Category Archives: best of lists

Favorite Photos of 2012

Favorite photos of 2012

This isn’t about my most techically perfect photos, or the most sale-able, or the most viewed. Those lists would all look very different. These are my favorite concert photos I took this year. If I had to pick 20 photos to remember my year in concerts by, it would be these 20.

Spider Bags, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 1/14/12
1/14/12- Spider Bags, Local 506

Red Collar, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 1/14/12
1/14/12 – Red Collar, Local 506

Grohg, Bull City Metal Fest Day 2, Casbah, Durham NC, 02/04/12
2/4/12- Grogh, Casbah

Braveyoung, Bull City Metal Fest Day 2, Casbah, Durham NC, 02/04/12
2/4/12- Braveyoung, Casbah

Samantha Crain, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 02/07/12
2/7/12- Samantha Crain, Local 506

The Avett Brothers, Racing the Cure, Kings, Raleigh NC, 03/23/12
3/23/12- The Avett Brothers, Kings

Midtown Dickens, Cat's Cradle, Carrboro NC, 04/07/12
4/7/12- Midtown Dickens, Cradle

Wigg Report, Carrack Art Gallery, Durham NC, 05/18/12
5/18/12- The Wigg Report, Carrack

The Beast + Big Band, Motorco, Durham NC, 06/06/12
6/6/12- The Beast, Motorco

Schooner, Pinhook, Durham NC, 06/23/12
6/23/12- Schooner, Pinhook

Random Orbits, Death to False Hope Fest, Motorco Garage, Durham NC, 06/30/12
6/30/12- Random Orbits, Motorco Garage

Arliss Nancy, Death to False Hope Fest, Motorco Garage, Durham NC, 06/30/12
6/30/12- Arliss Nancy, Motorco Garage

JKutchma & The 5/5ths, Pinhook, Durham NC, 07/06/12
7/6/12- JKutchma & The Five Fifths, Pinhook

Janelle Monae, Obama For America Rally, ArtsCenter, Carrboro NC, 08/04/12
8/4/12- Janelle Monae, ArtsCenter

Pipe, Slim's, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/07/12
9/7/12- Pipe, Slim’s

Midtown Dickens, White Collar Crime, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/07/12
9/7/12- Midtown Dickens, White Collar Crime

Jane Jane Pollock, Pour House, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/08/12
9/8/12- Jane Jane Pollock, Pour House

Whatever Brains, Slim's, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/08/12
9/8/12- Whatever Brains, Slim’s

Red Collar, Pinhook, Durham NC, 10/23/12
10/23/12- Red Collar, Pinhook

Reese McHenry & company covering Aretha Franklin, The Great Cover Up, Kings, Raleigh NC, 12/15/12
12/15/12- Reese McHenry & company, Kings


Favorite Videos of 2012

Favorite videos of 2012

This year I started shooting a fair amount of video, so here are my 10 favorite videos I shot this year (not including the videos from Hopscotch proper, which are still being culled and edited for official posting):

1. Red Collar – Pilgrim – this is why rock and roll is awesome and transformative

2. American Aquarium with Chip Robinson – Abe Lincoln

3. Reese McHenry & company – Think

4. Arliss Nancy – Abacus (Racing in the Street)

5. Josh Ritter – Lillian, Egypt

6. Red Collar – Jinx Removing (Jawbreaker)

7. Cory Brannan – Skateland South

8. Filthybird – Night Comes In (Richard & Linda Thompson)

9. JKutchma – Durham Bull

10. Widowspeak – Wicked Game (Chris Issak)

Favorite Shows of 2012

Following up on yesterday’s post. My 10 favorite shows of the year.

Red Collar, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 1/14/12
1. 1/14/12 – Red Collar w/ Spider Bags & Rat Jackson – Local 506
I love when a show early in the year sets the bar high. And all year long no single show topped this one. Just a fantastic kick start to the year. From Rat Jackson covering Alan Jackson to Reese McHenry joining Spider Bags on stage to the energy and passion Red Collar poured into every moment – this show was packed full of memorable moments. photo set

John Darnielle, Mac McCaughan, & Greg Cartwright, Protect All NC Families Benefit, Motorco, Durham NC, 04/19/12
2. 4/19/12 – John Darnielle, Mac McCaughan & Greg Cartwright – Motorco
Amazing night for a great cause. A completely unique chance to see these three songwriters trade songs and play off each other. photo set

