SOT Music

Press photo of Shay Martin Lovette
Courtesy of Shay Martin Lovette

Shay Martin Lovette grew up paddling and playing soccer in Wilkesboro with his brother Chad. Every spring, Lovette watched musicians and their followers flood his little mountain town for Merlefest, the popular roots music festival. More and more came each year as the festival grew. Lovette took notes from legends like Doc Watson and young arrivals like the Avett Brothers. He also listened to his father strum, and decided to pick up a guitar himself.

Press photo of Carrboro-based band Dissimilar South.
Hayes Potter

The Carrboro-based band Dissimilar South is focused on transitions right now. Their recent debut EP, “Treehouse,” tracks the bittersweet flavors of change as a relationship ends. It contrasts the desire for nostalgia with dreams of the future. All of the band members have recently graduated from college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where they met and began the band.

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.

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.

Abigail Dowd
Todd Turner/Courtesy of Abigail Dowd

Singer-songwriter Abigail Dowd’s latest album reflects her years-long process of coming home. In 2009 the folk artist moved to Florence, Italy and then to Maine in search of herself. She swore she would never come back.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Rozalind MacPhail playing flute in front of a movie being shown.
Courtesy of Tom Cochrane

Canadian multi-instrumentalist Rozalind MacPhail fell in love with Wilmington when she was stationed there for an artist residency as part of the Cucalorus Festival. She was inspired to create an audiovisual project featuring short films about why people feel connected to the city.

Bandcamp.com

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

An image of organist Cameron Carpenter
Bucklesweet Media

Cameron Carpenter has had a unique perspective on the organ from a very young age. While many of us first discovered organ music in concert halls or church services, Carpenter discovered the organ through a picture in his Childcraft Encyclopedia set when he was four years old.

An image of the Raleigh pop duo Season & Snare
Thomas at Photography Pop

For Autumn Brand and Casey Allen, every song starts with a story. As soon as the couple began dating, they also began crafting songs based on their personal experiences and upbringing. They are featured as the pop-rock duo Season & Snare in the new arts project from the City of Raleigh called "Oak City Sessions."

An image of Jack the Radio
Story Photographers

Jack the Radio’s new album Badlands stretches outside the Raleigh band’s Americana comfort zone. The album's musical recipe is one half blues-rock and the other half experimental synthesizers.

Host Frank Stasio talks with the band about it’s new “cosmic country” album and marketing music in the modern age. Jack the Radio is: George Hage on acoustic guitar and vocals, A.C. Hill on acoustic guitar and vocals, Chris Sayles on hand percussion and vocals, and Danny Johnson on dobro and vocals.

Jon Stickley Trio
Jon Stickley Trio

Durham native Jon Stickley has jumped around from Indy rock bands to renowned bluegrass groups like Big Fat Gap and Town Mountain.

But he's found another musical home in Asheville with his newest creation, the Jon Stickley Trio. 

Jon has combined his experience with rock, bluegrass and Americana with two other talented musicians who have classical and hip-hop backgrounds.

Durham artist Jon Shain is playing The State of Things.
www.jonshain.com/

  

Durham guitarist Jon Shain recorded an album of covers in 2014 entitled Reupholstered

Chris Staples' newest album American Soft was released earlier this year on Barsuk Records (cover art).
http://www.chrisstaplesmusic.com/

  

Singer-songwriter Chris Staples has spent much of his career as a backup musician for other artists.