SOT Live Music

Courtesy of Heather Evans Smith / Merge Records

Heather McEntire is best known as the lead singer and songwriter for the group Mount Moriah. After 10 years with the band, with three albums under their belt, the group took a hiatus, and McEntire tried her hand at a solo album.

Jennah Bell grw up in a musical family with broad tastes.
Courtesy of Jennah Bell

Jennah Bell’s love of music started with Disney movies and musicals. By age six she had matured past the soundtrack to “Annie” and discovered the magic of Stevie Wonder and the Beatles and began to understand the wide range of stories that music can tell.

Courtesy of Rebecca Newton

Rebecca Newton is a well-known name on the North Carolina music scene. The longtime musician and artist promoter has spent decades performing in groups and working to promote her bands and other people's music.

Le'Andra McPhatten is a musician and the director of Le'Andra's Music Studio in Durham.
Denise Allen / Courtesy of the North Carolina Arts Council

North Carolina’s strong cultural traditions in music, crafts, dance and food have been evolving for generations. Millennials are now taking the helm and putting their own spin on various folk and traditional art forms.

Barefoot Modern recently won the Best Alternative Indie Award at the Richmond International Film Festival.
Barefoot Modern

Barefoot Modern recently walked away with the Best Alternative Indie Award for their musical submission at the Richmond International Film Festival. They beat out more than 2,000 bands to earn that spot and have since set their sights on garnering even more national attention with their roster of original tracks.

An image of Jake Xerxes Fussell
Brad Bunyea

 

Jake Xerxes Fussell's family history plays a significant role in his musical output. The son of a folklorist, curator and photographer spent his childhood listening to old bluesmen and Native American artists his father was recording.

the bandmates posing with their instruments outside
Courtesy of Sabra Music

The Asheville-based swing group Queen Bee and The Honeylovers made their entire debut album a tribute to their beloved hometown. “Asheville” came out in late April and features tunes about the historical characters and legends of the city in the style of a 1920s swing record.

Courtesy of Juan Alamo

For Juan Álamo, rhythm just comes naturally. He has a passion for percussion that surfaced when he was a little boy growing up in Puerto Rico. Juan parlayed that passion into serious classical study of the marimba, an instrument similar to a xylophone but bigger and with a deeper tone. In his recently-released album “Ruta Panoramica,” Álamo marries the Latin rhythms of his hometown with his classical training and a love of jazz to create a unique fusion sound not typically heard from a marimba. 

photo of Zach Meeker and Jim Waddelow in front of an orchestra
Raleigh Little Theatre

When “West Side Story” debuted on Broadway in 1957, it was an instant hit. The new take on “Romeo and Juliet” set in 1950s New York City earned seven Tony nominations in its first year.

By 1961, the musical was turned into a movie that was equally successful and took home 10 Academy Awards.

Jennifer Brookland

Sam Frazier is a Greensboro-based singer, songwriter and musician with two solo CDs under his belt in addition to collaborations with some of the area’s top talent. The lyrics in his original songs move between silly and soulful, as his poetic storytelling speaks to our all-too-human nature. 

a black-and-white picture of Jon Shain with his guitar and FJ Ventre with his bass
Stephen Houseworth

Durham-based guitar player Jon Shain and bassist FJ Ventre have known each other since high school. They have played music together on and off for more than three decades, and Ventre has played on or produced all of Shain’s CDs.

Image of singer Caitlin Linney
Caitlin Linney

Los Angeles-based artist Caitlin Linney grew up in an environment that could not be more different from Hollywood. Linney was raised on 10 acres of farmland in Efland and attended Carolina Friends School, where her imagination was nourished and her creativity encouraged. That environment fostered confidence and a passion to try things that today make her blush — like singing original songs in front of her whole school when she was just in sixth grade.

An image of Doc & Merle Watson
Jim McGuire

We've teamed up with Come Hear NC on a podcast series that explores North Carolina music one song at a time. This week, Chatham County Line's Dave Wilson tells us why he loves 'Southbound' by Doc & Merle Watson.

Andy Eversole does not like to go places without his banjo. But that does not mean he sticks close to home. His most recent recording project took him to India to capture the sounds of the subcontinent and incorporate them into his Southern-rooted banjo music. He journeyed to New Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan and the Kashmir region and collaborated with musicians he met there. He discovered that Indian musicians have a penchant for playing live and that their cows and car horns do not stop for the occasion. Eversole documented the trip in a YouTube documentary

Austin McCombie and Sarah Osborne McCombie storytelling with strings and songs about North Carolina.
Courtesy of Kendall Atwater

Chatham County was once best known for its rabbits. The wild animals were so plentiful in the region at the turn of the 20th century that thousands were shipped out as cash crops each year. This piece of forgotten North Carolina history is just one story of many that inspires the new folk duo Sarah McCombie and Austin McCombie. 

