- The Capulets
It was a year of changes in booking, labels forming, bands breaking, bands starting and bands on the verge of something major. 2007 might look similar, but probably not.
* Roger Hannay, who was a composition professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, dies in January at age 75. Hannay was an early champion of using analog synthesizers and tape manipulation.
* What was once Martin Street Music Hall reopens under new ownership as Raleigh Music Hall in February.
* Warrior Sound, a recording studio in Chapel Hill, opens its doors in March. Al Jacob and Mitchell Marlow set up a well-designed sound room with digital production equipment and begin work with En Garde, Colossus and Idea of Beauty, among others.
* Yep Roc signs Chapel Hill quartet Cities in 2005 but rides a slight buzz into SXSW during 2006. Their self-titled debut follows, receiving largely tepid reviews. The Variations EP—a collection of six remixes from Fog, Ladytron, Isan and more—receives more of the same. Bassist Jeremy Paschall quits, as does guitarist Robbie Mackey (full disclosure: Mackey is a regular contributor to the music section of the Independent), who moves to Brooklyn. Cities is currently writing its second album.
* Kudzu Wish was a band's band, perseverant and hard-working, at least until they called it quits in October 2005. Luckily, the GSO four-piece regrouped in part early this year, forming the J. Robbins' salvo En Route as a parting gift.
* Until this spring, world-class talent buyer Mike Triplett brought the best independent bands to the Triangle. Whether it was at the long-defunct Go Studios or the still-young Wetlands Dancehall, Triplett filled the mid-level indie act holes left in the Cradle schedule. But then Wetlands decides to move in a new direction, and Triplett steps down and lends his hand to The Reservoir.
* Carrboro's The Strugglers tour Europe for several weeks in April. A live recording of a show in Vigo, Spain, is available at sinsalaudio.com/radio/index.php?id=33.
* Raleigh's The Capulets hang up their leather jackets for the last time this year, making way for Josh, Tom and Alex's brand new gig in May—Cocoon, a slightly quirkier incarnation of their old bag's sass-driven guitar rock.
* Chapel Hill garage rockers The Spinns spin for the last time in May, mostly from being stuck in a rut, according to guitarist Todd Colberg. They'd become a staple for their purism. Former members now maintain their cool in The Gondoliers and The Black Mona Lisas.
* "It's Carrboro," the song by Bill McCormick (alias Billy Sugarfix) and Brian Risk, becomes an overnight regional phenom after premiering just in time for summer. It includes cameos by favorite local denizens like former mayor, now Orange County Commissioner, Mike Nelson. The over-the-top rapfest includes lyrical zingers and is remixed several times, as it was created under a non-restrictive Creative Commons license. Check it at www.itscarrboro.com.
* John Wilkes Booze and Secretly Canadian co-founder and Family Vineyard owner Eric Weddle moves back to Indiana. Weddle performed several solo shows at Nightlight and worked in the Unstable Ensemble with locals Ian Davis and Jason Bivins, both who have released on Family Vineyard.
* Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell earn an Americana Music Honors & Awards nomination for Duo/Group of the year in June, alongside Drive-By Truckers and Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez. The Truckers win.
* Longtime Nightlight employee Alexis Mastromichalis takes over club ownership from Ryan Martin and Lauren Ford in July. She now books the club with Charlie St. Clair. In their first four months, the club books national and international touring acts including Volcano the Bear, Wooden Wand, DAT Politics and Beach House.
* Brian Walsby, longtime Raleigh musician and comic artist, releases his second book of comics, Manchild 2: The Second Coming, on Bifocal Media in July. This year, possibly known as The Year of Walsby's Dreams, Walsby joins The Melvins on tour for several weeks. And his Double Negative continues to be a Raleigh favorite.
* Schoolkids Records' Hillsborough Street location opens for in-store performances in July. In the first several months, Annuals, Drive-by Truckers (before opening for The Black Crowes at Alltel Pavilion), Pete Yorn and Spitalfield all perform at the store.
* Signal electronic music festival brings together an array of producers and DJs from diverse camps, from drum and bass to the experimental. The event includes several venues in Chapel Hill, drawing adventurous artists from outside the area like Berlin breakcore banger Jason Forrest and Deepsky from L.A. After the weekend, local dance music folk start connecting the dots between themselves and their neighbors, bridging a gap created by a genre that often exists solely from computer screens and fans frequenting only their friends' DJ sets. Signal wants to change that. Year two is set for April 2007, and the fest's organizers have continued to build steam with a sponsored series of events titled "Electronica Viva."
