First Listen: ‘Big Top Town’ by Whiskey Foxtrot

EXCLUSIVE: Listen to ‘Big Top Town’ by Whiskey Foxtrot today.

Whiskey Foxtrot, comprised of Seth Williams – Vocals/Guitar, Sam Foster – Vocals/Guitar, Brad Cardille – Bass/Vocals, Terry VunCannon – Lap Steel and Steven Worley – Drums/Percussion has been methodically releasing songs throughout 2019 as work on their debut album continues. A recent Indiegogo Support campaign for the record wrapped with the band achieving over their anticipated goal, in part due to the small taste fans have received over the past few months. Their first two singles, The Broken End’ and Turn Off the Headlights, were released in January before San Isidro last month. Each provides a glimpse into the group’s sound, featuring a talented lineup that many have witnessed first-hand at shows across the southeast over the past couple years. Whiskey Foxtrot now has a fourth single, ‘Big Top Town‘ and RedDirtNC caught up with the band for a first listen before it’s available everywhere tomorrow – April 20 (Saturday).

Each release has been unique and this one is no different, immediately drawing listener’s attention as a carny hustling cotton candy bookends the studio version of a song filled with lyrical imagery. The diversity of sound Whiskey Foxtrot continues to display is impressive – especially for a band who is currently compiling their first ever album as ‘Big Top Town‘ leans in more of The Allman Brothers Band direction with two prominent guitar solos and a southern rock feel.

Williams’ tale seemingly focuses on the small town dynamic that so many people can relate to regardless of where you live. Adjusting and learning to accept and love life where you are, regardless of the circus going on around you. “This place has it’s ups and downs, well hell now don’t we all … can’t change where I am, make the best of what will be – truth be told, this place, well it’s the place for me.” Another great sounding piece as well, recorded at Earthtones Recording and mastered by Alien Beans Studio/Kings X.

The momentum continues to build for Whiskey Foxtrot, who will soon enter the studio again to complete recording of the debut album that according to Foster, “is going to be an excellent demonstration of what exactly we’re capable of as a unit, and reflective of the time we’ve spent woodshedding songs together, as well as sharpening our playing skills as a whole.”

No official release date has been set but with the previews provided it’s apparent a masterful body of work is about to be unleashed into the world. Until then, keep spinning these four tunes, go see a live show and wait – patiently of course.

Upcoming Tour Dates:

4/19 – Mebane, NC (Whiskey Sowers) – 10pm
4/20 – Love Valley, NC (Shelby’s Place) – 9pm
4/21 – Lewisville, NC (Westbend Winery/Brewery) – 2pm
4/26 – Kernersville, NC (Gypsy Road Brewing) – 7:00pm
4/27 – Asheboro, NC (Jimmy-June Fest) – 5:45pm

5/3 – Winston-Salem, NC (The Ramkat) – 7pm
5/4 – Gibsonville, NC (Grove Winery) – 7pm
5/10 – Kernersville, NC (Breathe Cocktail Lounge) – 9pm
5/11 – Mt. Airy, NC (Happy Hours) – 9:30pm
5/17 – Asheboro, NC (Out and About Cruise In) – 6pm

Find more at WhiskeyFoxTrotMusic.com

MerleFest 2019: April 25-28 Preview

One week from today, MerleFest begins in the mountains of North Carolina…

From humble beginnings, much like the festival founders, MerleFest has grown into one of the world’s largest musical events. The now four day show occurs on the campus of Wilkes Community College (WCC) in northwest North Carolina with over 100 artists performing on 14 stages, entertaining over 75,000 spectators annually.

The first show occurred in 1988 when WCC horticulture instructor Frederick Townes IV, nicknamed “B”, orchestrated a one-night performance from Doc Watson to serve as a fundraiser for the development of a sensory garden for the blind. Watson agreed, asking that the garden be named in honor of his late son, Merle.

Merle Watson was best known for his musical performances alongside his farther as the two released 12 albums over 21 years before his untimely death from a tractor accident on the family farm. The grounds at WCC became known as the Eddy Merle Watson Garden for the Senses and the event evolved into its current state over the past 31 years.

