The initials "DJ" start his stage moniker, but don't expect two turntables and a microphone from DJ Spooky. Instead, think turntables, computers and a massive multimedia "remix" of D.W. Griffith' s Birth of a Nation.
Spooky, aka Paul D. Miller, has been transforming words, music and images for more than a decade--a kind of techno Dadaist/cultural cut-and-paste artist with a knack for juxtapositions that make you think, feel and/or reel.
Recently, he decided to take on Griffith's masterwork still revered for its pioneering editing and filmmaking techniques but its place mired by its storyline--the heroic depiction of the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. His Rebirth of a Nation comes to Chapel Hill, where the Klan last marched in the mid-'80s, Sept. 23 as one of the top shows of the newly re-opened Memorial Hall--a venue that's worth keeping an eye on this year. In addition to Rebirth, highlights of the new schedule include Los Lobos on Sept. 25, followed by Nanci Griffith with Tift Merritt on Oct. 7, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Marian McPartland on Oct. 27, Youssou N'Dour's Egypt featuring Fathy Salama's Cairo Orchestra on Nov. 1, and Bonnie Raitt on Dec. 7. There is also an extensive classical lineup including N.C. Symphony concerts on Sept. 29, Oct. 16 and Nov. 17 and a UNC Symphony concert on Oct. 28.
The Carrboro Music Festival marks the fall with music pretty much all over downtown from 1-10 p.m. on Sept. 25.
The ArtsCenter's fall season kicks off when former Archer and resident Eric Bachmann performs a Crooked Fingers solo show on Sept. 18. An ACORN benefit for the group's hurricane recovery and rebuilding fund is Sept. 27 with Barefoot Manner, kora master Mamadou Diabate, Mosadi Music, Alex Weiss & Different Drum and Shamrockers. Other shows on the center's fall calendar include Scottish musicians Andy Stewart and Gerry O'Beirne on Oct. 1, Indian singer and percussionist Rajamani and locals Jaafar on Oct. 18, Eric Reed's jazz band on Oct. 14, and a Nov. 11 CD release party with Dromedary and a screening of El Charango, a documentary about "a little instrument, a large silver mine and the highest city in the world."
Alltel Pavillion--the big shed--closes its season with two all-American shows--Rascal Flatts on Sept. 17 and the Allman Brothers on Sept. 30.
Koka Booth Amphitheatre closes its season with two shows. The Carolina Acoustic Music Festival on Sunday, Oct. 2 is produced in conjunction with the gone but not forgotten Six String Cafe & Music Hall; the day-long event features Chris Rosser, David LaMotte, Chuck Brodsky, Taylor Roberts Music, Vaughan Penn, Jonathan Byrd, Kickin' Grass, Beth Wood and Hooverville. And on Oct. 15, MTV India's best new artist of 2004, JoSH, headline the music for the annual Diwali Celebration--the Indian Festival of Lights.
Though it's no longer the host stage for PineCone, there's still some great acts headed to N.C. State's Stewart Theatre. On Sept. 16, New Orleans' Los Hombres Calientes bring their brass and beat led by Irvin Mayfield, a young trumpeter and protégé of Wynton Marsalis, and veteran percussionist Bill Summers. The show starts at 8 p.m. Also at Stewart this fall is an Oct. 29 jazz performance by the Bill Charlap Trio.
Progress Engergy Center is the new name for the BTI Center, and that's not the only change. PineCone--the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music--has moved its Down Home music series from Stewart Theatre to Fletcher Theater and Meymandi Concert Hall. It begins with a Friday, Oct. 7 performance by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.
The series will host one of the farthest-traveled of anyone on a bill in the Triangle this fall, but their music may have a familiar ring, especially if you've been listening to a little New Orleans brass lately. Benin's Gangbé Brass Band, playing Oct. 27 at Fletcher, is a 10-piece brass and percussion ensemble featuring tight punch arrangements of trumpets, euphonium, sax and trombone. They play the modern incarnation of the music that's the second line's ancestor--funky stuff with a little Nigerian Ju-Ju thrown in with the native voudoun.
PineCone also hosts singer and fiddler Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum at Fletcher on Thursday, Nov. 10.
The Sugarfest thing didn't pan out, and so in its first year the American Tobacco Amphitheater is in need of a shot in the arm. Enter the Funk Brothers, the legendary Motown studio band that backed everyone Motown--Stevie, Marvin, The Supremes, Smokey, The Temps and so on. These are the guys that poured their hearts into What's Going On? And this show is what's going on as well.
The big Duke show: Responding to a question, Chuck Berry once said he'd stop rocking when he lies down for the last time. The Stones are staying true to that, so there'll be quite close to two centuries of rock experience on stage at Wallace Wade Stadium.
The other big Duke show: Ravi Shankar is the featured performer at the Festival of India at Duke's Page Auditorium Oct. 23. Other Page shows include the Pat Metheny Trio with Christian McBride and Antonio Sanchez and special guest David Sanchez (yes, that David Sanchez) on Nov. 11, and The Bobs present "Rhapsody in Bob" on Nov. 18.
Carolina Theatre's musical offerings include a visit Nov. 13 from Laurie Anderson. She's bringing her show The End of the Moon. There's also a big blues night on Nov. 9 with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers along with Robben Ford and Eric Bibb. Other Carolina shows for the fall include the return to the area of Brazil's Beat the Donkey on Sept. 23, and jazz composer Joe Sample on Oct. 1.
Started in 2002 as a Southern adjunct to the Grassroots festival in upstate New York, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival has been on a steady build. If the weather cooperates, this year could be a breakthrough. Forty bands including Tift Merritt, Mamar Kasey and the Two Dollar Pistols fill four nights Oct. 6-9.