Tag Archives: Big Star

Tobacco Crossroads

Triangle – Triad Songwriters Gather ‘Round

Two master guitar pickers, an Irish storytelling siren, and a Southern sawbending rocker will share the stage in the first Triangle Meets Triad in the Round at  Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle Back Room on July 16 at 8:00 PM.

Durham blues and Americana artist, Jon Shain, will host the Bluebird Cafe style songwriters round.  Known for his gritty vocals, and Piedmont Blues guitar picking, Shain fronts the Jon Shain Trio and is featured in the NC Music Love Army compilation. Recently, Jon has been collaborating with IBMA award winning songwriter, Joe Newberry.  Jon will dig into his deep repertoire and introduce new songs from his upcoming record.

Sam Frazier was one of the collaborators for Greensboro College’s, The Healing Blues Project, benefiting the Interactive Resource Center. The project’s concept was to team up local Blues musicians as songwriters with homeless storytellers to create a 15 song CD about daily life on the streets of Greensboro.  Although no stranger to social and philanthropic causes, this unique project is one of his personal favorites. Inspired by his homeless storyteller Ryan L., here is Sam performing I Wait from the HBP.

As one of the Triad’s award-winning writers, Molly McGinn’s use of strong imagery captures an audience during her live performances. Molly’s smoky voice will draw the listener into a comfortable slumber while her lyrics gently burns like an addicting lover.  Her 2014 release of Postcards from the Dismal Swamp was one of my favorite releases of 2014.  Listen to Postcards from the Dismal Swamp here.

Frazier and McGinn often play together around their Greensboro hometown, where they support several social justice causes through their live and recording appearances. For Shain and Frazier, this series is the beginning of a new musical partnership.

Melissa Swingle (Trailer Bride, the Moaners) is no stranger to the Triangle scene. Originally from Mississippi, Swingle arrived during the hey day of the 90s Chapel Hill scene. She continues to bring her Deep South influence with a dive bar edge to her devoted cult fans. Some of her solo work reminds me of Nico from the Velvet Underground. Here is Melissa performing Arrowheads.

Who: Jon Shain, Molly McGinn, Sam Frazier, Melissa Swingle
Where: Cat’s Cradle Back Room
When: July 16, 2015  Time:  Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
Cost:  $10 Adv / $12 DOS
Event Link: Triangle Meets Triad Songwriters Round

For fans of John Prine, Merle Travis, Velvet Underground, Amelia’s Mechanics, Bonnie Raitt, John Dee Holeman, Guiness, Sarcasm

Videos of the Week

Well, we might as well keep riding this Frazier / Shain carousel. With less than 10 minutes of rehearsal at Doodad Farm’s John Prine tribute, these two put together a grand finale style set that inspired the Triangle – Triad songwriter showcase.

Carousel of Love by John Prine

The Glory of True Love by John Prine

New Releases

The Sprinter – The Old Ceremony

The Old Ceremony celebrates the release of their fifth  record, The Sprinter, with a two night event at the Cat’s Cradle Back Room. Known for their eccentric arrangements, front fella, Django Haskins, expanded the band’s musical influences to include some of Haskins’ recent collaborations from his recent Big Star tribute shows.

Recorded and produced by Mitch Easter at the Fidelitorium Recordings (Alejandro Escovedo, The Avett Brothers, REM), Haskins’ reached out to his Big Star tribute pals Chris Stamey (dBs) for special arrangements and Mike Mills (REM) to add guest vocals to two tracks.

Their first single from The Sprinter, The Magic Hour, is a dark sensual cut with a message about love. REM’s bassist, Mike Mills, provides more layers of harmonies   Check out the  The Magic Hour.

Who: The Old Ceremony
Where: Cat’s Cradle Back Room
When: July 17 and 18, 2015  Time:  Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm
Cost:  $18
Event Link: The Old Ceremony “Sprinter” Record Release Show

GR8PICKS of the Week

July 12 – 16 Amy, Amy Winehouse Documentary
July 14, 2015 Robert Earl Keen – Saxapahaw
July 15 Ballet Folklorica Cutumba

Planning Ahead

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

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Preview

This year’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is featuring seven music related documentaries that include an almost Beatles documentary along with films featuring an obscure songwriter who penned some of pop’s greatest hits, Muscle Shoals unique recording community, Jazz writer Nat Hentoff, Pussy Riot, backup singers in the shadows of a star, and the influential band, Big Star.

There are a few movies that are a must see. I will identify them with my favorite Les Paul Guitar avatar.

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival begins Thursday April 4 and ends Sunday April 7. Last minute tickets for shows that are not sold out can only be purchased prior to the show at the box office. http://www.fullframefest.org/


Good Ol Freda
Friday 2:00 PM Showing

Good Ol’ Freda screened at SXSW in March 2013 to mixed reviews. The critics cited that although Freda was an endearing subject, she didn’t open up much during the interviews. With a solid soundtrack and rare unpublished photos, Beatlemania fans still have plenty of tidbits to take away from the experience.