Graham Nash is best known as a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer, songwriter and musician. A co-founder of the British pop group The Hollies, Nash went on to form a little group called Crosby, Stills & Nash. Both groups would get him inducted into the Hall of Fame, but his work with Crosby, Stills, Nash and later, Young, became the voice of a generation. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1969 with huge success in the U.S. and their legacy would include songs that remain part of American culture.

Courtesy Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble

The Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble may be a group of teenagers but they pack a serious musical punch. For the fourth year in a row, the ensemble made the cut to compete on stage at New York’s Lincoln Center as part of the Essentially Ellington Competition. More than 100 bands tried out for the competition with only the top 15 earning a spot.

A photo of Ernest Turner
Courtesy of Ernest Turner

Pianist Ernest Turner’s latest album is an ode to black American music. “My Americana” came out earlier this month, and it features jazz compositions by Stevie Wonder, Fats Waller, Kenny Kirkland and other African-American artists. Instead of playing classic jazz standards, Turner chose to highlight black composers. 

Photo courtesy of David Wimbish.

Singer-songwriter David Wimbish had a tumultuous couple of years. He weathered a lengthy divorce process with his ex-wife and former bandmate, saw multiple friends pick up and move to the west coast and struggled through the near-dissolution of his large and boisterous band, The Collection. But Wimbish decidedly chooses gratitude over grumpiness. He used his enduring spirituality and awe for the natural world to start writing songs that would become The Collection’s latest record, “Entropy,” released in Oct. 2018. 

photo of Ben Phan holding a guitar
Ben Phan

Ben Phan remembers living in a van with his ex-girlfriend, bumming around the country and searching for a place to clean up his act and reinvent himself.

Courtesy of Simon Pauly

As a youngster growing up in Carthage, North Carolina, Lucas Meachem had his sights set on a career in landscaping. As a teen, he had his own lawn mower, weed wacker and a green thumb. Plus, his family’s 10 acre property gave him plenty of opportunities to hone his skills. Then he discovered karaoke. Specifically, what Meachem found was the immediate gratification of an audience. 

Faith Jones in a field of flowers.
Courtesy of Faith Jones

Music is in Faith Jones’ blood. Her father plays piano; her mother sings, and the two met in a band in the 1980s. Growing up, Jones and her family listened to a wide range of music around the house, from jazz to classic rock. 

Courtesy Tom Merrigan's Hot Raccoons

Raccoons. For many, they are scheming trash denizens and a neighborhood scourge. But musician Tom Merrigan has a deep and mildly obsessive relationship with the creatures and shares their propensity for night roams and mischief. His band name, Tom Merrigan’s Hot Raccoons, is a tribute to that bond. 

Photo of the band Chicken Shack
Courtesy of Chicken Shack

Andrew Dillon  grew up in Jackson, Mississippi where blues was not just a style of music, it was part of the culture and lifestyle. His father raised him in a house where music, instruments and performance were part of their everyday lives. It is no wonder Dillon brought that tradition with him to North Carolina. 

Michelle Belanger playing guitar on stage.
Courtesy of Michelle Belanger

Mystery Hillbillies are a band of misfits. The band is frontwoman Michelle Belanger and a rotating cast of “sidemen.” The group plays a wide range of music, including country, western swing and blues from the early 1940s to today.

Photo of artists Bless Nova (right) and René Roman
Laura Pellicer / WUNC

By age 6, Brenda Nolasco had already laid down her first professional recording — a youthful iteration of Whitney’s Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.” Nolasco was surrounded by music as a child: her uncle was a professional trumpet player, and her brother, sister and aunts were all gifted singers. But Nolasco got a late start on telling her own story through music. 

Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz of Mandolin Orange.
Courtesy of Kendall Bailey

Mandolin Orange is known for its intimate harmonies and delicately layered instrumentals. The duo, made up of husband and wife Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, has won accolades with that distinct sound. Their 2016 album “Blindfaller” debuted at number three on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart and was named one of Rolling Stones top 40 country albums of that year.

The Onyx Club Boys approach Django Reinhardt's music with a joie de vivre that would make the jazz legend proud.
Courtesy of Gabriel Pelli

Guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt is regarded as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. The Romani-French composer gave birth to a new form of music in the 1930s known as gypsy jazz or Django music. The genre calls on classical and jazz traditions and is deeply influenced by the musette bands of Paris. 

Art created for the band Arrow Beach.
Courtesy of Arrow Beach

Singer John Ensslin vividly remembers his first concert: Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones in 1981. His next two live experiences were of David Byrne of Talking Heads and Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs. After watching the likes of Jagger, Ensslin knew he wanted to be a front man. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in art, but even back in school music was his primary passion, and he spent much of his time playing music with friends. 

Peter Holsapple met his future band mate Will Rigby when he was just eight years old. They were in the drum section of their elementary school band, and little did they know they were beginning a musical journey of a lifetime. The two formed “Little Diesel,” the first punk band in North Carolina, along with childhood friend Chris Stamey.

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