SOT Live Music

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.

Greensboro's Chuck Mountain brings blues rock on the road this spring.
Courtesy Chuck Mountain

Chuck Mountain has not been on the Greensboro music scene long – the band just came to fruition in July – but they have already been on tour and laid down a number of original tracks. The band’s guitarist Beau James says their trip to Nashville, which included camping on the North Carolina state line, expedited the team bonding and lit a creative spark for the band. 

A jazzy twist on a classic, Marcus Anderson blends music, coffee and entrepreneurship with his brand.
Courtesy of Marcus Anderson

Marcus Anderson is a fusion jazz artist whose performances include not only playing the saxophone, but also singing and choreography. But Anderson is more than an artist — he is also an entrepreneur. In 2015 he started a coffee line called AND Coffee. And he is in the process of organizing a jazz festival in Asheville for August, 2019 called “Jazz AND Coffee Escape.” 

Shambling their way through the Triangle and into your heart this December.
Courtesy of Ellis Dyson & The Shambles

Growing up, Ellis Dyson loved listening to music on the radio until many of the songs started to sound the same. They had similar beats and were often formulaic. This epiphany led him to old-time jazz and artists like Jelly Roll Morton, and eventually to playing his own music. He began on the fiddle, moved on to the banjo, and started his own band as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Photo of The Burlington Boys Choir
Courtesy of Bill Allred

The Burlington Boys Choir is celebrating its 60th anniversary next year. The choir features boys between the ages of 8 and 15 from Alamance County and is the oldest organization of its kind in North Carolina. The choir began rehearsals in the late 1950s under the direction of Eva Wiseman, a music education supervisor in the Burlington County Public School system. In the last six decades, the choir has visited the White House four times and performed on three different continents. 

The Ciompi Quartet of Duke University pictured with their instruments.
Courtesy Ciomi Quartet

The Ciompi Quartet is known for its technical brilliance and for keeping a long-standing tradition alive. The group was founded more than 50 years ago at Duke University, and is comprised of Duke professors. This year they welcomed a new member for the first time in 23 years: Caroline Stinson joins the group on cello after her long-running career with the Lark Quartet in New York.
 

Kym Register standing in front of The Pinhook's logo
Courtesy of Kym Register

The Pinhook in Durham has won local awards for being the best gay bar in the Triangle, but it is not actually a gay bar. The music venue and bar is an inclusive space that prides itself on belonging to the community — and not just the LGBTQ community.

While walking a mall in New Jersey, a teenaged Jim Henderson heard the sound of a group of saxophonists. He rushed to see who these musicians were and found one man playing three saxophones and a nose flute at the same time.

Natalie Rhea / Courtesy of Tish Hinojosa

Tish Hinojosa grew up with her feet in two worlds. Her parents are Mexican immigrants who raised her and 12 siblings in San Antonio, Texas. 

A photo of Laura Jane Vincent and her guitar
Courtesy of Laura Jane Vincent

When singer-songwriter Laura Jane Vincent set out to record her entry for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, she knew just the place to do it. Her relatives owned a historic farmhouse tucked away in rural Glendon, North Carolina that still contained the nearly-untouched office of a country doctor named Murdo Eugene Street who died in 1944.

These Women Are Giving Voice To A Prison Sentence

Oct 26, 2018
courtesy of Susannah Long

There is some scripture that inmates at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women can deeply relate to: stories about women who suffer at the hands of abusers and decide to fight back, and text that exalts God despite challenges and pain on earth. When musician and prison volunteer Susannah Long started a songwriting workshop in the facility, she used this scripture as the jumping-off point for inmates to express their lived experience by creating their own songs. 

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