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Morgan & Fayetteville Street

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Sponsored by: Paragon Bank
Media Sponsor: Raleigh Magazine

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The Suffers

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Media Sponsor: Triangle Tribune

There is a contagious and combustible energy every time the eight-piece wonder-band The Suffers steps on the scene. NPR’s Bob Boilen attributes the band’s allure to their “Soul, straight from horn to heart.” He adds, “This band is on fire when it’s in front of an audience…but the intensity of their shows are also captured in the studio.” Following The Suffers’ electrifying late night TV debut on Letterman in 2015, David Letterman exclaimed, “If you can’t do this, get out of the business!” There is something undeniable about The Suffers (whose name is a reference to the 1978 Jamaican film Rockers starring Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, Jacob Miller and Burning Spear, among others), that instantly hits home with their audiences. “We make music for all people,” says lead vocalist Kam Franklin. “At this point, we’ve played all over the world and one thing is certain – if the music is good, the people will enjoy it.” Since 2011, the H-Town heroes have been on a steady grind and have no plans of stopping. It seems the secret to their success is simple. Keyboardist Patrick Kelly confides, “There is a universal groove in the music that we play,” while bass guitarist Adam Castaneda adds, “I don’t think any of us are trying to impress anyone with our technical abilities, we just want to make them dance.”

Shanachie Entertainment will release The Suffers’ highly anticipated label debut Everything Here on July 13, 2018. Guitarist Kevin Bernier says, “Everything Here, as a whole, explores the many aspects of who we are as people through songs. We’ve had crushes on people, we’ve had our hearts broken, and we’ve moved through all the difficult times so that we can experience the joyful moments.” The Suffers have got everything you need and there’s no need to look further – a heaping dose of soul, a dash of reggae, a splash of jazz, a pinch of salsa, a hint of rock ‘n’ roll and a dollop of hip hop and funk – and that is just a few ingredients simmering inside their magical Gulf Coast soul. Percussionist Jose Luna says, “The glue that holds us together is our experience. We have all played with so many bands and musicians through the years that we have learned how not to step on each others toes.”

Everything Here, a riveting collection of 15 originals that gives props to Houston (there are even cameos from Houston rappers Paul Wall and Bun B), explores the many sides of love, celebrates the virtues of individuality, reminds us of the destruction of Harvey and resilience of the human spirit and declares love for their mothers. All of these themes coalesce into one soulful soundtrack. The band co-produced the album with John Allen Stephens and Zeke Listenbee co-produced on several tracks. Trombonist Michael Razo explains, “One of our goals was to have the songs on the album flow or tie into each other. Like creating an album where you just press play and let it go without having to skip to the next song.”

“The Suffers are a contemporary version of the great R&B/funk bands of 70s and 80s…Rufus, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & The Gang, with a powerful lead vocalist in Kam Franklin and spot-on musicianship that is all too rare these days,” says Shanachie Entertainment General Manager, Randall Grass. “They’ve done a great job of building a base on their own and we at Shanachie are looking forward to taking them to the next level.” The Suffers’ drive coupled with their can’t lose attitude and serious chops have taken them from their beloved Houston to the world stage (they are the first band to break nationally out of Houston in a long time). Lead singer Kam Franklin has the distinction of being a spokesperson for Houston as she has been tapped by the city to appear in a national tourism advertisement. “It means a lot to me that the city would trust me in such a grand way to represent them,” shares the dynamic singer/songwriter. “Houston has played a huge part in making me who I am and introducing our music to the masses, and for that, we are forever grateful.” The Suffers have played sold out shows in Japan and Latin America, turned out audiences at the Newport Folk Festival and Afropunk Festival and made believers of just about anyone who has experienced their live shows. “We’re a testament to teamwork and camaraderie resulting in things working out even when the odds are against a positive outcome,” says drummer Nick Zamora. “The wonderful thing about music is that it is ultimate universal communication,” reflects trumpeter Jon Durbin.

The Suffers exploded onto the scene in 2015 with their dazzling EP Make Some Room, which was followed by their critically heralded self-titled debut in 2016. The highly anticipated Everything Here is the band’s most bold statement yet. Nick Zamora shares, “We were nervous because we didn’t know how to write an album while devoting so much time to touring and keeping our personal lives together at the same time. We started doing it when we could; on the road, at home, finding inspiration here and there. We wrote about our post-9 to 5 epiphanies, relationships and music that just felt good.” As the album began to morph into creation the band trusted their vision. “I think that the idea has always been to be as honest as we can,” says Patrick Kelly. KamFranklin adds, “Our hope is that our fans walk away feeling empowered, resilient, and inspired to live a better life.”

