Photos: Triple Wide, Raleigh, NC, August 5, 2011

The always fun Triple Wide put on a free show for First Friday at Raleigh’s downtown City Market and drew a large, diverse crowd.  Cranking out compelling originals and people-pleasing covers from the likes of Warren Zevon, The Staples Singers, and Jimi Hendrix, the quartet proved to be the perfect complement to a steamy Friday evening.  Mitch Morton of The Oatmeal Conspiracy also provided special sax accompaniment.

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Triple Wide is: Dale Bryce (bass), David Daniels(drums/vocals), Whitney Pearsall (vocals), and Steven Stewart (guitar/vocals)

Music Flows on St. Patricks Day at Raleigh’s Pour House Music Hall

At The Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh, Steve Mang embodies the phrase “he’s a regular”. The guy is second only to the employees when it comes to attendance, and he’s seen a ludicrous amount of music at the venue, so you know he won’t steer you wrong when vouching for music. “The Oatmeal Conspiracy is always good,” he said, heading into the venue for a St. Patrick’s Day triple-bill that featured them along with two more bands, Triple Wide and Waylandsphere.

Pearsall, Bryce, and Morton

Anyone that frequents the bar knows that those three names on a poster means one thing – a night of non-stop collaboration where three bands take on a group mindset. The difference on this night, though, was the deep, rich sound of two relatively new local bands turning the corner and heading toward bigger and better things. The Triple Wide foursome is coming up on two years together, and there’s been a pronounced increase in familiarity amongst the band since their inception. Their newfound confidence and tightness has greatly benefited every aspect of their music. The Oatmeal Conspiracy has been together for much longer, but recently unearthed an entirely new sound thanks to the addition of a full-time bassist. The two bands are playing better than they ever have right now, and the combination of the two groups on this holiday night only amplified that fact. Continue reading

Live Review: Gov’t Mule, Raleigh, NC, July 26, 2009

My review of the Gov’t Mule and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit show at the Lincoln Theatre Street Stage is up at Hidden Track – Glide Magazine’s Blog. Take a look at it won’t you?

Live Review: Janiva Magness at Blue Bayou, Hillsborough, NC, July 17, 2009

Red-hot blues singer Janiva Magness brought her acclaimed show to Hillsborough’s tiny Blue Bayou Club and treated 100 or so lucky patrons to a performance that was as sultry as the humid southern weather. Many fans were surprised to arrive at the club and find the show sold out in advance, which is a testament to Magness’ recent success and befitting of her support from legends like B.B. King. The living legend recently bestowed his “Entertainer of the Year” award upon Magness, a fact mentioned by her guitarist no less than 3 times throughout the evening.

Blue Bayou is a musical outpost nestled in a quaint downtown area, directly across from a church and a popular restaurant. Surrounded by antique shops and art galleries, it’s an unlikely spot to have become the area’s home of the blues, but it has done just that. The club’s proximity to Chapel Hill and Durham make it a convenient spot for are music lovers to dance the night away and partake of the above-average selection of beer and wine, which is more reasonably priced in comparison to many bars in the area.

The temperature inside the club was appropriately stifling for a Friday night blues show, and it rose steadily as Magness’ outstanding band offered a funky instrumental prelude to the first set. Tight, inspired groove jazz got the sweat flowing from the crowd, which was a mix of crunchy co-op customers, middle-aged after dinner revelers, drunken dancers, and enthusiastic blues devotees.

Janiva MagnessHailing from “L.A. via Detroit,” Magness sings the blues with little regional inflection but plenty of authenticity. She’s not some fastidiously marketed pretender who left home and got a good band and a record deal in L.A. Magness has seen the hard times, lived them, and emerged from the fray with an appreciation for life and an unearthly ability to channel her experiences into music. Her voice materializes from the molten lava of the earth and resonates with stage-shaking command when the band is cranking through uptempo numbers, and she can make an audience’s collective spine tingle with her moody, sultry side.

Magness took the stage with much fanfare from the band and immediately tore through one of her signature tunes, the classic “That’s What Love Will Make You Do,” which served as a heart-pumping prelude to an evening of traditional blues and songs from her critically lauded What Love Will Do album The band proved exceptional in that they managed to stand out even as Magness enraptured the audience with her relentlessly emotive, soul-drenched singing and beguiling stage presence. While she regaled the crowd with tales of music-industry idiocy, growing older but marrying a younger man, and, of course, the ins and outs of love, the quartet alternately slinked and sizzled with gut-wrenching passion. During instrumental breakdowns and solos, Magness matched their rhythmic bombast with plenty of vocal encouragement, foot stomps, and joyful expressions

Janiva MagnessA highlight of the evening was her introduction and performance of “You Sound Pretty Good,” a rollicking number that details some of the criticisms she’s heard over the years. “You sound pretty good, but you just don’t sell,” reads one of the lyrics, which Magness must chuckle at each time she signs another CD sold at setbreak. Therein lies the key to Magness’ status as the current queen of mainstream blues in America. People who worship true musicianship know a good thing when they hear it, and whether or not she sells out large venues or blows through boxes of merchandise, Magness will always have an audience because of her unpretentious nature and undeniable talent.

VIDEO: “Wang Dang Doodle” at Monterey Blues Fest