SOT Live Music

Tim Walter / Zoocrü

Zoocrü is a Durham progressive jazz combo embedded in African diasporic music. They describe themselves more simply — Zoocrü is Black American music.

Courtesy of Jooselord

Inciting riots is his God-given gift, the Durham rapper admits. Jooselord does it regularly on stage and his upcoming release — “MoshPit Messiah” —  is a testament to that skill. So it was a surprise to some of Jooselord’s fans when he maintained peace at protests over the past week in Raleigh and Durham.

Ross and Ruiz-Lopez headshot.
Courtesy of Violet Bell

When North Carolina duo Violet Bell started recording their debut album, they planned to feature  a drummer, plus band members Lizzy Ross and Omar Ruiz-Lopez. But once the tape started rolling, Ross and Ruiz-Lopez realized the music warranted a bigger sound.

John Hooper/ Decoro Images

Brianna Tam’s cello nearly disappears when turned sideways. The sleek, black instrument is just an outline with strings.

A headshot of Blue Cactus
Courtesy of Blue Cactus

With a soulful blend of twang and spacey-rock tunes, the indie-country duo Blue Cactus is known for its country music sound. Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez released their EP “Finger on the Button” earlier this week with a titular track that they call their President’s Day anthem. 

Kendall Bailey Photography

Ashley Wright relocated from her home in Clarksville, Tennessee to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2016 to nourish her musical career. Since then, she has made a home for herself and her music in Boone. 

Courtesy of Mebanesville

The musical project Mebanesville started 20 years ago with just five friends playing in a new coffee shop.Two decades later, the project has seen band members come and go, but nobody ever really leaves for good.

Wyatt Kane

Keenan Jenkins excelled in school, leaving his hometown of Rocky Mount in high school to attend the highly-selective North Carolina School of Science and Math. But music pulled him away from his studies, and midway through completing his doctorate, he came to the conclusion that his creative pursuits needed his full attention.

Ellis stands in wooded area with cloud graphic floating behind him.
Mike Lento

Justin Ravary Ellis is no stranger around the Triangle music scene. The multi-instrumentalist has played bass in — and fronted — multiple bands and often has a number of collaborative projects on the go. But in 2015 he made the explicit decision to carve out more space and time for something a little more intimate.

Carl Tanner's headshot
Courtesy of Carl Tanner

Growing up, Carl Tanner did his best to hide his vocal talent. He played keyboard in a rock band in high school but was reluctant to let out his booming voice. Eventually, a friend overheard him singing and pushed him to join the school choir. His natural ability stunned the instructor, and he started singing hymns at church, too.

Courtesy of the Verona Quartet

Attending a night at the symphony may conjure up images of an elaborate theatre, expensive tickets and an audience dressed in their finest. Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle is working to change that perception with upcoming performances featuring the Verona Quartet, COT’s inaugural string quartet-in-residence.

Press shot for Bell.
Mallory Talty

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.

Photo of the Cat's Cradle from behind the stage at a show.
Courtesy of Steve Balcolm

At 17 years old, he was barred from entering the front door of the Cat’s Cradle, so John Howie Jr. instead got on the stage of the Chapel Hill club.

Middleton singing into a mic and playing an acoustic guitar.
Courtesy of Nancy Middleton

Durham called folk rocker Nancy Middleton back home after 11 years in Nashville.

The choir in costume for one of their performances.
Courtesy of The Burlington Boys Choir

The Burlington Boys Choir is upholding a six-decade-long choral tradition for the boys of Alamance County. Over the years, hundreds of boys have learned the joys of classical music through the choir, which is open to boys between the ages of 9 and 16 years old.

Grant Holub-Moorman / WUNC

Thomas Taylor Jr. is fostering an appreciation of jazz legends like John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk among the state’s underground hip-hop scene.

The professor of percussion at North Carolina Central University sees North Carolina’s long history in blues and jazz as a natural foundation for today’s emcees. In his classes, Taylor invites aspiring rappers to improvise with him in front of the class — him on the drums, them with their words. Two students from that course now freestyle with him regularly.

