MOOGFEST: Freebies & Local Fun 2019

Last year, when Durham Beat was little more than a month old, we got press access to Moogfest. I was elated. All full of fire about it. We spent the four days of the festival covering all of the locals. Long hours and hoards of fun. We are proud of the work we created from that experience. I am excited to be doing Moogfest again this year. It’s almost ceremonious. We did just celebrate our first birthday last weekend! I think I’m still a little bubbly about it. And now here we are… our second Moogfest.

We have prepared a little sampling for you, a taster tray of free and local stuff. I asked my fellow staffers to send their picks and this is exactly what they said:

Riley Says:

Mamis and the Papis at Quarter Horse 

The Mamis and the Papis are a local latin/cuban/pan-american DJ collective and I’ve followed their Instagram for like a year and never seen them live. 

Party Illegal 

Party Illegal is a fun queer dance party series! They’re into weird shit and are really invested in building up a grungy local EDM scene. 

Ari Says:

I second on the Mamis and the Papis. Fun, energetic DJs. Will certainly play some Wu-Tang if you have that look on your face.

Stephen Says:

FREE Raund Haus: get local & support the Bull City!

Free tip.  Go into any local restaurant and bike shop (Bulls Eye). Bulls Eye sells beer, so you can stand in the shop and hang with musicians. Ask who plays in a band. Get the names of these bands go home and listen to them. This is free and will help you explore the Bull City soundscape. Enjoy local food and meet artists before they get too big to meet in person.

If you have never been on a cruiser ride call Bulls Eye bikes. Thursday, free bike ride around town. Meet locals get tips.

Challenge…take pictures with you and a local artist and send them to the Durham Beat.  

Zoe Says:

1. Suzi Analogue
7:15 PM – 8:15 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019
ATC Cage | Free Programming

I missed Suzi Analogue last time and got major FOMO, so hopefully I can make up for it this year.

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019
ATC Cage | Free Programming

I’m all in for this one. I’m a fan of the Roots, but I’ve never seen Questlove solo before.

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM | Thursday, April 25, 2019
Quarterhorse | Free Programming

dance! Dance! DANCE!

Adair says:


Why WOULDN’T you want to see Questlove? Especially for free! He’s a creative genius, and you get a chance to see him for free? Yes, please.

Modular Marketplace

Ok, this may seem like a boring pick, because of course people are going to stop by there. But last year, there was some amazing vinyl booths. My husband and I scored an original pressing of Pinkerton by Weezer and an original pressing of Pleased to Meet Me by the Replacements. My vinyl collection is super excited to see what’s in store this year. My wallet? Not so much.

I mentioned that I recently started dabbling in songwriting. A few years ago, I picked up a guitar for the first time (well, first time with the intention of playing it) and have been hooked ever since. Now, one of my favorite pastimes is looking at guitars. I just can’t help it.

Matia (me) says:


7:00 PM – 8:00 PM | Thursday, April 25, 2019
Quarterhorse | Free Programming

Inclusive fun. Don’t miss this.


8:00 PM – 9:00 PM | Thursday, April 25, 2019
Quarterhorse | Free Programming

I had a super fun time the last time I went to a Party Illegal show. I’m excited for
this set.


11:30 AM – 3:30PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019
ATC Cage | Free Programming

This sounds


4:00 PM – 5:30 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019
ATC Cage | Free Programming



4:00 PM – 8:00 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019
Quarterhorse | Free Programming

Erogenous isn’t a word you see a lot, but the sentiment is clear. Arouse your senses with some local fun.

Tickets for the festival are still available so you can catch some of this year’s esteemed lineup. Check out the full schedule here and be sure to check out the single day passes.

MOOGFEST Instagram Contest!


MOOGFEST Instagram Contest By Durham Beat!

Durham Beat will be giving away 2 GA passes to Moogfest! Two winners will be chosen and each receives one pass.

Submit one photograph, one illustration, or one of any kind of original image which represents your perspective on Durham’s cultural identity. Who/What is Durham to you? To enter, complete the following steps:

  1. Post your submission on Instagram.
  2. Tag @durhambeat on your image and in the caption.
  3. Use #durhambeatatmoog in the caption.
  4. Sign up for the Owlephant events newsletter through the link HERE or in our Instagram bio or on our website. All entries must be your own original work.

*All 4 steps must be completed in order for your entry to be complete. Only complete entries will be considered.
*Following us on social media is not required to enter this contest, but it would be awesome if you did.

Deadline: Saturday, April 13th at 5PM. All submissions will be agonized over by the Durham Beat staff and two winners will be chosen by consensus and announced on Sunday, April 21st.

Residency Post-Show: Charles Latham at Arcana

“ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG!” The enthusiastic bellows of a gleeful audience bounced off the walls of Arcana as Charles Latham brought his February residency to a close. Your Editor was among those cheering and howling that night. An audience can be very persuasive when they want something badly enough. The energy in the room was high and Charles and his Borrowed Band acquiesced to the cheers of the exuberant crowd. It had been a splendid and totally inspired night of music (with a little comedy thrown in), the last of four Sunday night shows curated by Charles Latham.

A few weeks ago, I received a note from Charles inviting Durham Beat to his month-long residency at Arcana. I am always delighted to receive invitations from artists to attend their shows and I always try to make sure we can get there. I accepted Charles’s invitation and decided to cover the thing myself. I have long been interested in the residency format. As Charles said to me at his Sunday night show, “It’s a great way to discover new music.” I couldn’t agree more.

Charles took on the roles of curator, host, and featured artist throughout his residency, each week crafting a unique sound and vibe. In week one he chose two music acts to play alongside him, duo Lisa Rhodes and Leslie Land, and Jonathan Byrd** & The Pickup Cowboys. Week two took a turn away from the usual, featuring a comedian (Brett Williams) and a magician (Mike Casey). Week three returned to the all music format featuring Simone Finally and John Howie Jr. on the lineup. The final week of his residency was mix of his previous multi-medium curations.

