The Post-Show: Real Dad, Case Sensitive, Moon Ruin at The Pinhook, August 3, 2018

I composed this post-show writeup in my head several weeks ago. The demands on The Editor during those same weeks have forced me to carry this piece around with me while tending to the growing business of The Beat. Only now, long after the happenings have happened, have I been able to attach these words to the page. I could list the reasons why it has taken this long, but none of that will matter to the musicians who have been waiting for these words. I deserve to scathe myself because of this tardiness. And yet…

…right at this very moment I am sitting on my stoop with a cold beer, headphones on listening to that Jimi Blues, writing these words on actual paper, and feeling positively grand. I ruminate still on that August 3rd show.

“Look for a black hat with red roses on it, and a tiny pencil.” That’s what I said to Real Dad when I told him how to find me at his show. He had invited me, you see, to come as Durham Beat for his Friday night show at The Pinhook. I got all dressed up in my Editor uniform and casually made my way over to the show.

I rolled into The Pinhook moments before Case Sensitive took the stage. I went over to the bar and ordered a Natty Bo before heading to my usual front of crowd place. I soon realized I was missing something key and scurried back over to the bar for my ritual pre-show shot of Jameson. The bartender poured the last of the bottle out into the shot glass, then opened another bottle and topped off my miniature beverage. The girl next to me at the bar looked over at me and said, “You inspire me.” “Oh really?” I responded skeptically. “Yeah, I’m going to get a shot too.” I threw back the shot of brown and remarked, “It’s a good idea,” then made my way back to the front as Case Sensitive emerged from sound check and began their set with heavy guitar, deep bass, and wild drums. I recognized the song immediately. “Six Feet” is the second track from their two-sided single released earlier this year. I had done a little writeup about the release back then. In fact, it was the first piece I ever published on Durham Beat. I knew the song well, having listened to it dozens of times while dusting off my rusty journalist voice. I had seen Case Sensitive for the first time at a their album release show at The Station. They were every bit as glamorous as I remembered. Sporting casual black attire, the ladies rocked out, at times switching instruments with each other for different tracks. Ethereal female vocals combined with raucous stoner-rock-styled guitar riffs and a general DGAF attitude, all live at the heart of Case Sensitive’s sound. These women are not only inspiringly talented, they are decidedly true-to-self.

By the end of their set, the crowd had grown considerably. Their exuberant cheering for the all-female Carrboro-based rock trio was welcome noise to my ears. I am always gratified to bear witness to outpourings of love towards artists I’ve written about.

During the interim set switch, I found Real Dad over at the merch table, merch-less, and selling on behalf of the other bands. “I know you go by The Editor, but what’s your real name?” he asked me. To be clear, Real Dad’s real name is Nolan Smock. Many of you reading this raggedy writeup know this already, but in the world of gonzo journalism, staying true to character identities is a tenet of this artform’s authenticity. True-to-self was very much the theme of the night, as Real Dad’s set on this particular evening was an expression of personality and vulnerability. But before I get into all of that, I would be remiss to dismiss the second set from out-of-towners Moon Ruin, a synth-heavy four-piece from the midwest (Peoria, IL and Eau Claire, WI), who were passing through our dirty little city in support of an album released earlier this year.

Because of my experience covering Moogfest, the synth-centric art/tech festival hosted in Durham in the springtime, as well as innumerable other run-ins with electronic music, I have been a bit spent on the genre of late. Thus I must admit to you, dear reader, that while I found Moon Ruin to be of sound musicianship and their set of excellent quality, I was in no position to appreciate synth-centric sounds on this night. During their set, in between moments of Bon Iver-esque solemnity and sounds broadly resembling synth-inspired art rock, I fantasized I was in room with some string players and a harmonica. There may have been a piano there too. Lately I find myself craving the familiar noises of traditional musical instruments. I was drawn back into Moon Ruin’s set by their drummer, whose natural rhythm and energy lifted me from my synth-evading daze and yanked me back into the show. I made a point of finding him at the end of the night to thank him.

