourcast:

Watch live video from TourCast on

Is someone making my dreams come true? Maybe I'll find a freezer full of peanut butter cup ice cream, my own mariachi band on the back porch, and Los Van Van concert tickets in my wallet.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Groove Experiments: Chris Boerner Trio

There are so many talented musicians in this area, it's insane. Guitarist Chris Boerner is my latest fix: his experimental jazz gives me the happiest high I've come across lately that isn't Afro-Cuban.

Chris Boerner Trio
Chris Boerner Trio @ The Station

Boerner, a Duke Jazz Studies grad, plays once a month at The Station with the trio made up of drummer Nick Baglio and bassist Damon Brown. Brown teaches bass at NCCU, and exploits a 6-string for Boerner's trio gigs. Baglio, son of Steam drummer Dick Baglio, has been mad touring lately with Michael Jackson tribute band Who's Bad?, and has a secret past as a timbalero, a legacy of his student days at the University of Miami.

I knew there was something...

Yep, every good drummer knows clave, but not even every Latin drummer can mess around with it productively, without violating its spirit. The trio plays improvisationally, everything from Monk to Radiohead. And even when pushing the meter across barlines, they never drop the groove, as Boerner's bopping head attests. When they allude to styles--samba, New Orleans second-line, guitar rock, reggae--it's witty and minimal, and somehow always soaked in funk. Boerner achieves upper octaves, electronic sounds, and distortion using a suitcase full of pedals:

Chris Boerner's pedals

Though metrically and harmonically playful, Boerner's music always remains groove-based and groove-driven. No wonder I like it. Those are qualities of a lot of timba and Afro-Cuban jazz. Brain and booty are in full agreement: this music feels good.

Here's Monk's "Bye-Ya" from the first set (low-light video, but it achieves sound capture):

They closed their second set with "Faceplant," a Boerner original:

The Station, a Carrboro bar on the tracks near Weaver Street Market, has indoor/outdoor spaces and mixes funky DIY decor with antique wood bar fixtures. See their no-cover music schedule here.

Grand, Open: NCMA Festival Highlights

After playing Shakori on Friday night, Orquesta GarDel was in Raleigh by 11 am Saturday morning to kick off the NC Museum of Art's Grand Opening Festival. The turnout of salsa dancers representing different styles for both Gardel, and again on Sunday for Charanga Carolina, was really awesome. It was a vibrant image of our salsa community. It was truly exciting to see how well-received "our Latin thing" was by visitors to the Grand Opening. A lot of people--including one 81-year-old woman from Garner--told me they hoped to see the Museum do this kind of thing again.

The Beast @ NCMA
The Beast @ NCMA Grand Opening Festival on Saturday

If you haven't yet seen the new gallery upgrade, drop by sometime during visiting hours. Admission is FREE, and it belongs to you, the taxpayers of North Carolina. It's quite an ark.

Link: The Independent Weekly's cover story on the new NCMA

As stage manager at the Plaza Stage, I enjoyed working with the artists and an excellent, excellent sound and stage crew. The 21-piece NCCU Jazz Big Band never sounded better, and Appalachian duo David Holt and Josh Goforth were big crowdpleasers; their CDs sold like hotcakes at the merch table. Southern Sun Drum, the official drum of the Lumbee tribe from Pembroke, came with singers and dancers in regalia. They got the whole community (i.e. the audience) to circle and dance around the drum for the final songs. The diversity of the programming worked really well. Saturday on the plaza closed with The Beast, which energized one break dancer to emerge from the crowd (see video).

The Gospel Jubilators, an a capella group from Durham, had me join their prayer circle before they went on stage. They prayed for the spirit to move someone in the audience. Les Primitifs du Futur, a cabaret-jazz group from Paris, were on next, and sure enough, their saxophone player teared up listening to genuine article, African-American spirituals.

Les Primitifs du Futur @ NCMA
Les Primitifs du Futur Sunday @ NCMA

Les Primitifs are very serious musicians and yet very charming, playing a fantastic array of instruments from accordion to theremin to xylophone. Charanga was in the wings, ready to go on next, and we all enjoyed hearing Les Primitifs play a 1930s Cuban son in the French Musette style.

Inside the former East Building, crowds gathered to hear and observe Greensboro experimental musicians Invisible (aka Bart Trotman and Mark Dixon) play their analog drum machine, Rhythm 1001. Sunday afternoon, a complete performance of Mahler's 2nd Symphony, with 200 orchestral and choral musicians, took place inside, which was slightly mindblowing. Tift Merritt, The Monitors, and Carolina Brass played in the Park Theater Saturday night. The Museum posts a total visitor count of almost 15,000 for the entire grand opening weekend.

Summer events in the outdoor Museum Park Theater start soon, in May--see full schedules below.


NCMA Summer Concert Schedule

NCMA Summer Film Schedule

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shakori Sugar: Sol's Blues & GarDel's Timba

I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked at Shakori Hills this spring. But I did make it to see Orquesta GarDel in the Dance Tent Friday night. Of course, they led off with their signature Shakori tune, "Welcome to Shakori Hills."