With Arcana’s already cozy vibe and Latham’s inviting stage presence, intimacy came easy at this show. An attentive audience, a well-tended bar, and a lineup of engaged performers, the final night of this month-long venture was a triumph of the residency concept. When I arrived at Arcana, Charles was already on the stage to begin the night’s events with a solo set. I sat at the bar with a glass of champagne and settled into the folky sounds and witty banter emanating from the stage. Following Charles’s solo set, comedian Ali Nikolic took the stage for the first of two sets of stand-up comedy.

Comedy is very good at bringing to light (while making light of) hard truths, presenting them in a comedic setting so people can more easily confront them. So during Ali’s set, when she started talking about how dating has devolved into evermore vague and confusing scenarios with increasingly ambiguous language–“from dating to hanging out to talking”–I found myself (and many others) chuckling in agreement while my heart simultaneously sank to the floor. Given the prolonged laughter in the room, her insightful and well-timed dating jabs struck home with many in the audience. Surely you, dear reader, have also dealt with the woes of ambiguity while “talking” to someone.

Following a brief tobacco-stained interlude, I watched as Charles Latham and the Borrowed Band assembled themselves on stage. Onto a second glass of champagne and a second set from Charles featuring his full band, this was the moment when I ceased to be distracted by my own thoughts and allowed myself to become totally absorbed in the music. From monster electric guitar solos by Borrowed Band guitarist Luis Rodriguez to the musings of Gordon Hartin’s pedal steel to the lyrical undressing of human emotion coming through the microphone, I was completely engrossed, leaving behind my bubbly drink and seat at the bar for as close to the stage as I could get without joining the band.

By the time Hardworker took the stage, I had ascended into a plane of joy in a way that can only be delivered by music. I had hoped to come away from the night with a smile on my face and a lead on some new music to write about–I was not expecting to fall in love. But I did. Charles had warned us earlier in the night that the first time he saw Hardworker play, he had been completely blown away. My experience was quite similar. I said as much to the band at the end of the set. A five-piece female-fronted folk band, Hardworker’s live set was intimate, incredibly sharp, and good-humored. A cohesive sound indicative of a band who has been playing together awhile and shares an intimacy between them, the delight was abound in me. I tip my hat to Charles for putting together such an inspired night. I only wish I had been able to attend the previous nights of the residency. Alas, a girl cannot be everywhere at the same time, no matter how hard she tries.

There is nothing I can really say that will adequately capture the copious emotions running through me at this show. But I can tell you that when I got home later that night, I stayed up for hours writing poetry, trying to bask as long as possible in that joyful state I had achieved thanks to the curatorial brilliance of Mr. Latham. Here at the end of this little rag of a writeup, I feel decidedly lucky that the nature of my work enables me to spend time with artists whose creations so inspire me.


**Byrd has been playing a weekly (almost) Wednesday night residency–called the Shake Sugaree Residency (named in honor of local folk music legend Elizabeth Cotton)–at The Kraken since January 2018. I’ve been to these shows more than a few times and I highly recommend trekking out to that quaint roadhouse to see him!

The Post-Show: Party Illegal w/Treee City, DJ Jules, Oliver Long, Sinistarr, 2/16/19

When I arrived at Pinhook for the Party Illegal show this past Saturday, I found a parking spot directly in front of the venue. Never once has this happened to me, so I knew this was going to be a special night. The karma was a-glowin’, y’all. Upon entering the venue at precisely 10PM, I was surprised to see a scant space nearly devoid of humans. I found Durham Beat photographer, DJ, adjusting the settings on his camera to the green laser lights and smoke machine. From the ceiling hung strings of green leaves decorated with tiny green glow sticks. The verdant aura painted a spritely scene of Spring, even though it was a brisk 38 degrees outside. Puckishly, I strolled over to the bar where I saw Patrick (Treee City) wandering about, ordering a mezcal before the start of his set. Hugs followed. And moments later he took the stage, easing into his set with some deep droney noise.

Treee City

While Patrick’s set moved from drone to ambient, with a touch of house, I clutched my Guinness tallboy, crossed the empty dance floor, and nestled into a wallflower pose, watching the humans slowly trickle into the show and start dancing. It didn’t take long for the room to fill up and for me to mosey over to the bar for another beer. For an hour, the sounds of Treee City bombarded the venue space with massive waves of bass. As the night went on, the bass would only get heavier, the sound waves more aggressive, the rumble of the floor making me my heart seemingly beat to the rhythm of the music.

With no interlude between sets, DJ Jules took over from Patrick for the second set, one of the loudest of the night. Between flipping through various vinyl and singing and talking to the audience with the lone microphone, DJ Jules’s set was absolute fire. Heavily rooted in percussion and bass, this set made the doors in the bathroom shake, the bucket ashtrays out back vibrate on the picnic tables. By the midpoint of her set, the show had become a dance party, so much so, that a young woman climbed up onto the stage into the artist’s performance space to dance, seemingly in a drug-induced rapture, until someone escorted her off when it became apparent that she was distracting the artist. Not long after she would make a second attempt to dance on the stage, but would be quickly removed. At the start of Oliver Long’s set, Photographer DJ and I saw her and her companion with coats on, drinking water by the front door, perhaps waiting for an Uber or Lyft, but we’ll never really know.

DJ Jules
Oliver Long

As Oliver Long began his set, the third of the evening, Patrick found me in the crowd swaying with the dangling greenly-lit leaves and invited me downstairs into the green room for some heady discourse. Trandle, who had come to the show, joined us as we conversed in the cozy artist hangout while Pulp Fiction played on the Roku-powered TV. Moments later the door to the green room opened and Sinistarr, the night’s headliner, came in and joined our little circle. After a round of introductions, we fell into conversation, touching upon a number of topics, from cold, snowy places to trolley bars to the new Detroit. The common thread in the ensuing conversation was the development and changescape of cities. Sinistarr spoke a great deal about the new development of Detroit and how even in just a few years since the city began its turnaround from industrial wasteland, it has become a new city filled with new people with new value systems and new money. “It’s called #NewDetroit,” he said. The obvious parallels to the development of Durham and the Triangle as a whole were easily apparent to all of us.