Following a brief tobacco-stained interlude between sets, I once again found my front of crowd place for what would be a wholly inspired set from Real Dad. In an atypical gesture, he announced to the crowd that “Durham Beat is in the house.” While I usually prefer to slide under the radar of showgoers, I am always happy to receive some public love from artists–since they do so often receive it from me, even if it is a tardy, self-deprecating, oddly poetic piece of prose. Real Dad did a solo set with the technological accompaniment of a sampler, while switching back and forth between guitar and bass. I have seen many one man shows in which the artist employs the aid of tech to make a set come to form, but those sets have always tended to be a bit ostentatious and sometimes overly technical. Real Dad’s setup was comparably modest. The man himself came across to me throughout our encounter as decidedly modest and comfortable in being vulnerable in front of people. I managed to capture on video the moment during his set where he quite literally shook off whatever inhibitions might have been plaguing him and he started to dance, slowly letting himself go, sliding fully into his Real Dad persona. Don’t worry y’all–I posted it on Instagram so you could share in the moment too.

Real Dad’s sound is not genre-specific. Real Dad is not a band. Real Dad is a music act intended to rouse your humanity, your uncomfortable self, the vulnerable you, to bring all of that into the light where it doesn’t matter if you dance like an al dente noodle, or if you cried a little bit during that one song, or if your heart is broken and there’s nothing you can do to hide it from anyone who might glance your way. I walked out of The Pinhook on Friday, August 3rd in an emotional state. Real Dad had summoned in me an acute awareness of some of my own vulnerabilities, so much so that in posting this piece now, as tardy as it is, I am laying myself open to all of you. And that’s okay.

Immediately following the conclusion of the night’s sets, I had the pleasure of conducting a Raw Bites Session with both Real Dad and Case Sensitive in the downstairs green room of The Pinhook. Our conversation touched upon many topics, not the least of which was vulnerability. Please enjoy.

The Post-Show: Free Things Festival 2018

Our tale begins at Hunky Dory. I was shopping for records when I ran into one of the organizers for the Free Things Fest. They pointed to the poster on the wall and personally invited me. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. First, it’s a free event. Second, I love music, but I’m poor and often find it difficult to bridge the two.

Lately, my lovely VW has been having a problem, which I have thrice paid to be fixed, only for it to resurface yet again. Lest my wheel should fall off while driving (which has happened before), I asked a family member if I could borrow their SUV for the day instead. As much of a bummer as it is to drive anything else, I always feel #blessed to have A/C for a change. I drove to Durham to pick up Riley the Photographer and we carpooled to the All Peoples’ Grill. I put on some driving music and Riley commented that ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ is “the ‘Free Bird’ of jazz.” I couldn’t disagree.

Rolling up to the festival, we saw a white concrete shack on the side of the road next to a field. A man in a panama hat was giving very confusing parking directions on the way in, but we were able to snag a front row spot from a car that was leaving. We couldn’t have had better luck, because now we had a direct view of the stage from our vehicle. As soon as we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by the smell of fish fry. There are few smells more welcoming to a Southerner than the smell of a fish fry. Soon we were joined by a mutual friend and we started exploring the grounds.

The woman at the information stand gave us wristbands and encouraged us not to “forget to leave with something from the table, it’s free.” I was unsure why they would give out wristbands at a free festival, but I was more than happy to oblige.

First we stopped at the water cooler for refreshments, then went to the lounge area for some shade. Walking by the food trucks, I noted that the vendors had not inflated their prices for the festival: $3 for cotton candy; $7 for red velvet waffles; $10 for the chicken & waffles special. There were no out-of-town corporate sponsorships. There was no VIP frou-frou. They didn’t even charge for parking. They were just good, honest folks who wanted to bring their community together for the sake of it. It all felt so wholesome.

In the shade, I played a game of horseshoes with Riley, then we walked around the makeshift outdoor gallery, looking at canvases affixed to the trees or just propped against them with a 2×4. Suddenly, a woman appeared out of nowhere and led us to a wooden archway covered in ribbons. She said “Write down a wish and put it in the jaaaar! All wishes made in the fairy forest come truuue!” I looked at my crew, skeptical, but when I turned back, she was gone. My childlike imagination envisioned that she had vanished into a cloud of confetti, but she probably just left for some fried catfish and a smoke.

I opted to make a wish in the fairy forest, but Riley said they would save their wishes for when they really needed them. I grabbed a flower pen from the jar and scrawled “WORLD PEACE”, which, admittedly, was a bit of a throwaway. I should have wished for something more practical, like some bug spray or a joint.

Towards the end of No Parking’s set, we visited the vendor’s table by the side of the stage. She was selling scented candles that she and her wife make at their home in Greensboro. She mentioned that the melted wax can also be used as a moisturizer. Out of all of the scents offered on her table, my favorite candle smelled exactly like Starbursts. It was pure, sugary deliciousness. I couldn’t get enough of that sweet nose candy.

