Live Review: The Black Lillies in Asheville, 11/30/2018

The Black Lillies landed at The Grey Eagle in Asheville last Friday night.

Based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, equipped with new music from their latest album and returning to the site of its recording, The Black Lillies crossed the border and took to the stage at The Grey Eagle in Asheville before an energetic crowd. Behind a revamped lineup, who recently released their new album, Stranger to Me, with all of the contributions coming from each of the current members and producer Jamie Candiloro, the band entertained many long time fans and undoubtedly registered some new ones with their performance.

Ahead of The Black Lillies, Asheville’s own Alex Krug Combo performed a short set backed by her band. Short of the full six-piece combo, Krug and those who accompanied her seemed right at home on the local stage.

Cruz Contreras (lead vocals, guitar, keys) has done a wonderful job revamping the band and the new album reflects influences, in addition to full on contributions, from each of the other members. Sam Quinn (bass, vocals) takes the lead on a few songs and Contreras seemed to enjoy playing along when giving way to the barefoot bassist.

Opposite, Dustin Schaefer (electric guitar, vocals) commands the spotlight in his own right with talented solos and impressive riffs while drummer Bowman Townsend keeps everyone in line, tying everything together while keeping the rhythm.

The group performed some nice harmonies, highlighted in ‘Earthquake’, while also revisiting a few older favorites in ‘Ramblin’ Boy‘, ‘Two Hearts Down‘ and the pleasant surprise appearance of ‘Shepherd’s Song‘ on the set list.

An entertaining band that has been seasoned by experiences on the road both before joining forces and as a unit since coming together in 2016, it’s hard to believe the current members have only the one album to their collective names.

Here’s to many more.

Live Review: Reckless Kelly in Winston-Salem and Shelby

Reckless Kelly provided two entertaining nights across North Carolina last week.

Austin based Reckless Kelly rolled into North Carolina for the second time this year with two stops scheduled in Winston-Salem and Shelby. Having previously visited the Tarheel State in June (Hickory and Raleigh) the return was met by many familiar faces as all of their shows serve to increase a consistent fan base, gaining new followers and peaking interest across the state.

The first stop this time around took place in Winston-Salem at The Ramkat, formerly Ziggy’s, and the changes to the venue have been impressive. A quality venue able to produce both a good listening room or full concert experience, the focus here is clearly on the music.

Lead singer Willy Braun appeared solo on stage as the set time approached after an entertaining performance from North Carolina’s own Time Sawyer, greeting the audience with a short introduction and rare acoustic performance. Covering the Bob Dylan classic, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” was a perfect start to an Election Day set highlighted by some appropriately placed songs with a patriotic feel.

Mixed between Reckless Kelly classics “Seven Nights in Eire”, “Nobody’s Girl” and “Crazy Eddie’s Last Hurrah” was “Pennsylvania Avenue” and a solo from lead guitarist David Abeyta of Slaid Cleaves“One Good Year”. Both added a unique twist to the evening before a rocking finale.

Two days later, the band took on an entirely different feel inside the Don Gibson Theatre, located in Shelby. A seated room, with ease Reckless Kelly constructed a set of songs that equally matched the location.

A nice combination of the favorites paired among others that fittingly intersected with the setting, it created an entirely different feel during most of the evening. The sign of an experienced group of musicians, the band seemed to build momentum as the night transpired and by repeating the same finale from Winston-Salem, a rousing rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Fortunate Son”, much of the audience was on their feet, filling the aisles in addition to an area in front of the stage in support.

Both top-notch, quality performances as North Carolina looks forward to the return of Reckless Kelly again soon.

Live Review: American Aquarium in Winston-Salem, 10-12-2018

American Aquarium proved that ‘Things Change’ with a near hometown show over the weekend…

American Aquarium lead singer B.J. Barham stepped to the stage backed by his new ensemble for the first time in a while at The Ramkat in Winston-Salem. Having formerly played the venue, then known as Ziggy’s, there have been numerous changes to the event space leaving Barham to comment that, “it was nice having a venue ran by music lovers.”