Brining together traditional bluegrass plus those who flirt with a similar sound in some respect, many world renowned performers have graced one of the many stages at MerleFest during their careers. Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, John Prine, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson and Old Crow Medicine Show are just a handful of the names whose music has been heard here before.

Each year brings in even more talent and with a stellar lineup, the 2019 festival is no different. The Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile, Amos Lee, Wynonna and the Big Noise, Tyler Childers, Radney Foster, The Black Lillies, Sean McConnell, Elizabeth Cook and American Aquarium are just some of the acts who will put their musical talents on display next weekend.

Music begins on Thursday afternoon at 3:00pm and continues through the weekend until the festival concludes on Sunday at 6:00pm, following the return of The Avett Brothers to the Watson Stage.

The full lineup and stage performances can be found here or by visiting MerleFest.org. Tickets are also available, including two reserved seating options for a four-day pass and general admission as a multi or single day ticket. Rivers Edge camping (RV Camping is FULL) is also an option for those planning to attend the entire event.

Get your tickets now to be a part of a wonderful weekend of music in the mountains.

Depot District Music Fest Highlights Lexington, Music and Fun

Depot District Music Fest registers impressive second-year effort.

A little rain wasn’t going to stop this train as Depot District Music Fest fans began crowding onto the hillside in front of Breeden Amphitheater just after gates opened at noon. Downtown Lexington was abuzz with festivalgoers from all across North Carolina, the southeast region and even the United States. A solid lineup drew folks from all around gathering together to share in some fellowship, food, fun and an appreciation for live music.

Grey skies and rain greeted On the Border – The Ultimate Eagles Tribute Band when they first took the stage a little after 1:00pm but by the end of their two-hour set, it seemed the rain had subsided. Those in charge did a great job of helping to keep folks dry by allowing umbrellas into the venue and setting up tents for both VIP and general admission fans.

As Sister Hazel took the stage, a few moments of sunshine lit up the festival grounds and although temperatures were a bit cooler than anticipated, it was a nice reprieve from the rain. Midway through it cleared up entirely as the remainder of the event took place under overcast skies. The crowd began to swell as the rain subsided and many were on hand when the group broke into their 1994 hit song, ‘All For You‘.

Turnpike Troubadours fans crowded onto the front rail prior to the band from Oklahoma making their way on to perform. Not everyone was standing by the time the 5:30pm set time rolled around but midway through their first song much of the crowd joined those in the first fifteen plus rows. Ultimately, the entire audience was up and singing along with lead singer Evan Felker, who gave an energetic performance through ‘Every Girl‘, encouraging crowd participation during ‘Long Hot Summer Day‘ before giving a shout out to ‘The Bird Hunters‘. It’s a safe bet that if anyone in attendance didn’t know who the Turnpike Troubadours were before, they left as fans.

To end the evening, Delbert McClinton and his blues style rock band headlined the solid lineup constructed for Depot District Music Fest. Packing a full slate of musicians with drums, keys, guitars, bass and horns onto the amphitheater stage, McClinton sang his numbers into the evening before wrapping things up just after sunset. Closing out what was an incredible full day of music orchestrated by those responsible for the festival and the city of Lexington, which should have plenty of returnees for a potential third installment next year.

Robert Earl Keen and Adam Hood light up NoDa

The NoDa district in Charlotte was the place to be on Thursday night.

The opportunities to support live music have grown significantly over the past few years throughout North Carolina but the NoDa (North Davidson) neighborhood in Charlotte has long been a hot spot for live entertainment. Housing multiple restaurants hosting a live band every now and again to arguably the best listening room in the state, The Evening Muse and Neighborhood Theatre – committed to bringing in countless national touring acts and locals each year – this area has become quite the destination.

Thursday proved to be such a night as the stars aligned for two of the best in the business – one a long-time stalwart in his music and troubadour stemming from Texas and another storyteller in his own right with more of a blues feel, by way of Alabama. Robert Earl Keen has been paving the way for decades, traveling around the country and is no stranger to the North Carolina market – booking four dates on this trip alone while Adam Hood hadn’t toured through in quite some time but was greeted with two shows at near capacity.