Everything Here opens ceremoniously with a smooth and fun-loving head-nod to Houston. Paul Wall jumps on the intro as the background vocals sing, “It might not be that pretty but it looks real good to me. It might not be your favorite city but it’s really got a hold on me.” Kam Franklin says, “Not only does Paul Wall serve as an unofficial ambassador for the city, he is a hard working artist that brought this song the life we thought it was missing!” The effervescently playful “I Think I Love You” follows with blustery horns and bluesy vocals. The song chronicles the moment when the universe throws you a curveball in the way of a new and unexpected love interest. Franklin shares, “This song is about embracing that confidence that comes with not needing to depend on a lover, while still being open to the possibilities of new romance.” “Do Whatever,” the album’s second single, is a song the band nurtured for two years before they finally recorded it. During this evolution, it has come to stand as a sort of anthem for them on living your life on your own terms. It opens with soul-stirring horns, thumping bass lines and Kam laying down the law singing, “Full on disclosure, I’m not here for exposure. I came to have a good time so let me shine… Do whatever feels right, all night, alright, alright!” The driving rhythms and hip-hop tinged “The One About Sace” has some fun chronicling the journey of getting to know someone. With references to Nas and the film “The Five Heartbeats,” Kam asks questions to get to know her love interest better. The hopping Rhodes, skipping melody and fabulous orchestration on “All I Want To Do” reminds us of the virtues of following your heart. The song, which Nick Zamora penned while still in high school, showcases lyrics to live by: “If it don’t taste good, I don’t have to eat it. If it don’t fit well, I don’t have to wear it. And if it ain’t broke I don’t have to fix it.” Everything Here also highlights the tender ballad featuring lush strings and shimmering percussion, “Sure To Remain,” while “Charlotte” breaks down the walls of negativity and features Paul Wall once again. Franklin shares, “The demo for this one was written in Charlotte, NC after a really rough day on the road. A few outsiders tried to break us down with their negativity, but we were not having it. The end result was us holding our heads up high and proceeding to do what we love most: creating smooth music that makes us and the masses happy!”

Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in August of 2017. Its devastation in many ways are comparable to the effects of Katrina. Despite the media’s dissipating coverage, Houston is still recovering. “After the Storm” is a song that Kam wrote with her friend Lisa E. Harris during Hurricane Harvey. The song features Lyle Divinsky, lead singer for Denver-based funk band, The Motet. The arresting track opens with a percussive heartbeat that stops you in your tracks. Kam explains, “In the days after the storm, the city enforced a mandatory curfew that meant everyone needed to be in their houses by 10pm every night. While visiting Lisa, we lost track of time, and ended up having a mandatory slumber party due to the curfew and ended up writing this song.” The Suffers serve up some sharp-edged funk on the dance-inducing “What You Said,” which is all about communication as the lyrics exclaim “It’s not what you said, its how you said it. It’s not what you did, it’s how you did it!”

The Suffers are family. Spend ten minutes with the band and you know that the ties that bind them go well beyond the music. They are truly a democracy in which every voice is heard and respected and they also love their mamas! On the heart-warming interlude “A Word From Our Mammas,” the band turn the mics on their mothers who are heard confessing their love for their children. The song “Mammas” very well could rival The Intruders seminal tribute to mama’s everywhere. “Bernard’s Interlude” features the baritone of pisces, poet and rapper Bun B. Kam’s idea to feature a few MC’s on the recording was inspired by Kanye West. “I had a vision of getting a bunch of different rappers to do our interludes, similar to what Kanye did on his first few albums with the comedians. Instead of rapping, the vision was to show a different side of their personalities the world hasn’t seen before. For Bun, I knew I wanted him to sing. Bun came in, and killed it on the first take.” The dub and reggae fueled title track takes us through the travails of a devastating breakup and was penned by Nick Zamora’s brother and former band member Alex, who shared additional guitar duties. The sultry jazz vibes and delightfully unexpected key changes of “You Only Call” serves as a notice to all those who take but don’t give back, while “Won’t Be Here Tomorrow” is a real soul/blues showstopper. Kam Franklin’s raspy and ‘take no prisoners’ vocals tell the story of a woman who has chosen to confront her cheating partner. “It’s a little eerie, but at the same time, it’s empowering,” says Kam. “She knows that he wants to be with her, so the power is in her hands. So, instead of automatically writing him off, she gives him the opportunity to explain why she should stay. This was one of my favorite songs to record on the album due to the fact that we brought in a choir of amazing singers to fill out the song.”

