Category Archives: Music

Re-releases and Reunions

The Continental Drifters are Back!


With the abundance of talented artists and bands, there is no shortage of Almost Famous stories.  Musicians and fans have long considered New Orleans’ Continental Drifters, a 90s super group. Without a definitive genre to market and promote them, the Continental Drifters struggled to find their American radio audience. Were they pop? Country? Rock? Americana wasn’t officially born yet. Cross over wasn’t even born yet.  Hell, Austin was beginning down the road of becoming, “The Live Music Gentrification Capital of the World”.

If you do know the Continental Drifters, then count yourself among the fortunate. For those who haven’t, allow me to proselytize, for I am an avid follower.

With a rotating cast of songwriters and vocalists including Mark Walton, Ray Ganucheau, Russ Broussard, Susan Cowsill (The Cowsills), Danny McGough, Gary Eaton, Peter Holsapple (The dBs, Hootie and the Blowfish), Robert Mache, Carlo Nuccio and Vicki Peterson (The Bangles), they released their masterpiece, Vermillion in 1999. You can hear the album here.  Vermillion by the Continental Drifters. Vermillion is in my Desert Island Jukebox playlist.

Regardless of their lack of commercial fame, The Continental Drifters continue to influence writers, visual artists, college students, and independent record geeks. They have come through the other end of intra-band marriages and divorces, illness, canceled tours, and unfathomable losses from Hurricane Katrina. Almost two decades later since the release of Vermillion, the Continental Drifters will assemble for a reunion show in their beloved New Orleans.

When Susan Cowsill sings their anthem, Drifters, we may experience nostalgic bitter sweetness as ghosts are buried and the band pauses to reflect on their lifetimes of love, loss, friendship, and rock and roll. I say “we” because I intend to make the trek from NC to NOLA for the reunion show.

The reunion shows, one in LA where they began and one in NOLA, are preceded by the double CD release of Omnivore Recordings’, Drifted: In The Beginning & Beyond.  This 33 song collection includes several unreleased cuts from their archive and live recordings.

Continental DriftersWhere: Tipitina’s New Orleans Louisiana
When: September 12, 2015           Time:  9:00 PM
Cost:  $50 – $130
Event Link: Continental Drifters Beginning Beyond Reunion Show

Featured Video – Cry No More

Grammy winner, Rhiannon Giddens, provides a “Come to Jesus” moment with her new video, “Cry No More”.  In response to Charleston’s Emanuel AME  Massacre, Giddens assembled  a group of Greensboro, NC activists, artists, family, and friends for a call remembrance and actions against inaction. Playing only a traditional Cherokee hand drum, Giddens flowed a poetic stream of in your face reality.

Let’s face it. It’s all true.

Africans were stolen from their homeland and sold in our new country. They were stripped of name, gods, personhood, and community to build our nation. As Americans, the black community continues to be the target of hatred and systemic injustice.

If we, as Southerners, can’t see it, perhaps a call out to God and the global community will send others to guide the South through this ignorant darkness.

Watch and share here >>> Cry No More by Rhiannon Giddens

 Blue Note Grill Relocates to 27701

After weeks of bureaucratic inspection delays, The Blue Note Grill successfully opened their new downtown location on Washington Street across from the Historic Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Former site of the auto parts store.bngbefore

Blue Note Grill’s New HomeBNG

Not only did they expand their kitchen and BBQ smokers to accommodate their growing catering and retail businesses, but BNG’s new music hall is a welcomed music venue with the capacity for 200 music-loving patrons.

Formerly of Southern Seasons and Parts & Labor, Sharon Mahofski joined the husband – wife management team of Bill and Andrea Whittington. Passionate about opening new kitchens and menu design, Sharon has already added new items to the menu including hamburgers and new sides.

GR8PICKS of the Week

7/ 20 Farewell to Tom Maxwell of the Squirrel Nut Zippers 
7/ 24 Warehouse Blues Series
7/25 Comics Fest
7/25 Claire Holley & Bruce Piephoff
7/26 Dex Romweber & John Howie Jr. 

Planning Ahead

August 1 Shugie Otis w Greg Humphreys Trio
August 10 Lauryn Hill 
August 29 Shakori Hills Stars in the Round

More Good Stuff to See and Hear

GR8MUSICROX CALENDAR   Try the Agenda view. I like that best.

August – That Dude (in the movies)

A most innovative cellist, Josh Starmer, is one of the coolest cats I know. Ukes are cool too!