On the heels of a cancelled show to open the NC State Fair in Raleigh, American Aquarium played a free show at The Pour House on Thursday night. The site of numerous AA shows and album release parties, in addition to being where Barham and his wife wed, it was packed with 300-plus patrons eager to see the band perform.

Despite a disappointing cancellation, the excitement from a show where he now calls home (Raleigh) was carried west to Winston-Salem, just a few miles from Barham’s hometown of Reidsville. At one point in the evening, Barham was sharing the backstory of Crooked and Straight, saying no one knew him when he was a kid – to which one audience member yelled, “I did”.

Barham debuted a Fender electric guitar for the first time at The Pour House and brought the new ride with him to Winston-Salem. Pulling it out for the second song of the evening, Tough Folks, Barham proved that while “things change,” his band, what he plays, the venue – critical constants remain.

Whether in 2012 or 2018, American Aquarium is going to provide a wonderfully entertaining show. Experiencing a roller coaster of emotions from the deeply passionate, hard life lessons, bitter breakups, to a more promising time, the songs represent a sliver of the transformation Barham has taken as an individual over the past decade.

Dedication, determination and an appreciation for his fans – Barham stayed late after his set to shake hands and express his gratitude for those willing to spend their Friday night with him – in addition to seeing a few familiar faces.

One group of patrons even broke into their own rendition of PBR Promenade immediately after American Aquarium left the stage without the song making into their set. Not just the chorus, these guys knew it from start to finish.

Continuing to thrive behind their latest album, Things Change, the first with a new lineup, American Aquarium displayed their ability to connect with an audience and prove their shows are not to be missed – then, now, or ever.

FULL SETLIST 10/12/2018

The World Is On Fire
Tough Folks
Casualties
St. Mary’s
Losing Side of Twenty-Five
Wolves
One Day At A Time
Jacksonville
Crooked + Straight
Betting Man
Lonely Ain’t Easy
Louisiana Beauty Queen
Hurricane
I Hope He Breaks Your Heart
Unfortunate Kind (solo)
Katherine Belle
Rockingham

Live Review: Shinyribs in Asheville – 10/03/2018

Entertaining from the start, Shinyribs brought a midweek pick me up to Asheville’s River Arts District…

From a flamboyant introduction through the encore, those in attendance at Asheville’s The Grey Eagle on Wednesday evening were treated to a musical journey unlike any other. The seven-piece ensemble of Shinyribs crowded onto the stage ahead of Kevin Russell entering and greeting fans with his free spirit, interpretative dance moves and entertaining collection of songs – both original and covers.

View this post on Instagram

The one … the only … @shinyribs! #RedDirtNC

A post shared by Red Dirt NC (@reddirtnc) on

Russell, flanked by The Tijuana Trainwreck Horns and Shiny Soul Sisters, combine with drummer Keith Langford, Winfield Cheek on keys, and bassist Jeff Brown to create one of the most unique and intoxicating sounds imaginable. A self described mix of “country-soul” and “swamp-funk”, the music of Shinyribs stands alone but is enhanced by the theatrics of Russell on stage.

Armed with one of the best band recognition routines ever, Russell introduces the audience to every member of Shinyribs through their favorite root vegetable ahead of the song, Sweet Potato. It’s an amusing yet satisfying mix of admiration and appreciation fitting seamlessly into their set.

Moving in sync with the Shiny Soul Sisters, working out “his calculations” during Who Built the Moon and even crawling around the perimeter of the stage at one point, Russell turned an ordinary Wednesday night into a full on party for a near capacity crowd.

One of the most unique shows you can experience, Shinyribs never fails to entertain, connecting with their audience in a free spirited, dance like no one is watching affair, from start to finish.

