Local music fans had tough choices in Raleigh Friday night: While The Pour House held a second release party for The Old Ceremony’s Walk on Thin Air, Slim’s hosted Gray Young’s Firmament release show. Though you couldn’t go wrong—both are fine CDs—those who decided to spend their whole night at only one of the venues missed some great music just yards away. Armed with a couple memory cards and bolstered by a late-night caffeine fix, I hustled to catch them both.
Kicking off The Pour House show was The Jackets, side project of Chatham County Line’s John Teer and Chandler Holt, Hotel Lights bassist Roger Gupton and drummer Evans Nicholson of Thad Cockrell’s Starlight Country Band.
Drenching shimmering guitar pop in reverb and harmonies, the quartet was joined by Raleigh sax man Peter Lamb—of Countdown Quartet, among others—on several tunes, like raucous Teer original “Keeping It Together” and a spirited take on “Down South in New Orleans."
As The Jackets were walking off The Pour House stage just past 11:00, Goner went on over on the other side of the block. Sticking fairly close to the set from its January appearance at Tir Na Nog’s Local Band/Local Beer, the Raleigh vets held court with jittery key-driven rock blasting from the back corner of Slim’s. With the late-arriving crowd still forming, Scott Phillips’s falsetto led a “Better Than Blue” sing-along.
Over on Blount Street, the sold-out room—chatty but appreciative—basked beneath the glow of The Old Ceremony’s latest batch, which it ran through with unbridled enthusiasm. Django Haskins looked joyous during “Same Difference,” which was followed up by an even newer selection, an unrecorded song hatched since the Walk on Thin Air sessions. “We’re trying to keep things moving,” Haskins explained. They surely had the floor moving when closing the big night with the infectious, explosive Our One Mistake cut “Get to Love”, which featured vocals and percussion from The Jackets' Teer and Nicholson.
Back around the corner, Gray Young held several dozen at rapt attention with their intense,
climatic avalanches of tension. After playing through much of Firmament, they returned with “Brushfire,” from the Kindle Field EP, as an encore, then scoured their minds and mined their back catalog again for yet another song. “We usually don’t do this encore stuff,” guitarist and singer Chas McKeown offered. Fair enough, but they better get used to it.