Des Ark, Local Beer Local Band, Tir Na Nog, Raleigh NC, 05/10/12
3. 5/10/12 – Des Ark w/Midtown Dickens – Tir Na Nog
The best show Local Beer Local Band show I saw all year. But what really makes this night stand so high on my list is that it was exactly the show I needed at that moment. photo set

Lucero, Orange Peel, Asheville NC, 04/27/12
4. 4/27/12 – Lucero w/J Roddy Walston & The Business – Orange Peel
This show was nearly a shoe in, after all we decided to drive to Asheville to see the combo of Lucero w/ J Roddy opening. At the same time it was a show I had mighty high expectations for. They were more than met. photo set

Bombadil, The Farm, Hillsborough NC, 06/09/12
5. 6/9/12 – Bombadil w/ JKutchma & the 5/5ths- The Farm
I really hope there are more shows at The Farm next year. Absolutely a stunning place to see a show. The scenrey adds to the music; the chance sit in a chair on the grass listening to great local music chorus with the sounds of night setting in on a summer night. photo set

Reigning Sound, Nightlight, Chapel Hill NC, 08/24/12
6. 8/24/12 – Reigning Sound w/Last Year’s Men – Nightlight
Reigning Sound at Nightlight? Yes, please. photo set

Team Dresch, Pinhook, Durham NC, 09/29/12
7. 9/29/12 – Team Dresch w/ The Butchies & The Tomboys – Pinhook outdoor stage
Another year, another amazing Pinhook concert for Pride. This year, finally, the chance to see Team Dresch. photo set

Ted Leo, Duke Coffeehouse, Durham NC, 02/18/12
8. 2/18/12 -Ted Leo w/ Mac McCaughan – Coffeehouse
Great night. Never had the chance to see Ted Leo play before this, but the highlight of the night may just have been McCaughan talking about the first show he saw at the Coffeehouse. photo set

Vandaveer, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 05/11/12
9. 5/11/12 – Vandaveer – Local 506
I love to see full shows, and am saddened when a band doesn’t draw as well as I hoped. And man, y’all all missed this one. It meant we got to sit on the riser at 506 and enjoy an amazing and intimate Vandaveer show. Lovely. photo set

Crooked Fingers, Kings, Raleigh NC, 01/06/12
10. 1/6/12 – Crooked Fingers w/ Mount Moriah – Kings
What a great way to kick off the year. A packed Kings, great sets by both bands.

Up next in the year count down: favorite videos & favorite photos.

Favorite Shows of 2012: Special Event Edition

It is hard for me to narrow down my favorite shows of the year, mainly because I go to so many, but also because it is hard to put individual shows up against say, The Avett Brothers at Kings or any of the other extraordinary special nights (festivals or otherwise) this year. So, first, my top 5 favorite special event shows of the year.

So first my favorite of those standout nights:
The Avett Brothers, Racing the Cure, Kings, Raleigh NC, 03/23/12
1. 3/23/12 – The Avett Brothers/Old Ceremony/Filthybird/Schooner/Jack the Radio – Kings
There were two other venues participating in this one day Racing The Cure event. I’m sure those other venues were great that night too, but I was determined to get into Kings and see the Avett Brothers play a club show again. This was the only show all year where we actually sat outside the venue in queue starting at around 5 PM to get in. And the wait paid off . All the bands did a fine job leading up to the headliner. And then just a few rows from the front, it was magical to see the Avett’s like this again. photo set

Whatever Brains, Slim's, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/08/12
2. 9/6/12-9/9/12 – Hopscotch Music Festival – mostly at Slim’s to be honest
At Hopscotch this year 80% of the bands I saw this year were either locals or playing at Slim’s or both. This means I had pretty much the best Hopscotch I could imagine. I was primarily at Hopscotch to shoot video for the Indy/Hopscotch video team and the coordinator for that, the alwayS outstanding Dan Schram, gave me a schedule that played right to the things I love. It made for a wonderful bar full of great friends, great music, and alot of time standing on the stairs at Slim’s leaning out over the crowd with my camera. All Hopscotch photos here and highlights here.

Langhorne Slim, Casbah, Durham NC, 06/12/12
3. 6/12/12 – This day: Wood Ear – Bull City Records, Hiss Golden Messenger/Michael Chapman – Pinhook, Langhorne Slim/Ha Ha Tonka – Casbah
I’m a huge fan of earlier shows and this was just one of those days where everything lined up perfectly: Wood Ear’s in-store for their CD release, followed by Michael Chapman then Hiss Golden Messenger at Pinhook, and for a night cap the amazing Ha Ha Tonka opening for the wonderful Langhorne Slim. 5 stellar bands, otherwise ordinary night in Durham where all the concert stars aligned to remind me of how lucky I am to live in such a great part of the country for live music. Wood Ear pics here, Michael Chapman/Hiss Golden Messenger pics here, Langhorne Slim/Ha Ha Tonka pics here.

