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Arts & Culture

‘Bleeder’ Pours Story And Soul Into Music

Headshot of the bandmembers of Bleeder.
Courtesy of Bleeder
Bleeder is back in North Carolina for Hopscotch Music Festival.

Shelby Smoak was born a bleeder. As a child with hemophilia, he spent a lot of time on crutches, using a cane or limping, but he has long refused to let fear control his life.

He studied creative writing in college, and his book “Bleeder: A Memoir” (Michigan State University Press/2013) won a PEN American Center award. The story is set in North Carolina in the ‘90s and opens with his discovery that tainted blood has given him HIV.  Fans of the book were hoping for a sequel to “Bleeder,” and Smoak delivers, but not in the way readers expected. A long time guitarist, Smoak found a new use for his creative writing. In 2017, he released his debut album by the same name: “Bleeder.

Smoak returns to his old stomping ground for a performance in Raleigh at Hopscotch Music Festival and is performing in Chapel Hill at The Cave on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. He joins host Frank Stasio in studio for conversation and performance alongside his bandmates Jan Paul Jakubowski on bass and Abner Jara on cajon.

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