With the release of Everything Here, The Suffers are bound to further endear die-hard fans and make believers of new ones. Jon Durbin says, “I hope our music helps people and that our songs can be healing and inspirational.” Kam Franklin concludes, “We make music for ourselves, but the performances are 100 percent for the people. They are the reason we are on the road. They are the reason we get to eat. They are the reason for what we do. We’d be nothing without them, and it’s something we remind ourselves of every night.”

Scott Mulvahill promo photo

Scott Mulvahill

4:15 pm – 5:15 pm

Media Sponsor: Our State Magazine

As a teenager growing up near Houston, Texas, Scott picked up the bass guitar on a whim. Natural talent and the lure of a challenge drove him to be the best musician he could and discover his love for singing, songwriting and the upright bass. After attending college at North Texas State University, Scott moved to Nashville, where his life changed after meeting American music icon Ricky Skaggs and joining his Grammy winning band, Kentucky Thunder. He toured with Ricky for over five years, and in that time, first started writing songs on his upright bass.

Scott describes his experience, “I started music as a bass player, but when it came to singing and writing songs, all my favorite writers played guitar or piano, and I just figured I had to as well. But while in Ricky Skaggs’ band, I started performing ’20/20 Vision’ in the show, which opened with just the bass and my voice, and it was a revelation. I realized that this sound, this concept could work, and I honestly wondered why I hadn’t had the courage to do it before. So I started writing songs on the bass. I tried to make the bass parts complete arrangements with harmony and rhythm, and weave my melodies between all that – the first song I wrote that way was “Fighting for the Wrong Side”. And that’s when the music became unique. Not for unique sake, but just because I was finally bringing all of my varied skills to the table and doing something that few others could, and it was where I felt I could give my best to the music.”

Himalayas is the culmination of that combination of musicality. Scott’s songs have received honors or been featured in NPR’S Tiny Desk Contest, the International Songwriting Competition, John Lennon Songwriting Contest, and American Songwriter Magazine’s 30thAnniversary Contest, and he has had numerous cuts on other artists’ albums. Scott was a showcase performer at 2018 Americana Music Festival, and has been featured on Lightning 100 radio’s Nashville Sunday Night series. He is touring this fall as a featured artist on the Lauren Daigle “Look Up Child” tour, as well as the “Win/Win” tour with Matt Wertz and Jon McLaughlin.

He has shared the stage with some of the greatest artists of modern music, such as: Alison Krauss, Barry Gibb of the BeeGees, Bruce Hornsby, Brad Paisley, Peter Frampton, Steven Curtis Chapman, Emmylou Harris, Dave Barnes, Ben Rector, and many more. He’s currently touring in support of his September release, Himalayas, which was produced by himself, Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars, The Lone Bellow) Gary Paczosa (Alison Krauss, Sarah Jarosz), and Shani Ghandi (Sarah Jarosz).

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Union Duke

2:45 pm – 3:45 pm

Media Sponsor: 72.9 The Voice

Sweat flies and floorboards tremble – Union Duke is a Toronto folk quintet with an explosive live show. Bridging soulful indie rock with bluegrass and country, the group belts out soaring harmonies with three, four and even five voices. The songs are irresistible, the perfect fit for the heatwave of the dance hall or the cool breeze of the park. These five guys have been making a commotion in one way or another since they were kids, and years of making music together have brought them to this: a heartbreak of twang and a bootshake of rock and roll. Union Duke is two fifths city, two fifths country, and one fifth whiskey.

For their third record, Golden Days, Union Duke recorded live off the floor to capture the raw, joyful energy of their concerts. Then they brought in Grammy award-winning mix engineer Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Basia Bulat, Timbre Timber) to bring the mixes to life. Golden Days will take you back to your warmest memories: nights by the lake, passing a bottle around the fire, or singing with your friends at the top of your lungs. It also looks forward, reaching for those long, lazy summer days that will keep you going through the winter. It’s a record of pain and struggle, lessons learned – and of laughter between friends, tenderness between lovers. One minute you’re following banjo music rambling down a country lane. The next minute you feel the pulse and pound of the amplifiers.

The band works hard, travelling back and forth across the country playing to fans young and old from coast to coast. They’ve played sold out shows where crowds know all the words. They’ve performed at countless festivals including TURF, Mariposa, and Summerfolk, topping the list of must-see acts. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and they leave every audience smiling – maybe the golden days aren’t so distant after all.

