North Carolina is among the most celebrated musical states in America — a place that gave the world Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Nina Simone, Superchunk, the Piedmont blues, beach music, and more. Beyond the obvious headliners, however, the Old North State has also contributed more than its fair share of mysteries and legends to the wider story of popular music. Here are seven such tales.
In a typical choral performance, singers file onto a stage, climb risers, and arrange themselves by sections; soprano, tenor, bass, and alto singers stand shoulder to shoulder, primed to create collectively a big, beautiful sound known and loved by many. But it’s a tradition that requires two elements that are non-negotiable during the coronavirus pandemic: large gatherings and close proximity to other people. Following a trend directly related to performance cancellations these days, the North Carolina Master Chorale is going virtual.
Durham's John Darnielle and M.C. Taylor provide liner notes for the iconic band's upcoming anthology
Last week, the record-of-the-month club Vinyl Me, Please announced the forthcoming release of an extensive 14-LP boxed set: The Story of the Grateful Dead. Along with the music are liner notes by prolific musicians and Grateful Dead fans, including North Carolina’s own M.C. Taylor, of Hiss Golden Messenger, and John Darnielle, of the Mountain Goats.
Producer, musician, and music industry executive Tony Brown has worked with some of the biggest names in country music: from Elvis Presley and Emmylou Harris to Reba McEntire and George Strait. His work has yielded over 100 #1 singles, a whopping $100 million of record sales, multiple Academy of Country Music awards, and a nearly two decade-long stint as President of MCA Nashville Records.
A return to normal concert experiences is still a way off; the Asheville Symphony has elected to delay the start of its concert series until February 2021. Like so many other art and music organizations, the Asheville Symphony is taking the hiatus as an opportunity to try out new ways to share its art form in people’s homes.
In Bollywood cinema, “dishoom” is the quintessential action sound, akin to the “pows,” “biffs,” and “zonks” of the 1960s “Batman” television series. But to one North Carolina DJ, it means a colorful clash of global music and artistic media that creates an explosion on the dance floor.
Across North Carolina and beyond, musicians are keeping busy as best they can during this coronavirus era. You can find numerous performers — Greensboro singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett, American Aquarium front man B.J. Barham, Johnny Folsom Four’s David Burney — doing weekly or even daily performances from their homes, usually on Facebook or Instagram, with the obligatory online tip jar for donations.