Live Review: Cody Canada and the Departed in Asheville – 09/29/2018

The legendary Cody Canada and the Departed rocked Asheville over the weekend.

There are few names synonymous with red dirt music and rarely do these individual’s who helped cultivate an entire music scene across the country visit North Carolina, but on Saturday night, Asheville got to experience one of the best with Cody Canada and The Departed. Absent a tour stop in NC over the past two years, it was a welcome return and one that those in attendance truly appreciated. Canada brought a set list of songs from The Departed’s latest album, “3” and a few hits from his previous band, Cross Canadian Ragweed in addition to some covers and a tribute to Tom Petty.

While on stage Canada briefly spoke about his reconciliation with Mike McClure who produced the latest album and also shared a meaningful story related to his song, ‘Pay‘. While even further from Texas than North Carolina, at a tour stop in Oregon, Canada ran into a fan named Travis Moore, sharing a special story behind the song. On Saturday, Canada dedicated the song to him as it once saved his life – keeping Moore alive during a down time after he heard it play while contemplating suicide.

Canada also departed from his traditional guitar to play one created by 357 Custom Guitars, a local company. Playing ‘Constantly‘, the aforementioned ‘Pay‘ and a few other songs on the new axe, Canada mentioned the guitar had been designed for students at his new School of Rock in New Braunfels, Texas but after his test run (maybe jokingly) said it wouldn’t reach the hands of his students.

There were a few moments in the set where Canada gave way to bass player Jeremy Plato, who he’s known since the sixth grade and being playing music alongside for numerous years. A talented musician in his own right, the two are backed by beats from the always entertaining Eric Hansen on the drum kit.

The new three person interpretation of The Departed will forever be in tact according to Canada – at least until his two sons are of “legal drinking age.” It definitely works as Hansen fits in seamlessly between Canada and Plato like he’s been there all along.

A wonderful, energetic, and entertaining show that shouldn’t be missed once Cody Canada and the Departed return to North Carolina – hopefully before both his boys join the band.

Live Review: Parker McCollum and Randy Rogers Band in Charlotte – 09/08/2018

Two singer, songwriters from the heart of Texas greeted an energetic crowd at Coyote Joe’s on Saturday night…

Football was in the air on Saturday in Charlotte with the hometown collegiate 49ers hosting in-state rival Appalachian State and the Carolina Panthers set to face off against the Dallas Cowboys one day later. However, the Cowboys weren’t the only team from Texas visiting the Queen City as rising star Parker McCollum and the established veteran lineup of Randy Rogers Band (RRB) took over the 103.7 Superstage at Coyote Joe’s.

A late arriving crowd filled the venue just in time for the 26-year old, Austin based, Parker McCollum that earlier this year signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Nashville. Riding the momentum behind his sophomore release Probably Wrong, out in late 2017, McCollum has dialed in to a sound many people gravitate towards while combining it with meaningful lyrics and smooth melodies.

McCollum brought a nice mix of upbeat country in hits like ‘New Orleans‘ and the slower, soulful lyrics from ‘Hell of a Year’ before capping his extremely entertaining 45-minute set with crowd favorite ‘Meet You in the Middle‘.

Not knowing what to expect from a live performance of McCollum, his first in Charlotte, the talented Texas native left no question that he is a rising star worthy of headlining future shows outside of the normal confines for Texas country and red dirt music.

No stranger to venturing outside of their comfort zone, Randy Rogers Band, a staple in the scene took the stage following McCollum. The dance floor was packed with little room left to move once Rogers stepped to the mic.

Greeting fans with classic hits, love songs, drinking songs, goodbye songs, lonely songs and even one titled ‘Goodbye Lonely‘ – which Rogers initially penned after being told to not write anymore songs about goodbye or lonely – the RRB puts on an impressive live performance.