As the clock neared 1AM, Sinistarr started prepping for his set, while Patrick, Randy, and I headed back into the showroom for the much-anticipated headliner. Author of several groundbreaking releases and a veteran of Detroit’s music scene, Sinistarr’s set was a poignant display of the many nuances inside ever-evolving world of electronic music. Watching him interact with his instruments on stage, his precision and simultaneous comfortability were reminiscent of the necessary skill and exactitude required in movement of fingers and hands upon piano keys. I felt distinctly like I was in the presence of a master.

Head over to our Instagram to see the two photo series from the show by Durham Beat Photographer DJ.

Local Eats: Ajisai

I like raw food. When I was young growing up in Massachusetts, my parents took me to an oyster bar somewhere in Boston. I was probably about 7 years old. The time had come for my first New England culinary rite of passage: eating a raw oyster. I still remember looking at the slimey, gooey thing in the half-shell that had been put in front of me, trying to decide if I was going to be “brave” and eat it. I remember the fellas behind the oyster bar taking bets on whether I would do it. Only one of the guys thought I would. And I did. He won the bet and I discovered a whole new world of culinary delight. It was a pretty good day for both of us, I think. Later that year, my parents would unveil the world of sushi to me and for the following decade, my family and I would go for a big sushi dinner every year on my birthday, right up until I left for college anyway. It’s been more than a decade since then now, and a big sushi dinner on my birthday is still kind of a thing.

Following a bold 12-hour adventure to attend an album release show in Boston the night before my birthday this year, I returned to my Durham home at 9AM on the day of my birthday and slept for several hours. My daytime power nap left me feeling awfully hungry, as the last thing I had eaten was a sad breakfast sandwich from Dunkin at Logan Airport sometime around 4AM. I changed into my esteemed birthday attire and headed to Raleigh to one of my favorite restaurants in the Triangle: Ajisai.

Located in Cameron Village, Ajisai is an “Japanese Fusion” restaurant with a tremendous sushi bar. A consistently high-quality and often decadent dining experience, I began my wholly exquisite birthday meal with two of their infamous oyster shots. The $8 savory shot features a raw kumamoto oyster, a splash of house sake, a splash of ponzu sauce, a sprinkling of ikura (salmon roe), a sliver of uni (sea urchin), a dash of tobiko (flying fish roe), all topped with a raw quail egg and a bit of chopped scallion. The flavor combination is–as you might imagine–outrageous. Briney, certainly, with a touch of sweetness, and the subtle suggestion of sake, this shot is a layered and robust way to stimulate your taste buds at the start of a meal.

After the oyster shots, I mulled over the sake selection before finally settling on the 300ml bottle of Sho Chiku Bai Nigori, a cold, unfiltered sake, easy to drink, and definitely not overly sweet (I don’t like sweet drinks), and priced at $15 for the bottle. One of the most bang-for-buck options on the sake menu, this bottle has never disappointed me since I was first introduced to it last year by a certain local fashion artist many of you know and adore.

While enjoying the first few sips of the Nigori, I spent some time examining the specials board. Ajisai specializes in sashimi and their specials board often features very unique dishes, like their Aji (Japanese Horse Mackerel) Special. This dish makes use of the whole fish. The chef will sashimi the entire fish, then batter and fry the entire skeleton into an edible garnish. If like me you tend to be a bit daring in your culinary pursuits, then I highly recommend giving this dish a whirl. The Aji has been so popular in fact, that it is now a fixture on their regular menu.

For my next course, I elected to partake in their live scallop special. Like the Aji, this dish uses the whole fish, from the familiar meaty center to the fleshy outer scraps. The chef slices the scallop while it’s still attached to its shell, then in one smooth cutting gesture, removes it, and serves it as several pieces, each one separated by a sliver of lime. The outer scraps of the scallop are chopped and added a ponzu sauce sprinkled with tobiko and served on the side along with a little pile of fresh wasabi. In raw form, scallops have an even more buttery taste. Combined with the hint of lime and the ponzu-tobiko sauce, each bite is a balanced blend of savory and citrus. Easily one of my favorite dishes, the live scallop alone is reason enough to visit Ajisai for any sashimi lover.

Continuing on my daring trend, I ordered a piece of the California Uni (sea urchin) from the specials board. Uni is not exactly the prettiest looking fish. Mustard-colored and a little odorous, uni can sometimes be off-putting to a more reserved sushi patron. But if you can overcome its ugly duckling appearance, then you will discover the true taste and texture of lusciousness in the world of seafood. A soft texture, so much so that it quite literally melts on your tongue, uni is a smooth, savory-intense burst of flavor. Finding myself in a state of immediate withdrawal after eating the last bite, I ordered another one and eagerly partook as soon as the sparkly blue-lighted dish it was served on was placed in front of me.

The time had now come for the culminating moment of my oh-so-delightful birthday meal. I ordered a small selection of sashimi (baby yellowtail and mackerel), a single serving of ikura (salmon roe), and another oyster shot… because, you know, birthday. In a slightly unusual step for me, I also ordered one of their specialty rolls, the Tomo. In all these years of dining on raw things, I don’t often spring for the rolls, as I trend heavily toward the simplicity of just the fish. But, I had been drinking sake all evening and knew I would need something carby to carry me through the rest of the night. With great effort and determined to eat everything I had paid for, I finished everything I had ordered, even the sake.

Knowing that it was my birthday, the head chef shared a few shots of sake with me, seemingly delaying my departure on purpose. Then I realized why. From the kitchen emerged the woman who had taken care of me all night as I blissfully consumed my solo birthday dinner at the sushi bar. She was carrying a plate and I discerned a candle. Tempura-fried birthday cheesecake. They even sang to me, “Happy birthday sweetie!” After making a wish and blowing out the candle, I attempted to eat what was the first birthday cake I’d had since being a teenager. Stuffed to the gills already with what had been a perfectly timed, totally delicious, and (considering it was a birthday splurge dinner) very reasonably priced meal, I made my best effort to consume as much of the cake as possible. Afterwards, I gleefully moseyed back to my car and headed back to Durham for a late night end-of-birthday hang with a good friend and creative partner of mine. It was a quiet end to a whirlwind 36-hour birthday adventure, from the 12-hour trip to Boston, to the glamorous and delectable birthday dinner.