Joshua Starmer - Composer, Instrumentalist and Scientist

This is an embarrassing story, but I’m going to tell it anyway. All of my life I’ve been a skinny guy. This is fine. I don’t mind, but back in college I got this crazy idea that I would look better if I had big muscles. I smile about this because I would look idiotic if I bulked up, but at the time I daydreamed about taking my shirt off at the beach and everyone admiring my physique. I have no idea why.

charles_atlas_j When I was a kid, I saw ads for the Charles Atlas workout routine.

One day I thought I’d try to live the dream and I signed up for a weight lifting class. I spent hours imagining how awesome I was going to look at the end of the semester. I’d come home for the summer and everyone would freak out. People might even call me up to move furniture. Stuff like that.

So I took the class and learned…

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Jim Lauderdale Leads the Pack of NC Songwriters

Stars in the Round Showcases NC’s Songwriters

Jim Lauderdale hosts Stars in the Round at Shakori Hills
Jim Lauderdale hosts Stars in the Round at Shakori Hills

When it isn’t raining, Shakori Hills is a magical place to take in a variety of music, visual art, and dance events. Once a year they host the Stars in the Round, featuring regional songwriters followed by a hootenanny inducing featured artist.

This year’s inducer and Grammy winning host, was endearing and prolific songwriter, Jim Lauderdale. Lauderdale’s tireless dedication to the craft of songwriting is evident through regular coverage in American Songwriter Magazine, and his involvement with Merlefest’s annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, and Swannanoa Gathering’s Contemporary Folk Week.

After an opening set by local blues legend, Ironing Board Sam, the Round commenced in a flurry of heartbreak, murder ballads, protest, storytelling, and mountain songs.

Leading the pack of local songwriters was Laurelyn Dossett, whose song, Leaving Eden, was the title track of the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Grammy winning 2012 Best Folk Album. She also wrote Anna Lee, which was featured on Levon Helm’s emotional Grammy winning comeback album, Dirt Farmer.

Heartbreak master and “smooth as butter” baritone, John Howie Jr. took us to those deep dark places of heartbreak honky tonk, while Allegheny newcomer Daniel Justin Smith’s balanced out the dark with his earnest debut. Brevard’s bewitching sirens, Shannon Whitworth and Nikki Talley dueled out some serious clawhammer banjo songs, enchanting songs of Spring, family, and good ole’ mountain folk.

Lauderdale & Dossett Credit:Justin Catanoso

Lauderdale & Dossett
Credit:Justin Catanoso

Proceeds from the annual Stars in the Round benefit the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center.

“Shakori Hills Community Arts Center was created with the mission to purchase, preserve and enhance the Shakori Hills farmstead for community building through music, dance, arts and education. Our mission has further evolved to provide music education opportunities in schools through our Hopes & Dreams program.” – Shakori’s Mission Statement

 Justin Catanoso

Justin Catanoso

Cool Projects

The Healing Blues, Greensboro artists brings the homeless and music community for a unique collaborative storytelling project.


Aug. 27 Chuck Prophet (FREE!) – Hillsborough

Sept. 4  Chatham County Line (FREE!) – Durham

Sept. 6 The Monti Storytelling is back! –  Carrboro

Sept. 12 Holy Ghost Tent Revival CD Release – Carrboro

Sept. 13 Velcro MC from Puerto Rico – Durham

Sept. 17 – 21 Americana Music Festival – Nasvhille, TN

Sept. 20 Rubblebucket – Raleigh

Planning Ahead

Sept. 13 Farm Aid 2014 is in Raleigh YAWL

Sept. 20-21 CenterFest – Durham

Oct. 3-4 Wide Open Bluegrass – Raleigh

Oct. 9-12 Shakori Hills Grassroots & Dance Festival

More Good Stuff to See and Hear

GR8MUSICROX CALENDAR   Try the Agenda view. I like that best.


It’s Booze it or Lose It Season. Don’t be Stupid. Get a designated driver or call a taxi. Happy New Year Y’all!

NC DOT Booze it or Lose it: Follow their Twitter feed!

Raleigh Safe Ride Home Service

Raleigh Taxi

Durham’s Best Taxi

Durham Designated Driver Service

Greensboro Taxi

Winston Salem Willard’s Cab 336-725-2227


12/31 NYE w DJ Green The Station – Carrboro

12/31 NYE w Cat’s Cradle Backroom – Carrboro

12/31 NYE w Fantastico – Chapel Hill (GR8PICK)

12/31 Dex Rombweber w Melissa Swingle – Chapel Hill

12/31 NYE w Papa Mojo & the Wicked Mojos – Durham (GR8PICK)

12/31 NYE w the Wusses & the Pusses – Durham

12/31 NYE w Will MacFarlane – Durham

12/31 NYE w Beyu Caffe – Durham

12/31 New Year’s Eve w Peter Lamb – Durham (GR8PICK)

