During November and December 2019, the Music Library of East Carolina University will be featuring displays and exhibits that showcase legendary N.C. rock and roll bands and musicians. In advance of the exhibition, E.C.U. Interim Head Music Librarian Eleanor Cook created a playlist showcasing her favorite North Carolina rock and roll bands. Take a listen and read Eleanor’s listening notes below!
The songs chosen for this playlist represent a selection of my favorite North Carolina bands and vocalists. There are gaps since not all the songs I would have liked to include are available on Spotify. While some of the selections are from way back, others are more recent. These bands came out of the Chapel Hill/Durham/Raleigh and Charlotte music scenes from the 1960s through the 2000s. All these musicians were instrumental in putting N.C. rock ’n’ roll on the national map.
Arrogance was one of the most influential rock bands in North Carolina, EVER. Founded at UNC-Chapel Hill in the late 60s, the original band was comprised of Robert Kirkland, Don Dixon, Mike Greer, and Jimmy Glasgow. They went on to add and/or change out several drummers and brought in guitarist Rod Abernethy, formerly of the band Glass Moon. Dixon and Kirkland’s vocals and Marty Stout’s keyboards are a signature part of their sound. Though the group broke up in the early 1980s, over the years they have come back together to do reunion concerts now and then, playing to packed venues of devoted fans.
“Black Death” was the first song Arrogance recorded and is considered a classic by their fans. “Nights of Dreams” features Mike Greer’s incredible guitar work; this early cut is worth a listen. This particular tune is on a compilation album called Knight of Dreams which includes some pretty raw stuff, but you can’t find a lot of it anywhere else.
Additional Arrogance tunes selected for this playlist include “Open Window,” as it was always a huge hit with their fans. Interestingly, it is a song that they do not play any longer when they reunite due to the inevitable changes in their vocal ranges. The last time “Open Window” was performed in public was at a New Year’s Eve show at the Cat’s Cradle in 2011, where they called on several of their grown sons and daughters to hit the high notes. It brought down the house!
The other Arrogance selection here, “Why Do You Love Me?” showcases the keyboard talents of Marty Stout, as well as the versatility of percussionist Scott Davison. Earlier drummers Steve Hebert and Ogie Shaw are not available on cuts found on Spotify. All Arrogance albums can be had on CD if you look hard enough.
Next in this playlist, I include the most well-known selection, “Heartbreaker,” from the band Nantucket. Initially formed in Jacksonville, N.C., Nantucket was inducted into the N.C. Music Hall of Fame in 2012. They were a staple of the N.C. rock scene for many years.
Several key selections are included from the Charlotte band The Spongetones. Heavily influenced by The Beatles and British invasion power pop, The Spongetones were originally thought of as a “tribute” band, but over time composed and performed their original music. Selections here include “She Goes Out With Everybody” and “My Girl Maryanne.” The Spongetones were a regular act at both PB Scott’s and the Doubledoor Inn and still perform, on occasion, around the state. They are particularly popular in Charlotte but have fans as far away as Japan.
Spinning off of both Arrogance and The Spongetones are selections from Glass Moon and Don Dixon and the Jump Rabbits. Glass Moon’s “Cold Kid” features Dave Adams and Rod Abernethy (a.k.a Rod Dash), who, as previously mentioned, played with Arrogance. The Jump Rabbits came together in the late 2000s with Don Dixon, Jamie Hoover (of The Spongetones), and Charlotte percussionist, Jim Brock. Jump Rabbits showcased tunes from a variety of artists, including songs by N.C. artists Don Dixon, Jamie Hoover (“Skinny”), Bland Simpson (“The Night that Otis Died”), Peter Holsapple (“Amplifier”), Matt Barrett (“Six Pack”), and Parthenon Huxley (“Sputnik”). All these songs along with other great covers and originals are available on the album The Nu-Look.
I also included a song by Parthenon Huxley (“Buddha Buddha”) on the playlist. He attended UNC-Chapel Hill and his music is wonderful!
Peter Holsapple and his band The dBs, were formed in NYC but the founding members, Holsapple and Chris Stamey, are most definitely N.C. musicians. I include their first hit “Amplifier” as they perform it, as well as the great cover by Don Dixon and the Jump Rabbits. I love both versions! Also included are two more of their most popular songs, “Neverland“ and "Black and White.”
Two more of my favorite bands from N.C. included are The Connells (“Eyes on the Ground”) and Dillion Fence, (“Something for You”) both great groups from the Triangle music scene. Both still play on occasion.
Lastly, I provide a nod to Mitch Easter’s band Let’s Active (“Every Word Means No”). Mitch Easter was inducted into the N.C. Music Hall of Fame last month.
The threads of connection between artists are numerous and complex in the North Carolina music scene. Most of these musicians know each other and have worked together in various ways. There are others I do not have room to mention here that are also part of this landscape. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful rock ’n’ roll giants in our state!
About the Author
Eleanor Cook is interim head of the Music Library at East Carolina University and a devoted fan of North Carolina music. Many thanks to these great musicians who paved the way for other independent artists in our great state.
On Saturday, November 2 at 12:30 P.M.you can get a peek behind-the-scenes of Asheville’s home-grown music collective celebrating its 20th season. Flutist Kate Steinbeck and guitarist Amy Brucksch will play music and speak about Pan Harmonia’s November concerts, “Women’s Work,” featuring premieres of a music and poetry fusion work, “Rubble Becomes Art,” composed by Dosia McKay.
