PREMIERE LOCAL: “Wash Over Me” by SunSp·t

Durham Beat is proud to present our inaugural Premiere Local series: collaborations with local artists to debut original work. Our first installment of Premiere Local features local musician Joe MacPhail, member of eight local music groups (including The Oblations, XOXOK, and dreamRoot) and author of a solo project called SunSp·t. A full-time working musician and multi-instrumentalist, Joe wrote, recorded, engineered, and mixed the entirety of his new and upcoming album artAttack, which is due out in September. Today, June 25th, we at Durham Beat are delighted to host the debut of the first single from this record, “Wash Over Me,” which you can stream below. We wish you happy listening!

Wash Over Me by SunSp·t

Interested in PREMIERE LOCAL? Email us at to inquire further. We look forward to hearing from you!

Album Review: XOXOK – “Worthy”

Hit play. Listen. Pause. I need to see a visual of the person singing. What a voice! So, I look up XOXOK and find a video of XOXOK playing in a room with just his guitar.

Hang on… let’s back up. When I hit play, I was stunned by the voice I heard, but there was a voice in my head was saying, “This isn’t what you usually like!” Well, I made that little voice shut up and opened my mind to the music.

What I soon discovered was the enormous amount of talent and passion XOXOK has and puts so effectively into his music. His voice is rich and textured. A blend of modern R&B with a strong and powerful throwback to 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s soul. 

The backing vocals pick up his voice and compliment it rather than drown it out or compete with it.

When the first track, “Nancy” starts, it strikes me as straight up radio pop, then moves, slides and slithers its way into an “in the pocket” grove that builds and climaxes with the guitar solo. 

XOXOK can play the hell out of a guitar. The dynamics are incredible. You think you are being seduced and lulled, and then he hits you with noise, reverb so dripping and eloquent. It is this dynamic that shows his depth of talent.

“Flaws”… I want to hear this song in a film. I would love to see a Tarantino film or a film of that genre take “Flaws” and use it to drive a scene. It is a beautiful song that took me for a trip through the eras of influence XOXOK must explore.

Keenan Jenkins is XOXOK. Let that be known. He may hold a Ph.D from UNC, but his calling is truly vocal master and translator of guitar legends throughout time.

XOXOK plays The Station on May 11 for his album release party. I am sad I will not be there. The Editor will be having all the fun instead. As for me, my eyes and ears have been opened and I can’t wait to see him perform live.

If you can get to The Station this weekend for the show, then do it. You will be glad you did.

Featured Image by Wyatt Kane, courtesy of XOXOK.

MOOGFEST Staff Picks: Must-See Acts

At last, Moogfest 2019 is upon us. Like with our Freebies & Local Fun staff picks, the Durham Beat staff put together our general must-see picks. Here’s what each of us had to say:

Riley Says:

NCSU Libraries Workshops 

Life is a Digital Picnic & Visualizing Sound with Code & Digital Making Playground; Please Program the Flowers; I don’t really know what any of these workshops are actually about, but I have spent a lot of time in the NCSU libraries and they’re always inventing new trippy ways to display information, so I’m sure it will be cool. Whatever it is.  In one of them you make virtual reality floral arrangements. 

Building the Sounds that Break Down Walls  At first, I thought the title of this workshop was a sly hint about like, liberal multiculturalism but no, they mean literal walls. You get to build something called the Death by Audio Doomsday Oscillator.

Drum & Lace:Psychology of the Score: Cues, Memory Makers and Emotional Guidestones In another life, I went to school for music composition. In reality the actual work of composing orchestra music note by note is extremely boring to me, but I love hearing people talk about their process. 

Stephen says:


Moog Pop up Factory @ ATC Bay 7…I have no idea what will happen, but Moog and Factory sound killer.


Jax Deluca 5:15-6:45PM @ ATC Federal Funding for Emerging Artists. This sound like a great workshop for those looking to enter the Long Game and make a living and lifestyle as an artist. I wish these workshops were available when I started playing touring and scribbling.

Craig Leon and Jimmy Destri from Blondie 4-6PM @ATC  The production and musicianship on Blondie albums are world class. Their recordings shaped so many artists and recording engineers and probably some of your favorite music.


Thomas Dolby!!! This will be a nerd and freak fest!! He is pretty mind blowing. If you have never heard him get your freak flag out and wave it with pride! Hopefully he plays “Submarine”.