Sarah Summers covered Aretha’s version of “Natural Woman” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. She also performed an original song entitled ‘Part of Me’. The crowd gathered around like flies to honey, like moths to a flame, like ants to a picnic. Everywhere people stopped in their tracks and listened. As she finished her set and was neatly leaving the stage, a distant voice in the field called out “do you wanna do another one??”

The next vendor was from The Microgreenery, and he was selling microgreens! What are microgreens, you say? Plants, after the sprouting stage, expend most of their energy on growth, resulting in a plant that is larger in size but lacking in nutrients. When harvested before the growing stage, they’re called “microgreens”. A plate of salad has few nutritional benefits compared to a cup of microgreens. I sampled a few varieties, and they tasted the same as regular greens, but just… micro. Before you ask, yes, microgreens are just a hipster word for sprouts. The interaction did seem more like a Portlandia sketch than reality, but I’m a vegan who hates salad, so I was sold on idea of having to eat less of it to be healthy.

I could feel a single bead of sweat collect at my nape and start its slow descent down my spine. “Let’s go sit in the shade.” I said to my companions. Riley offered, “Or we could go back to your car and sit in the A/C.” It was a novel idea. As we made our way to the last vendor, Riley was hit by a stray soccer ball. We ran back to the car and sat overlooking Tennis Rodman. I first noticed his energy and the intensity of his performance even in 90-degree heat. He even sampled his cat in his track! “Shoutout to my cat. Any of y’all got cats?” Still in the driver’s seat, I excitedly raised both of my hands for my two cats, but to no avail. Surveying the crowd he praised, “It’s great seeing so many black people here, great having culture supporting culture.”

We stayed until the end of 3AM Sound’s set and decided to call it a day. As easy as getting into the parking spot was, getting out of the parking spot was the opposite. The aisle was too narrow for an SUV to reverse! It took more than a few tries toing and froing, and it annoyed the drivers in the cars behind me whom I was blocking in. Riley asked if they should get out of the car and help me to reverse. My pull-out game was weak, but my fear of failure was stronger than ever. Determined to never admit defeat, I gave it one last try and finally cleared all of the parked cars. Leaving the festival grounds, we made a dash to Heavenly Buffaloes, which, as always, was divine. We congratulated ourselves for making the departure for downtown as night fell around us.

All original photography by Durham Beat’s own Riley the Photographer.

Album Review: The Muslims – “Self-Titled”

August 2017 was my inaugural experience of free, public events hosted in Durham’s Central Park as a fresh-faced resident of Durham County. I had been swiping through innumerable dating profiles to cope with the isolation of existing in a new city, while also preparing for graduate school and ravenously binge-watching HBO’s Insecure, before a blind date led me to stumble upon Laila Nur’s enchanting live performance. Nur’s banter with the audience espoused condemnations of institutional racism and gentrification, unabashed and at length, saying their artistry was an invitation to discuss issues not to avoid them.

A year later, I sat across from The Editor at Cocoa Cinnamon giddily fiddling with a handwritten list of bands I could review for Durham Beat, including a side project involving Laila called The Muslims, self-described as a “Punk band full of queer, Black/Brown moozlems & friends.” Punk, being an almost inherently political form, often still erases the narratives of POC and other marginalized groups—The Muslims adding themselves to the various outfits pushing against this problem within the genre.

Muslim Ban,” the track that placed both of its hands on my head and grabbed me through my ears, is a monologue drum and guitar instrumentation decrying, “We’ve been through this shit before/White people and building walls, that shit won’t keep us out/ Now they want a Muslim ban/Another racist president—white people fix your shit!” The music video for “Muslim Ban” opens with a fixed shot on a burning image of Donald Trump (or “Agent Orange” per the first track on the album) cutting to a sequence that presents an arrangement of sticky notes addressing this country’s many problems. “Muslims at the Mall,” a 90-second visual shot at Southpoint Mall, shows a person head-banging in a burqa comprised of Lilly Pulitzer fabrics, accompanied by a short burst of screaming vocals, irreverent and purposeful—the video was later taken down from YouTube and uploaded at Vimeo for an alleged violation of the former’s community guidelines. The Muslims, both an album and a band, are imbued with this sort of in-your-face gravitas and having fun while doing it.

