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)

Live Review: Sarah Shook and the Disarmers in Asheville, 03/07/2019

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers begin tour in Asheville.

Last week at The Grey Eagle in Asheville, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers kicked off their ‘Into the Fray Tour 2019’. Visiting 18 states over 29 dates, including a few more stops in North Carolina, things got started with a bang last Thursday night and continue until the end of May.

In support was Asheville’s own Gold Rose, who got things started and kept the growing crowd entertained with a lively set. Highlighted by their song, ‘Stuck in Appalachia‘, Gold Rose front man Kevin Fuller was in his element on stage at a hometown venue sharing his repertoire of sad songs.

Following, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers hit the stage amid a cheering crowd and proceeded to rock the night away for a solid roughly two hour set. Battling broken strings on both her primary and back up guitar, Shook calmly turned it over to her band for a brief moment as she fixed her first and stepped back up the mic without missing a beat.

Almost a year (April 6, 2018) since Shook released “Years”, her critically acclaimed sophomore album, the set was a quality mix of both the elder “Sidelong” and a few hits from her latest masterpiece. Comprised of in your face, honest songs that command attention and appreciation – even more so when performed live, the message and meaning behind each lyric was delivered loud and clear.

From ‘New Ways to Fail‘, ‘The Bottle Never Lets Me Down‘, ‘Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don’t‘ to the older ‘Dwight Yoakam‘, fans were anticipating what would be next and after an encore return to the stage, her finale capped an entertaining evening. Shook has a few more upcoming North Carolina dates as a part of this run and if Thursday was any indication, it may be her best tour yet, so make plans and step ‘Into the Fray’ with Shook and the Disarmers when they return.

NORTH CAROLINA UPCOMING TOUR DATES

April 4 – Greensboro at The Blind Tiger (Tix Available Here)
April 26 – Charlotte at Tuck Fest, US National Whitewater Center (Free Admission)
April 27 – Carrboro at Cat’s Cradle (Tix Available Here)

Sean McConnell in Carrboro and Charlotte

Sean McConnell has two dates in NC this week.

Proficient songwriter and talented musician Sean McConnell is making a brief run through North Carolina to kick off the weekend. Two dates, Thursday (3/7) and Friday (3/8) in Carrboro and Charlotte – respectively, allow for almost anyone in the state to make a show.

Randy Rogers, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Meatloaf, Christina Aguilera, Wade Bowen and many others have performed his songs as McConnell got his musical start at a young age. Growing up in Massachusetts as the son of two singers, a move to Georgia sparked an interest in his own endeavors. At 15 years old he put out his first album and since McConnell has produced a dozen more, including “Secondhand Smoke”, his latest release.

Only out since early February, the album has drawn acclaim from a variety of different outlets. No Depression (The Journal of Roots Music) offered the following commentary about McConnell’s latest masterpiece.

With a voice that’s quiet, yet powerful, McConnell creates a well-rounded album that tackles complex subject matter with intellect and empathy. Between his striking voice and ability to captivate one’s vision with his lyrics, McConnell creates an imaginative world while taking a deeper look at the one we live in.

Come witness his incredible song writing and talented playing first-hand, either at Cat’s Cradle (Carrboro) or The Evening Muse (Charlotte). Tickets and details available below.

March 7 – Cat’s Cradle (Carrboro), Doors 7pm – Click HERE for Tix

March 8 – The Evening Muse (Charlotte), Doors 7pm – Click HERE for Tix

*Caleb Elliott supporting both shows

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers set multiple NC dates

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers have four upcoming shows across NC

Sarah Shook wasn’t born in North Carolina but after moving to the state at 19 years old, has spent the majority of her adult life here. The lead singer has been on a musical journey since beginning her first band back in 2010, Sarah Shook and the Devil.

After disbanding, Sarah Shook and the Dirty Hands formed but was relatively short lived in 2013, before the now surging, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers came into being late that same year.

The group put out their first record, “Sidelong”, in October of 2015 and after signing with Bloodshot Records, a re-release orchestrated in early 2017 put Shook and her band into the spotlight for new country and Americana artists to watch.

Over the past year, Shook has been touring all over the world in addition to releasing her sophomore album, “Years”. The album has been widely accepted as Shook has been praised for her hard work and ability to speak her mind through engaging lyrics (and in the real world) without hesitation. Never in fear of potential repercussions, Shook stays true to herself and continues to move forward. It is this resiliency that has catapulted Shook and her band into the spotlight.