Even if you’re not celebrating anything, the experience of dining at Ajisai is well worth it. Whether you choose to partake in their amazing $12 lunch special (3 rolls for $12 + soup and salad), or if you decide to do the dinner thing, this restaurant will not disappoint.

Head over to our Instagram to see the full photo series from The Editor’s birthday dinner.

12 Hours In Boston

It’s 2AM and I’m at Logan Airport in Boston. My flight leaves at 6AM and my 12-hour journey to visit my hometown will come to its end. Today is my birthday. I’m 31 years old. I can think of no better way to kick off this personal holiday of mine than by writing in an airport after the show I flew all the way up here to see. In a few hours, I will watch the sunrise from my window seat on my way back to my Durham home. This journey was my gift to myself for my little holiday. The show was the Maker Mixtape Album Release at Dorchester Art Project. The album is the creation of one of Boston’s brightest rising local stars, my friend Anjimile.

I first met Anjimile in 2013 at a show (big surprise)–a local showcase at the Middle East Upstairs, a long-alive and much-esteemed Cambridge venue. I had gone to the show in my capacity as Managing Editor at Quiet Lunch Magazine to support a band I had recently written about–We Avalanche, they were called. After their set, a young singer-songwriter named Anjimile took the stage with a drummer and bassist, and started playing guitar and singing. I remember the moment well because when I heard their voice, I was instantly floored, frozen in place, suspended in a timeless bubble of awe and delight. What a magnificent voice, I thought. After their set, I found them in the crowd and said, “I need to write about you.” From that moment on, Anjimile and I became friends and collaborators. More than that, they would unknowingly come to influence me and my own artistic path. The years that followed were tumultuous for both of us, but we continued working together right up until the moment when I left Boston.

Sitting in this airport right now, I inevitably ruminate on the complicated relationship I have with my choice to leave Boston. The truth is, I was displaced by economics. I was forced out of my home because I could no longer survive there. My city had changed. It had stopped being my city. It belongs now to the people who had come to replace me. Still–being here now, on this night, I can’t help but feel like a piece of the Boston I knew and loved still lives.

I had never been to or heard of Dorchester Art Project before this show. Following a bizarre and convoluted Uber ride from my beloved Mary Chung’s restaurant in Cambridge, using a service called “pool” (a terrible mistake on my part), I arrived at a street corner in Dorchester, unsure of where I was supposed to go. My dear friend, who had joined me from her cozy Watertown abode for the show, pointed to a green door recessed between two store fronts. Ah yes. A hidden door. Of course this show would be behind a hidden door. We opened the door and climbed a mountain of stairs to arrive at a labyrinthine art space, complete with a small stage, an art gallery, more than a dozen tiny shared artist studios, and the offices of Boston Hassle, a local arts & culture publication and collective.

Desperate to charge my phone, I navigated through the maze of hanging artworks and zine libraries until I found my way into the delightfully modest Boston Hassle office. Their publication had only just started getting off the ground when I left Boston, so to be sitting in their office, stashing my bag, charging my phone, mingling with a few of their youngins, and learning how they were thriving, this journalist right here was feeling both happy and sad. The mingling didn’t linger as my friend and I made our way into the venue space, whose hallways were loudly reminiscent of The Cave. The stage area, enclosed by exposed brick walls and host to more than a few awkwardly steep steps, was filled completely with a diverse collection of Boston’s current crop of young artists and their cohorts. A young singer-songwriter took the stage and eased into his set. An inexperienced guitar player with a powerful voice reminiscent of Thom Yorke, the crowd enthusiastically cheered him as he played and took swigs from a nip of Maker’s Mark between songs. While he seemed a bit nervous at the beginning of the set, by the end of it, he stepped off the stage with an air of confidence.

I found myself wandering through the art gallery for awhile, admiring the “Priority Made” exhibit on display. A collection of 228 pieces of graffiti art on free postal stickers and a few non-sticker city art-style works by artists from all over the country, the exhibit explores “the sticker as a catalyst and universal canvas,” according to their literature. It was during this session of admiration that a door behind me burst open and through it Anjimile appeared. We locked eyes and they walked over to me and we embraced each other as old friends. We spent a few precious minutes catching up while I bestowed upon them the gift of owlephant buttons and egg rolls from Mary Chung’s. Shortly thereafter, they would take the stage for the Maker Mixtape Album Release.

A 5-track EP recorded “analog, using a Fostec R8 reel-to-reel tape machine (circa 1990),” as Anji explained to me, is one of the strongest albums they have yet released, which in itself is a bold statement, since much of Anjimile’s discography so far is quite splendid. This record represents a certain kind of growth in Anjimile’s sound. An exploration of angst, complicated relationships, and self-exploration, Maker Mixtape ranges from eerie, ethereal acoustic, like the album’s namesake track, to pure pop, like the hit single “Sonia Smokes Me Out”.

The set opened with the second track from Maker Mixtape, “Pieces”, a wavy pop song that instantly invited the crowd into a deeply intimate and eclectic set. Interspersed between a selection of tracks from the EP, Anjimile and their two lovely accompanying vocalists, played a few favorites from their recent discography, including “To Meet You There” and “1978”. Then came a cover, a tremendous cover, of “Cry Me A River”. I have seen Anjimile play more than few covers over the years, but they really shined on this one. A few audience members, myself included, sang along, joining in the harmonious sound emanating from the stage. When Anjimile announced that they only had one more song, the crowd in emotional unison burst out, “AWWWWW,” which then made all of us giggle a little. After the set, the crowd, ebullient and desperate for more, made so much noise that Anji finally said, “Fuck it, I’ll play another song.” While a few in the crowd yelled for “Sonia Smokes Me Out,” Anjimile elected to play something else. Something quite unexpected, in fact. It was “Wolf Like Me” by TV On The Radio, a song which, coincidentally, I have been blasting into my own ears over these last few months as I have been navigating my own personal angst. Once again that feeling came over me, being suspended in a timeless bubble of awe and delight… I thought of our first meeting and how young we were then, how far we’ve come since, and how through all of it, we have each become more and more ourselves, finely-tuned humans living in a state of honed self-awareness.