During my aforementioned conversation with The Editor, one of the last questions she asked me was what I thought of genres. “Genre” serves the utility of creating a nomenclature for accessible consumption and comprehension, but The Muslims’ genre-blending content muddies these boxes, and their sound is not intended to be neatly packaged. The discussions happening within their songs shouldn’t necessarily be easy for the listener to comprehend or engage with, but rather a conversation on difficult topics ranging from oppression, marginalization to orange presidents. The Muslims launch their tour August 30th at The Fruit in Durham, NC with four other tour dates throughout August and September.

Featured image is The Muslims album cover.

The Post-Show: “Local Band Local Beer,” August 2, 2018

It’s 9:10pm. If I was going to be on time for the show, I should have left half an hour ago. I’m still squinting in my bathroom mirror, attempting to fix my eyeliner. My hand slipped and went too heavy on the tips, but I would have to cut my losses and live with it, for the sake of the reader. I run out the door and manage to avoid my talking to my neighbor on the way to my car.

I swing up to the Pour House and park on the corner. Then, as is my custom, I waste 5 minutes trying to find my ID at the door. I’m only wearing one ear plug because it was all I could find in my purse. I just bought this vintage purse on eBay a few weeks ago, and I’m finally getting to use it. Now that I think about it, I don’t remember tossing an old blackened ear plug in here. Is it even mine? It is now. And I know I’m gonna need it. Walking through the alleyway, I can hear the drums of the opening band thumping through the bar door.


He’s screaming until he’s blue in the face… or maybe that’s just the stage lighting. It’s hard to tell.

PROMM is music made for thrashing. It’s chaos. They’ve got the sonic likeness of a truck full of musical instruments crashing down a hill. In the nicest possible way.

“First… we’re gonna drink 100 beers, in the foyer of the SECU building… and together, we’re gonna complain about how much it costs to park your car at the PNC Center for WWE.”
Local Band, Local Beer, Local Banter.

I wonder what the vocalist’s lung capacity is, because he’s really getting it all out. Likewise, pretty impressive cymbal work by the drummer, Ethan Allen (like the furniture company, but assuredly not). The breaks are pretty chill by contrast, laden with groovy drum fills and echoey guitar loops. The rhythm section sets a different mood entirely from the rest of the songs. In conclusion, the band takes a break from waking the dead for the vocalist to deliver a motivational speech.

“There’s still lots of time to be what you want. There’s still plenty of good in this world!” I guess I needed to hear that today. Parting words from an unexpected source.


The second band sounds completely different, despite sharing half of the members with the previous one, with Dylan Turner returning on bass and Owen Fitzgerald dropping the mic for guitar.

The bass lines grab my attention immediately. It makes me feel… loose. Even the crowd is becoming less statuesque and gradually resigning to soft headbanging.

I squeeze the orange slice into my Shock Top and immediately knew that I had made a big mistake. That gross old orange nearly put me off my beer. I chug the remainder so I won’t have to deal with the taste.

A brand ambassador for Newport comes up behind me and gives me a $2.00 voucher for a pack of cigarettes. Upon asking them what being a “brand ambassador” entails, they respond that they generally go to public places and conduct surveys, asking young folks what cigarette brands they prefer. I tell them that I don’t smoke Newports, but know someone who does (The Editor). I will kindly put the voucher in the mail for her the next day.

Now that the set is over, I gaze around and see that the crowd has dispersed a bit. It began with maybe two dozen people in the room, but ended with about fifteen. The rest of them are probably outside. I figure they must be onto something, and went outside to get some fresh air myself.


The first time I saw No One Mind, it was at King’s in 2016, and I snagged the last remaining copy of their ‘Born Again’ single on vinyl. It still holds a special place in my record collection, like a trophy. Spinning it for the first time, I was sold. I’m a sucker for a 4/4. Maybe that explains why I’m so enamoured of disco. I haven’t had a chance to see them again in the 2 years since then, but I was pleased that tonight I was going to hear some new songs for the first time, mainly ones from their full-length album, and hopefully I would get some good photos of the band so the Editor wouldn’t have to “finagle” anything.

But alas, my phone dies about 2 minutes into the set. I couldn’t say I’m disappointed, though. I get to stand there and listen, without engaging. I love the spacey, synthy melodies, and make a mental note to remember to buy the album on vinyl before I left.

As the house lights return, the Pour House becomes only slightly less cavernous. I make a beeline to my car for a smoke break. I’ve been sitting in the same spot outside for 5 minutes and already observed three different people walking around asking passersby for money. I’m parked right across from Moore Square, which has been barricaded for “renovations” since October, the chain link fence plastered with the billboard “committed to stopping and preventing homelessness”.

