When: Sat., Jan. 14, 9 p.m. 2017
The emergence of UNC-Chapel Hill junior MK Rodenbough as a performing musician and songwriter seems like it was destined to happen eventually, given her family's musical background.
"My mom set up each of my three older siblings and me with lessons on various instruments at a young age," Rodenbough remembers, acknowledging that she and her fiddle-playing sister, Mipso's Libby Rodenbough, latched on to their lessons the strongest. Thanks to a fondness for experimentation, MK dabbled in multiple instruments rather than focusing on just one.
"I never really got to the point where I was amazing at one thing, but I like to think learning different musical perspectives helps me now as a songwriter," she says.
Despite only recently stepping out as a performer, Rodenbough says she started writing her own music as early as age nine or ten. She quickly fell in love with the craft. "Coming up with musical ideas and fitting them together like a puzzle has been one of my favorite things to do ever since," she says.
Rodenbough had been performing in the UNC Symphony and with various jazz combos before launching MKR last year, using the time since her high school graduation to consider the type of music she wanted to make for herself. As MKR, Rodenbough has enlisted Mike Garcia on electric guitar, Tom Glorio on bass, and Stephanie Tepper on drums and harmonies to flesh her tunes out into full band versions for this show. With only a couple of tracks posted on SoundCloud in demo form—Rodenbough describes them as her softest songs—there's only a taste of her songwriting available for public consumption outside of live performances.
Even so, the tunes are a tantalizing tease for the single Rodenbough plans to release this spring. On both, Rodenbough bares her emotions while pairing simple guitar figures to arresting vocals. "And for no good reason, I chose to be blue/I should have gone out, I know, done something new" she muses during "Them, Not Me," an introspective rumination on spending a night alone.
Since departing both Morning Brigade and Virgins Family Band, Raleigh's Gabriel David has struck out on a solo career, meshing R&B and blue-eyed soul originals as the frontman of his own outfit while still serving as an occasional sideman for a slew of fellow locals. UNC student quartet Dissimilar South adds breezy folk jangles in which gentle acoustic strings are graced by sweet harmonies and a touch of pop.—Spencer Griffith