Janelle Monae, Obama For America Rally, ArtsCenter, Carrboro NC, 08/04/12
4. 8/4/12 – Janelle Monae – ArtsCenter, Pipe/Flesh Wounds – Pinhook
By my count there were 5 people, myself included, who went from the amazingness of seeing Janelle Monae in the tiny ArtsCenter to Pinhook to see Flesh Wounds & Pipe. And by my estimation we five were the luckiest people in the Triangle that day. Janelle Monae photos here & Pipe & Flesh Wounds photos here

Arliss Nancy, Death to False Hope Fest, Motorco Garage, Durham NC, 06/30/12
5. 6/29/12 & 6/30/12 – Death To False Hope Fest – Motorco
I love you guys. I already said everything I need to say about this weekend earlier in the week. Don’t imagine I could say it better.

Favorite Albums of 2012: Non-locals Edition

Drive-By Truckers, 11/03/08
1. Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
This is the first Patterson Hood solo record I’ve loved front to back, heck this is the first time I’ve loved all the songs Patterson wrote on any record, including Drive-By Truckers records. There’s always one song that needles me or runs 3 verses too long. But not here. Perfectly restrained and amazingly lovely. And just darn close to perfect. Stand out track: “Better Than The Truth” which works as a kind of sequel to the DBT song “A World of Hurt”.

Murder By Death, Ottobar, 11/08/08
2. Murder by Death – Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon
Here’s how much I love this record: Murder by Death aren’t coming to the Triangle in support of this album, so in February a friend and I are going to Wilmington then Charleston to see them play on back to back nights. Super happy this bad signed to Bloodshot this year, and this record is a great way to kickoff their growth on that label, as lush and beautiful and creepy and rich and surprising as ever. Stand out track: “Hard World”

Shovels & Rope, Slim's, Hopscotch Hangover, Raleigh NC, 09/09/12
3. Shovels & Rope – O’ Be Joyful
Infectious and fantastic. I was in Columbia SC over Thanksgiving (where I grew up) and went to the record store (as you do) and was so happy to see Papa Jazz pushing this record onto everyone who came looking for the Lumineers record or the Mumford & Sons record. Really great to see them supporting SC artists. And it’s a really great record (which helps). Delightful, joyous, with just enough Southern Gothic undercurrent to keep it from being sticky sweet. Stand out track: “Keeper” listen and try not to smile.

4. The Whigs – Enjoy the Company
This is the surprise record of the year for me. I liked but didn’t love their earlier records. They were for me a band that would have been perfect as a touring open, solid but not exceedingly memorable. Enjoy the Company though is a leap forward for them. Swampy garage rock with just enough variety between songs to keep the record moving at a great pace. Their songs just all click here. Stand out track: “Staying Alive” – “So tell me a story & repeat it. You’re never that angry if you’re mad.”

5. Heartless Bastards – Arrow
My favorite Heartless Bastards record and a real return to form for them. (I’m also a complete sucker for bands that release alt takes digitally in addition to the download code.) Driving guitars, amazing vocals and a really great tension between the two. This is a record I forgot about a couple of times during the year (came out in February), and every time I pulled the record back out, I got lost in it again. Stand out track: “Skin and Bone”

Damien Jurado, Berkeley, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/07/12
6. Damien Jurado – Maraqopa
Most beautiful album of the year. And the really amazing thing about these songs to me is that they are equally beautiful in the densely layered album version and the stripped down version I saw live at Hopscotch. This is a record for laying on the floor in front of the record player with the volume turned way up.

Lee Baines III & The Glory Fires, Nightlight, Chapel Hill NC, 04/28/11
7. Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires – There Is a Bomb in Gilead
This isn’t a Dexateens record, but it is a mighty mighty fine, hard driving southern rock record. I grew up listening to alot of southern rock both good and awful, and it is so rare to hear a good example today (bad examples aplenty though). Like all great music of its genre, sounds best on a road trip with sunshine and open highway. Stand out track: “The Red, Red Dirt of Home”

Centro-matic, Rock & Roll Hotel, 11/19/08
8. Will Johnson – Scorpion
I love all Will Johnson records and bands. Dual Hawks is somewhere on my top 20 records of all time. So just about any new Will Johnson record is likely to make its way onto a top 10 list of mine. As usual with his solo records, this is Johnson’s song writing stripped down to its most sparse and heartbreaking. The lyrics and the tension is the deliberate pace of the record will haunt you. Stand out track: “Scorpion”

