Written

The Circle Will Be Unbroken

Guy Clark didn’t mince words when he sang, “I have seen the David/ I’ve seen the “Mona Lisa” too/ I have heard Doc Watson/ Play “Columbus Stockade Blues.” It might be decades before Watson’s legacy is completely unraveled, but the festival that he founded and steered into one of folk’s great commodities feels the impact of his loss right now.

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Wired in Asheville: Moogfest Finds a Higher Purpose with Its Reboot

If the even saturation of music festivals over the last 10 years has engineered a “type” — the ravenous consumer of fun and experience who treats every four-day affair like a bear binging for winter — Moogfest was nourishment for the brain and the ears. From the monolithic, original modular Moog system that Keith Emerson brought to, ironically, one of the most organic sets of the weekend, to the ingenuously simple pitch-shifting and fully connectable recorders hand-built by Brand New Noise founder Richard Upchurch, technology was foremost to Moogfest’s locus. It keyed on applications for not just entertainment, of which there were copious amounts, but an Asimovian degree of utility.

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Piedmont-Bred Voyager's Homecoming Promises A Worldly Experience

Vapor City, the 2013 release by the Eden, N.C.-born, Hickory-raised sonic and world traveler Travis Stewart under his Machinedrum alias, is a high-touch, high-concept excursion though an illusory gray dystopia where its sweeping palette of sound reveals a sterile, Fforde-ian warmth in those able to perceive it. Go back far enough into Stewart’s Machinedrum discography (just one of many handles under which he records), and one can hear hints of its ultramodern union of slinky R&B, rapacious Jungle beats, litany of freelance influence and raw abstraction on his Merck releases from when calling something “intelligent dance music” wouldn’t be dismissed as a brand of conceit.

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Preservation Hall Jazz Band Evolves, Slowly

There’s a sign on the wall inside of New Orleans’ Preservation Hall that announces the customary request fee for its illustrious house band to play songs from the sprawling NOLA songbook: $5 for traditionals, $10 for others, and $20 for “When the Saints Go Marching In.” There’s never been an explicitly assigned fee for Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s original works, but that’s because when founder Allan Jaffe put the sign up to deter tourists from requesting the only song most of them typically knew by name, there has never been an album of PHJB originals. That changed last summer, when PHJB released That’s It!, a record of all original compositions created under the guidance of current Preservation Hall director and bassist Ben Jaffe, and produced by PHJB ally Jim James, front man of My Morning Jacket.

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N.C.'s Best Releases of 2013

25. CIVILIZED 
JEWS & CATHOLICS

Don’t be fooled by the title of Jews & Catholics’ Civilized. The unholy combo of Eddie Garcia’s ravenous riffs and Alanna Meltzer’s classical iconoclasm on upright bass are anything but. Like the weather, if you don’t like it, just wait a few. Stabbing, abrasive Dino Jr. Jr.-style rock becomes gurgling doom metal on a whim, and twisted jangle finds empathy alongside dreamy shoegaze.

 

24. SOUL ON FIRE 
ETHERNADASSASSIN

You won’t find a single feature through the first 11 tracks of rapper ethemadassassin’s streetwise third LP, Soul On Fire. It’s a lonely road he walks, and at times it feels like he’s overcome by the swirling orchestral instrumentals, but there are occasions where he asserts himself as being among the sharpest of underground emcees.

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Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit Keeps the Current Flowing

It might be slightly off base to refer to the inaugural Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit as Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor could have alluded through his latest single and leadoff tune from their Saturday night set. The three-day Asheville celebration of circuits and bass will always be spiritually linked to Moogfest as its Halloween weekend successor (not to mention being the brainchild of former Moogfest promoter AC Entertainment), but it’s not exactly a copy of a copy of a copy.

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SuperJam 2014: The Young & Restless

In practically any other year, the most important item to come from the 2014 102 JAMZ SuperJam would undoubtedly be that Rick Ross’s experience there ended exactly how his 2012 one began — in the temporary custody of Greensboro law enforcement. Sure, his post-show arrest for flouting a scheduled court appearance to answer for his pre-SuperJam 2012 marijuana citation had Greensboro back in TMZ’s lede. Most of the last dozen SuperJams have served as a barometer for which rap cuts will bang from the most trunks tuned to 102 JAMZ for approximately the next three months, and that kind of secondary drama is perfect fodder to fill about 30 minutes of its most glib morning show in the Piedmont.

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Dance From Above 1.0 Creates a New Standard for Success at the Crown

The first three months and change in earnest at the Crown, the recently renovated and nobly repurposed third floor studio-turned-concert space at the Carolina Theatre, has been an exploration of boundaries of sorts. Most of the shows presented early on by the Carolina Theatre’s in-house promotions team have angled previously tested waters, drawing respectable crowds to check out familiar names in subdued, even spartan new surroundings. It served as the venue for Jack Carter & the Armory to release an album of rowdy rock-and-roll cabaret called Billy the Kid, soaring pop-punk purveyors Unifier to rock with national upstarts Somos, and Americana and Africana to convene when Bruce Piephoff and Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba shared a bill just last month. It was inevitable that the measured success of those events would open the door to grander visions for the space, however, and it was realized last Thursday with “Dance from Above 1.0”.

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