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Rissi Palmer

1:15 pm – 2:15 pm

Media Sponsor: Carolina Woman

Rissi Palmer, who describes her musical style as “Southern Soul,” has received widespread media attention in national publications including Ebony, Parade, People, Newsweek, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and more. She has performed on the CBS Early Show, CNN, The Tavis Smiley Show, Oprah & Friends, at the White House, Lincoln Center, and the Grand Ole Opry. Rissi has also shared the stage with such notable artists as Charley Crockett, Chris Young, Taylor Swift and The Eagles, to name a few. And, on top of all that, she made music history in 2007 with the release of her Top 40 debut single, “Country Girl,” becoming the first African-American female to chart a country song since 1987.

Since the release of her nationally distributed debut album, Rissi has released two albums on her own indie label Baldilocks LLC, including the children’s album Best Day Ever and her latest critically acclaimed EP, The Back Porch Sessions. She is currently working on a new album scheduled for release in 2019.

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India Ramey

12:00 pm – 12:45 pm

Media Sponsor: V103.3

Blasting twin barrels of Americana noire and southern-gothic songwriting, India Ramey fires on all cylinders with her national debut, Snake Handler.

Pentecostal churches, broken households, crooked family trees, forgotten pockets of the Deep South, and domestic violence all fill the album’s 10 songs, whose autobiographical lyrics pull from Ramey’s experience as a young girl in rural Georgia. Intensely personal and sharply written, Snake Handler shines a light on the darkness of Ramey’s past, driving out any lingering demons — or snakes, if you will — along the way.

Inspired by the warm sonics of Jason Isbell’s Southeastern and the big-voiced bombast of Neko Case’s Furnace Room Lullabies, Snake Handler was recorded in six days with producer Mark Petaccia — Southeastern‘s sound engineer, coincidentally — and members of Ramey’s road band. Ringing guitars, violin, atmospheric organ, and percussive train beats all swirl together, leaving room for Ramey’s voice — an instrument punctuated by the light drawl of her hometown and the quick tremolo of her vibrato — to swoon, swagger, and sparkle. It’s a voice she began developing as a child in Rome, Georgia, singing made-up songs into her electric hair curler while her parents fought just outside her bedroom door. The family home was a violent one, the product of an addicted father who flew into an abusive rage whenever his vices took control. Despite being the youngest of three children, Ramey grew up quickly, robbed of a typical childhood by her unpredictable home life. She recollects those early years in “The Baby,” skewers her no-good dad in “Devil’s Blood,” tells her mother’s story in “Rome to Paris,” and paints a less-than-inviting picture of her hometown in “Devil’s Den.”

Although her childhood lacked peace, it was filled with music, thanks to a charismatic grandfather who, in his younger years, sang in an Alabama-based gospel quartet. Known regionally for his talents, he turned down an offer to become a permanent performer on The Lawrence Welk Show when his wife refused to move to the big city. Instead, he remained in his hometown of Sand Mountain, Alabama — notorious for its number of snake-handling churches — and worked as piano tuner, decorating his own home with cast-off pianos and other instruments. It was during trips to that house, with her mother playing autoharp and her grandaddy playing acoustic guitar, that Ramey grew up singing.

“He lived to be 98,” she says of her grandfather, “and when he was in the nursing home, I bought my first guitar at Wal-Mart. I took it to him so he could teach me a couple chords, and he told me, ‘I don’t regret anything about my life, but I still wonder what might have happened if I would’ve done something with my music. I’m proud of you for getting your education, but I want you to take this guitar and do something with your music.’ So that’s what I’m doing.”

Before launching her music career, though, Ramey worked as a Deputy District Attorney in Montgomery, Alabama. The goal? To help women who, like her own mother, found themselves in abusive situations.

“When I was younger,” she remembers, “I competed in beauty pageants to earn scholarship money for college. I wanted to become a prosecutor and save battered women. It worked. I went to law school, worked as a special prosecutor, and got to make a difference in a lot of victims’ lives.”

There, between daytime hours spent in the law office and nighttime gigs alongside her Birmingham-based band, Ramey realized that music — her true calling — could help people, too. She began making honest, heartfelt music, filled with lyrics that spoke openly of her past. A pair of early releases, Junkyard Angel and Blood Crescent Moon, helped sharpen her songwriting chops. Those albums also paved the way for her move to Nashville, where she turned her back on the legal world and, instead, threw herself into songwriting. Once settled in Tennessee, she found a kindred spirit in Mark Petaccia.

