You might know by now (see last column) about the changing of the guard after normal operating hours at the Skylight Exchange. As the soft glow from the skylights of the combined cafe, bookstore and record shop dims, and candles are lit throughout the room, the fizz of cold pilsners subverts the aroma of java and steaming hot sandwiches. Furniture gets moved around to make room for musicians, or a late night dance party. You're now in Nightlight.
The brainchild of Isaac Trogdon, a local DJ and musician himself, the club is already filling a niche as an alternate space for live music. There'll be rock bands, sure, but Nightlight has a free attitude toward forward-thinking electronica, jazz and improvised music. It's already becoming a plain old p.m. neighborhood hangout, too, with the full food menu during the day changing to mainly beer, coffee and snacks in the evening.
The simpatico relationship between Skylight and Nightlight makes good business sense: The shopping day becomes longer for books and records, and since each draws a varied group of people, one plays into the other's attendance. The spirit of Skylight still remains during daylight hours as a casual meeting place for folks to set up camp in booths, play chess or just rap. But when the moon and stars come out, the night is no longer nearly over. Now, in one of those trademark skylights hangs a sparkling new jewel: a tiny mirrored disco ball.
Beats, bounce and the body-rock in Chapel Hill
Like a string of firecrackers going off, suddenly there are loads of new hip-hop and dance music nights around Chapel Hill. At Local 506 in Chapel Hill, look for Microphone Mondays every week, hosted by K97.5's K Foxx, with DJ Pez on the decks. It's a hip-hop open-mic night for DJs, poets and emcees. Check out hip-hopper Kaze's Spirit of '94 CD release party on Friday, May 2, at Local 506, too. His homage to the year that saw artists like Nas, Outkast and Wu-Tang Clan rising to the top was just released at the end of March. For more info, check out www.souldojo.com.
At Henry's Bistro, there's "Word of Mouth," a night of hip-hop, funk, soul and reggae every second Monday. Also in Chapel Hill is Sky Terrain, the first Wednesday of every month, at Carolina Coffeeshop, with DJ 9th Wonder (who just did a remix CD of Nas' "God's Son" as "God's Stepson") from hot Durham group Little Brother, along with DJ Merlin from Four-Four Records and the Raleigh scene.
Closer to the dance floor is Float, bringing you house, techno and drum-and-bass on the second Friday of each month at Element (formerly Club NV). With ties to electro series Dyssembler and WXYC's New Science Experience show, the organizers' rep precedes them. After a recent visit, I can say Float sounds massive through Element's monstrous sound system.
Nightlight is also now hosting Dyssembler, a DJ and electronic music night, on the first Thursday of each month. May 1 kicks it off there (after a residency at Henry's over the past few months) with Charlotte techno producer Ja'maul Redmond.
At the drive in
To further support the formation of a proposed, but yet-to-be-named new venue for live music in Durham, a group of musicians from all over the Triangle will gather at the Starlite Drive-in on Thursday, April 24. Apple Juice Orchestra, Choose Your Own Adventure, Cody Cods, Little Miss Messy, Malt Swagger, the Rosebuds, Roxotica, the Sames, Section Eight and the Sleepies (man, that's a long list!) will all appear starting at 5 p.m. There are plans to screen '80s cult classic Valley Girl at 11:30 p.m.
Rest in peace, jazz singer and Tryon, N.C., native Nina Simone, "The High Priestess of Soul."
Got news on the Durham-Chapel Hill music scene? E-mail email@example.com.