By the end of the show, the clock had struck midnight and my birthday had arrived. After my dear old friend and I parted ways and she returned to her Watertown apartment, I found Anjimile outside the venue for those last moments of affectionate congratulations before I hopped in an Uber and headed to Logan Airport, where I am now composing this piece. I told Anji that I would probably be writing in the airport while I wait. “How romantic,” they said. I smiled and said, “Someone’s got to be.” “And that’s you,” they responded. Yes, how very true that turned out to be.

TransMusic X Durham Beat Collaboration: Introduction

Trans Music X The Durham Beat

From Explore the art, work, lives and politics of your favorite transgender musicians. Don’t have a favorite trans musician? This is where you get one.

Riley the Photographer’s new interview and portrait series, the Trans Music Podcast, is premiering next week here on the Durham Beat. Learn about eight North Carolina-based trans musicians, hear their music, and see their studios and homes in Riley’s portraits.

Coming next week: A conversation with Miira Cide, a solo death metal one-woman band from Wendell, NC.

Preview: Jo Gore & Azul Zapata at Motorco, November 10, 2018

Earlier this week I met up with Jo Gore and Azul Zapata at one of my pseudo-office spaces, Sam’s Quik Shop. Sipping on water after expending a little bit too much energy hosting two events on behalf of the Beat over the weekend, I summoned myself into presence of mind to talk to these two lovely locals about their upcoming show at Motorco. Over the course of an hour and a half we shared an intimate conversation complete with giggles and tears, while touching upon topics like artistic inspirations, personal traumas, and the struggles of female artists in male-dominated industries.

On Saturday night (November 10th), these two proud women will share the stage for an all-female, all-local show at one of Durham’s biggest venues, the much-loved Motorco Music Hall. A night that promises to be every bit as girl power-inspired as it will be emotional, intimate, sexy, and fun, this night marks a big moment in the lives of these young artists. Tell me, dearest readers, how often have you seen an all-female, all-local lineup at a major venue on a weekend night? Yeah, me neither. “This moment for me is something I’m going to be bragging about when I’m 85,” Jo Gore said to me when I asked her about her hopes for the night. Meanwhile, Azul Zapata “had some pants tailor-made for this event,” which alone should indicate to you how important this night is to these two.

Support of local artists is something local artists often give to each other. As many a-local artist will say, sometimes community support can be a bit elusive, especially in a place like Durham where local arts are abound and conflicting events can often be an issue for turnout. This show on Saturday is not only a chance to see some celestial live local music, but an opportunity to support the performers, particularly Jo Gore, in a very tangible way. Jo recently launched a Kickstarter campaign that will continue only for the next few days to raise money to fund the making of her new album, a 20-track sensation called, “i am worthy” from which she will be performing at her headlining show on Saturday night. “I believe in my work,” she said. This Kickstarter campaign is meant to fund the professional treatment her work deserves. Due to be released on April 1, 2019, “i am worthy” promises to be a work of exceptional craft.

Born from an extreme human experience, the album is a vocally-driven and emotionally delivered triumph of female certitude, her power and pain and joy. “We women folk go through a lot of stuff and so often we stay silent. I’m not going to be silent anymore,” said Jo when talking about the spirit of this album. Many women, myself included, have experienced all different kinds of abusive behavior, from emotional and physical violence, to gaslighting, and sexual harassment. Jo’s album, “i am worthy” tells her story. “It’s a full picture,” she says, complete with the high moments of joy to the ultra low moments of extraordinary pain and suffering and doubt. Jo’s album is very much a deep personal expression which she delivers by way of a 3-piece band and her exceptionally well-trained voice. Raised by a deacon and pianist father, Jo has been singing quite literally for her entire life.

When she and Azul Zapata met for the first time at 2nd Wind in Carrboro two years ago, they instantly connected over their mutual love for singing and obvious talent for vocal artistry. Azul, who is a big hit here at Durham Beat, has been mesmerizing all of us here on staff with her elegant voice for months now, ever since the always-groovy music writer Zoe covered her show at The Station earlier this year. Having recently performed at our Monthly Market series at the Quik Shop, Azul is someone we’ve been happy to spend time with lately, and one whom we all here on staff are eager to continue supporting. When she wrote to me about to talk about this upcoming show, I jumped on the opportunity to do this preview spread.

As I am also a female artist (writer/journalist/editor) working in an industry (journalism) long dominated by men, and especially in a genre (Gonzo) that has been governed almost exclusively by men (great men tho!), I understand very deeply the struggle for validation that so many female artists go through. I have reached a point in my own life though, where the only validation I seek is my own. Am I living up to my standard? Am I being my best self? Jo and Azul exhibit this same level of personal confidence. Our meeting earlier this week served not only as a means to gather the necessary information for this piece, but as a coming together of like-minded women, all of whom are ready and eager to share our art with the world. Thus, I extend an invitation to you, readers of this article and humans across the triangle, to join us on Saturday night at Motorco for what promises to be a most delightful show.


Featured image provided by Jo Gore.

The Post-Show: Manifest III, October 19, 2018

Manifest, a two-day and three-venue showcase of queer, trans, and gender non-conforming artists from around the Triangle (with a few select guests from out of state), successfully concluded its third year this October. The most well-attended yet, Manifest III was an exceptionally well-organized and thoughtfully curated event series.

On both days, at all three venues (Local 506, The Cave, Nightlight), Durham Beat was on the ground to cover as many of the acts as possible.