My munchie-mode sets in and I debate whether I should double-time to Cookout on my way home or to go back inside and buy their album first. I decide to support local artists and go back inside, but the Square wasn’t working at the merch table and I didn’t have cash. Going home, I guess :/

Featured image is an original photo of The Pour House by The Editor.

The Post-Show: Waking April, Dane Page, LAIRS, at The Pinhook, July 9, 2018

I went to The Pinhook on Sunday, July 8th by invitation of Raleigh-based synth duo, Waking April. They had written to Durham Beat to convey their regards and to make us aware of the show. As it turns out, I was planning to go anyway, but an invitation from the band? Yes, please.

I arrived at the show shortly before the opening act, Durham-based trio LAIRS, took the stage. One Natty Bo and shot of Jameson later, I found my usual stage front position and settled in to listen to the first of three local North Carolina acts on the bill. With a sound ranging from blues rock, to psychedelic indie rock to occasional flairs of Brit Pop, LAIRS set was high energy, audience inclusive, and straight up crunchy. During one song, lead singer and guitar player Patrick, pulled a friend up on stage to take over guitar duties, while he assumed the role of full-fledged lead vocalist, leaning into the crowd, and–dare I say–flirting with us with his amiable gesticulating. It’s sets like theirs that remind me time and time again how important it is to show up early to catch the opener. Much of the audience at this well-attended show turned up during the second set, missing out completely on an incredibly promising up-and-coming group from right here in town. To paraphrase myself from a previous local band writeup: the easiest way to support your local music scene is to show up. Luckily, you, dear reader, will have a chance to catch them in just a couple of weeks at one of my favorite local hangouts, The Station.

The second set came from the Charlotte-based indie folk act Dane Page. Two guitars, synth, bass, and drums. With sounds ranging from eerie-Bon Iver-esque to upbeat folksy to ambient to straight up swampy, Dane Page has captured the essence of nouveau indie folk. Harnessing the electronic edge that has steadily crept its way into folk music, Dane Page has a balanced, accessible sound that I want to keep hearing. This is all not to mention the utterly delightful and captivating vocals. Charmed. That’s how I felt at the end of the set. This Sunday evening show, as I later discovered when I went to chat with the band, was their first time playing in Durham. Something tells me they will be back soon…

The night culminated with the headlining set from synth pop duo Waking April. Their setup is very straight forward: Alex on electric guitar and vocals, and Bethany on vocals and synth. Rocking a sound ranging from soft and ethereal to super edgy dance pop, this high energy duo weaved between original songs and a few choice covers, including a brilliant rendition of “Blood in the Cut” by K.Flay. Last year, I had been shamelessly blasting that very song out of my car at all hours–stung as I was then by a certain faux feminist asshole who had broken my heart–but on this night, this cover, this set, hearing Alex and Bethany perform this song was very much a celebration. And I was so delighted to hear it live and done with such precision and energy. When I eventually left the venue to head back to my quiet little corner of Durham, I carried with me the residual energy and joy from a night of positively wonderful local sounds.

Immediately after Waking April left the stage, I joined the duo in the downstairs artist hangout of The Pinhook for a Raw Bites session. I invite you to listen to our post-show chat:

Check out the photo series from the show on Instagram!

Album Review: Al Riggs – “We’re Safe But For How Long”

We’re Safe But for How Long presents itself with the opening track as a folk album with a wounded edge. As the snare fades on this track, I am struck by the depth of simplicity.

November” feel like leaves falling. Repetition of beats and textured sounds has a mesmerizing groove. The vocals lay on top, not afraid to be so out front, not afraid to be heard.

Hell yeah! “How to Make a Proper Fist”–the noise, the noise that hides a clean guitar and frames the the reverb heavy vocals. Harmonies and crunchy sounds with keys/synth creeping in and out, give me more!

At the heart of the album I get the sense that Al Riggs is not afraid. The vocals and lyrics are hung out, wide open. To sing like this, alone, vulnerable above the mix would scare the shit out of a lot of musicians. I have to admit I was unnerved a little at first, however with repeated listens I was drawn to the sound of his voice, its imperfections and warmth.

I want this on vinyl for the next stretch of rainy days.

How I want to listen to this album:
On a cold rainy day, on my front porch, windows open, in order to hear the music playing inside,  with a Ponysaurus Export Stout in hand.

Featured image courtesy of Al Riggs.