Ari says:

QuestLove… Drummer/Dj/Curator of musical culture transitioning well beyond “just” hip hop. This guy’s crates move through it all. He’s also the DJ that Prince showed Finding Nemo over… See, Storyville #2 Questlove vs Prince for reference. There’s a free one Sat afternoon and a late show at the Fruit. I’m planning on free by day.

Nucleo Concordia (Installation)
Spatial Sound

Had me at brain cortex. I’m super into musical experience immersed in science, so this is RIGHT up my alley. Throw in Johannes Kepler’s work and I’m THERE.

Vorticity (Installation)
Same here. Bell Labs… Audio and Visual immersion based on a sliding bubble? The nerd in me needs this.

Adair says:

15-Minute Songwriting
5:00 PM – 6:30 PM | Friday, April 26, 2019 I’ve recently started dabbling in songwriting, and find myself constantly creating lines, and melodies in my head while I’m out and about with no way to capture it. I’d love to attend this workshop to see how to remedy that so I don’t lose good ideas. 

Matthew Dear 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM | Thursday, April 25, 2019 I’d be lying if I said electronic/techno was my favorite kind of music, unless we’re talking about LCD Soundsystem, which is really electronic light if we’re being honest. But if I’m going to listen to electronic, I’m down to pair it with an artist with an amazing and unique voice like Matthew Dear. 

Craig Leon and Jimmy Destri of Blondie in conversation
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Friday, April 26, 2019 Honestly, I love a good conversation. I like listening to people talk about interesting things (for clarity, I like this live, podcasts and talk radio bore me). Craig Leon has produced some amazing bands, and Jimmy Destri is from Blondie, so c’mon. Blondie! 

Zoe says:

Focal Presents: Hear Your Music, Not Your Monitors.
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Friday, April 26, 2019
Full Frame Theatre | Conversations

When I first started recording, I found out very quickly that it’s much harder than I thought. I hope they have tricks for getting rid of that incessant buzzing.

Own Your Voice: Electronic Music Making as a Source of Personal Liberation w/ Madame Gandhi
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Friday, April 26, 2019
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019

All I can say is YES. I’m tired of going to shows that have no onstage diversity, and I know the fear of performing in a cis-white-guy dominated space. This is on both Friday and Saturday, so there’s 2 chances to catch it.

LP GIOBBI with LP Giobbi, Drum & Lace, Suzi Analogue and Madam Gandhi Moderator: Tiffany Naiman / FEMMEHOUSE: A Conversation About Gender Socialization and Visual Representation in Electronic Music
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019
ATC Workshop 2 | Conversations

So many awesome musicians in one room! I’m excited for this on so many levels.

Matia (me) says:

VIVEK BORAYwith Vivek Boray, Abhi MeerCreativity, Technology and Democracy in the Global South 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Thursday, April 25, 2019 Carolina Theater – Cinema 2 | Conversations This sounds super informative and relevant toour here and now.

PATRICK GLEESON 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM | Thursday, April 25, 2019 Carolina Theater – Fletcher Hall | Performance A legend. A pioneer. Almost certainly the oldest artist on the lineup, Gleeson played with Herbie Hancock back in the 70s and has had a career that spans over 5 decades, starting back in the 1960s. Wicked jazz head.

THE FLOOR B2B SHOWCASE 10:00 PM – 3:00 AM | Thursday, April 25, 2019 Fruit – Basement | Performance The Floor is a local collective and they’ve got a few sets lined up at The Fruit. DON’T MISS OUT.

STEPHAN BODZIN 11:30 PM – 1:00 AM | Thursday, April 25, 2019 The Armory | Performance German DJ likely to lift you from the ground with his cutting-edge tunes. Put another way: you will be compelled to DANCE, y’all.

Own Your Voice: Electronic Music Making as a Source of Personal Liberation w/ Madame Gandhi
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Friday, April 26, 2019
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019 Really looking forward to this. Madam Gandhi performed at last year’s Moogfest and returns this year for a few talks on empowerment and identity in making music.

THE FLOOR PRESENTS: TOMIE B AKA DJ REAL, TAYLOR HOUCHENS, AND PANGEAN 8:00 PM – 1:00 AM | Friday, April 26, 2019 Fruit – Basement | Performance Five hours of The Floor. Go. Just go.

MOUNT KIMBIE (DJ SET) 11:30 PM – 12:45 AM | Friday, April 26, 2019 The Armory | Performance Gonna be a riot. Breaking out my dancing shoes for this.

RP BOO AND SUZI ANALOGUEThe State of Black Electronic Music Composers 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019 ATC Workshop 2 | Conversations Super relevant, especially among our local electronic artist community.