I (The Editor) was stationed for the most part at Nightlight, although I did QUITE a bit of running around between the venues. If you attended, then you probably saw me, camera dangling, moseying around in my super dapper five-panel black hat with red roses on it.

One of our staffers, Riley the Photographer, performed at Manifest as a member of two acts on the lineup, Sidewalk Furniture and Severed Fingers, while also running around taking tons of excellent photos.

And of course, the always groovy and exceptionally stylish Zoe (who recently covered the Free Things Festival) spent her two days at Manifest roaming between The Cave and Local 506. Together we have composed a comprehensive two-part writeup to go with numerous photo series (on Instagram) documenting as many sets as we were able to see. Each section is signed by its author.



Noise from Spookstina opened the Nightlight stage on the first night of Manifest. As she began her set in the dark room, I flipped open my notepad, took hold of my tiny pencil, and started writing. I kept writing throughout her set. I couldn’t see the pages but I knew I was attaching words to them. Afterwards I read what I had written and, to my surprise, discovered that I had composed a poem right there in the dark during her set. Thus I present to you now my stanzaic coverage of Spookstina’s set…

Noise Mechanic

dark light
night light
and a triangle
and a slaughter-
house of noise
making broken
stanzas come
out of me

break me with
a million little
pecks of noise each
meaningless on their own
but together
a cacophonous wave
a horde of sound
a crescendo of magic
death don’t
wake me from
this dream
don’t make me

take this wire and
connect me to chaos
make me see
me in dark light
sparkle pbr
another no
stay no
leave no don’t
write poetry the
masses will not
accept it
fuck them

wind up toy
noise sprinkling
like rain shushing
me into a wakeful
dream gaze make
me make noise come
out of a pencil

came not for the
poetry of others

only for noise

metallic gestures
translated into

turn the bucket over
dump the noise
into the street and
let the people
wonder where
they were or could
have been another
day will not do
tomorrow is not

you are a noise mechanic

i can scream like
that too–just
the other day in
my car alone i
hear it now–
the primordial
scream the
anxiety belch
the noise catharsis
of my everyday

all the way to the static end

–The Editor

H.C. McEntire

H.C. McEntire, the vocalist of indie-alt band Mount Moriah, took the stage and announced that she would be performing solo. Some people (The Editor) might like their music with a bit of crunch, but I like mine soft. I have a weakness for artists that wear their hearts on their sleeves. Not wanting to neglect my duties to the Beat, I snapped pictures in between sips of whiskey.

“I have found heaven in a woman’s touch
Come to me now
I’ll make you blush”

This may be the first time in my life that I’ve gotten chills from a live performance.


Sand Pact

Anyone who has been regularly reading Durham Beat knows that I struggle with electronic music. Just the other day, a few days before Manifest, I had a very frank discussion about it with my friend Cool Boy 36. He told me the only thing about my Moogfest Zine that he didn’t like was that I kept calling all of the artists “DJs” when most are in fact musicians making electronic music live, like any other performing artist plays their instrument live. I understood, conceptually, what he meant and proceeded to remind him that I wholly admitted my ignorance in the very first chapter of that whirlwind story. Of course, everyone who has read the Moog Zine knows it wasn’t really about the music. Still, our conversation lingered at the forefront of my mind as I prepared to cover Manifest.

The glow from Spookstina’s set still cloaked me when Sand Pact took the stage. That glow would blossom into joy as the set unfolded. It was during Sand Pact’s set that I finally understood what Cool Boy meant when he was talking about “making it live.” Electronic musicians simply use different instruments. While this may seem like an obvious realization to those of you familiar with electronic, for me, coming from a much more traditional background in music, having been raised and trained in music by a purist (Hi, Dad!), recognizing electronic’s elaborate equipment as musical instruments (the way a piano and a trumpet are instruments) as opposed to tools playing something prerecorded–this was an epiphany for me. The nature of Sand Pact’s set made this moment of awakening a seamless experience. There I was, standing at the front of the crowd at Nightlight getting schooled.

An electronic duo, Sand Pact redefine what “playing together” looks like. Passing back and forth one set of headphones between them, Sand Pact is a team effort, each one taking turns to crush ears, lay down crunchy beats, and manipulate live noise into live music. Yes, dear reader, I did in fact dance during their set. Me and my clunky camera sweat out a good deal of anxiety on this night.

While dancing my phone buzzed with a note from Zoe who was over at Local 506 for the night’s sets. She told me she was seeing H.C. McEntire and that listening to the set was like “breaking my heart and stitching it back together in 45 minutes or less.” Struck by this, I wrote back that I was going to go break my heart so I could know what it feels like for Sand Pact to “fix me.” This is an appropriate moment now to abandon words… at least for a time. Riley the Photographer captured this shot of me immediately after the Sand Pact set ended.

Enough said.

–The Editor


Bangzz a powerhouse duo including one of the Manifest organizers, Erika Libero (also lead vocalist for Henbrain) and drummer Blair Coppage. It was rage in a bottle (Four Roses, to be exact). So many things that I hadn’t thought about before or just didn’t have the words to express were played out to my very ears. The Editor, who adores BANGZZ (and wrote about them recently), enjoys quoting them when she talks about being vocal with my words: “Take up space.”

During the set, I ran into Riley the Photographer at the front of the stage. I glanced away but for moment and I was unable to find them seconds later. The Editor texted me that Riley joined her at the Nightlight.



An obvious riff on the term “diaspora”, this one-human act is a wokeful charmer with a delightful stage presence. I have a tiny bit of poetry in me, as you know, so while I could manufacture several verbose ways to say what I mean, simplicity will do the trick here: this set was fire.

For those who may be unfamiliar, the predominantly academic term “diaspora” broadly refers to the migration or flight of a massive group of people from their original homeland and away from the traditions of that homeland–a migration that is, according to certain contemporary uses of the word, involuntary. The trans-Atlantic slave trade, for example, created the African Diaspora. Put another way, it is the forceable dispersal of a large group of humans into foreign practices and foreign spaces. If you are curious to know more, then a simple Google search will yield a plethora of excellent university-related works. However, if you’re more like me and you prefer artistic expression over theoretical intellectualism, then I strongly recommend you check out “to the Diaspora” by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks.