Album Review: Flash Car – “Wardrobe”

Wardrobe, the new album from Carrboro band Flash Car, is a true soundtrack to a reckless summer of fun.

The opening song, “Pollen,” plays like a car chase.  Metronoming drum beat, Hammond B-3 sounding keys, and lush vocals weave a rich wall of sound. The line “Come on let’s go” is  an invitation to what awaits on the rest of the album. A perfect pick for the opening track!

Lady, Lady” has a bright, Brit pop feel, harmonies, inflection and all.  

Thanks to the third track “My Mailman” I will never be able to look at my mailman the same way.  “He’s just talking on the phone, cause you know he’s got better things to do”! Great backing vocals and smooth, catchy guitar leads.

The album continues on holding true to a summer vibe. The vocal, guitar, and instrument production pulls everything together, while the songs are crafted in a way that draws you in.

On the surface the album has an ultra-clean sound, but underneath some of the cuts are beautifully crafted and tempered noise.  

Right from the start “Fool” hits with a little 50’s vocals then slides a little beach sound your way.

On my first listen, “Lonely Soul” seemed out of place with the rest of the album. As I listened to the song more, I got it. It’s a little breather before the final track. Maybe if the Flaming Lips had been asked to record a song for the movie “Jackie Brown” this is what they would have done.

This is a solid album through and through. As I sit listening to the opening track again I can’t stop bobbing my head. I wish I had this playing when the police arrived in front of my house during a rowdy 4th of July gathering.

I will be looking to see Flash Car live.

How I want to listen to this album:

I want to be followed while riding my bike by a car blasting the album so I can hear it. I’ll hit Sam’s pick up a 4-pack of Cloud Surfer (Trophy Brewing) head home and start the album over while killing that beer.

Featured picture courtesy of Flash Car. Album art by Evan Crankshaw. See his work HERE.

FESTIVAL FOR THE ENO: Staff Picks (Part Two) for July 7th

The Festival for the Eno is a well of potential–from aspiring local musicians and craftmakers, to inspired food truck chefs, to the Eno itself, a beloved local ecosystem, a source of clean water, and a community space for the enjoyment of local natural beauty. For the 39th Annual Festival for the Eno, the organizers did an outstanding job bringing together excellent local talent, some hella keen visiting acts, and, of course, the community itself.

For the second and final day of the festival, we have put together a robust list of picks for those festival-goers out there. Even if you can’t make it to the festival this weekend, be sure to check out these outstanding local acts!

Staff Picks Part Two–July 7th

XYLEM–10AM at River Stage

When I bumped into Donovan on July 4th at the Eno, he told me his band plays “psychedelic space jazz” and I was, of course, instantly intrigued. Later that day I spent some time on their SoundCloud and that’s when I knew I was going to be at the festival early on Saturday in time to catch their set for myself. I can’t think of a better way to kick off Day Two at Festival for the Eno than with some space jazz down by the river.

Chatham Rabbits–11:30AM at Chimney Stage

A local folk duo rocking banjo and acoustic guitar, Sarah and Austin bring to the stage a reverence for traditional folk music with a flair for the contemporary. Formed back in 2013, Chatham Rabbits have been gracing stages across the South, bringing with them a genial sound and North Carolina roots. This set promises feel-good vibes and a whole lot of dancing.

Nathan Bowles–1:15PM at Grove Stage

A fixture in the local scene, Nathan Bowles is a multi-instrumentalist wandering between “Appalachian string band music and avant-garde composition…” His latest solo album, Whole & Cloven explores this genre-straddling in-depthly. His set at the Eno is one you won’t want to miss.

Honey Magpie–10AM at Meadow Stage OR 1:15PM at Chimney Stage

Honey Magpie is a three-piece all female indie folk band from Chapel Hill who released their debut self-titled album last summer. Vocal harmonies, string instruments, and a wide array of musical influences, they make captivating, graceful sounds. Honey Magpie is a must-see.

Stray Local–1:45PM at Meadow Stage OR 4:15PM at Chimney Stage

Stray Local hails from Wilmington, bringing with them a feel-good indie folk vibe. Like many of the artists on this list, Stray Local’s sound spans the depth of folk music, from its most traditional string sounds to its new electronic edge. This set promises to be as riveting as it is delightful, and certainly dance-worthy.