Hood began on Wednesday evening out in Surf City on the coast, before bringing The Sea, The Sea to perform ahead of him in Charlotte at The Evening Muse. Having only witnessed Hood play solo acoustic shows previously, his backing band and shift to an electric guitar brought an entirely different level of depth and sound to his songs. While the lyrics continue to tell the tales, it was an interesting change of pace and something that was well received by those in attendance.

Making his way through a few songs off his latest album, ‘Somewhere In Between’, released last October and some aged favorites, Hood’s soulful mix and laid back tone bring an easy listening feeling to even the most complex of subjects in his songs.

Across the street at Neighborhood Theatre, Darrin Bradbury earned a humorous introduction and jokingly lifted the spirits of an enthusiastic crowd. Once Robert Earl Keen walked on stage it was guaranteed to be a memorable evening listening to one of the greatest perform his own comedic interpretations and storied songs through a set list packed with many recognizable hits and a new song or two.

Keen visits quite frequently at different times of the year and never fails to entertain. On the second of four different dates this time around, REK and his band’s professionalism were on full display behind many years experience and too many live shows from which to draw inspiration to count. Knowing when to lead and then letting the audience take over singing the chorus and even verses back to him at times, watching one of his events is like watching any master of their craft. Appearing to effortlessly convey a two hour set that somehow manages to leave fans only wanting more.

Two great shows on one epic night happening just a few steps apart from one another.

Robert Earl Keen set for multiple dates across NC

The legendary Robert Earl Keen has four upcoming dates throughout North Carolina.

Texas native and song-writing legend, Robert Earl Keen, is making multiple stops in North Carolina this week, beginning on Wednesday. Known for a classic mix of story-portrait songs and other rocking hits, Keen bounces between folk, country, rock and bluegrass – unable and unwilling to be limited by a specific genre or placed into a box.

Three decades removed from his debut album and after years of touring both across the United States and internationally, Keen remains hard at work – always crafting his next musical endeavor and entertaining fans with energetic live performances and the tales behind many of his greatest songs.

A member of the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame, Keen has an extended portfolio of songs from which to choose, so no matter if you’re attending one or all of these upcoming shows – it’s a safe bet you will not leave disappointed.

4/10 – Wednesday at Lincoln Theatre (Raleigh) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

4/11 – Thursday at Neighborhood Theatre (Charlotte) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

4/12 – Friday at The Ramkat (Winston-Salem) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

4/15 – Monday at The Orange Peel (Asheville) – TIX AVAILABLE HERE

Depot District Music Fest Returns April 13

Depot District Music Fest returns to Lexington this Saturday (April 13)!

PURCHASE YOUR ADVANCE TICKETS HERE

After tremendous success hosting the inaugural Depot District Music Fest in 2017, plans for a return last year were derailed by a fire in downtown Lexington. Following a resilient effort and construction of an impressive lineup featuring Delbert McClinton, Turnpike Troubadours, Sister Hazel and On the Border – the ultimate Eagles tribute band, a sophomore event is set to take place at Breeden Insurance Amphitheater this Saturday, April 13 as part of the district’s continued revitalization effort.

“Lexington is excited to host a talented lineup of performers for an enthusiastic crowd of music lovers at the Breeden Insurance Amphitheater,” said City Manager Terra Greene, who is eager to offer the Depot District Music Fest for a second time. “Being able to see high caliber entertainment perform up close and personal at such a warm outdoor venue is a treat for visitors and the entire community. We look forward to welcoming newcomers to Lexington for the Depot District Music Fest and beyond!”

Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating purposes as gates (333 S. Main Street) will open at noon. Multiple food truck vendors, in addition to beer and wine will be on site and available to purchase. The event does allow reentry, meaning dining options in the Uptown Lexington Historic District are also a possibility but no outside food or beverages are permitted, except for medical purposes.

Set times for the festival are as follows:

On the Border 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Sister Hazel 3:30pm – 5:00pm

Turnpike Troubadours 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Delbert McClinton 7:30pm – 9:00pm

Advance tickets are still available at $45 for adult general admission, increasing to $55 on Saturday with children 12 and under admitted with a paying adult – $10 (online advanced purchase) or $15 at the gate.