“History notes that The Beatles were together for 10 years, but Freda worked for them for 11. Many people came in and out of the band’s circle as they grew to international stardom, but Freda remained a staple because of her unfaltering loyalty and dedication. As the Beatles’ devoted secretary and friend, Freda was there as history unfolded; she was witness to the evolution – advances and setbacks, breakthroughs and challenges – of the greatest band in history” (excerpt from Freda website)

Website: http://www.goodolfreda.com/)
Indie Wire Review: http://www.indiewire.com/article/sxsw-review-is-beatles-secretary-story-good-ol-freda-really-a-tell-all

The Pleasures of Being Out of Step World Premiere
Friday 5:00 PM

Who among the Triangle writers has the compositional and journalistic chops to cover jazz? Not me. My love for modern dance, contemporary art, free form jazz and slam poetry hardly qualifies me to write about them. It is my appreciation to deviate from straight lines, the I-IV-V, and the 1 & 2 that feeds my insatiable artistic appetite but let’s leave it at that.

In addition to being one of the hubs of independent folk, pop and roots music, North Carolina is also home to a world class Jazz Studies program at NCCU in Durham. We should have a thriving jazz scene and the media coverage to complement it. Surely there is room among our caffeinated hip hop hipster bluegrass folk power popping music lovers to squeeze in a few Jazz tunes. Don’t you think?

To supplement our region’s festival offerings, 2014 will usher in the 1st Annual Art of Cool Music Festival which will feature jazz artists along with blues, hip hop, and other alternative free form influenced music.

This documentary could be the impetus for a budding music journalist to pick up where Nat Hentoff left off and usher in a new age of digital music and social justice related journalism. The script for the movie was taken from the writings of Nat Hentoff and his subjects and covers the span of 65 years of his cultural and political essays.

The film has not been released yet. The filmmakers JUST screened Pleasures for their own family on April 1. The world premiere screening will occur at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival this Friday at 5:00 pm. I’ll be the one taking notes asking questions during Q&A.

”The film is about an idea as well as a man – the idea of free expression as the defining characteristic of the individual. With a potent mix of interviews, archival footage, photographs and music, the film employs a complex non-linear structure to engage the audience in a life of independent ideas and the creation of an enduring voice.” – Pleasures website

Website: http://pleasuresthemovie.com/

gibsonMuscle Shoals World Premiere
Friday 9:00 PM

Full Frame is home to another world premiere, Muscle Shoals, a documentary about the “small town with a big sound.” Muscle Shoals, Alabama was the mecca of an underground music recording scene during the 60’s and 70’s. Home to rival recording studios FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, Shoals created a new R&B sound by providing elite studio artists to complement some of music’s biggest stars such as Mavis Staples, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Otis Redding, Duane Allman, Lynnrd Skynnrd, Etta James, The Osmonds, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Bob Seger. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section laid down the unique tasteful solos and rhythms to create that unique but distinguishable Muscle Shoals sound.

When I look back at the songs that ignited my love for integrating rock and country or gospel and pop, it is was that unique Muscle Shoals sound that kept one ear in the past yet continues to listen for the next new sound. One only needs to listen to “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Sisters to hear it…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY3vgBzgYn4 With the Drive By Truckers, Carrie Underwood, the Black Keys, and Alabama Shakes recently recording award winning songs in the small southern town. Perhaps a revival is forthcoming.

The movie includes interviews with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Steve Winwood, Jimmy Cliff, Gregg Allman, Bono and Aretha.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auGUm2r0cLs
Website: http://muscleshoalsmovie.com/

gibsonAKA Doc Pomus (SOLD OUT!)
Saturday 4:40 PM

Born in 1925 in Brooklyn NY to son of Jewish Immigrants, Jerome “Jerry” Solon Felder AKA Doc Pomus would begin his young life living in poverty during the height of the Great Depression. Jerry contracted polio as a young boy and required the use of painful leg braces and crutches to get around. Determined to have a career in blues music, Jerry changed his name to Doc and began performing in the local blues clubs. Although he was a white Jewish kid on crutches, Doc had natural talent and a strong fan base among the black clubs in NY.

However, he was to about to discover that a supernatural talent for songwriting was more viable than gigging for tips. Upon receiving his first $1500 royalty check for co-writing “Youngblood” which was performed by the Coasters he gave up gigging and concentrated on songwriting. As a legendary songwriter who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Blues Hall of Fame, Pomus is credited for hits like, This Magic Moment (The Drifters), Save the Last Dance for Me (The Drifters), Lonely Avenue (Ray Charles), A Teenager in Love (Dion and the Belmonts), Little Sister (Elvis Presley). Elvis recorded 25 of Doc’s songs.

Doc was a prolific songwriter with a thousand songs to his credit. The documentary will introduce the audience to the struggles and glories of the songwriting side of the music industry. Footage, interviews and support are provided by BB King, Shawn Colvin, and Dr. John while his personal diaries are read by Lou Reed.

Trailer: http://vimeo.com/41494973

Twenty Feet from Stardom (SOLD OUT!)
Saturday 7:30 PM

Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer and Judith Hill are some of the most powerful voices in R&B. Twenty Feet from Stardom showcases the struggles and victories of background vocalists who provide the harmonies and hooks love to sing along to.