GarDel @ Shakori

At one point, emcee Pierce Freelon of The Beast jumped on stage to do an exuberant version of their joint tune "Translation," featured on last year's The Beast album Silence Fiction.

The GarDel song that debuted last year at Saxapahaw as "Eric's Timba" now has a new title: "Lo Que Tu Querias." Here's a full-length video from Shakori Friday night-- music by pianist Eric Hirsh and lyrics by sonero Nelson Delgado:

I appreciate Nelson's lyrical shoutout at about 2 min. 20 sec!

The set ended with their usual finale, the Gilberto Santa Rosa cover "La Agarra Bajando." Eric dressed it up with solos on both piano and Moog.

Sightreading: Orquesta GarDel's Shakori Setlist

with extra breakdown mambo

Sol & Funk Root

I hung around to catch a few songs of zydeco priestess Rosie Ledet, as well as blues guitarist Sol with his band Funk Root. Sol had help from the Dynamite Brothers as well as vocalist/saxophonist Tim Smith.

Sol & Dynamite Brothers @ Shakori Hills

At one point, Brevan Hampden, who played with GarDel, grabbed a tambourine and jumped onstage to join Robert Cantrell in the rhythm section.

Sol & Dynamite Brothers @ Shakori Hills

Here's a song Sol introduced as new and unrecorded, with the official title "Sweet Sugah Momma":

American Tobacco Goes Backporch Music

For the first time this season, the American Tobacco Campus' Music on the Lawn series has given over their programming entirely to WUNC's Backporch Music. The series of 10 free shows from April to October, sponsored by WholeFoods, will feature some great musicians I want to see--Chatham County Line, Josh Goforth, Kickin' Grass, The Gravy Boys--and is sure to be tremendously popular with the area's legion fans of traditional music. But, may we respectfully say, it's a little disappointing when any free, public concert programming grows less diverse?

As if to address this, the series ends on October 8 with a blues showcase by the MusicMaker foundation. But is this too little, too late? A prime outdoor venue in the enlivened downtown district has closed the door on funk, gospel, jazz, Latin and World music.

Maybe it's time for a dedicated Azucar y Candela Summer Salsa Concert Series.

As great as that would be, I love the rainbow. Take Shakori Hills Festival, where you can hear koras and banjos and congas and rhythm guitars, all in the same place. It's the community of sound that makes it beautiful. You achieve outreach to audiences and creative exchanges between musicians.

I don't begrudge Backporch their concert series, they deserve it. But there's no reason we can't get some corporate donor to back other music, even at the same venue, perhaps. I wonder what it would take? I guess this is something to brainstorm about, Latin music fans...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Parties, Rain or Shine

This weekend's festivals and concerts are set to go forward rain or shine, offering several opportunities to hear 2 great Latin orchestras, and a host of other live music.

Shakori Hills Grassroots Music and Dance Festival is ongoing through Sunday (4/25)--this multi-genre festival offers day and weekend passes as well as on-site camping. From clogging to Cajun to blues, salsa, African and indie rock, it's too much to encapsulate here, so check out their website! The Shakori Hills farm near Pittsboro offers green-minded facilities, a sprawling variety of good music, awesome craft vendors, veggie and ethnic food booths, and even a freestanding ATM. Rain or shine, it's a great relaxed venue to experience live music.

Andy & Tim

Shakori spotlight: Orquesta GarDel TONIGHT, Friday (4/23), 8:30 pm in the Dance Tent. Word is GarDel will feature The Beast on a new joint arrangement of their song "Translation."


Saturday (4/24) at 3 pm is UNC's World Music Concert, featuring Gamelan Nyai Saraswati and Charanga Carolina. The concert will be held outside, weather permitting, on the lawn in front of Kenan Music Building. In case of rain, it will go on as scheduled inside the music building.


North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh celebrates their Grand Opening Festival this weekend with a free arts festival, including performances by Orquesta GarDel and Charanga Carolina. Prepared for rain or shine, a large tent will shelter the music stage on the Museum's new plaza. All music acts at this stage are free, no ticket is required.

Plan extra time for remote parking, which will be available at the Atrium on Blue Ridge Rd. (If you would like to tour the new gallery building, go online to get a free, timed-entry ticket.)

NCMA Plaza Music Stage Schedule

Saturday (4/24):
11am - 12:15pm - Orquesta GarDel (Salsa)
12:30 - 1:15 - Josh Goforth and David Holt (Appalachian)
1:30 - 2:45 - NCCU Jazz Ensemble Big Band (Jazz)
3:00 - 3:45 - Southern Sun Drum (Native American)
4:00 - 5:00 - The Beast (Hip-Hop)

Sunday (4/25):
10:00 - 11:30am - Martin Luther King All Children's Choir & The Gospel Jubilators (Gospel)
12:00 - 1:15pm - Les Primitifs du Futur (Jazz/Musette)
1:30 - 2:45 - Charanga Carolina (Latin)

A wide spectrum of free arts programming is taking place inside the old gallery building, on the plaza and grounds. These include live dance by Carolina Ballet, and Mark Dendy DanceTheater performing a new site-specific work, emerging design from NCCU's Art to Wear fashion show and Advanced Media Lab, NC pottery demos, experimental music and performance artists, short films, and talks by the architects.