PURCHASE YOUR ADVANCE TICKETS HERE

Music Festivals + April = FestivApril Across NC

Multiple festivals highlight the upcoming April schedule across North Carolina.

As the calendar turns to April, spring is in full swing and the live music scene is heating up. After an incredible March, the slate of shows and artists available to see this month may be even more impressive. There are a number of different festivals taking place across the state so no matter where you live, make plans to attend one, two or more and help support some great causes and artists in the process.

Following is a brief preview of each (in chronological order) and links to their respective sites where even more information can be found.

Pickin’ For The Mission – Morganton – April 7
Tickets Available Here

A benefit show featuring BBQ and multiple artists performing throughout the afternoon, with all proceeds going to The Meeting Place to battle homelessness.

Featuring: Justin Clyde Williams, Tyler Hatley, Corey Hunt and Sam Tayloe

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Depot District Music Fest – Lexington – April 13
Tickets Available Here

A solid lineup and full day of entertainment to celebrate community, music and the revitalization of a district in the heart of North Carolina.

Featuring: On the Border, Sister Hazel, Turnpike Troubadours, Delbert McClinton

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MerleFest – Wilkesboro – April 25 thru 28
Tickets Available Here

Beginning as a small college fundraiser, this festival has grown into a world renowned event of music, moments and memories to celebrate “traditional plus” artists.

Featuring: The Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile, Tyler Childers, Amos Lee, Wynonna Judd, Jim Lauderdale, The Black Lillies, Radney Foster, Donna the Buffalo, American Aquarium, Sean McConnell, Elizabeth Cook, The Casey Kristofferson Band and more!

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Tuck Fest – Charlotte – April 25 thru 28
Free Music Event

Celebrating outdoor lifestyles at the US National Whitewater Center, this festival features multiple event competitions in addition to music at one of the most unique venues in all of the state.

Featuring: Tyler Childers, Sarah Shook, Sean McConnell, The Marcus King Band, Liz Cooper, The Milk Carton Kids and more!

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Jimmy-June Music and Arts Festival – Asheboro – April 27
Free Music Event

Promoting the positive aspects of southern culture, this inaugural festival figures to be a wonderful day of family fun and entertainment.

Featuring: Caleb Caudle, Justin Wells, Abigail Dowd, Whiskey Foxtrot and more!

Live Review: Mike and the Moonpies in Greensboro, 03/28/2019

Mike and the Moonpies prove country music is alive and well during a recent stop in Greensboro.

From the moment Mike Harmeier stepped on stage at The Blind Tiger in Greensboro, it was clear the crowd was in for an awesome show and The Moonpies didn’t disappoint. Playing songs off their latest album, “Steak Night at the Prairie Rose”, some older classics, plus the yet to be released – ‘You Look Good In Neon‘ and ‘Danger‘ – fans were treated to one of the most authentic sounds available in all of music today.

Harmeier may not care if ‘Country Music’s Dead‘, but his songs and backing from a band that seems to get tighter with every set they play proves otherwise. In a musical world where mainstream country music has drifted far off the long beaten path from the Nashville sounds of the 80’s and 90’s, The Moonpies are a refreshing personification of what once was and can be again.

Alongside lead guitarist Catlin Rutherford, bassist Omar Oyoque and drummer Kyle Ponder keeping everyone in line, is the prominent sound of pedal steel created by Zachary Moulton. It is here where the most eminent licks are established during ‘Road Crew‘ and the title track from “Steak Night…”, produced by Adam Odor, who is also accompanying the band throughout this portion of This Means Tour, currently ongoing across the midwest and northeast, with a few southeast stops sprinkled in as the group returns to Texas.

In true Honky-tonk style, Harmeier has been ascending bars throughout the different venues on tour, while continuing to play and entertain fans. Although the set up at The Blind Tiger wasn’t really conducive for such an event, The Moonpies managed to pull it off. Exiting the stage momentarily before reappearing atop the back bar, Harmeier continued to electrify the crowd before returning front and center for a grand finale.

Originating as a dance hall band and maturing from the experiences of playing three to four hour sets, you can’t help but get up out of your seat and enjoy this group’s live performances. Whether playing for an audience of less than 100 or over 1,000 this band pours their heart and soul into every strum, slide, beat and lyric.