Merry Clayton’s iconic performance, “Rape, murder; It’s just a shot away, It’s just a shot away!” on the Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter is perhaps the most popular background solo to date. In the movie, Mick Jagger and Clayton recount the emotional recording session which contributed to Clayton’s miscarriage.

Lisa Fischer who tours with Chris Botti, the Rolling Stones, and Sting is the rare background singer who has a Grammy for her own solo work. She brings the perspective of the juxtaposition of stardom vs. the love of the craft.

Up and coming background vocalist Judith Hill was set to tour with Michael Jackson’s “This is It” tour until he met his untimely demise in 2009. She stepped from the back drop to the spotlight and captured the heart of millions as she performed, Heal the World during Jackson’s Memorial. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pd4UXi5n1V0.

Darlene Love, my mom’s favorite, added her vocal credits to songs like “Johnny Angel” and “Baby I Need Your Loving”. Picked up by producer Phil Spector, Love had a thriving career as a background vocalist for Elvis Presley, Sonny and Cher, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Bette Midler, Tina Turner and the Beach Boys. Considering those names are among the top vocalists of their time, Love carried her own weight. However, Spector would not be overshadowed by Love and schemed to put her in her place. Love’s contribution on his Christmas compilation gave her a hit single, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV8x7H3DD8Y. Love was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.


Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer
Saturday 10:40 PM

While I commend Pussy Riot for making me giggle every time I heard the BBC journalist say Pussy…Riot, the arrest and imprisonment of the three members is deeply worrisome. After only 40 seconds of performing their “punk prayer,” at Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested for religious hatred and hooliganism. Samutsevich was set free while the other two carry out their two year prison terms in harsh conditions. These ladies are courageous for standing up to Putin and speaking up for the many fear retaliation.

Filmed in less than six months, I’m curious to see how the film makers pull this movie off with two of the members still in prison and no access to interview them. I would also like to know how this movie made it out of Russia to be shopped around the festivals. Roast Beef Productions has racked up several Sundance awards for their other films. Perhaps they simply invested all of their resources to turn this project around.

Website: http://freepussyriot.org/ru/node/1456
Trailer: http://vimeo.com/58949844

gibsonBig Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
Sunday 6:00 PM FREE!

This documentary is a must see for local musicians and fans who grew up during the explosion of the Chapel Hill music scene. Big Star was loved in this region. Being a relatively recent transplant, I was introduced to Big Star during a Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey show. I collected the all the discs I could find – even the expensive Rhino releases and studied their music.

I didn’t well up inside and get all emotional when I heard September Gurls or I am the Cosmos. I guess you had to be there. However, I respected the musicians who were influenced by this band, so I dug deeper. My music pals were excited for me. It was like I found Jesus and they wanted to share everything they knew about Big Star with me. “So, do you like them? Aren’t they GREAT!?” My polite response back was, “Yeah, it’s nice.”

Big Star should have been just that…BIG STARS. The original members included two songwriters Alex Chilton and Chris Bell as well as Jody Stephens and Andy Hummel. All the talent, great songs, and critical acclaim amounts to nothing when a band has the misfortune of partnering with a fledgling record label…twice. They broke up, created solo records, and then Chris Bell died in a car wreck. The rest of the band lived in moderate obscurity except to the cult musicians and fans that wouldn’t let Big Star fade. The dBs, REM, Chris Stamey, John Howie Jr., Black Flag, The Meat Puppets, The Old Ceremony, Peter Holsapple, Wilco, Whiskeytown, the Posies, Matthew Sweet, Rolling Stone and NPR embraced the elements of their harmonic Powerpop sound with their moody lyrics and delivery. Big Star bridged the Powerpop era to the alternative rock scene yet to be realized.

2009 brought about a revival for Big Star. They began performing together and played a show in the UK. They were all set for the “big” comeback (although they never really arrived) at SXSW 2010. Lead vocalist Alex Chilton died unexpectedly from heart failure a week before the show. The show turned out to be an emotional tribute to Alex and a formal good-bye to the original line up of the band.

I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. I was heartbroken, mad, and confused. How the hell can this happen to them AGAIN? I found myself emotional during the local tributes. Somewhere along the way I found my own dark connection to Big Star.

The film features interviews with Michael Stipe, Matthew Sweat, Robyn Hitchcock as well as local artists Chris Stamey, Django Haskins, and Tift Merritt.

I am grateful for the friends who continued to encourage me to listen to what they loved. I will be in the theatre surrounded by musicians I am a fan of. This time I will get the chance to experience Big Star with them.

Special performance preceding screening by the Fellow Travellers, featuring Skylar Gudasz, Brett Harris, Django Haskins, Chris Stamey, and other guests, singing a selection of Big Star songs, including original string-quartet arrangements from the third album, “Sister Lovers.”

Get there early. Stay late for the Q&A. Bring a hanky.

Site: http://www.bigstarstory.com/
Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1jfYCmGMec
Screener: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=216ea1lJcMQ