THE FLOOR PRESENTS: STRICTLY SOCIAL TAKEOVER – ALVIN SHAVERS, FREDDIE FRED, AND KINGTHINGS 8:00 PM – 1:00 AM | Saturday, April 27, 2019 Fruit – Basement | Performance More Floor.

MEZ 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019 ATC Cage | Free Programming Raleigh local!! Recently performed at Dreamville, now at Moogfest.

QUESTLOVE 12:00 AM – 2:30 AM | Saturday, April 27, 2019 Fruit – Black Box | Performance I feel like this is self-explanatory.

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.

Album Review: sister,brother – “Suicide Club”

Welcome to “Future Primitive Punk”! I have heard this music before; I haven’t heard this music before! Holy shit!

Get on a bike, ride the alleys, crash, wipe the blood off your knuckles, repeat. Go out to a show, stay out too late, over caffeinate, it all makes sense.

Opening up the album, “Sorry, Why are we doing this again,” lays down a hellish merry-go-round vibe that starts to drive and draw you in with a catchy dance rhythm. I love it. If only listened to once, one would think this album is a thrown together, haphazard piece of work. When you listen and listen again, you find yourself listening to each section like unfolding chapters that eventually bring you back to a common thread. It happens loud and quick, so pay attention!

Suicide Club by sister,brother


“living in an office
fiddling with an orifice
praying for the greenest lawn
knowing it will be gone by dawn”

Don’t believe that the lyrics, blanketed under distortion, are just screams. The message seems like a straight up FUCK YOU! But there is observation and reflection knitted into the sounds. Mark’s not just making “mouth sounds.” He may want you to think that, but it’s more than that.

Alison and Mark have taken programming machines, screams and instruments back to an organic level. It feels like a band, not a room full of robots.

“It takes a village to know we are fucked!” is a quick sucker punch of a song. Pointing the finger at others? Pointing the finger at the mirror. Hell if I know, but it’s fantastic.

Suicide Club by sister,brother


“But I am really scared
and fucking lonely too
I just don’t know what to do with myself
could someone please tell me what to do”

If you are familiar with Jello Biafra and the works of Dead Kennedys, then you might feel the spirit of “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables” …a sense of humor rooted in alarm and a sense of urgency. Open up our eyes, wake up and make some good choices today!

After listening to the songs multiple time and returning to the track, “Why don’t you take a step back Judgy McJudgerton,” it hits me like a rock. Even though I really like what Mark and Alison are doing, I know they are writing works for themselves and the sheer joy of making art. How do I know this? Just read the lyrics below.

Suicide Club by sister,brother


“But I am fine being me so why don’t you shut the fuck up and just leave me be.”A

Featured image is original photograph by The Editor from 1/12/19 sister,brother album release show at Criterion. Full photo series on Instagram.

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.

The Post-Show: Men on Boats, The Justice Theater Project

It may not come as a surprise that there’s something about going to see a play called Men on Boats that makes you believe you’re going to encounter both men and boats. This play has neither men nor boats.

Until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of Men on Boats or the Triangle’s Justice Theater Project. So before embarking on an assignment to write about its production of Jaclyn Backhaus’s original play, I started my due diligence to establish a general direction for the piece.

It was through that due diligence that I discovered the basics: the story centers around the 1869 expedition of John Wesley Powell, a one-armed Civil War veteran who is famous for this three-month river trip down the Green and Colorado rivers; this journey included the first official U.S. government-sponsored passage through the Grand Canyon; the play made its debut in 2015; and to see any boats, the audience must rely solely on their imagination.

As part of this initial research, I had the pleasure of speaking with the Justice Theater Project’s Producing Artistic Director Jerry Sipp, who explained to me that Men on Boats was part of a larger theme driving the direction of the theater’s 2018-2019 season.

The theme, “S/He Is. Becoming Whole”, encompasses six shows that focus on women. You may be wondering what a show called Men on Boats is doing in a lineup like that. I know I was. Well, there are no men in this production. While Men on Boats tells the story of ten white male characters, it does so with one important twist—through the voices of a cast made up only of actors identifying as female, transgender, and/or non gender-conforming. In fact, the playwright is adamant that these characters are portrayed by anyone but white males.

As Sipp explained, when the board chose the theme last spring, they wanted to ensure they didn’t take a laissez-faire approach. It would have been easy to say they wanted the season to focus on women, pick a few female-centric scripts, and call it a day. Instead, they explored plays that looked at women through many different lenses, through different races, ethnicities, and genders. Sipp said these decisions were made early in the winter of 2018 before the “Me Too” movement, noting the board’s uncanny ability to anticipate social conversations.