Tan & Sober Gentlemen–315PM at River Stage

A riotous bunch playing celtic-inspired punkgrass. Having seen this band before, they are nothing short of spitfire fun. The River Stage seems to be hosting the loudest of the music at this year’s Festival for the Eno. Wander over there at 315PM on Saturday and get wild with the Tan & Sober Gentlemen.

NiiTO–3:45PM at Meadow Stage

Jazz meets R&B with a distinct millennial twist. NiiTO has been making waves in the scene lately, playing shows all over the Triangle with hip hop artists to singer songwriters. This band is highly skilled and super fresh. We hope to see you over at the Meadow Stage for this one!

Be sure to check out the full lineup for July 7th at the Eno. Don’t forget to check out the many excellent local craft vendors. The folks at Festival for the Eno have compiled a complete list. If you’re going to be at the festival, then we look forward to seeing you there. If not, then tune into our Instagram pages and follow along with our coverage!

Featured Image courtesy of Festival for the Eno and Eno River Association.

FESTIVAL FOR THE ENO: Staff Picks (Part One) for July 4th

We are very excited to be participating in the Festival for the Eno this year. Spanning two days, July 4th and July 7th, the Eno River festival promises to be a treasure-trove of excellent local talent (with a few choice visitors too!), musicmakers and craftmakers alike.

We have taken some time to go through the entire festival schedule to put together some recommendations for those of you who are planning to attend. Even if you’re not going to be there, we strongly urge you to check out these acts!

Staff Picks Part One–July 4th

Charles Latham–10AM at Meadow Stage

One of the first acts to play at the Festival for the Eno this year, the Durham-based singer-songwriter should be a transcendental way to start the day. Introspective and ethereal, Latham’s music captures a wide range of the human experience.

Violet Bell–12:15PM at Grove Stage

A string duo–guitar and fiddle–Lizzy and Omar are both incredibly skilled musicians with a positively delightful stage presence–something to which we can personally attest as we covered Violet Bell at their recent residency at Arcana. You can listen to our chat on the Raw Bites Sessions as well. One of the most promising nouveau indie acts in the area, Violet Bell is an absolute pleasure to behold.

Lightnin Wells–1PM at Grove Stage; 3:15PM at Chimney Stage

A long-time local icon and keeper of the traditions of local folk music, Lightnin Wells is a must-see. From 1920s blues and folk to the ever-popular Piedmont style, Lightnin’s performances are an ode to the local musicians of old and an opportunity for the present day audience to glide through time with a man who is as much a performer as he is a living archive.

The Birdhorse–1:30PM at Chimney Stage

Toni Hartley is enchanting. Her sophomore album, Fool’s Adventure, released in March of this year, is a big hit here at Durham Beat. Recently featured in our collective long-form album review column, TL;DR Reviews, Fool’s Adventure is a nature walk through a forest of human emotion. We are beyond excited to see Hartley perform live and to experience her lovely voice in person.

Chatham Rabbits–2:30PM at Chimney Stage

A local folk duo rocking banjo and acoustic guitar, Sarah and Austin bring to the stage a reverence for traditional folk music with a flair for the contemporary. Formed back in 2013, Chatham Rabbits have been gracing stages across the South, bringing with them a genial sound and North Carolina roots. This set promises feel-good vibes and a whole lot of dancing.

War Twins–3:30PM at River Stage

One of the few non-local acts to make the staff picks list here–War Twins embody the spirit of rock n’ roll. Their new album American Kids is a profound culmination of diligence and dreams. Gaetana and James got their start years ago in Boston where The Editor, who was working as Managing Editor at Quiet Lunch Magazine at the time, featured them (known as Little War Twins then) in her column The First Act. Several column inches, tours, and life events later, this unexpected reunion at the Eno River promises to be a fervent display of American rock n’ roll in its newest and truest form.

Boom Unit Brass Band–4:30PM at River Stage

It’s hard to go wrong with a brass band. A multi-instrumental ensemble from Chapel Hill, Boom Unit Brass Band is composed of highly skilled musicians, many of whom participate in other local projects. This set promises to be noisy, fun, and inspired.

Simone Finally–4:45PM at Chimney Stage

A Durham-based musician, Simone Finally is one woman with a guitar and a lyrically-driven style. Since stumbling upon her music recently, I have been camping out on her SoundCloud page. Another lovely voice to be sure, Simone’s set will be a most enjoyable way to end day one at the Festival for the Eno.