Honing their craft with over fifteen years of experience with the same lineup, RRB is keeping country music alive. No frills, no nonsense – Rogers is a legendary entertainer who has enjoyed success as a singer, songwriter, manager and now restaurant owner after Chopshop Live recently began operation in Roanoke, Texas. A live event space with full food service just outside of Dallas-Fort Worth, Rogers opened the venue on July 14 of this year.

Both entertainers combined to create a memorable experience for everyone in attendance on Saturday as North Carolina is already looking forward to a return from Parker McCollum and Randy Rogers Band very soon – even though the Panthers won.

Parker McCollum SETLIST 09/10/2018

Fake Out
Lonesome Ten Miles
The Truth
New Orleans
Happy New Year
All Day
Misunderstood
I Can’t Breathe
Memphis Rain
Hell of a Year
Silhouette
Meet You in the Middle

Randy Rogers Band SETLIST 09/10/2018

This Time Around
Buy Myself A Chance
Tonight’s Not the Night
Goodbye Lonely
10 Miles Deep
Just A Matter of Time
One More Goodbye
Down and Out
Lonely Too Long
Speak of the Devil
Interstate
Steal You Away
Last, Last Chance
Fuzzy
Tequila Eyes
Satellite
San Antone
Too Late for Goodbye
In My Arms Instead
Kiss Me in the Dark
–Encore–
Trouble Knows My Name

A Perfect Combination: ‘Jam in the Trees’ 2018 Review

The third installment of ‘Jam in the Trees’ took place over this past weekend in Black Mountain…

A surprisingly cool evening for August in North Carolina, even for the mountains, greeted fans and those affectionately becoming known as ‘jamsters’ outside Pisgah Brewing in Black Mountain on Friday night. The beginning to what is quickly becoming a premiere event for the area in only its third year of existence, ‘Jam in the Trees’ continues to exceed expectations.

The star studded lineup featured three intimate sets on Friday night inside the venue as the capacity crowd spilled out into the picnic area toward the food trucks on hand. Outside, preparations for Day 2 could be heard from the outdoor stage, adding anticipation to the event as a whole.

Asheville based singer and songwriter Jane Kramer kicked off the night with a few songs setting a high bar for the evening of music to follow. Quickly capturing the attention of everyone on hand with ‘Truck Stop Stars’ and a few songs from her upcoming album (Fall 2018), Kramer was joined by Andy Buckner on stage before ending her opening set.

The hip hop and bluegrass combination known as Gangstagrass followed, energizing the crowd. A blend of lyrics and song styles thought to have no place in the same realm of music comes together to create an intense live and thoroughly entertaining performance. RSON the Voice of Reason effortlessly composing flawless lines while managing to bring in notations of Asheville and other bands on hand was something to witness.

The evening ended with another Asheville band, Fireside Collective, who had many local fans in attendance. Their upbeat set put an exclamation point on night one, warming up Pisgah Brewing for a full day of entertainment on Saturday.

The festivities kicked off just after lunch for a full day of great music as those returning from Friday and all new ‘jamsters’ were greeted by sets from The Po Ramblin Boys of neighboring Tennessee and Andy Buckner, who was joined by his full band on stage with Jane Kramer adding some nice harmony.

A quickly alternating pace between the outdoor stage and indoor venue kept the music flowing like much of the craft beer on hand – no worries though, PBR is also available in addition to a self-serve water station complete with available cups and its own tap.

Music from the Slocan Ramblers, Lindi Ortega and Jerry Douglas carried patrons through the afternoon before Sirius XM Outlaw Country host Elizabeth Cook pulled up a barstool to the mic inside for an amusing set of her original songs and a few comedic stories.

Outside, Virginia based The Steel Wheels began a run of memorable performances which would ultimately conclude the third annual ‘Jam in the Trees’ leaving only a late night mix of different artists in attendance to literally jam for a bit culminating with Americana icon Jim Lauderdale hosting after performing his own set earlier in the day.

Shooter Jennings and The Travelin McCourys preceded that late night session with the festival’s only back-to-back outdoor stage performances. Jennings led into his set with ‘Bound Ta Git Down’ off his new album, “Shooter” and followed with a few others mixed with some old favorites.

