After shaking off a more frigid winter than we've had in a long while (chilling in many ways), it's time to get out, hear live music and rethink things a little. In this list, you will find events to spark faith in new music, rekindle the love of three chords and an attitude or--gads!--maybe just find a place to toss back a few and shake it for fun. Here's a sampler of outstanding music coming to our area in the balmy days and nights of summer ahead.
Benefit for Food and Medicine with North Elementary, the Sames, Lud, Patty Hurst Shifter and Gerty
Cat's Cradle, Friday, May 30
With the war in Iraq being swept under the rug in many respects, it's hard to know how to lend a hand of relief. Acting on the need locally, this hefty lineup of Triangle-area bands decided to help out the best way they knew how: food and medicine via Doctors Without Borders and the U.N. World Food Programs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pause for the cause with North Elementary's hazy pop, the adventurous pop rock of the Sames, the rock songsmith of Lud, rollicking country from Patty Hurst Shifter and Gerty's sweet-tooth new wave numbers.
Durham Bulls' game-closing live music
Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Saturdays, all season
Like the ace closer coming in to finish the ballgame, look for a local band to complete Saturday night Bulls' contests this summer. Durham pop group the Sleepies have already entertained. Other participants include the Flood, Little Miss Messy and North Elementary. Sponsored in part by the Indy itself. For more information visit www.durhambulls.com.
Prince Paul with Aceyalone and Ugly Duckling
Cat's Cradle, Friday, June 6
Veteran hip-hop producer Prince Paul, best known for his work with De La Soul but more recently lending his talents to ex-Chapel Hillian MC Paul Barman, brings his brainy, knob-twiddling skills to the Triangle with a couple of up-and-comers: Aceyalone has been around the block, and is now a known cohort of boundary-pushing artists such as the Def Jux entourage, so expect crispy rhymes with head-bobbing messages inside. Ugly Duckling hail from the West Coast.
Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players with Langhorne Slim
Cat's Cradle, Wednesday, June 11
A simple concept brought to beautiful fruition: 30-something suburbanite couple gathers old slides at yard sales and bases lovely little pop songs on the images. Dad Jason puts music to the slides while mom Tina runs the projector and 8-year-old starlet Rachel tears it up on the drum set. Neither too precious nor mere novelty, the Trachtenburgs are a celebrity family we can all envy as they pack up their minivan and take their dream on the road. No Osbournes hyper-"reality" here. Anti-folkie picker-grinner Langhorne Slim opens. Don't miss it.
Norah Jones with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
Amphitheatre at Regency Park, Tuesday, June 17
Jones hit big at the Grammies this year, sure, and her huge voice, a mix of soulful depth and piano-bar singer is the rightful reason. Rawlings and Welch work with a great interplay between each other, in the old-time music vein.
Dexter Romweber Duo
Kings, Saturday, June 21
The Flat Duo Jets' legacy hovers over the pop landscape these days. Take this surreal switcheroo: Romweber and new drummer Crash LaResh were recently invited to open for garage-rock poster children the White Stripes, whose Jack White is a longtime huge fan. Huh? Maybe some of the youngsters will be turned on to our local pioneer. Come check out Dex pulling out all his rockabilly wildness in a duo again.
Slobberbone with Patty Hurst Shifter
Lincoln Theatre, Sunday, June 22
Denton, Texas' Slobberbone make that rare kind of dirt-road rock music that has a golden lyrical heart inside its dirty denim jacket. Don't miss our own PHS kick-starting things with their distinctive brand of country rock.
The Dragons with Riverboat Gamblers
Local 506, Monday, June 23
Led by Mario Escovedo, the little bro to roots-punk icons Javier and Alejandro, San Diego's Dragons push some major overdriven, blisteringly fast rock. Get there early for the Gamblers (who, like Slobberbone, also hail from Denton, Texas) and their frantic trash punk. It's a perfect occasion to hit the 506 on a hot summer night.
North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, Wednesday, July 2
Reunited by the same folks who brought you the Buena Vista Social Club, Orchestra Baobab keep alive the traditional sounds of their hometown--Dakar, Senegal--even as they add Afro-Cuban rhythms and other innovations. They are living legends on a brief U. S. tour. Don't miss this chance to catch them live.
