Thursday, May 11, 2017

Forecastle Festival Releases Daily Schedule and Official App Download

The countdown is on to the fifteenth year of Music, Art and Activism. The Forecastle Festival, led by LCD Soundsystem, Weezer, Odesza, Sturgill Simpson and Cage the Elephant, has released its daily schedule, available now at
Fans can also view the daily schedule on the official Forecastle Festival app, now available for download on iOS and Andriod. The app will allow users to browse the full lineups and build their own custom itinerary, in addition to providing access to the festival map, a comprehensive list of food and beverage vendors, Forecastle Radio, social media and more. Fans can steer their own experience on the Forecastle ship right from their smartphones.
Links to the daily schedule are provided below. Gates will open at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 14, and at noon on Saturday, July 15 and Sunday, July 16. VIP, General Admission Plus and General Admission weekend passes, as well as daily tickets are on sale now. All festival tickets are available at, and all Ticketmaster outlets. 

*Photo Credit: Brian Hensley

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hopscotch Releases 2017 Lineup

Hopscotch Music Festival released their 2017 lineup today! Check out the talent ranging from Run the Jewels to Future Islands to The Afghan Whigs.  Wristbands go on sale Thursday, May 11 at 10 a.m.  Is it September yet?

B.J. Barham Presents Rockingham Tonight at The Pour House

B.J. Barham of American Aquarium shares his solo album Rockingham tonight at The Pour House with support by Charly Crockett. 

B.J. Barham was a long way from home when the tragedy happened.

On November 13, 2015, the singer-songwriter—raised in a small North Carolina town called Reidsville—was in the middle of his fourth European tour with American Aquarium, the rising alt-country act he’d led for nearly a decade. They were in Belgium, less than two hours from Paris, when bad news began to arrive: a series of terrorist attacks, including one in a rock club, had left more than 100 dead. Family members, friends, and the fans American Aquarium had amassed from so many years on the road immediately reached out, making sure the band had been far away.

“The onslaught of text messages, voicemails and everything that came in the next day sparked something in me,” Barham remembers. “In the next two days, the entire record was written.”
The record he’s talking about is Rockingham, Barham’s remarkable and intensely personal solo debut. Not long after the wave of well wishes had passed, Barham found himself piecing together composites of people he’d known since childhood, of those folks and places who had impacted his life in fundamental ways. He sang into his cell phone and scribbled in notebooks, stealing away for quiet moments in order to put the melodies and characters floating through his mind into song.

The shock of the moment and the distance from home seemed to give Barham a crucial perspective on the moments and circumstances that had helped shape him. Wolves, American Aquarium’s much-lauded 2015 breakthrough, had contained Barham’s most honest, vulnerable statements to date. But these songs took the next step, allowing Barham to share stories about those around him. In “O’Lover,” he portrays a hard-working farmer forced to make some desperate decisions to support the ones he loves. In “Reidsville,” named for the place he’d called his home until relocating to North Carolina’s capital, he immortalized beautiful, sweet, doomed souls, stuck in love in the sort of small towns that are disintegrating all across America. You needn’t have been to Reidsville to recognize these elegantly written, expertly realized protagonists.

“This is the first record I’ve ever made that’s not autobiographical—it’s fictional narrative in a very real place,” Barham says. “These songs are human condition stories set in my hometown, Reidsville.” Barham made these songs his new priority. Not long after he returned stateside, he asked Bradley Cook, the musician and mentor who had coproduced Wolves, to hear them. By afternoon’s end, they had hatched the plan to make Rockingham. Two months later, on January 31, Barham returned from another American Aquarium tour.

On Monday, he and the band he’d built to record Rockingham—himself, Cook, Cook’s brother and multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook, drummer Kyle Keegan, American Aquarium standbys Ryan Johnson and Whit Wright—met for the first time. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they rehearsed. And on Thursday and Friday, they cut all eight songs at Durham’s Overdub Lane. They mixed the results over the weekend, between the sold-out hometown shows and various festivities of American Aquarium’s annual pilgrimage, Roadtrip to Raleigh. The whirlwind kept the songs simple and the recordings human, reflecting a reality much bigger and less perfect than the vacuum of a recording studio. These tunes, after all, didn’t need much tampering. Rockingham puts its scenes and scenarios front and center, the beautiful grain and twang of Barham’s voice bringing it all to life. He limns lifelong romance and instantaneous tragedy during the paradoxically heartbreaking, heart-mending “Unfortunate Kind” and details the disappointments and dreams of the blue-collar laborer with “American Tobacco Company.” With its acoustic guitars and pealing organs, ragged vocals and rugged characters, Rockingham is a stunning, personal portrait of small-town America, easily identifiable and familiar.