The Travelin McCourys then concluded this increasingly popular event quickly becoming a mainstay of Pisgah Brewing. An awesome atmosphere surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, host venue and lineup created the perfect combination continuing momentum for year four when the ‘Jam in the Trees’ returns.

Live Review: William Clark Green in Asheville – 08/15/2018

‘The greatest party on earth’ recently rolled into western NC for a midweek show…

Fresh off the release of his latest album, Hebert Island – reaching #1 on the iTunes Country Chart – William Clark Green (WCG) and his band took the stage at The Grey Eagle in Asheville on Wednesday night. Opening with the title track WCG set the tone for an upbeat performance with a few ballads mixed in throughout the set list.

Backed by a high energy performance, there were no signs of fatigue from a band that has been touring for the past few weeks in anticipation of the album release as they kicked off an east coast swing with upcoming dates in Washington D.C., New York City and Pennsylvania before returning for another North Carolina date.

Not having played Asheville in quite some time, WCG was appreciative of the crowd on hand and many were familiar with his music. In fact, at one point he mentioned never having the crowd sing his songs back to him (in Asheville) but during the finale of ‘She Likes the Beatles’ the Texas native backed away from the mic and let the crowd take over the chorus.

WCG even shared the inspiration and story behind what led him to write the hit song and how it has changed his life since being released. The details of which will not be shared here – especially with another opportunity to see him perform live and perhaps tell it again in NC so soon.

Having previously expressed his appreciation for crowds who care about the music and artists who take time to both write and cultivate their own unique sound – it was evident there were many on hand Wednesday night who shared in this view.

From the meaningful ‘Old Fashioned’ written for his grandfather to the rowdy ‘Ringling Road’, WCG transitioned smoothly throughout the set backed by a tight band who combined to match the pace set by their lead all evening long.

One of the best live performances witnessed this year, WCG displayed sincere gratitude for all of the fans in attendance. Remaining on stage instead of having the audience cheer for an encore, WCG treated everyone to a few requests before ending the evening.

Taking into consideration that the opportunities for catching a live show are limited in this area, WCG graciously obliged audience requests of ‘Gypsy’, ‘Caroline’ and ‘My Mother’ among a few others.

If you happened to miss out on his first stop, WCG returns to NC on Sunday (8/19) at Puckett’s Farm Equipment in Charlotte. Don’t make the same mistake twice as a few tickets still remain and are available here. You can even pick up a copy of Hebert Island for free by finding Tyler at the merch table and simply asking for an album!

SETLIST 08/15/2018

Hebert Island
Hit You Where It Hurts
Next Big Thing
Drunk Again
Sticks and Stones
Old Fashioned
Ringling Road
Poor
Hanging Around
I Miss You
Creek Don’t Rise
Goner
She Loves Horses
Rose Queen
Still Think About You
Sympathy
She Likes the Beatles

Live Review: Charley Crockett in Asheville – 07/08/2018

The musical vagabond, Charley Crockett, took to the stage on Sunday evening in Asheville…

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a vagabond is someone “who wanders from place to place without a fixed home” and while Texas native Charley Crockett has done his share of traveling across both the United States and world, he may not fit into an exact definition. However, his soulful sound – a collaboration of blues and Texas country sang from a heartfelt location found deep inside of Crockett himself and flawlessly executed on stage while drawing from years of street performing, all combines to produce one of the most entertaining shows you will ever witness.

Many people today attempt to package music into neat little boxes for specification purposes and an ease of finding something one may find interesting. However, there is no containing an artist who decides to push the boundaries of his or her craft and with the availability of music expanding by the day – people are slowly finding that the only category which matters is simply, good music. Crockett, backed by his band, The Blue Drifters, doesn’t fit nicely into country, rock, roots or blues – Americana has recently become the catch-all for anything closely resembling these but where you will find both Crockett and The Blue Drifters firmly planted is within the category of good, quality music.