This event is free to the public. Get more information at https://panharmonia.org/rubble-becomes-art/
The Earl Scruggs Center, located in Shelby N.C., opened in 2014 with the mission of celebrating the life and accomplishments of one of North Carolina’s most important musicians – the banjo player Earl Scruggs. Located in what was formerly the Cleveland County Courthouse, the fully renovated historic space features interactive exhibits, film and music, and relics from the Scruggs family estate. There are four permanent exhibits in addition to a rotating featured exhibit. The current featured exhibit is Carolina Calling: The Photography of Daniel Coston.
Learn more at www.EarlScruggsCenter.org and plan your visit today!
Last month Chócala released their debut album. The Charlotte, N.C. based band blends jazz, psych-rock, funk and Latin music to create a truly unique sound.
Last summer they joined Come Hear NC for a performance at Music at the Mansion, a concert series hosted by First Lady Kristin Cooper.
Watch the performance below and check out their self-titled album, which is available for streaming on Spotify here:
WDAV-FM aired its first broadcast on December 1, 1978. From its humble beginnings as a low-power station run by Davidson College students, WDAV has grown to become one of nation’s top classical radio stations. Approximately 110,000 regional listeners tune in each week and 37,000 listen through the station’s streaming service. The popularity and longevity of WDAV is due to the station’s pioneering use of multiple platforms and technologies; WDAV was one of the first classical stations to stream broadcasts on the internet, and today it produces podcasts on classical music, highlights video performances on its YouTube Channel, and offers informative blogs. Local programming also contributes to the station’s success. Regional symphonies are often featured, and listeners can enjoy live performances from visiting artists recorded in WDAV’s performance studio.
In 2018, the station celebrated its 40th year with a Top 40 countdown of classical music hits, a birthday party, and a special episode of Mozart Café commemorating Charlotte’s 250th anniversary. WDAV hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down throughout its 40 years. Here’s to 40 more.
We are throwing things back to 1991 with a performance of the song "Crow Jane" by Etta Baker and her friend and fellow guitarist John Dee Holeman. Listen to North Carolina Arts Council Executive Director Wayne Martin talk about the history of the recording on WUNC’s “Songs We Love:”
Did you know? John D. Loudermilk’s song “Tobacco Road” was a semi-autobiographical tale about growing up in Durham, NC. The song has since been covered by Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth, Jimi Hendrix (unreleased), and the Jackson 5.
Story by Laura Casteel
If you’ve walked through downtown Durham on a Monday evening this summer, you might have heard the beating of drums.
The community drumming group Oxente (pronounced oh-SHEN-chee) formed in early 2019. Their outdoor rehearsals in Durham Central Park are open to the public, as is the group itself—anyone can join Oxente, regardless of musical background, and members describe it as feeling like a family. They perform samba reggae, an Afro-Brazilian genre inspired by the American civil rights movement and the music of Bob Marley. The intricate rhythm patterns are created by four types of drums:
“When they play all the rhythms together, it’s incredibly beautiful,” says Caique Vidal, a multi-instrumentalist and educator who leads Oxente in addition to his band, Batuque.
“I see in Durham, especially in the community I’m around, a desire to learn, a desire to fight for better, for change, and a desire to include all…Oxente is part of that.”
Vidal grew up in the historic center of Salvador, a city in the Brazilian state of Bahia and the birthplace of samba reggae. Today, he strives to bring the openness and accessibility of his musical upbringing to North Carolina, by investing in local talent and encouraging the use of public spaces for the arts. In early September 2019, Oxente hosted Durham’s first-ever Brazilian Day festival in the Central Park district, which featured a variety of local artists.
Vidal believes that Oxente’s commitment to inclusivity, education, and authenticity embodies the spirit of its home city. “Durham is a perfect place for Oxente to thrive,” he says. “I see in Durham, especially in the community I’m around, a desire to learn, a desire to fight for better, for change, and a desire to include all…Oxente is part of that.”
“The Art of Cool Festival was born and bred in Durham. It really is a true reflection of the progressive, creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the culture of this city. It’s the reason we work hard to keep AOCFEST right here at home.”
Lesleigh Mausi, M.Ed.
Vice President, The Art of Cool Festival
The sixth annual Art of Cool Festival returns to downtown Durham on Friday Sept. 27, Saturday Sept. 28, and Sunday Sept. 29. Durham Bulls Athletic Park will host the headlining acts, and venues around Durham will open their doors to hip-hop and R&B lovers for a memorable weekend of music and dancing. Come Hear NC is a proud sponsor of this year's festival.
North Carolina artists are represented across the entire line-up, and we created this playlist to get you ready for their performances. Check out Art of Cool’s website for the full schedule and listen to the playlist below.
PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass returns on Friday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Sept. 28, marking seven years celebrating bluegrass in downtown Raleigh. Come Hear NC is sponsoring performances at Red Hat Amphitheater and this year admission to the mainstage is free.
North Carolina artists dominate this year’s schedule, so we made a playlist to acquaint you with some of the home state acts playing across eight stages at the one-of-a-kind urban bluegrass festival.
Find the full schedule of events on the World of Bluegrass website.