Promotional photo of the band. Four men, two in masks, standing around a tree trunk.
Courtesy of JULIA.

A four-piece group from Chapel Hill brings classic funk back to North Carolina’s music scene — with a modern twist. The band JULIA. draws a lot of its influence from 1970s funk, including Parliament-Funkadelic.

Rhodes will her guitar.
Courtesy of Lisa Rhodes

Lisa Rhodes was born in a small town outside a small city on the Gulf Coast of Texas and as a lesbian aspiring musician, she could not wait to get out of dodge. Rhodes would spend much of her younger years in Austin where she wanted to be a rock star.

Manifest music festival's poster: A person with a heart shaped face holds a baby and a piece of cake that's on fire.
Ria Aubry Taylor

No one ever asks Henbrain to turn up the bass. The band features two electric basses chugging alongside one another, which defines its low-frequency acid rock sound.

Michelle Sontheimer plays lead axe, running her sound through a guitar amplifier and effects processor, which produces a meaty buzz that she describes as a “2,000 pound angry bee.” Cutting through the low-frequency symphony are Erika Libero’s vocals. Her lyrics are a select cross-section of mythology, exploring topics from the Greek Elysian Fields to a Nekomata, an ancient Japanese demon cat. The band also includes Ryan Yancey on bass and drummer Derrek Spronk.

Gray playing his guitar in front of a mic.
Anita Rao / WUNC

Barry Gray’s debut release is the culmination of a family man’s slow-burning reflections.

Kelley leaning against a counter in a TV repair shop.
Courtesy of Irene Kelley

Irene Kelley has been a force on Nashville’s Music Row for decades. She spent 20 years writing or co-writing hit songs for country artists like Ricky Skaggs and Loretta Lynn. But at the same time she was quietly working on her career as a performer.

Photo of the five members of the band posed with their instruments outside.
Courtesy of Carolina Blue

Bluegrass band Carolina Blue formed out of necessity.

The three women of band Honey Magpie play their respective instruments.
Conor Makepeace / Courtesy of Honey Magpie

Singer-songwriter Rachael Hurwitz struggled to make it as a musician in New York City. She eventually decided to head south in search of a more encouraging culture.

Photo of House of Dues at the Triad Stage in downtown Greensboro
Dana Terry/WUNC

For almost a decade House of Dues has been part of the Triad music scene. But they got their start playing at a Mardi Gras party. Led by guitarist and vocalist David Bolton, the group counts BB King, The Nevilles and Herbie Hancock as the inspiration behind their blues, funk, and R&B blend. House of Dues plays at Fishers Grille in Greensboro on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.

Headshot of the bandmembers of Bleeder.
Courtesy of Bleeder

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.

The album cover featuers a hand gripping a chin and neck.
Courtesy of Loamlands

Durham-based, local legend Kym Register, who performs as Loamlands, returns this summer with their sophomore album “Lez Dance.”

Cecil sits on a stool playing his guitar and sings into a mic.
Courtesy of David Ray Cecil

Singer and guitarist Dave Ray Cecil began writing music when he was six years old. As a child, he strung notes together on the piano and secretly used his brother’s guitar to write songs.

Image of soul and hip hop artists Sonny Miles performing with a guitar.
Kai McNeil

Artist Sonny Miles is on a journey back to himself. After a year spent refining mixtape collaborations, he is dropping a new EP: “Gamma.” It is a return to his roots in acoustic soul and pays homage to the last three years he spent learning beat making and hip-hop performance.

Image of Harvey Dalton Arnold
Courtesy of Harvey Dalton Arnold

Harvey Dalton Arnold found fame on Southern stages, rocking out in bell-bottoms topped with big buckles. But before he opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd touring the country with The Outlaws, Arnold was helping his dad sell Ford tractors and raise chickens in Duplin County. He grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Rose Hill, a town of just over 1,500 that breaks out the world’s largest frying pan for its yearly Poultry Jubilee.

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.

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