Be sure to check out the full lineup for July 4th at the Eno. A number of local craft vendors will be onsite as well. The folks at Festival for the Eno have compiled a complete list. If you’re going to be at the festival, then we look forward to seeing you there. If not, then tune into our Twitter and Instagram pages and follow along with our coverage! Stay tuned for our July 7th picks later this week!

Featured Image courtesy of Festival for the Eno and Eno River Association.

The Post-Show: Brassious Monk, “Working…” Album Release, June 23, 2018

I’m one of those pieces of shit that you never see at shows, one of the ones who “has to get up early” but really just wants to hang with boo. Don’t get me wrong, I only want the most for local musical artists, but I suck at going to their performances.

The Editor asked me to attend Brassious Monk’s release of Working… and I was definitely into it in theory. Local hip hop artists at a new music venue, an intimate setting in which to appreciate what still (unfortunately) proves for me to be mostly-unknown genre territory. But like,


Goddamn, the shit starts so late and has four openers that you’ve never heard of, and you’re tired and you live in Durham and shit. Without traffic, you’re looking at a 25 minute drive one-way, not including looking for parking. Then you have to risk your life (or freedom) driving whilst towing the forbidden .08 back to the Bull City, because lord knows if you’re going to get through this night, you’re gonna need a few drinks. You start to make up other things to get upset about just to give you more reasons not to go. Netflix and chill looks more and more tempting…

But fuck it. You said you would, so you will. This is what I, the aforementioned piece of shit, had to tell myself to attend what turned out to be one of the most inspiring performances I’ve seen in Raleigh thus far.

The Wicked Witch is a cash-only venue on the outskirts of South downtown Raleigh, kind of on the edge of the warehouse district. You walk up two flights of really sonically-intriguing stairs and end up in one of those spots that you never would have guessed was there if you looked at the building from the outside. I bet this joint is gonna have killer Halloween parties for the rest of time. I bought my first drink (a dark and stormy, for you gingery bitches who were interested), sat down, and spilled my petty bullshit to The Editor, who is somehow always down to go anywhere to see local live music. DJ Aston Martin was dope, I knew, but I needed a little more warm up time (and a few more drinks) to truly begin to vibe on what was happening.

BluHouse Band’s groove-rooted psychedelic hip hop was followed by a terrifyingly real performance by Durham’s own JooseLord that made me just about, how do you say, “break [my] fuckin’ neck.” Granted, I got really, really excited by BluHouse’s bass/drums rhythm section who held it DOWN in the face of guitar solos played from back-of-neck, but seriously. Joose is one of those artists that everyone loves to hate but everyone needs to listen to if they want a real peek into the minds of Black men who’ve been tortured by systemic racism for their entire lives but still, somehow, have a sense of humor about it. Later in the night, Joose told me that he loved the Durham punk band Pie Face Girls and that he’d played on bills with them in the past, which seemed to me to be one of the most profoundly fucking perfect lineups that I would ever get to see. Someday.

So, at this point, these openers became more than just openers to me. In the words of Brass himself, “I hate when people don’t come to see the supporting acts. Like, if you respect me enough to see the show, you should respect my choices in artists that I want to support me.” True. Each performance played a role in creating a sounding board for Working… to grow from; they were all imperative for both the audience and Brass to feel the full impact of the release. Joose called us all into the room, where eventually Brassious Monk, the perfectionist, meandered on the stage, sat down at a card table equipped with a desk lamp and a laptop, and inconspicuously made his project available online for purchase. He performed the first track, left a sign that simply said “Gone Fishing” on the card table, and disappeared.

Alright, cool. Another track starts playing, we’re all out here looking like content pitbulls, smiling about nothing, slightly confused, tongues hanging out (nah I’m just playing). A voice comes out of nowhere. A few cues from the audience lead me to look along the mirror-lined walls to find Brass, decked out in a fishing vest and cap with fairy lights running down his arms and torso, spitting rhymes while circling a plastic crystal ball on the floor.

This has got to be the point when I realized that I had completely gotten over myself. Like, I was SO glad that I was in this room, arm’s-length from the artist who had brought us all together that night, on the edge of the small group who had made it to the end. Yes, the aforementioned piece of shit made it to the END because of the sheer power of community and hip-hop! Brass’s set was perfect despite his own disclaimers, filled with intimate narrative about his life and beats to match. After what seemed like no time at all, it was all over, and I found myself wanting so, so much more.

So let this be a testament to us all. GO TO SHOWS. SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS. Even when you’re a piece of shit like me. The artists will definitely be grateful that you came, and hopefully you’ll feel better than you did before you left your bed.