Working together, Ramey and Petaccia fill Snake Handler‘s songs with vivid musical and visual imagery. In “Drowned Town,” a song inspired by the cities in northeastern Alabama that were forever submerged by the TVA’s hydroelectric damming projects, Anna Harris’ violin floats far beneath Ramey’s melody, as through it’s being recorded underwater. Similarly, the distorted guitar lines in the album’s closing number, “Saying Goodbye,” parallel the jumble of feelings that pushed Ramey to write the song.

“I wrote that song about going to see my father when he was dying,” she says of “Saying Goodbye,” which ends the album on a note of acceptance and weary optimism. “It was weird to see him on his deathbed, because I’d spent my whole life hating him. Still, I was heartbroken to see him dying. I didn’t know how to assimilate those feelings. Joey Fletcher plays guitar in my band, and Mark put on a baritone guitar that was being run through a distortion pedal. When I heard it, I thought, ‘That guitar sound is exactly the way my head felt when I walked into the nursing home. All the cognitive dissonance I was feeling is in that instrument.’”

Melodic and mighty, Snake Handler is a battle cry from a songwriter who’s unafraid to dive back into her past — no matter how dark it may be — to find closure. It’s an album about final chapters and new beginnings. About violence, resolution, and next steps. It’s India Ramey: unfiltered, unrestrained, and wholly engaging.

Main Stage

Morgan & Fayetteville Street

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Sponsored by: The Glenwood Agency
Media Sponsor: Triangle Downtowner Magazine

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Alejandro Escovedo

4:45 pm – 6:00 pm

Media Sponsor: Downtown Raleigh Alliance

Crossing borders, jumping barriers, taking risks, betting it all: that’s the path Alejandro Escovedo has been taking in his lifelong search for the heart of rock and roll.

The epic 17 song suite comprising The Crossing is about that journey: searching, but not necessarily finding, eyes and ears open all the way. Ranging from sweeping orchestral numbers to classic rock to bursts of 70s punk, the collection finds Escovedo delving further into his lifelong musical journey across his most sonically diverse work yet.

The Crossing tells the tale of two boys, one from Mexico, one from Italy, who meet in Texas to chase their American rock and roll dreams. They discover a not-so-welcoming, very different place from the Promised Land they imagined, with cameos from the likes of Wayne Kramer of the MC5 and James Williamson of the Stooges to show the boys the way.

A Mexican-American kid with Texas roots and California raising taking on immigration issues in two continents with an Italian band, no less, makes perfect sense — if you know Alejandro Escovedo. Forever the curious explorer, he’s been a punk of the rebel kind in The Nuns, a cowpunk of the non-Western variety in Rank and File, commander of a guitar army in The True Believers, an orchestral conductor in his solo work, and a sensitive boy who has outrun death, demons, lust, and lost love in his songs. He has collaborated with Bruce Springsteen, John Cale, Los Lobos, Peter Buck & Scott McCaughey, Los Texmaniacs, and Chuck Prophet. No Depression magazine declared him the Artist of the Decade.

Two years ago, with a string of European tour dates booked, he went looking for a band from the Continent to back him up. Don Antonio, a seasoned, all-instrumental band from Modigliana , in the northern Italian province of Emilia-Romagna, came highly recommended, but Alejandro wasn’t so sure at first. “They didn’t look like a rock and roll band,” he says. Then he started asking around. Their reputation sealed the deal. “Turns out they’d played with all my friends – Dan Stuart, Howe Gelb, Steve Wynn. Everybody knew them. Apparently, at one time or another, everybody toured with them as a band, made friends with them, or played the festival they put on every year.”

He sent the band a list of thirty songs before meeting up in Modigliana. “We had dinner,” Alejandro says. “We rehearsed a day and a half, then did 35 gigs in 40 days in ten different countries across Europe.

“I fell in love with them.”

Two months later, he was back for more tour dates including the south of Italy.

“That’s when it hit me how similar Mexican culture and Italian culture can be, especially in the south where the food is very spicy, the language is very different, and the desert meets the ocean.”

He learned about a deeper history. His new bandmates teased him for thinking 200 years was a long time.

The stories Alejandro Escovedo has been telling about the great migration across North America over the past 150 years mirrors stories that have been playing out for centuries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. “It’s ancient,” he says. “It’s been going on for centuries. It’s encoded in the DNA of all of us.”

