SOT Live Music

The cover of Anne-Claire's new album, 'I Still Look For You.'
Kendall Atwater

When Anne-Claire Niver’s grandmother died in 2016, her small family was devastated. Niver was so grief-stricken that writing music about her grandmother was painful – too painful for her to imagine writing a song or recording an album about the loss. 

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

They call it psychedelic-hillbilly-rock, but the singer-songwriter duo Ladies Gun Club also embraces the term Americana.

Courtesy of Sidecar Social Club

The sound of Sidecar Social Club is rooted in the grit and authenticity of old jazz, but their performances are not stuck in the past. The band incorporates elements of rhythm and blues, Latin music and even rock. 

Courtesy of Eric Hirsh

Eric Hirsh’s parents met at a conservatory, so music was a staple in their home. Like many children, he began music lessons at a young age. But how many take jazz piano at the tender age of eight? Jazz would become his love. 

Lorenzo Manag / Huemanly

 

 When Tracy Cruz was young, singing was just another language. Her mother and grandmother made ballads out of busy work, oftentimes singing in their native Tagalog as they did household chores. Tracy was born on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, but moved to San Jose, California when she was five.

An image of Peter Lamb and the Wolves with Maceo Parker
Peter Lamb and the Wolves

For their latest album, "Carolina Tiger Milk," Triangle-based jazz group Peter Lamb and the Wolves invited some of North Carolina's most prominent musicians.

The band's guest  lineup includes vocalist Django Haskins of The Old Ceremony, saxophonist Maceo Parker and members of the Mint Julep Jazz Band.  

D. Shawn and Soul
Courtesy of D. Shawn & Soul

Duo D. Shawn and Soul say their debut album takes on a different tone than the “turn up” or party songs that loom large in the rhythm and blues scene. According to the artists, a significant amount of R&B music does not show the true depth of who a woman really is, and their release “Ya Girl’s Playlist” is an effort to counter that one-dimensional narrative.

a picture of someone signing a picture of the band
courtesy of Gracie Curran

Gracie Curran grew up in the church. Her mom was the church choir director and most of the music in their house was gospel. While her friends enjoyed pop sensations like Britney Spears, Curran says she never really connected to popular music until she heard Etta James. James’s voice and lyrics spoke to her.

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

Valerie June is known for her eclectic voice, energetic on-stage performance and soulful lyrics. She was born in Tennessee, raised in the church and got her start in the music biz by helping out her dad who promoted artists like Prince and Bobby Womack.

Dan Brainerd

 Last year, the Craven Arts Council and Gallery asked Jon Shain to do a tribute show featuring the music of W.C. Handy. He decided to take on the musical challenge of turning music for cornet and big band into music that a solo guitar and singer could perform. He transcribed hours of old piano music and listened to hours of full band recordings of Handy’s music. He re-arranged the music to work for solo guitar and voice.

Organist Doug Largent (left) makes his return to WUNC today on the State of Things, accompanied by Grant Osborne on harmonica (center), and Nick Baglio on drums (right).
Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

  Doug Largent spent a decade in jazz clubs playing the bass. In 2009, he followed a new dream and taught himself the organ. The Doug Largent Trio was born.

Courtesy of Shervin Lainez

Bette Smith sang in her church choir and for a while church music was all she knew. She wasn't allowed to listen to secular music. Smith was raised Seventh-day Adventist, and her father encouraged solely religious music at home and in church where he directed the choir. But the family lived in a diverse neighborhood in Brooklyn, where the sounds of the South were too hard to avoid.

Courtesy of Emily Stewart and Matty Sheets

Magpie Thief is a stripped down folk-duo featuring Greensboro-based singer-songwriters Emily Stewart and Matty Sheets. For Stewart and Sheets, the heat of summer inspires some of their most creative work. They escape the sun and cozy up indoors in cool living rooms. As this summer approaches, Stewart and Sheets are hoping to veer away from their raw and eclectic folk sound and experiment with other genres, including the blues.

Phil Cook's album cover for "People Are My Drug."
Courtesy of Phil Cook

 Phil Cook moved to North Carolina from Wisconsin over a decade ago. Even though he is from the Midwest, Cook says he has always been a student of Southern music. He had romantic ideas about the South from a young age, even with no experience of the region.