See the NCMA Grand Opening webpage here for more info.

Umbrellas or no, get out there and hear what's going on this weekend!

Monday, April 19, 2010


I stopped by ArtWalk Saturday afternoon to catch the Al Strong Duo, one of a number of artists performing on the BBC Plaza. It was a warm, welcoming sound as folks brunched on the sidewalk at nearby Rue Cler, munched Only Burgers, and dipped in and out of downtown galleries.

Al Strong Duo @ Artwalk

Al Strong (trumpet & flugelhorn) is on NCCU's Jazz Studies faculty and is known in Latin music circles as a member of Orquesta GarDel.

Al Strong Duo @ ArtWalk

It was my first time meeting Mark Wells (piano and voice). He and Al also perform regularly with the jazz quintet Peter Lamb and the Wolves.

Mark Wells

Friday, April 16, 2010

RADIO ALERT: GarDel & The Beast 2 PM TODAY on WKNC

Members of Orquesta GarDel and The Beast will be interviewed on WKNC 88.1 FM between 2-3 pm today (Friday, 4/16).

The two bands, who recorded a song together on The Beast's album "Silence Fiction" last year, will be performing it together live Shakori Hills Grassroots Music and Dance Festival next weekend.


Carnavalito plays their new biweekly "Buku Loco" party tonight (Friday, 4/16), 7:30-10:30 pm at Buku Global Street Food, on 110 E. Davie St at the corner of Wilmington in shiny new downtown Raleigh.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Latin Jazz in Charlotte: Rhythm+ THIS THURS (4/15)

Latin jazz band Rhythm+, led by percussionist Lucas Torres, makes their hometown debut this Thursday (4/15) at the Halton Theater in Charlotte.

Torres is a member of salsa band The Latin Project, and a strong exponent of Puerto Rican culture. He was the instigator of a spontaneous plenazo in Carmen's parking lot that was featured on Onda Carolina a year ago.

The group features Panamanian, Cuban, Mexican, American and Puerto Rican musicians, performing bass, drums, flute, piano, major and minor percussion, vocals and sax. Check out their website for more info. Good luck to them Thursday; I hope we get to hear Rhythm+ in the Triangle in the near future.

Rhythm+ Band Website

Saturday, April 10, 2010

COPA NIGHT Party Returns to Cary 4/10

The Cobo Brothers' elegant salsa/mambo social on Second Saturdays has been on hiatus ever since the closing of George's Garage last fall. But the return of Copa Night debuts tonight (4/10) at the restauraunteur's new location in Cary, with a "Black and White Party" theme.

Giorgio's, 4300 NW Cary Parkway (near High House Rd), Cary.

Black and White Party Discounts:

Regular admission: $12
Anyone wearing ALL BLACK or ALL WHITE: $10
Ladies: $8 admission before 10:30 pm.

A special performance by Mexican dancer Rodrigo Cortazar and his partner will be featured at 10:45 pm. The rest of the night will be open dancing.

Link: Copa Night Black and White Party

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Charanga on Brant Street

3 great iPhotos
Bela Kussin and Warren Harris moving to the sounds of Charanga Carolina

Charanga Carolina was literally standing by as I arrived at NCCU's Culture Shock Festival, a little after 6 pm on Tuesday. Things were running comfortably late, as the sun cast long shadows across the dancefloor on Brant Street. Around 6:30, they kicked off their set with "Estoy Como Nunca." "Cayuco" and a medley of "Boranda" and "Isla del Encanto" were among the tunes that followed, and the show ended with "Ahi Na' Ma." A small but dedicated group of dancers made the most of Tuesday's windfall.

There are only two more opportunities to hear Charanga Carolina before the end of the semester (and summer hiatus): Saturday, April 24 at the World Music Concert at UNC, and Sunday, April 25 at the NC Museum of Art's Grand Opening Festival. Both events are free.

Buzz: Vocalist/percussionist Nelson Delgado told me he recently purchased a set of vibes, and is brushing up his skills in jazz improvisation. Can't wait to hear his vibes debut with a local Latin band one of these days!

Charanga Carolina @ NCCU Culture Shock

3 great iPhotos

3 great iPhotos

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Charanga Carolina performs a 45 min. set today, Tuesday (4/6) at 6 pm, at 408 Brant St. in Durham, off Fayetteville St. on the North Carolina Central University campus!

This event is part of NCCU's Culture Shock Festival. The whole event runs 5-7:30 pm today, and is hosted by NCCU student dance troupe Los Salseros.

NCCU Culture Shock feat. Charanga Carolina