“The board decided that they did not want to just have a season about women, and especially not about women who have been victimized,” Sipp said. “Instead, they chose to say let’s feature the woman who is empowered, who is a strong woman, who is willing to stand up and fight for herself and fight for women in our society.”

Men on Boats may not center around this type of character, but it certainly centers around this type of cast.

So, on a particularly warm Sunday afternoon in late February, I set out to see the Justice Theater Project’s last performance of Men on Boats armed only with these facts and a lingering cough from a week-long cold. Nervous to disturb other audience members with my incessant coughing, I chose a seat on the edge of a row at stage right.

It was immediately clear that the set was minimal, but it wasn’t simple. It was beautifully constructed of various shapes and colors of wood against the backdrop of floor-to-ceiling sheer curtains. While I thumbed through the program to familiarize myself with the cast, the lights went down and Faye Goodwin stepped on stage as John Powell. I was immediately transported to the Wild West of 1869.

Thanks to the direction of Jules Odendal-James and an outrageously talented and diverse cast, the next 100 minutes were a journey of comedy, conversation, and anticipation — a bending of history and gender set against the rapids and waterfalls of the Colorado and Green Rivers.

It would be easy to assume that a small theater company like The Justice Theater Project, housed in a modest building tucked into a commercial area near Umstead Park, may not offer a high caliber of production. But, if you think that way, then you would be very wrong in that assumption. The quality of production for plays like Men on Boats needs no frills. It speaks for itself, and through the sheer talent of its actors.

The cast of The Justice Theater Project’s Men on Boats had great dialogue with which to work, but it takes a special talent to perfectly execute comedic timing, and this cast nailed it.

And that’s an important thing to nail for this particular script. Because, as I discovered on my journey with Powell and his crew, Men on Boats isn’t just a fun, different way to tell this historical story, rather, Backhaus deliberately uses this diverse, gender-bending cast as a comedic social commentary on America’s white male-dominant history.

The American history we learn in school has long been skewed toward a favorable and highly romanticized story, which in reality was brutal and violent. From the reality of Christopher Columbus “discovering” the Americas in 1492 — despite the presence of a culturally rich and well-developed indigenous population — to a group of Black female mathematicians who played a pivotal role in creating opportunities for humans to explore space being casually disregarded until a 2018 film attempted to give them their due, there can be no doubt that America’s history is rich with controversy and rage. Sometimes we choose to cope with this truth through anger or directed action. Sometimes, we choose to cope through the raw human expression of humor and art. This is exactly what Backhaus did.

Remember when I said that Powell’s expedition included the first government-sanctioned passage through the Grand Canyon? That small detail is actually an important part of this story. Backhaus notes it in her dialogue as Powell tells his crew about the people who have taken this journey before, to which one of the crew members responds “I thought we were the first.” This scene in particular was a stand out example of Goodwin and the rest of the Justice Theater Project cast’s talent.

Watching Powell’s long, perilous, and slightly frustrating journey could get old fast, but with a cast like those at The Justice Theater Project, this play was entertaining to the very last waterfall drop. And judging by the standing ovation, I would say the rest of the audience agreed.

Men on Boats won’t change history, but it does allow us to look at it through a different lens. It does bring to light a new way of thinking for the future, which is why as an organization that focuses on having conversations about social issues with the community, it was a perfect fit for The Justice Theater Project.

“We try to have a more in-depth conversation, a year-long conversation about the intricacies in one issue because we live in very much of a sound byte society these days,” Sipp said. “We think that the issues we’re tackling require a deeper and more nuanced discussion between us and our audiences and communities. That’s why we approach things in the way that we do.”

Of course, Sipp told me, The Justice Theater Project, like most theaters at their core, wants to produce engaging and entertaining theater. But, they also want people to continue thinking about the show long after they leave. I have to say, it’s working.

“It requires a lot of extra work, a lot of extra thought,” Sipp said. “I’m proud that the organization is willing to do all of that to not only enrich the experience, but to kind of change the world, just a little bit, one show at a time.”

The Justice Theater Project unveils its 2019-2020 season theme “From Monologue to Dialogue” this month. Real Women Have Curves, the next show in the S/He Is. Becoming Whole series, will begin its run April 5, 2019. Read more about The Justice Theater Project here.

Album Review: Tan and Sober Gentlemen – “Veracity”

Veracity (n): conformity to facts; accuracy.