12/31 NYE Pinhook w Panda Glam- Durham

12/31 NYE Art of Cool w Yahzarah – Durham

12/31 NYE w the Mantras – Greensboro

12/31 NYE w Billsborough – Hillsborough

12/31 NYE w Run w Jewels – Raleigh

1231 NYE w Big Something – Raleigh

12/31 NYE w Southern Culture on the Skids – Raleigh (GR8PICK)

12/31 NYE w Backsliders at Sadlack’s Heroes – Raleigh (GR8PICK)

12/31 First Night Raleigh

12/31 New Year’s Eve Steampunk Masquerade – Saxapahaw (GR8PICK)

12/31 w Peter Holsapple, Chris Stamey, Jeffrey Dean Foster – Winston Salem (GR8PICK)

The Snow Queen

During the Winter holiday season, I like to explore local productions of classic holiday tales. From the Triad to the Triangle, local production companies will offer their versions of The Santaland Diaries, A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake. This year GR8MUSICROX will check out the Triad Stage’s, Snow Queen.

As fairy tales go, this one contributed to my fear of the dark. I hid under the covers to hide from the Snow Queen every Winter or slept with my sister just in case her Majesty wanted to add a little Puerto Rican girl from Harlem to her collection. When my family moved to Florida, I was no longer afraid that the Snow Queen would steal me away, but was still afraid of the dark.

The Triad Stage sits in the heart of downtown Greensboro, surrounded by excellent restaurants and vintage stores. Make a day of it.

I look forward to seeing how they will regionalize this story, as it is set in Appalachia (pronounced apple-latch-ia). With music by Grammy-winner, Laurelyn Dossett, I am sure to be moved through the story with an array of emotions.

Strapped financially? Check out their “name your price” option just before a show starts.

12/1 – 12/22
by Preston Lane
with original music by Laurelyn Dossett
inspired by THE SNOW QUEEN by Hans Christian Andersen

Drive the winter away.

When a young boy disappears on a winter’s day in the heart of Appalachia, his best friend sets out to bring him home. So begins a journey through snow and ice, leaving the everyday world behind, as a magical winter time path leads deeper into a frozen kingdom. Inspired by the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, this world premiere adventure for audiences of all ages transports the story to the highest peaks of the Blue Ridge. From the creators of BROTHER WOLF, BEAUTIFUL STAR, BLOODY BLACKBEARD and PROVIDENCE GAP, SNOW QUEEN weaves music, magic and make believe to celebrate the courage of a brave young girl.

Read the playbill below. In addition to information on the cast, sponsors, and the history of the Triad Stage, there is story primer for those who need to brush up on the plot.

The Triad Stage
220 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC 27401

Calendar and tickets:

A cool animated Russian version is posted on You Tube:

What else is going on during the Holiday and Winter season?
GR8’s Holiday Schedule

Peace Y’all


However you spend the holidays, there is no loss of things to do. Enjoy the time with the people in your life or cocoon until this season passes over.

Please consider helping the hungry.

Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC

Second Harvest Food Bank

12/1 – 12/22 Snow Queen – Greensboro (GR8PICK)

12/5 – 12/21 Theatre: Santaland Diaries – Greensboro

12/12 – 12/22 Theatre: A Trailer Park Christmas – Durham

12/10 – 12/22 Theatre: A Christmas Carol – Winston Salem

12/13 – 12/22 Theatre: The Santaland Diaries – Raleigh (GR8PICK)

12/14 Piedmont Holiday Songbag – Greensboro (GR8PICK)

12/19 – 12/22 A Christmas Carol – Durham

12/21 Chatham County Line’s Electric Holiday Tour – Saxapahaw

12/24 Pinhook Open House – Durham

12/26 Lila After Christmas Special – Durham

12/31 NYE w Papa Mojo & the Wicked Mojos – Durham

12/31 NYE w the Wusses & the Pusses – Durham

12/31 New Year’s Eve Steampunk Masquerade – Saxapahaw

12/31 New Year’s Eve w Peter Lamb – Durham (GR8PICK)

12/31 NYE Pinhook w Panda Glam- Durham

12/31 NYE Art of Cool w Yahzarah – Durham

12/31 NYE w Run w Jewels – Raleigh

12/31 NYE w Southern Culture on the Skids – Raleigh (GR8PICK)

12/31 First Night Raleigh

12/31 NYE w the Mantras – Greensboro

12/31 w Peter Holsapple, Chris Stamey, Jeffrey Dean Foster – Winston Salem