A continuation of the momentum Shook and her band have been building, “Years” served to solidify her position in the independent music scene, earning Album of the Year from Saving Country Music for being “the greatest, most important release in all of country music, mainstream or independent, traditional or contemporary, from an artist who is young or old, man or woman, or along any other particular gradient one can choose to assign, in all of 2018.”

Less than three years ago Rolling Stone named Shook as one of ten artists that fans needed to know, offering the following comments in an attempt to describe her and the band.

Her sound is a sneering fusion of punk-rock autonomy and say-it-like-it-is country from the classic era, paired with a timeless vocal warble and tons of attitude. Honest to a fault and as foul-mouthed as a drunken sailor, she’s a nonconforming spitfire who’s proud of not fitting in with mainstream country music. Nor does Shook hold back when writing about whiskey and hard living, screwing up and failed romance (with guys and girls) — whether in her songs or her combative social-media posts.

Needed to know then but well known now and all without ever changing her approach. Amid a slew of newly released tour dates, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers have four upcoming shows across North Carolina.

NORTH CAROLINA UPCOMING TOUR DATES

March 7 – Asheville at The Grey Eagle (Tix Available Here)

April 4 – Greensboro at The Blind Tiger (Tix Available Here)
April 26 – Charlotte at Tuck Fest, US National Whitewater Center (Free Admission)
April 27 – Carrboro at Cat’s Cradle (Tix Available Here)

Live Review: The Steel Woods in Greensboro, 03/01/2019

The Steel Woods made a return trip to NC in Greensboro on Friday.

A full house greeted The Steel Woods on a rainy Friday night in North Carolina as the band made a stop in Greensboro. Just after doors, the area in front of the stage was lined with patrons ready to ring in the weekend by supporting live music and Tennessee Jet was up first.

Closely associated with The Steel Woods and having shared the same bill before in the past, many of the fans on hand were just as familiar with the solo, one-man-band as they were the headliner. After a few acoustic songs, Jet unleashed his drumstick and kick drum for a rocking good time. An entertaining cover of Hank Williams’ ‘I Saw The Light’ peaked when Jet asked for the house lights to be turned up as the crowd sang along at full throat.

Next up was The Steel Woods who continued the furious pace set by Tennessee Jet without missing a beat. A brief break in the action wasn’t enough to cool the crowd who was ready and singing along with nearly every lyric from Wes Bayliss. Flanked by fellow guitarist Jason “Rowdy” Cope and bassist Johnny Stanton with vocals and a smooth beat provided by Jay Tooke, it’s hard to believe the group is just a few years removed from inception.

Less than two months after releasing their second album, “Old News” out January 18, there is no denying the momentum behind this quartet of entertainers. Mixing southern rock and blues, this band has cultivated a sound and following unique to their own true identity.

An enjoyable set highlighting some of the new with ‘All of These Years’ and fan favorites ‘Wild and Blue’, among others, it’s a safe bet to assume The Steel Woods achieved their goal to #GrowtheWoods with their most recent stop – gaining new fans along the way.

First Listen: ‘San Isidro’ by Whiskey Foxtrot

EXCLUSIVE: Listen to ‘San Isidro’ by Whiskey Foxtrot today.

Back in early January, Whiskey Foxtrot, an emerging North Carolina band, released their first ever single, ‘The Broken End’ following it up with ‘Turn Off the Headlights,’ two weeks later. Both songs provided a slight glimpse into the group’s sound and talented lineup that many have witnessed first-hand at shows across the southeast over the past couple years. Recently announcing a commitment to their debut studio album, Whiskey Foxtrot has a third single, ‘San Isidro’ available everywhere on March 2 (Saturday). Prior to its official release, RedDirtNC caught up with the group for an exclusive first listen available here.

Slightly different from each of the first two releases, this track carries more of a ballad feel, walking a line many prominent bands such as Blackberry Smoke and Whiskey Myers toe with their music. Capable of sets that both excite a crowd and involve some story-telling, listening room allure, the diversity Whiskey Foxtrot displays is quite impressive – especially for a band who is just now compiling their first ever album.

A melody with the focus on memories and what could have been, the tale draws you in even as Sam Foster and Seth Williams plead, “don’t let it pull me in.” Also prevalent is the handiwork of band mate Terry VunCannon on the lap steel, in addition to both Earthtones Recording and Alien Beans Studio who completed the engineering and mastering, respectively.