The stories and the melding of music led the band and the artist to extend the collaboration into the studio. “I started developing this idea where a young boy from southern Italy named Salvo and a young boy from Mexico named Diego would meet in South Texas,” Alejandro says. “They were looking for the America they had heard about, seen in films, heard on records,” he says. “They go looking for the MC5, the Stooges, the Dolls, the Ramones, all the American bands that they love. They go looking for the authors, Kerouac and Ginsberg.” Without saying it, they come across a very conservative America. “They find they are in a different America, one that wasn’t as open and free as they had believed it was going to be.” But the story is not just that of Diego and Salvo, it also mirrors that of Alejandro and the co-writer of his songs Antonio Gramentieri.

Antonio, Don Antonio’s guitarist and leader, “speaks very good English, he’s well read, an ex-music journalist” Alejandro says. “He was easy to communicate with.” The album was recorded in a month at a farmhouse in Villafranca, Italy with Brian Deck co-producing (Modest Mouse, Gomez, Iron & Wine). “Playing with these guys, it came out naturally, it was coming out without any thought at all. The things with Italians and their music is, they’re always reaching for melody. It’s always very romantic, even when it’s tragic.” The band also features Denis Valentini on bass, Matteo Monti on drums, Franz Valtieri and Gianni Perinelli on horns plus Nicola Peruch on keyboards.

“My thoughts seem to fit very well with their kind of playing, the instrumentation we had, and the way they approach it,” Alejandro says. “They’re not a rock band. They aren’t a band that grew up playing New York Dolls covers. They grew up playing their own cinematic music. When we get into this orchestral thing, they totally embrace it.”

Keeping the Escovedo edge sharp on The Crossing are his personal heroes Williamson and Kramer. Additional guests include Peter Perrett and John Perry from UK cult band The Only Ones, recording together for the first time since 1980. Joe Ely features on both his own track, “Silver City,” as well as the title track. Rio Navidad – a spoken word track about a Texan ranger – was written by novelist and bandleader Willy Vlautin, and read by his bandmate Freddy Trujillo from Richmond Fontaine and The Delines.

“I wanted them in there because Salvo and Diego were looking for that attitude, that kind of perspective in rock and roll,” Alejandro says. “There’s a line in ‘Sonica USA:’ “I saw the Zeroes and they looked like me/This is the America I want to be/Anarchy in Hollywood/land of the free.’

“When we were playing as the True Believers early on [in the 1980s] we’d play San Marcos, San Antonio [Texas] and get all these Chicano kids in denim vests and Iron Maiden patches. I remember thinking they were into us, not necessarily for the music, but for the fact we were there on stage. They loved that we were doing what we were doing. I wanted to bring the Zeros into it because to me the Zeros were so different than any other band that was happening at the time.

“Salvo and Diego see the Plugz at Larchmont Hall, Cypress Hill – they love everything that has something they can relate to,” says Escovedo. “Seeing Love, the band, was like that to me. They were Chicano, black, white – there weren’t a lot of bands like that. Sam the Sham, Thee Midnighters, the Sir Douglas Quintet. All of that is what I experienced as a kid.

“The Crossing has parts of everything I’ve done and everything I want to do,” Alejandro says. “Lyrically, I say a lot of things I’ve never said, that I held back on. ‘Teenage Luggage’ is about the racism in music and things I’ve encountered along the way, the kinds of things I grew up with as a kid in Orange County, trying to be a surfer. Surfers hated Mexicans.”

Alejandro has lived The Crossing. Now he invites you to join Salvo and Diego as they blaze their trail across America. It’s a journey like none you’ve experienced before.

The East Pointers promo photo

The East Pointers

3:15 pm – 4:15 pm

Media Sponsor: WKTV 72.9 The Voice

There’s a reason, beyond their dazzling musicianship and wildly entertaining live shows, that The East Pointers have connected with audiences right across the globe, making new, original roots music the hippest, most vibrant thing going.

The reason? The East Pointers – fiddler/singer Tim Chaisson, banjoist Koady Chaisson and guitarist Jake Charron – write about real life, sketching out its joys and sorrows in vivid strokes. That palpable authenticity makes their instrumental tunes practically cartwheel and infuses their lyric-driven songs with poignancy.

And it’s why listening to The East Pointers’ brilliant and hotly anticipated second album What We Leave Behind – produced by superstar East Coast-bred songwriter/producer Gordie Sampson – is akin to meeting up with an old friend.

As a follow-up to 2015’s internationally acclaimed, JUNO Award-winning debut Secret Victory, What We Leave Behind shares stories previously unheard but framed by a familiar context. The album reflects on the traditions of Canadian Celtic music, where it comes from, and what it means to the people, but also strides in new directions. With a captivating balance between their traditional-sounding instrumental tunes, and catchy radio-ready songs, The East Pointers reach out with open arms to a wide range of listeners, inviting them to discover a new love of folk music.