For the album’s sole autobiographical moment, Barham, now happily married and sober, penned a letter of sound advice and Southern attitude to his daughter-to-be, “Madeline.” It’s too personal to fall under a roots-rock purview, too singular to be swallowed by a larger situation. Like all of Rockingham, it’s not the sound of Barham stepping away from American Aquarium but instead stepping confidently into the thoughts, stories, and feelings of his own thirty years.
“This is just an outlet for a songwriter. It’s me being able to do something different. This is like people who love their jobs, picking up hobbies,” says Barham, “This is an exercise for myself.”

*All Eyes Media 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mipso Return Home for NCMA Show - Interview with Libby Rodenbough

Chapel Hill quartet Mipso is in the midst of their 35 date album release tour for Coming Down The Mountain.  According to the Americana-roots band, their fourth studio album explores "ideas of our changing relationship to the idea of home and about being pushed or pulled by forces stronger than us." 

Ahead of their special homecoming show at The North Carolina Museum of Art on May 6 with River Whyless, I chatted with fiddler Libby Rodenbough about touring, MerleFest and appreciating the little things.  

TTB:  How does Coming Down the Mountain differ in sound from Old Time Reverie?  

LR:  A couple of people have asked us if we see this album as a departure because we added drums. I think that's the typical response of adding electric instruments to a string band, but I think for the band it feels like a part of our trajectory. We're song writers mostly and we like to create music that supports the songs we write. With this album it felt like the instrumentation that could support these songs was a little different.  Also, we were trying to keep ourselves entertained and it was fun for us to try some new sounds in the studio and see how we could make them our own.

TTB:  Tell me about the creative process for this album.

LR:  We got together in a friend's barn near Saxapahaw where they grow fields of rye, which was really beautiful.  We plugged in our amps for the first time and tried songs a different way. 

TTB:  What is the writing process for developing new songs?  

Usually what happens is we write things on our own; sometimes they're finished songs, sometimes they're just ideas or just a chorus.  Then we get together and flush them out as a foursome.  We're all interested in writing a part of it, so even if one of us writes a song there's usually input from others before we record.

TTB:  What was it like working with Brad Cook of Megafaun?

LR:  It was so fun!  He is such a force of positive energy.  He is philosophically tied to not over-thinking things, which is good for us and for any artist in the studio because that's so easy to do.  He wanted us to basically go into the studio and be a band; to just play like a band and not worry too much about every little detail and kind of trust that the spirit of the song would be what was most important.  

TTB:  You are in the midst of a 35 date tour with some festival stops.  What are the biggest challenges of being on tour?

LR:  Diet, exercise, and routine.  If you're a person who enjoys routine, which I think all of us do to some extent, then being on the road is a real challenge. Touring has made me appreciate routine in a way that I might not have otherwise.  

TTB:  On the flip side, what are your favorite parts of touring?

LR:  I love imagining my life in every little town that we go through.  I love walking into a town with fresh eyes and trying to put together a little story in my head of what it's like to be there, what the people do everyday and what types of food and music they like. Obviously there are a lot of similarities and everyone is a product of an internet age, but also there's still a lot of distinction between places and that's something that could easily be overlooked if you weren't traveling to a lot of little towns like we are.  

TTB:  What are some of the highlights from your time as a Mipso member?  

LR:  It all runs together in some way.  I think there are a lot of small moments that don't get recorded as some kind of lightning strike in my memory, but there's this warmth that I feel from the accumulation of all of these small moments.  I think the stuff that's most meaningful to me is the smaller and quieter moments: the little word of appreciation from someone you admire or seeing a little kid who is starting violin lessons light up when he watches you play, that's pretty special.  

TTB:  You just played at MerleFest over the weekend.  How does MerleFest differ from other festivals?

LR:  It is a world-class festival that simultaneously feels like a state fair.  It feels extremely local, but the programming is excellent.  It has a total home-grown feeling. This festival was started by Doc Watson and I think that the spirit of the founding continues and a lot of festivals can't say that.  It's also great because of the spirit of Doc Watson it's not too exclusive with what constitutes traditional music, they always say it's traditional plus and that allows it to be as encompassing as anyone wants it to be.  

TTB:  What's next for Mipso?

LR:  There will definitely be more new music  We never really stop writing and as soon as we release things I'm usually antsy for the next thing we're going to make.  

TTB:  The upcoming show at the North Carolina Museum of Art also has Asheville's River Whyless on the bill.  Have you ever played with them before?

LR:  No, we've never played with them. We've heard so much about them and we've admired their music for a long time; it's really exciting to get to play with them. It's probably one of the most exciting bills we've ever been a part of.  

TTB:  What else would you like to tell your fans?

LR:  That we are really excited about the show at the NC Museum of Art.  We've played so many shows in the Triangle that people might think we're accustomed to it, but this is a new benchmark for us. Playing this huge outdoor amphitheater at the Museum of Art and playing with River Whyless, we've been eagerly anticipating this for so long now.  It's a really big deal to us. 

Tickets are moving quickly for this memorable night under the stars with two of North Carolina's finest Americana-folk bands.  Head on over to the North Carolina Museum of Art's website to secure your spot.  Take a listen to the album's title track, 'Coming Down the Mountain':