A much anticipated performance lived up to the billing as Mike and the Moonpies made their lone tour stop this time around, leaving those in attendance hoping for a return trip soon.

Live Review: Todd Snider in Asheville, 03/24/2019

Always ‘Working On A Song’, Todd Snider took the stage in Asheville Sunday night.

Asheville welcomed singer, songwriter Todd Snider to The Orange Peel stage as he and fellow musician Reed Foehl concluded a three day weekend run across North Carolina. Beginning in the capital, Raleigh, with a Winston-Salem stop in between, the two played before a near capacity crowd on Sunday night.

Foehl began his first trip to the city on a bit of a somber note, having received some personal news he shared with the crowd before dedicating ‘Goodbye World‘ to a friend. His set was a perfect balance ahead of Snider as the two appeared to be seemingly cut from a similar cloth. Two true troubadours who are so dedicated to their craft, they enjoy nothing more than sharing their songs with the world.

On Sunday night, those in attendance and anyone who made it out to any of these three shows were blessed to hear the stories and turn off the world for a few hours of solid entertainment. After Foehl’s set, Snider took the stage following after his dog, Cowboy Jim, who does accompany him from time to time and appeared to be no stranger to the spotlight.

Telling a few tales (that are every bit as enjoyable as the songs themselves) from his participation with Hard Working Americans to Jerry Jeff Walker hearing ‘Mr. Bojangles‘ late night on a street corner, Snider engaged with the audience.

After playing a few from his latest project, “Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3” – there is no (at least released) Volume 1 or 2, Snider hit on some old favorites and even took a few requests from the crowd, who offered plenty of suggestions. All were solid and his new material is reminiscent of these older hits, of which there are plenty with similar potential – including, ‘Like A Force of Nature‘, ‘Working On A Song‘ and ‘The Blues on Banjo‘.

Just prior to the end of his set, Snider asked long-time friend Casey Kristofferson, who calls Asheville home, to join him on stage. The two paired for an excellent rendering of ‘Me and Bobby McGee‘, written by her father – Kris Kristofferson. A surprise twist providing the epic end to an evening with a solid bill in a great venue.

Both Foehl and Snider were on top of their game throughout the performance, making new fans, surprising old ones and thriving in their element.

Todd Snider returns to NC on Thursday, June 20 at Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte – Click Here for Tickets

Live Review: Sean McConnell in Charlotte, 03/08/2019

Sean McConnell performed for a sold out crowd Friday night.

Between songs, Sean McConnell expressed his gratitude to those in attendance for showing up but it was the audience who was ultimately treated. Explaining that he played to a small crowd during his first stop at The Evening Muse in Charlotte a few years ago, he followed it up by entertaining a larger group but a third time was the charm as McConnell took the stage in front of a standing room only, sold out venue last Friday night.

Prior to his appearance on stage, Louisiana native Caleb Elliott celebrated his debut album release with a few songs and stories of his own. After years of backing other musicians, including performing with McConnell as one of only two other contributors in his latest venture, Elliott put “Forever to Fade” out into the world.

For the entire night a focus was on the music in arguably the best listening room across the state. McConnell took attendees on an emotional journey sharing tales behind some of the songs and even a few dedications – one to his sister and another for a couple who had recently gotten engaged, all of whom were in attendance.

McConnell’s latest album, “Secondhand Smoke”, is barely a month old as he embarks on a nationwide tour. Beginning the day prior in Carrboro, a sold out night two displays the impact he’s making through hard work and a dedication to the craft. Featuring songs like the heart wrenching ‘Beautiful Rose‘ and the more recent ‘Shakey Bridges‘, which relates to personal journey, McConnell concluded the evening in epic fashion.

Going solo and stepping away from the microphone, McConnell put his talent on full display with a true acoustic finale – no sound, no flashing lights, no tracks – just a man and his guitar.

NORTH CAROLINA UPCOMING TOUR DATES

April 26 – Wilkesboro at MerleFest (Tix Available Here)
April 27 – Charlotte at Tuck Fest, US National Whitewater Center (Free Admission)