As I now return from my tangential stroll on campus, this definition of “diaspora” is obviously central to understanding the sound and message of Diaspoura, whose ultra woke stage commentary captivated an already attentive audience. Between their stage banter, their beats, their whimsical dance moves, and their fiery message, Diaspoura’s set was totally inclusive and musically inspired. (I have since been glued to their bandcamp page listening to their first release, Demonstrations.)

–The Editor

The Muslims

The Muslims never stop dropping the proverbial mic with their political thrash rock. Wearing a red “Make Racists Afraid Again” cap, the guitarist effortlessly putting to bed the notion that Irish were enslaved.

While taking a moment to show off their new band tattoos (3 identical horseheads, all still glistening), bassist Gen grabbed the mic and began to speak. The guitar fell in, the drums followed, and they began to jam. It went something like this: “We got tattoos! ‘Cause we fucking love each other! We fucking love each other! We fucking love each other!” Soon they had us singing along to a song that appeared to be made up on the spot.

It was clear the Muslims were having as much as fun as the rest of us. Not unlike a lollipop, underneath their tough exterior, they have a soft caramel center. Suck on that.



They played. It was loud. Mark was obviously trying to get used to their new setup, thus their set sputtered at the start. He still made sure to wrap the mic cord around his neck though, as one might expect from a “suicidal dystopian” noise maker. Their set eventually got going. The crowd loved it. Alison was killer as always. I really admire how she plays that bass like she’s got Jimi Hendrix living inside her hands. I don’t have much else to say about them. I’ve written quite extensively about sister,brother, much to their dismay. If you want to know what I really think about them, then read this. I’m sure they will hate how much you will like the way I write about them.

–The Editor

Pie Face Girls

I have seen this band play more than a few times. After the sister,brother set concluded Zoe, who I had compelled via text to join me briefly at Nightlight, and I made our way over to 506 in her classic VW Beetle (even though the venue was only around the block). It was cold and I had never ridden in a old bug before. It was like being in any other car but smaller and more groovy. When we pulled up to 506, we remarked to each other that we couldn’t hear anything. Zoe, who is much younger than me and blessed with an abundance of that early 20’s energy, popped out of the car in flash and went up to the door of the venue before I had even stepped out of the car. “They’re still playing!” she burst with excitement as she flung open the door and hastily made her way inside. I locked the car door, slammed it shut for good measure, and waltzed into the venue at my usual ambling pace. One PBR and shot of Jameson later, I found Zoe at the front of the crowd, giddily swaying to the heavy bass riffs of Pie Face Girls.

Playing for a packed house, Pie Face Girls owned the stage like true headliners. The crowd, wild with enthusiasm, sang along to familiar hits like “Fuck You, I’m Pretty”. As I slid over to the back of the stage to get some choice pictures, the crowd, populated by many familiar faces from other performing bands, broke out into an inclusive mosh pit. I watched Zoe as she gracefully glided out of the center of the pit in one large step and made her way over into a wallflower position. Jesse, lead vocals and guitar for Severed Fingers, had started the pit with Blair, drummer for BANGZZ. The energy in the room was high and no one, it seemed, wanted to leave. When the band asked for the time and discovered it was well past 1AM, they continued on anyway, much to the delight of all of us in that room.

When their set finally came to a close, and with it, the first night of Manifest, the crowd lingered awhile, smiles affixed to all of their faces as they mingled. Zoe and I stayed for a little while too, talking with so many of the lovely familiar artists we have both written about at length. Afterwards, we moseyed over to Heavenly Buffaloes for a late night snack and sat in my car listening to some very special unreleased tunes from my good pal Anjimile, a “queer/trans songmaker/lover boy” currently making waves up in the Boston music scene. Anji and I had been corresponding a lot in the days leading up to Manifest to discuss an upcoming release of theirs. I mentioned to them my excitement about covering the festival and how I wished they could be here. 

Many years ago when I was Managing Editor at Quiet Lunch Magazine, I had discovered Anjimile at a little local showcase at The Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge. Totally floored by their performance, I found them in the crowd afterwards and said, “I need to write about you.” I wrote about them extensively for my former publication and even made a music video. Following that experience, we become excellent friends and worked together creatively outside the world of journalism. It’s been over five years since Anjimile first burst onto the Boston music scene, but only now, all these years later, are they finally starting to be recognized for the truly special human that they are. Had a platform like Manifest existed in Boston during their formative years, where they could have gained exposure to a much wider audience far sooner, then I suspect it would not have taken so long for Boston to start listening them. The work that Erika and Sarah have done to create the Manifest platform is incredibly important–not only for being a space for dramatically underrepresented artists, but because a healthy and inclusive local art scene will create a culture of inclusiveness, will inspire more young people to pursue their artistic dreams, and maybe… just maybe, help to foster the right environment for a locally-supported creative economy where artists can make a living off of their art.

