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)!


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.


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


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


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!


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!


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.


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.


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