So you've got a band and you're looking to record, but you still haven't figured out what that "mastered by" thing in the liner notes of all your favorite albums means? Never fear, fledgling rockers, Raleigh's newest (and, by many accounts, best) masterer, Jeff Carroll, is here. And he's devoted not only to ironing out the bumps in any band's sessions but also to ironing out the confusion about what exactly "mastering"--the knobs and buttons process of raising volumes and correcting levels on an album for the last time before it heads to press--actually is.
In hot pursuit of that effort (and, of course, to recruit clients), Carroll recently put together a disc of his own, a greatest mastering hits of sorts. The disc--15 tracks all mastered by Carroll himself at his independent Raleigh studio, Bluefield Mastering--features the likes of regional rock favorites Hobex, The Nickel Slots and Parklife. The disc closes with an ingenuous mix of a track from Reverend Roq and The Holy Rollers (Carroll is currently working on their latest project) that is mastered in spots and left un-mastered in others. The result is convincing.
Others are catching on to Carroll's work as well. He's recently worked with The Countdown Quartet, Little Feat and Stratocruiser. After meeting Ron Sexsmith's drummer Don Kerr following a gig in Atlanta, Carroll mastered "Has Beens and Wives," the latest effort from the ukulele-borne, Sexsmith-side project The Kelele Brothers (the worthwhile disc includes covers of Townshend's "Blue, Red and Grey" and Jethro Tull's "One Brown Mouse").
Bluefield Mastering opened in 2001 while Carroll pulled double duty at UNC-Chapel Hill's Southern Folklife Collection, where he had the rare opportunity to restore Bob Dylan's Broadside recordings from the early '60s as well as material from the Stanley Brothers, Doc Watson, Phil Ochs and Richard Farina. He left the university last year to devote his full attention to Bluefield. Local musicians are starting to agree that he made the right decision. To find out more about Carroll and his work, visit bluefieldmastering.com.
Kings of Rock
Bring your sleeping bags, kids. Things get fun at Kings for four consecutive nights of rock-your-socks-off good times, starting next Thursday (May 8, calendar markers!) and showing no signs of slowing until Sunday night. Raleigh's solo pride Ryan Pound plays on the 8th with the beautifully brooding North Elementary (imagine The Flaming Lips trying to make Grandaddy's The Sophtware Slump in 1989 instead of their own Telepathic Surgery) and Rock 'N' Roll Summer. Hip hop gets local and white on the 10th as Pro-L takes the stage. The Nikki T. Band (featuring Cherry Valence drummer-singer Nick Whitley) will open with Stump, the R. Lacey Collective and Viswas on sitar.
The Cartridge Family throws a CD release party for their debut album on May 10. Shadow of a Great Name and Strange will be on hand. So will Oedipus Dick, one of the funniest and quirkiest trios you'll ever see, with upright bass, drums, samples, keyboards and Gordon Gano-vocals rattling on sardonically about everything from Chapel Hill to pop culture--get there early!
You would normally call a band with one man a solo act. But what would you call a band that features one man who insists he has been enslaved by the eight musically inclined robots he built from spare tractor parts and bike chains? Interesting is a start. Jason Vance--dubbed JBOT by the captives of his creation--brings his mechanical musical melee of robots, Captured by Robots, to Kings on the 11th. He comes complete with a bondage mask. The band comes complete with a new horn section and some Neil Peart-eat-your-heart-out automated drums. Des Ark and the Torch Marauder open.
Pouring Round Two
Get ready for great things at The Pour House in the next few weeks. Round Two--the rock 'n' roll quartet of three N.C. State students plus guitar fiend Mike Sivilli that has sharpened its smart, modern-rock teeth over the past year with unending rehearsals and regional club dates--play a CD release party for their debut effort, the heady and driven Habit, Thursday night, May 1. The band will tour regionally over the next two months and in the Virgin Islands during June in support of the disc, recorded earlier this year with the help of Chris Garges and Keith Bradshaw. Cradled by the scored-for-funk, billed-for-rock bass playing of Geoff Bradshaw, the front-and-center dynamic duo of Sivilli and vocalist Travis McCann makes Round Two sound like the purposefully post-grunge, younger half of The Allman Brothers Band. Be on the lookout for these guys; they may be special.
The homespun Steep Canyon Rangers, one of the best young and traditional bluegrass bands to come out of anywhere in the past five years, play on May 2, and The Emma Gibbs Band returns on Saturday, the 3rd. You will regret missing the supercharged, super-crafty jamgrass of The Larry Keel Experience on Thursday, the 8th.