The momentum building behind this group is obvious. Recently returning from a brief tour of Florida with stops in Georgia, Whiskey Foxtrot also announced a crowdsourcing campaign through Indiegogo to assist with funding their debut record. According to Foster, “it’s 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.” Already halfway to their goal with over a month remaining, you too can have a role in the development process with a donation of any size. Some incredible incentives are also being offered for your consideration – view and donate here.

As each new song continues to be released it’s quickly becoming apparent that while Whiskey Foxtrot has taken their time to enter the studio, the backgrounds and previous solo albums released from Foster and Williams have provided a solid foundation for their future.

Upcoming Tour Dates:

3/1 – Winston-Salem, NC (Breaktime Billiards) – 9pm
3/2 – Winston-Salem, NC (Bull’s Tavern) – 10pm
3/8 – Youngsville, NC (Wine and Beer 101) – 6pm
3/9 – Greenville, NC (Buccaneer Music Hall) – 10:30pm
3/16 – Greensboro, NC (Preyer Brewing) – 8pm
3/22 – Greensboro, NC (Sawmill II) – 8pm
3/23 – Asheboro, NC (Lucky’s Burger N Tap) – 9pm
3/28 – Raleigh, NC (The Pour House) – 8pm
3/29 – Kernersville, NC (Breathe Cocktail Lounge) – 9pm
3/30 – Greensboro, NC (The Crown at Carolina Theatre) – 7pm

Find more at WhiskeyFoxTrotMusic.com

Live Review: Read Southall Band in Charlotte, 02/06/2019

Read Southall Band made their NC debut at The Gin Mill in Charlotte last Wednesday night.

Hailing from Stillwater, Oklahoma and fresh off the release of their first live album, Live at Tower Theatre, Read Southall Band took the stage at The Gin Mill in Charlotte before an engaging midweek crowd. On the rise and expanding their reach, many were on hand who were already familiar with the lyrics within Southall’s songs but witnessing a full live performance is an entirely different experience.

Originally scheduled to perform as part of the re-opening of Amos’ Southend, construction delays forced a change in location. Staying within the same building but moving into the restaurant portion, Southall and his band acclimated from performance venue to bar scene nicely.

Ahead of Kody West, the two bands joined forces for a two week span of their winter tour through the south and up the east coast. With stops in Tennessee, Georgia, both Carolinas, Washington DC and New York City, it’s safe to say both groups made many new fans along the way.

Heavy on drums and punishing guitar, the combination of Read Southall (lead vocals/guitar), John Tyler Perry (lead, rhythm guitar), Zac Copeland (rhythm, lead guitar) and Jeremee Knipp (bass) create a southern rock feel paired with penetrating lyrics while Reid Barber (drums) keeps everyone in line, in addition to creating some powerful openings.

Following a strong line of performers from the same region with a similar sound, Southall continues to forge his way into the scene with a proven track record and his own twist on story telling. The group featured fan favorites, ‘Why‘, ‘Clean Slate‘ and ‘Beautiful Eyes‘ in addition to ‘Animals‘ and ‘Gunshy‘ within their set list.

Entertaining bands continuing to build momentum, hopefully both Read Southall and Kody West make a return trip back east soon.

Koe Wetzel Makes Midweek Stop in Charlotte

East Texas native Koe Wetzel set to play Coyote Joe’s in Charlotte this Wednesday.

Originally scheduled for the newly renovated Amos’ Southend in Charlotte, construction delays have forced a change of venue for the upcoming Koe Wetzel concert. After moving last week’s Read Southall Band and Kody West bill into the restaurant portion of Amos’, a larger room was needed for this Wednesday (2/13) and what is expected to be one of the best shows in Charlotte this year.

Back in November, Wetzel was scheduled for his first North Carolina appearance ahead of Muscadine Bloodline at Coyote Joe’s but a personal matter kept him from making the trip. Wetzel and his band did make their debut during a Raleigh stop, one week later, and another warm welcome is anticipated when he hits the stage on Wednesday night.

Blending his own Texas style with a rocking back drop, Wetzel has been enjoying a rise in recognition and acceptance since the 2016 release of “Noise Complaint”. Though some consider him to be a polarizing figure, his steady rise to the top continues as he looks to expand his reach with multiple tour dates throughout the southeast, including North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana.

North Carolina’s own Tyler Hatley will kick things off on the 103.7 Super Stage in what is being billed as a ‘Singles Party,’ ahead of Valentine’s Day by the venue. Original purchased tickets will be honored and upgraded to VIP Pit Passes, which are also available at the door for $15 each. Ladies get in free and all other tickets are $6 for general admission.

Doors open at 7:00pm ET.