Taking the stage at The Grey Eagle in Asheville, shortly after 9:00pm and following North Carolina native Valorie Miller, Crockett and his band immediately hooked the crowd with ‘Ain’t Got No Time to Lose’ – the first of a marathon 28 song set that unfortunately passed by all too quickly.

Surrounded by an incredibly talented group of musicians making up The Blue Drifters, Crockett shines in the spotlight with a range of songs capable of taking any listener on an emotional roller coaster throughout any given performance. As concert goers it is often easy to forget that the artists who entertain us have often been on the road for many days, weeks or even months – they have good days and bad like any of us but still must go out in front of crowds and put on a show to make their living.

Having seen Charley Crockett multiple times, he is arguably having more fun on that stage than any other musician currently on tour. Seemingly always in a good mood, his stage presence and live show is something that should be witnessed by any music lover. The recently released album, “Lonesome As A Shadow”, recorded in Memphis at Sam Phillip’s Recording Service is an awesome collection of just a few songs once found bouncing around inside Crockett’s creative mind and set to record – but the live show is something else entirely providing an added level of appeal to Crockett and his music.

There is only one other North Carolina date currently on his tour calendar – Friday, November 9 – with The Turnpike Troubadours at The Fillmore in Charlotte. Make plans now, get tickets here and be in attendance, you’ll be glad you did.

FULL SETLIST 07/08/2018

Ain’t Got No Time to Lose
Look What You Done
Downtrodden Man
Lil’ Girl’s Name
Cold Hearted Woman
How Long Will I Last
I Ain’t Never
If Not the Fool
That’s How I Got To Memphis (Tom T. Hall)
What the Preacher Say
A Dime At A Time (Del Reeves)
The Sky’d Become Teardrops
I Am Not Afraid
Lonesome as a Shadow
I Wanna Cry
Help Me Georgia
7 Come 11 (Benny Goodman)
T-Bone Shuffle
Jamestown Ferry (Tanya Tucker)
Sad and Blue
The Race Is On (Don Rollins)
Ain’t Gotta Worry Child
Out of Bad Luck
Oh so Shaky
In the Night
Silver Dagger
Goin’ Back to Texas
Trinity River

Live Review: Bart Crow in Charlotte – 06/23/2018

Bart Crow landed in Charlotte over the past weekend for a fun Saturday night show…

Austin based singer and songwriter Bart Crow brought his band along for their very first trip to North Carolina last weekend. A brief run down the east coast from New York City, to Washington D.C. and eventually Charlotte, saw Crow and his crew invade Puckett’s Farm Equipment for another entertaining show.

Rising country artist Mickey Lamantia, who was named one of Rolling Stone top newcomers to know back in January, got the evening started with his songs mixed between a few crowd favorite covers.

Bart Crow entered next from the side door and jumped into his set which spanned his entire collection of albums from Finally… to The Parade and everything in between. A receptive crowd saw some take to a makeshift dance floor in front of the stage and many were singing right along.

A few songs into his set, Crow wished a couple in attendance a happy anniversary before dedicating Dandelion, the title track to his 2012 release, to the pair. A nice moment and connection between Crow and his fans from the stage.

The roughly 90 minute set allowed those in attendance to get a good feel for Crow the performer, backed by a solid band featuring lead and bass guitar, drums and a pedal steel. All combining for a sound fitting to his own style, not imitating but forging its own way into and through the music scene.

Crow himself was once a Rolling Stone artist to know over two years ago and it was nice to see the gratitude and appreciation both he and Lamantia showed for one another. Sharing the stage along each of the previous stops for this brief tour, both were complimentary of the other and appeared to have a good working relationship.

Previously playing Charlotte solo in March of 2014, the return of Bart Crow with his full band was a welcome site and one we hope doesn’t take another four years to see again.