–The Editor

The Post-Show: Titus Andronicus & Ted Leo at Motorco, October 27, 2018

Dear Reader,
I cannot remember the last time I have felt so liberated and so joyful at the same time. Sartre said, “Man is condemned to be free.” Navigating the world for so long on my own, I often feel the weight of that damning freedom of choice. It sounds fun, I’m sure, to be free to do whatever you want whenever you want to do it (so long as you have the dough to make it go). Such is the life of liberated solitude. But there is a prison of selfness that exists within this liberated state. It carries with it an inevitably unshared joy. Writing to you now my lovelies, relieves me from having to carry around such enjoyment and having no one to share it with–you are someone, thus I will share it with you.
Tonight I was at Motorco to see Titus Andronicus. A friend of mine hooked up the entry for your broke and humble Editor, thus enabling me to enter the familiar music hall for what would be a wholly blissful night.
I arrived shortly before 9PM and had my ritual shot of Jameson. Afterwards, I made my way to the front of the crowd to behold what would turn out to be an hour+ long set from the prolific Ted Leo. At this point in the night I did not know I would be penciling this prose you’re reading now. I did not know that on this Saturday night I would be swept from my feet and cast into a state of liberty. I had gone to the show for personal fulfillment, not for journalism. But here now, at Accordion Club, where me, my tinnitus, and my Genesee Cream Ale are authoring these words, I am weightless.
Ted Leo, known most widely as the frontman for Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, came to Motorco with an electric guitar and a proclivity for inspired stage banter. “I want you to think of the show, lyrically, as a jazz show,” he spoke in jest to the crowd. Throughout the night, the former Northeasterner and rock man extraordinaire delivered an authentic human experience. Any live show carries with it a measure of vulnerability. If you are an artist who has performed your work, whatever it might be, in front of humans known or unknown, then you accept that you are putting yourself out there, fuckups and all. This sentiment came to fruition during a cover of a Mount Moriah song. Handing a page of lyrics to a youngster in the front row (probably about ten years old and accompanied by his parents), Ted said, “I’m going to do a cover I’ve never played before. Can you hold this lyrics sheet for me?” Boldly and confidently, the young punk filled his role as a music stand for a man who, after initially fucking up the song, performed an inspired cover for the captivated audience. Over an hour after his set began, Ted announced, “This is my last song,” at which point Titus Andronicus rushed to the stage, picked up their instruments, and played as Ted’s backing band. It was solid fucking gold, y’all.
Shortly before the Titus set began, I shook hands with the illustrious Ted Leo, who like me transplanted from the bilious Northeast. At the end of the show, Patrick, the frontman for Titus Andronicus, and I would share a similar moment of mutual lament about the once-hip-now-dead Boston, the city which, in its former artistry, had raised me right along with my parents.
Sometimes when writing these post-show musings I feel very acutely the limitation of language. Why must I conceptualize real life human experience into this stupid limiting written word? (Says the writer.) Nothing I can say will truly recreate the experience of being there–no matter how good the writing is. I understand very well that I am forever condemned to contradiction. But I can tell you that at this moment my cheeks hurt from smiling too hard. My knees are aching from standing so long and my ears are still ringing from a night of raucous noise. It’s 5AM and I can’t stop writing. What does that say? Possessed I am, of inspiration. Still, the physical toll of the gonzo lifestyle is very real. The older I get, the more acutely I feel it. But, to quote the original disciple of Gonzo Journalism, the immortal Hunter S. Thompson, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” I think the same could be said for the lives of artists, especially of those Titus Andronicus fellas, whose unencumbered and totally clamorous ways must exact an incredible physical toll. But oh my, what a spectacle they are.
But I digress. Or do I?
Patrick took the stage alone to begin the Titus set. With an electric guitar and a message about respecting space, he instantly invited the crowd into an inclusive show experience. Several minutes later the rest of the band joined him on stage and together they proceeded to play for nearly two and a half hours. Yes, you read that correctly. Their set was well over two hours long. Talk about “an incredible physical toll.” Although, Patrick’s energy was so intense at the end of the set that I suspect he would have just kept playing.
The first part of their set was like listening to a greatest hits compilation. The crowd, already hyped up by Ted Leo’s captivating set, was instantly wild, emotion flooding the music hall and saturating the stage area. Patrick’s witty and familiar stage banter seemed to curate the setlist as the middle part of set turned out to be a series of covers. Citing a compilation record of Bristol, UK punk from 1980 that they had found “in a dollar bin,” the band played three songs off the album, the name of which I regrettably did not write down. (I was busy having too much fun.) Patrick went on to talk about the excessive extra time the band has while on tour. During some of that downtime last week, he told us, they had watched a film “on no TV channel you’ve ever heard of” at their hotel. In a gloriously punk gesture, they went on to play two songs from that soundtrack, to the delight and amusement of the audience. Following this eclectic string of covers, the band played several tracks from their new record, A Productive Cough, released earlier this year on their Durham-based label Merge Records. It was 12:30AM when the set seemed to clamorously conclude, and all of the band members exited the stage, except for Patrick. In a whimsically half-staged half-haphazard gesture, he summoned his bandmates back onto the stage for one final song in a sort of-encore. Unlike most other bands who do an encore, Titus Andronicus did not make us wait. The energy in the room was so high and no one, it seemed, wanted to leave, including Patrick. By 12:45AM the show had finally reached its end.
I stood by the front of the stage for a little while, my hearing a bit numbed, while I took some time to absorb the totally WOW experience I had just had. Eventually I walked over to the bar to close my tab, slowly, as if unwilling to let the night end.
On my way out of Motorco, I saw Patrick standing by the exit greeting fans, giving out hugs, and mingling with smitten passersby. I decided to say hello to the esteemed frontman. I introduced myself and we shook hands for several minutes while conversing about times past, the Boston days, when I had seen them play for the first time. “What were you doing in Boston?” he asked me. “I used to live there.” “Me too,” he said. We agreed that I am better off here in Durham. I suggested he would be too. “It was a pleasure to meet you,” I said as we shook hands again. “Believe me,” he said as he put his hand on my arm, “the pleasure is all mine.” Well golly gee whiz Patrick, I think I might be blushing.
After leaving the venue, I made my way over to Accordion Club, ambling in the street as if on air with a smile permanently affixed to my face. Along the brief journey to the bar I bumped into my friend Cool Boy 36. I was distracted by my blushing and bliss and did not see him walking towards me. “You caught me,” I said to him, “walking on a cloud.”
When I eventually returned home, I sat down at my desk and immediately continued writing this piece which I had begun to compose at the bar. Now here, at the drowsy end, I am still glowing. I suspect I will still be glowing when I wake later this morning or perhaps in the afternoon. Nights like these–unexpected and gloriously joyful–are all too rare, but when they do happen I feel compelled to share.
Thank you for reading.
All my love,
The Editor