Never before have The East Pointers so deftly leveraged the whole spectrum of human emotion, drawing inspiration straight from the world they live in. That’s especially evident in a pair of striking new songs featuring Tim Chaisson’s lead vocals: the trembling first single ‘82 Fires’ and the melancholy ‘Two Weeks,’ co-written with Sampson amid recording sessions at Nashville’s famed Sound Emporium last winter, where What We Leave Behind was cut.

‘While in Penguin, Tasmania we spoke with an older gentleman, a lifelong resident, who said that there were 82 wildfires currently on the loose in Tasmania, the most in over half a century. It hit home the severity of what we were all experiencing.”, says Koady Chaisson. “It was a restless few days for us. Small human decisions about where to live or whether or not the show would go on didn’t matter, Mother Nature would always have the final say. Being in the middle of that brings an immediacy about it, you can feel powerless.”

The plaintive ‘Two Weeks’ meanwhile, documents a passage depressingly common in the bands’ home province of Prince Edward Island and played out the world over in economically challenged communities: the need to leave home and travel far away from friends and family to find work.

“When I played that song for my mom, she said ‘That’s going to hit home for a lot of people,’” Koady Chaisson explains. “Many families are forced to split their time, with at least one member having to go out west – usually to Alberta – to make ends meet. It’s so hard. I did it, though luckily not for long, but there are people in my community going through it month after month, year after year.”

The flip side of What We Leave Behind – and indeed, of The East Pointers’ electrifying concerts – are scorching instrumental tunes that yank the freewheeling, Celtic-goosed past into the present, defying anyone to sit still in their chair.

“Traditional music has always been at the core of what we do as a band,” adds Jake Charron. “There’s something powerful about a style of music that has been passed on for generations around the world.” A new take on this tradition is evident in the spry ‘Party Wave,’ inspired by a thrilling surfing experience the band enjoyed in New Zealand, one of many countries The East Pointers visited during 10 months of touring last year. The tunes, written this past year on the road, take you on a journey, building with excitement before transforming into a full-on dance party.

Rounding out the album, the melancholic ‘John Wallace’ – about a 19th century shipwreck off the coast of Prince Edward Island – and the mournful ‘Hid in Your Heart’ uphold the band’s devotion to documenting real life, tragedy and all.

What We Leave Behind carves a new path for The East Pointers, as they continue to blur the lines between traditional and popular music and develop a devoted fanbase around the globe.

The Artisanals promo photo

The Artisnals

1:45 pm – 2:45 pm

Media Sponsor: WHUP

Somewhere on a dusty road or a well traveled interstate, right at this very moment, a rock n’ roll band is pounding the rock. They’re probably wearing the same clothes they had on yesterday, and reminiscing about last night’s gig. Inspired by a guitar lick that cuts to the bone or a melody that lingers on refrain, this band is following a path forged by countless other musicians who’ve lived and died in dive bars or ‘made it’ with their posters taped to bedroom walls. What makes this band of brothers any different? This band is The Artisanals.

Johnny Delaware grew up in a small South Dakota town surrounded by cornfields and dirt roads. For 19 years, he lived in a wide-eyed perspective baptized in the setting of a John Mellencamp song. In order to personally evolve and carry out his musical destiny, Delaware knew that the heartland wind would have to blow him around the country; and he remains something of a nomad today. In college, he found himself skipping class to write and record music and eventually dropped out to pursue music full-time. Nashville was the first stop on this journey (as it is for many others) but after only a month in the Music City, he was disillusioned with the dog-eat-dog industry-types and relocated to Albuquerque, NM.

Living in a trailer house, Delaware would eventually set his sights on Austin, TX, where he met Luke Mitchell (The High Divers) from Charleston. The two hit it off and Delaware felt a calling to join the budding music scene in the coastal Carolina town. The transition wasn’t easy since he was living paycheck-to-paycheck in Austin and had no money to finance another move. Ultimately, divine intervention struck when a thunderstorm came through Austin – a tree fell on his car, and he was able to file an insurance claim and use the lump sum to move to Charleston. He recalls it was “the only tree that fell down in the whole goddamn city.”