Synonyms: truthfulness, truth, accuracy, correctness, faithfulness, fidelity

Tan and Sober Gentlemen (TASG) are true to the Appalachian, Celtic bluegrass music which has so obviously and so deeply influenced their sound. As the album title suggests, true-to-self lives at the heart of their sound. While carrying on a centuries-old tradition, TASG have been able to push beyond what could easily become boring and stale, into a sonic dynamic blend of influences.

“Rabbit” kicks the door open and grabs me and swings me around! Imagine if the Avett Brothers sounded like they recorded after binging on liquor, unfiltered cigarettes, and were hyper from lack of sleep. Sound good? It’s great!

The gritty feeling continues… the group backing vocals keep the folky, Celtic tradition alive, but are delivered with a punk attitude.

If you’re looking for good choices in music to play around the fire as we bury the statues we’ve torn down, then put this record on.

On “Deep Chatham”, railroading drums drive the song from start to end. Tom Waits fans, listen close! The vocals channel Waits with a southern twang supported by a band on overdrive.

TASG is tight as hell. If you dare to play this super niche genre, then you best have your chops. As a drummer and guitarist myself, I am inspired by their musicianship.

Make no mistake; this is not fiddle-die-day generic interpretations of the Celtic sound. This is deeper, next step, rebirth.

I grew up in Boston listening to music like this waking up smelling of cigarettes and stout. This album plays like a story, an amazing evening I want to hear about again and again.

There are so many layers of exceptional playing on this album that I don’t want to single out one member, because all of them bring something incredible to the record. Check out their bios and you will see that there is a deep regional history within the band.

TASG are a unit of sound moving so fast it takes a second to grasp what the hell is going on.

One last item to touch on: How the hell can you possibly think you can get away doing a Pogues cover?! I’ll tell you… because your band kicks ass and pulls it off with accuracy and, more importantly, takes it beyond a cover and makes it your own. Tan and Sober Gentlemen, hats off to you!

Veracity by The Tan and Sober Gentlemen

Featured image is “Veracity” album cover courtesy of Tan and Sober Gentlemen.

Album Review: BANGZZ – “Fresh Cut EP”

I woke up this morning face-down on my rug. You see, last night I discovered the new Taco Bell Cantina on Hillsborough Street (Raleigh). It’s a concept restaurant: a hyper-modern, small-scale version that serves alcohol. They stock Bacardi and Cuervo (two words: Tequila Freeze), as well as vodka, wine, and a small selection of beer. I speculated to myself as to how long it would be until someone gets kicked out of Boozy Bell. Turns out: not even as long as I thought. I was sitting at my barstool for maybe half an hour when a man walks up to the counter carrying a 12-pack over his shoulder, then, after failing to coerce the cashier into selling him a full bottle of tequila, gets angry. The manager was not amused and ushered the man out. But it’s still heaven. I will be visiting the Cantina as often as possible before its inevitable shutdown. It’s the Taco Bell that we need, but not the Taco Bell that we deserve.

Anyways, it was pointless to lay around hung over on a beautiful Sunday morning, so I walk outside for some fresh air. I go to my car, roll up the glass, roll up the grass, and prepare to relax with Fresh Cut, the debut EP by BANGZZ.

“Pretty Is A Trap” comes crashing in with Blair’s punchy percussion and Erika’s shout-from-the-rooftop vocals. It shares a few highlights of the experience of being a woman: being subject to sexist and harassing behavior simply for looking feminine, being ignored for not looking feminine, and the ages-old scenario of men only listening to you when they want sex.

I remember hearing “Big Ol’ Dicks” when I saw BANGZZ at Manifest III. Screaming along with “NO! MORE! DICKS! IN! THIS! HOUSE!!” is glorious. I’d make it my motto. I’d have it printed on a welcome mat. But in all seriousness, “Big Ol’ Dicks” is about mansplainers and how badly they need to get the heck out. The closer, “I Just Cannot”, was the standout song for me, with a snarling riff and thundering drums. Its slight grunginess is noticeably different from the preceding 5 tracks, but I’m all for it.

The EP covers topics ranging from bad boyfriends to society’s view on marriage to the meaning of consent, and BANGZZ tells it like it is. It’s worth listening to at max volume–which I did, on repeat, hangover be damned! Fresh Cut was recorded by Emily Musolino at Blue Moose Studios in Durham, NC, and mixed, mastered, and rendered by the BANGZZ duo themselves.

Featured image is Fresh Cut album cover courtesy of BANGZZ.

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!