July 4th Metal Explosion with Soul Preacher
Brewery, Friday, July 4
What better way to celebrate Independence Day than popping a cold one and embracing your freedom to bang your head? This mini metal fest features the fire and brimstone of doom metal group Soul Preacher. Let liberty rock as well as ring!
Cat's Cradle, Friday, July 11
Cat's Cradle, Tuesday, July 15
The unstoppable cad Mark E. Smith has led this Manchester, UK, outfit through more membership changes than Spinal Tap in 25-plus years. His punk vision, brought to life in tales colored with slashing guitars and constant rhythmic thud, are shot through with his own acidic rants and remain as vibrant and alive today as they were back during the spirit of '77.
Also a member of the class of '77, Pete Shelley and friends in the Buzzcocks married punk's fury to a melodic pop sensibility, becoming the godfathers of catchy love songs with razor-sharp edges. Returning to the studio for the first time since 1999, the Buzzcocks just released a new self-titled record on Merge Records. If you're not already a fan, you'll leave nodding your head and finally understanding where so many other lesser acts got their sound.
D.A.D.A. presents Durham Local Artists Showcase
Various locations in downtown Durham, August, exact dates to be announced
The Durham Association for Downtown Arts is stepping up their efforts for a community of artists working together, especially on the musical tip. Look for this year's summer showcase to dwarf last year's one-day event. It could sprawl to a possible two- or three-day festival, with musical performers of all stripes in Durham encouraged to apply. For more information on how to participate, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or keep up to date on the showcase at durhamdada.org.
Live music house party held by your name here
Triangle area homes and basements, all summer
Let's face it, the most grassroots way to hear music is in someone's home. So, break out and invite a local band to set up in your basement, have a DJ play a dance party in your living room or just call your friends and strum a little on the porch. It could be the most satisfying show you attend all summer.
Other shows of note:
Dar Williams, Cat's Cradle, May 31
Two Dollar Pistols, the Sadies, Go! Room 4, May 31
James Taylor, Alltel Pavilion, May 31
Israel Vibration, Cat's Cradle, June 3
Joan Armatrading, June 5, Durham Carolina Theatre
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alltel Pavilion, June 5
Summerfest With The N.C. Symphony: Dianne Reeves Celebrates the Music of Sarah Vaughn, The Amphiteatre at Regency Park, June 7
Santana, Angelique Kidjo, Alltel Pavilion, June 13
Red Clay Ramblers Reunion, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, June 14
Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Kid Koala, The Amphiteatre at Regency Park, June 15
BlackLove, The Forcast, Sentinel, Nightlight, June 21
Tift Merritt and Caitlin Cary, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, June 21
Chicago, Alltel Pavilion, July 11
Paris Combo, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, July 11
Alabama, Alltel Pavilion, July 12
Taj Mahal, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, July 15
Project Mastana, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, July 19
JD's Bling Bling Dance Party with DJ Yung-dum, Fullacum, Nightlight, July 23
Tracy Chapman, The Amphiteatre at Regency Park, Cary, July 25
Lyle Lovett, The Amphiteatre at Regency Park, July 26
Phish, Alltel Pavilion, July 27
Katherine Whalen and Her Jazz Squad, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, Aug. 2
Neville Brothers, Cat's Cradle, Aug. 5
B-52's, The Amphiteatre at Regency Park, Aug. 8
Poison, Vince Neil, Skid Row, The Amphiteatre at Regency Park, Aug. 9
Leo Kottke, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, Aug. 9
Huey Lewis and the News, The Amphiteatre at Regency Park, Aug. 16
Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, Aug. 16
Danu, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, Aug. 29
John Mayer, Counting Crows, Alltel Pavilion, Sept. 1
Parea, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, Sept. 5
Durham Blues Festival, Durham Athletic Park, Sept. 5 and 6
House Party 2003, Alltel Pavilion, Sept. 7
Blue Ridge Music Homecoming Celebrating the publication of Blue Ridge Music Trails, featuring Wayne Henderson, Etta Baker, New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, and others, North Carolina Museum of Art Outdoor Park, Sept. 13
Celtic Festival, The Amphiteatre at Regency Park, Sept. 13
Dave Matthews Band, Alltel Pavilion, Sept. 17
George Jones, Durham Carolina Theatre, Sept. 19