Eventually, Delaware would link up with guitarist Clay Houle – an Atlanta native with a flair for cosmic rock riffs and the proprietor of the coolest retirement community traveling van in rock. And although the two musical brothers were already secure in other burgeoning outfits when they met, Delaware and Houle felt a kismet connection and knew their musical bond would lead them on implausible adventures together. Not long thereafter, Indiana University alumni jazz drummer, Josh Hoover, and bass guitar groovemaster, Eric Mixon, would join and round out the band to officially form The Artisanals in 2016. Within a year of forming, The Artisanals dropped their four-track debut EP, Literally, Anywhere, and promptly received critical acclaim from Huffington Post, Paste Magazine, Daytrotter, PopMatters, and more. And have gained nods from musical allies like Band of Horses, Dylan LeBlanc, Roadkill Ghost Choir, and Shovels & Rope.

Now, The Artisanals are poised to reach the masses with their self-titled debut LP featuring a blend of 70s Heartland Rock and Alt-Americana. The Artisanals, to be released on AWAL on September 21, 2018, is the culmination of the collective’s years of unique individual experiences writing, recording, touring, and living life one day at a time. It’s also the product of being dedicated to life on the road and touring relentlessly despite the toll it took on the guys’ personal lives and relationships in their 20s (shout out to ex-girlfriend Robyn!). “Inspiration is like an invisible ghost… it’s your friend, and it kind of takes you over. You’re a conduit for it. That’s what musicians are; these modern-day shamans that take inspiration and give it form through song. It’s a lot like magick.”

Produced by The Artisanals with Wolfgang Zimmerman, the forthcoming LP is the first ever record to come out of the Magic Barn – an Iowa studio-converted barn that features the Neve console and gear from New York City’s now-defunct Magic Shop Studio. Open from 1988 until March of 2016, the Magic Shop was a studio sought after and beloved by countless legends like Lou Reed and Blondie for its vintage gear. Arcade Fire tracked The Suburbs there; and David Bowie recorded his last two albums, including Blackstar, at the Soho spot.

With sonic influences ranging from the dream-pop work of George Harrison (“Angel 42”) and heartland rock of Tom Petty (“Grow With You”), to the stone-cold radio hits of bands like the Killers (“Roll With It”) and Ryan Adams (“First Time”), The Artisanals 10-track LP showcases Delaware and Houle’s knack for writing hooks as well as their ear for quality production. The album utilizes everything from a gong, organ, piano, sitar, french horn, trombone, and koto, to a string section sourced from the nearby University of Iowa. Mastered by Howie Weinberg, (Spoon, Ryan Adams, Nirvana), there’s no filler on The Artisanals. From start to finish, this record is a straight banger.

Worthy of note, The Artisanals recorded some of their debut tracks at 432 Hz – the frequency of the universe. Delaware isn’t necessarily superstitious, but he is aware of the ethereal bond between human beings and the cosmos that surrounds us. “You have to be awake in this life,” he says. “There’s a lot of subtle clues; if you’re awake, you can read into them and know where to go.”

On the road is where The Artisanals feel most at home. Following the cues of the universe, Johnny, Clay, Eric, and Josh are crisscrossing the country in their trusty Miravanti, crashing on couches of friends and recent strangers, loading in and out of clubs and venues, and bringing their explosive live show to stages of all sizes. They are missionaries of rock n’ roll; performing The Artisanals gospel and turning on fans each night. This is the sound of the road; of heartache and good times; of an old classic and a new favorite. This is The Artisanals.

Old Ceremony promo photo

The Old Ceremony

12:15 pm – 1:15 pm

Media Sponsor: WKNC 88.1 FM

The Old Ceremony plays lush, literate rock. With fourteen years of touring the US, Canada, and Europe and six albums under their belt, the Durham/Chapel Hill, NC band occupies its own darkly lit corner of the musical world. It is a corner filled with ominous rumblings and world-weary but hopeful characters.

They have played with lots of well-known bands. Rock critics have written about them in their publications. TOC’s newest album, Sprinter, was released in July 2016 on Yep Roc Records.

TOC is led by songwriter Django Haskins, and includes drummer Daniel Hall, vibes/organist Mark Simonsen, bassist Shane Hartman, and violinist Gabriel Pelli.

DZ Carr promo photo

DZ Carr Band Gospel

11:00 am – 11:45 am

Media Sponsor: The Connection Place

Launch Ministries Experience is a sensational and dynamic praise and worship team out of Raleigh, NC. Under the leadership of Launch Ministries Senior Pastors Al and Yolanda Morgan, this energetic team of Psalmist usher in the presence of God weekly in service. The Launch Ministries Experience copiously understands that our worship is LOVE inspired.

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