9. Mark Eitzel – Don’t Be a Stranger
Sometimes it is just about the right record releasing at the right time of year. The perfect record for the first gray days of fall, released on one of the few weeks we’ve had this year with gray days of fall. Small, quiet, heartbreaking, & beautiful songs. Stand out track: “The Bill is Due” – “Parties and punchlines makes a life easy to forget, but you can’t rise to the light when you’re full of regret. Don’t become a ghost when your time is through. The world gives you away, and the bill is due”

Joe Pug, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 06/04/12
10. Joe Pug – The Great Despiser
It can’t and shouldn’t be all depressing music (though this list has its fair share). Even when the subjects of the songs turn dark, which happens, the songs are always filled with such such a pure and firm belief in grace and second chance and hope that I find myself crying while smiling along. The Tex Thomas cover “Deep Dark Wells” that closes the album is the best summary of the point Pug’s songs make at every turn: “As long as you’re not finished, you can start all over again”

Favorite Shows of the year tomorrow.

Favorite Albums of 2012: Locals Edition

I tried to cut my list of favorite local releases down to the best of the best and ended up with 6 records. So that’d what I have here. I’m incredibly lucky to live in an area with so much great music and so many opportunities to see them live. All told I’ve seen these bands 41 times this year. Pretty awesome.

JKutchma & The 5/5ths, Pinhook, Durham NC, 07/06/12
1. JKutchma – Pastorals
Band I saw the most this year; favorite album of the year. The title track “Pastorals” was the song I didn’t know I needed this year. “And no I’m not proud of all that I did, In search for destination now I’m back where I begin. All my transgression oh how I remember each. But if I lived again without them, would I have found this peace? I’ve been wrong more than I’ve been right. My fault, I won’t deny. I hope at heaven’s gate, they make saints. Cause I tried, I tried, I tried. I been so wrong. But I tried.”

Spider Bags, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 1/14/12
2. Spider Bags – Shake Your Head
I dare you to listen to the opening tracks “Keys to the City” & “Simona La Ramona” and try not to dance, laugh, remember why you love music, sing along. I’m pretty sure it is impossible.

Midtown Dickens, Brickside Festival, Jameson Gallery, Durham NC, 03/24/12
3. Midtown Dickens – Home
This album sounds like Durham to me. And I mean that in all the best ways.

Gross Ghost, Pinhook, Durham NC, 06/02/12
4. Gross Ghost – Brer Rabbit

American Aquarium, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 11/29/12
5. American Aquarium – Burn.Flicker.Die
I’m so incredibly proud of these guys for all the hard work they’ve put in to their success, for the touring and the growth, and the fact that this album is just darn, darn fine. Some of these songs have been kicking around live for years and it shows in the delivery. Both a familiar step for the band and a big leap forward. All of that notwithstanding, this album might just belong on this list for the Backsliders cover alone.

Red Collar, Motorco, Durham NC, 05/19/12
6. Red Collar – Welcome Home
I love this band, full stop.

10 favorite non-local releases tomorrow.

Favorite Posts of the Year 2012

As I geared up for all these end of year posts, I realized that I hadn’t posted here for a month (before yesterday) and much of the fall was sporadic at best.
There are probably two reasons for this: first, the tinnitus makes it harder to fall asleep and so I’ve been sleeping in a little later in the morning, eating into my writing time with sleep, precious sleep; second, this winter I’ve been writing more. With no purpose or designs to do anything with the writing, just writing stories or truths or somewhere in between.
Due to that I started thinking about my favorite writing I did on this blog this year. So, with way too much introduction and ado, here are those posts:
Music related:
DTFH Reflections – “I love this scene because it isn’t about what is trendy or hip or popular. It is quite simply about music and people who love the heck out of music: making music, enjoying music, singing along, arms flung over shoulders, belting it out.”
Amendment One related:
Before the vote – “I have stories of the world not being awesome. Of being teased and bullied at schools, made to feel unwelcome in churches, losing friendships, questioning everything about myself because I wasn’t “normal.” And sadly, the bubble of my family being awesome wasn’t always big enough for me or my fears to fit inside.”
After the vote – “Time passes, there is always more work to do, and with work things improve.”
Tinnitus – “Y’all are more boisterous, more invigorating, louder, nicer, friendlier, and more on so many counts – more than the high note is loud.”