Isabel Taylor with guitar
Courtesy of Isabel Taylor

Isabel Taylor wanted to perform on stage for a long time. So long, in fact, that it became one of those dreams that lingered until it felt more and more distant. So she finally set a deadline: by 40 she would take the stage at an open mic.

festival poster picturing a stylized image of a man playing the harmonica
Piedmont Blues Preservation Society

For 32 years, the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society has been hosting its Carolina Blues Festival, which it calls the longest running blues festival in the Southeast. Joining host Frank Stasio for a preview of this year’s events is Atiba Berkley the president of the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society. He’ll talk about the preservation society’s commitment to bringing blues to the next generation.

Bandcamp.com

Christy Hopkins trained in classical music, but her heart led her to the soulful sound of Americana blues.

Eric Kelley

Daniel and Lauren Goans have had a busy five years. They got married, formed the band “Lowland Hum,” and recorded three full-length albums and an EP.

A picture of the Gravy Boys
Christer Berg

Triangle-based Americana band, The Gravy Boys, recently emerged from the recording studio with a fresh batch of songs with influences ranging from pop to bluegrass. Their new tracks are rich and layered, and channel their foot-stomping stage performances.
 

photo of Rissi Palmer
Rissi Palmer

Note: This is a Rebroadcast. This program originally aired July 15, 2016.

Singer-songwriter Rissi Palmer exploded onto the country music scene in 2007 with a self-titled album. She sang alongside Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, and her single "Country Girl" was the first song by an African-American woman artist to make the country Billboard charts in almost two decades.

Triangle-based musician Jasmé Kelly grew up singing in church choirs and eventually decided to pursue music as an independent musician. Kelly combines her upbringing in gospel with popular blues and soul aesthetics in her new album called "Lady Jasmé."

Image of Luray Performing Live
Courtesy of Luray

Shannon Carey grew up playing guitar in a musical family. She wrote her own songs in high school, but then started a career as a social worker and put her passion for music to the side. Years later she witnessed both of her younger brothers pursuing their musical dreams, one alongside the now-famous Bon Iver, and decided to pursue her own musical career.

Image of Dan River Girls
Dan River Girls

Each of the Winston-Salem sisters Fiona, Ellie and Jessie Burdette started taking music lessons at five years old. When the youngest sister, Jessie, turned 7, the three decided that it was time to combine their musical talents and form a band--the Dan River Girls. Their music ranges from traditional bluegrass to pop-rock. They released their first album last year and continue to play at venues and festivals around the state.

Jim McKelvey

The Piedmont Melody Makers has been jamming together formally and informally for years. The band is a who’s who of North Carolina old time and bluegrass musicians, and in the past year they decided to formalize their musical union and record an official album. “Wonderful World Outside” is a 16-track record with a blend of original tunes and covers.

 

Claire Lynch Band

Bluegrass music traditionally draws inspiration from the back porches, front porches, swamps, mountains and hollers of the South. But for her new album, celebrated bluegrass artist Claire Lynch looked north. The album is called “North By South,” and it is a celebration of the often underappreciated catalog of bluegrass songs written by Canadians. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Claire Lynch about her Canadian muses and listens to some live music from the band.

Courtesy of Laughing Penguin Publicity

Kenny and Amanda Smith have been professional musicians as a duo for 15 years but have been playing music together as husband and wife for decades. The pair's new album is called "Unbound." Amanda Smith was a nominee for Female Vocalist of the Year, and Kenny Smith was nominated for Instrumental Performer of the Year on the guitar in the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Awards.
 

Image of The Allen Boys
DaShawn Hickman

The pedal steel guitar sits on a stand with foot pedals used to adjust the tension of the strings. The instrument is part of the Sacred Steel musical tradition, which was invented in 1930s-era Pentecostal churches. North Carolina’s only touring Sacred Steel band is The Allen Boys.

Ellis Dyson and the Shambles

  Note: This segment originally aired on Friday, February 19, 2016.

For Ellis Dyson, there is something alluring about the music from the 1920s. He sees it as dirty, raw and mysterious.

With the help of fellow musicians at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dyson has blended the sounds of Dixieland jazz with themes of standard folk ballads to create a "whiskey folk" ensemble.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Dyson about the band's origins and influences as a young group channeling another era.

Image of Second Line Stompers
Gregg Gelb

Note: this program is a rebroadcast. 

Durham trumpeter Al Strong has released his debut solo album, 'LoveStrong Vol. 1.'
Chris Charles / Creative Silence

This is a rebroadcast.

Al Strong started playing music when he was seven years old after his dad got him a drum set for Christmas.

He bounced from the drums to piano, and eventually landed on the trumpet. Throughout high school and college, he studied jazz. Now, he teaches the next generation of trumpeters at N.C. Central University in Durham.

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