* After a string of violent incidents at the Avalon nightclub in Chapel Hill, including a highly publicized fatal shooting in July, town officials move to close the club's doors and examine its fate. The club remains closed, but many in the local dance music scene still recall a different time within those walls when music was the focus. Organizers of the Signal electronic music festival utilized the space as one of their venues last spring, rethinking it in the mold of a proper community-driven space. The space's future remains uncertain.
* It's unclear when the bottom falls out, but at some point this summer, Raleigh/Chapel Hill five-piece Annuals goes from oft-overlooked local treasure to national sensation. Chances are it has more than a bit to do with Pitchfork Media dropping the band in their "Infinite Mixtape" series. Soon after, the blogs jump on board, and the glossies start remembering where indie rock came from. Be He Me, Annuals' Ace Fu debut, is a wily record of whimsical weirdness and easily digestible quirk. It's not quite the cavalcade of wonder some folks have made it out to be, but it certainly does my Tar Heel heart proud.
* Ozzfest finally comes to Alltel Pavilion in August.
* David Karsten Daniels isn't shy about dipping his folksy peanut butter in his spacey chocolate, so nobody is surprised when the Bu Hanan boy hops on board with the brave Brits at Fat Cat in August.
* The Record Exchange on Hillsborough Street closes in August, but the second Raleigh location in Mission Valley stays open. The Mission Valley store eventually closes, only to reopen weeks later under the same name but with new management, courtesy of new owners at Virginia-based independent chain Plan 9 Records.
* Just a year into its Triangle existence and after the start of a promising experimental residency at Bickett Gallery, ex-Wisconsin quartet DeYarmond Edison splits. After recording the promising, online-only EP in August, the band breaks after a Kings farewell, frontman Justin Vernon heading back to Wisconsin after engineering The Rosebuds' forthcoming third LP. Three remaining members have reformed as Megafaun, an unlikely folk and avant improvisation hybrid.
* Unexpected but awesome: The Mountain Goats' Get Lonely debuts at No. 193 on Billboard's 200 with sales of more than 4,000 in August. That means that Danity Kane, Diddy's self-selected band of vixens that outstripped Outkast for the top spot, only sold 230,000 more records in its first week.
* Raleigh rock club Kings changes its smoking policy in October, enacting a smoking ban before midnight seven days a week. At least they didn't cut a hole in the ceiling.
* Charles Latham takes on Mark Foley with "The Internet Sexual Predator Talking Blues" in October. It is awesome.
* Patty Hurst Shifter tours Europe for three weeks on their excellent Too Crowded on the Losing End and play a triumphant homecoming at The Pour House.
* In its second year, Troika Music Festival (nee Durham Music Festival, which lasted for three years before losing city funding) contracts and succeeds during October. Instead of staging shows in Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill, the festival becomes the exclusive property of the Bull City. More than 70 bands—mostly local, but also including national touring acts like Okkervill River and Man Man—take over a half dozen venues for four days, and the Triangle responds.
* Schooner travels by land (not sea) to Montreal for Pop Montreal in October.
* Marianne Taylor, the talent buyer for The Pour House who built a strong roots and country reputation for the downtown Raleigh club during the previous two years, makes Hideaway BBQ her venue of choice at the end of October.
* Raleigh's recently renovated Lincoln Theatre makes moves to turn their venue into a "members only" spot. According to Pat Dickenson, Lincoln owner, new N.C. liquor laws are the primary motivation. After all, customers should be able to have their Jager and drink it too.
* Chaz's Bull City Records celebrates its first birthday with two days of partying in Durham in November. In the Year of the Pig and Maple Stave—both local favorites of store owner Chaz Martinstein—get loud at Joe & Jo's, followed by The Wigg Report's inaugural WiggFest the next day.
* Scott Pearce wins the 2006 North Carolina Songwriters Co-Op Songwriting Contest at The Artscenter in November.
* Yancy's and Slim's reopen in Raleigh.
* Grant Llewellyn, conductor of the N.C. Symphony since 2004, signs a six-year contract extension in November, meaning he'll be at the helm of the 74-year-old symphony until 2012.
* Downtown Durham bar and grill Joe & Jo's—longtime venue for local and touring bands, a strong supporter of the Durham3 Culture Crawl and a previous site of the Troika Music Festival—is sold in November. No word yet if the new space will be open to bands.