KFR Live in Wilmington #8

Featuring Upstarts & Rogues at Fermental and Ironhead at Reggie's 42nd St Tavern

We at KFR embrace all kinds of music and this Friday night we found ourselves in two very different concert atmospheres, just to mix it up.

First, we caught Upstarts & Rogues at Fermental in the Ogden area. Fermental features live music in the beer garden every Friday and Saturday night. The great thing about this venue (in addition to the free Friday night wine tastings, great selection of craft beer, and the awesome outdoor seating area) is that they do live music early. By 8:00, the show is in full swing and they usually wrap up around 10 or so, plenty of time to get out to see other bands or get home at a reasonable hour.

Jude Eden of Upstarts and Rogues

Jude Eden of Upstarts and Rogues

Upstarts & Rogues consists of Jeff Sanchez (of local jam band The Clams) on guitar and Jude Eden on cello, with both members contributing vocals. Their voices complement each other nicely, and the beautiful guitar/cello combination is something that isn’t seen everyday in the Wilmington music scene. Their live performances are an even balance of original songs and covers. Eden is known to launch into loop pedal cello improvisation, sometimes accompanied by her own style of spoken word poetry.  One of the great things about this duo is that they don’t hesitate to do their own thing. They improvise, they jam, they banter, and it somehow all makes sense.

Upstarts & Rogues released their studio debut “Twain Shall Meet” in 2012, with both members showing off their own style of songwriting. The recording is a good representation of what they sound like live, with a few additional instruments and studio effects thrown in.

Jeff Sanchez of Upstarts and Rogues

Jeff Sanchez of Upstarts and Rogues

One of the songs on the album that U&R performed live was “Micha’s Song,” a bluesy ode to friendship that transcends the sentimental and ruminates on the global effects of love: “I’m gonna write a song that sounds like what you mean to me…Cause if everyone had a little bit of what we have, there would be no war (and I’ve been to war), there would be no strife. I’m tellin you.” Eden’s soft and soulful voice delivers the lines in an understated way that exemplifies the meaning without forcing it.

We weren’t able to stay for the whole set, but we’re sure a few more of our favorite originals were in there. “Thought We Had a Deal” is a tune more in the classic rock vein in which Sanchez bemoans the failed promises and implicit understandings of a relationship and “Rebuttal in Blue” is Eden’s take on relentlessly trying to make a relationship work when it’s not meant to be.

Eden and Sanchez are both busy with other projects; Sanchez is in the middle of a busy season with The Clams and Eden is finishing up her first solo cello album, tentatively scheduled for release this fall. Catch one of Upstarts & Rogues’ rare live performances if you can, but in the meantime you can pick up a copy of “Twain Shall Meet” at upstartsandrogues.com.

Angela and Johnny Yeagher of Ironhead

Angela and Johnny Yeagher of Ironhead

The second part of the night took place across town at Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern, a bar tucked away off Oleander Drive in midtown. From the outside, the bar looks like it might hold 20 people. However, the inside is actually quite vast and features several pool tables, a long bar, and a room with a stage for live music. We decided to check out a rock show to finish off our night. Doors were at 9pm, but we knew from experience that a rock show is only truly rock if it starts an hour past the time listed. We were right…ish. The first band took the stage well past 10:30. The bill featured 3 bands: Bully Pulpit from Charleston, SC; Richard Baccus & The Luckiest Girls from Raleigh, NC; and Ironhead from Wilmington. We admittedly came to review our hometown band but were glad that they played last, as we were treated to excellent sets from the first two bands. Rock and metal shows are harder and harder to come by in Wilmington, especially since the closing of beloved music venue The Soapbox in 2013, so it was a real treat to see three very talented bands really bringing it on a Friday night. If you’re into heavier rock or punk music, Reggie’s is one of the few places in town that really lets loose.

Ironhead consists of husband and wife badasses Johnny Yeagher (guitar and vocals) and Angela Yeagher (bass and vocals) as well as new drummer Mickey “Blue Eyes” Lewis. This band has been rocking since 2003 and it shows in the way they play — fearless, yet polished. They came out swinging on “Devastation Blues” and kept the energy high through the entire set. “It’s Self Destruction” featured intense lyrics such as “I’m drowning in a sea polluted. No one will rescue me…salvation’s not for me” while the instruments thundered in choreographed chaos in the background.

Angela and Johnny Yeagher of Ironhead

Angela and Johnny Yeagher of Ironhead

Lewis (of famed local band The Needles) is a fairly new addition in 2014, replacing Brad Ellington who is taking a break due to a new baby. Lewis is confident and charismatic and, with Angela Yeagher, forms one hell of a rhythm section. Yeagher’s bass playing is a lot of fun to watch and listen to, and this was made especially apparent when several fans yelled out and motioned for her to crank up her amp. She did, and it rocked. Johnny Yeagher is a skilled frontman, not just because he can spit out intense lyrics while playing intricate lead guitar licks, but because he does so in a way that makes it look easy. As musicians, we can attest to the fact that what he does is NOT easy. His guitar solos are clean, creative, and masterfully executed. We can’t wait to hear more from this band, and we won’t have to wait long. Ironhead has been busy in the studio laying down tracks for their third full length album, set for release in 2014. In the meantime, you can purchase their past releases via their Facebook Music Store or CDBaby.

Whatever music style you’re into, be sure to get out and support live and local music!

 

KFR Live in Wilmington #1

KFR reviews Jim Ashley, The Harts' House Concert, Vision Vine

We decided that a scorching summer evening would be the perfect time to venture out to local venues to catch some live music. Here, the result of last night’s quest, is the first in the series of Karmic Fury live music reviews.

We started the evening at Coastal Roaster in Carolina Beach. Tucked away in a small strip mall, the small external storefront doesn’t do justice to the coffee shop’s charm and size. Jim AshleyThe inside is large-ish for a coffee shop (although they also serve food and smoothies and recently started carrying beer and wine), but the placement of couches and tables throughout the room lends it a cozy feel. This is exactly the kind of place you’d expect to find local folker Jim Ashley. Jim is a soft-spoken storyteller with a lot to say, and he delivers his sentiments with just the right amount of self-deprecating humor. The feeling is that of being in the living room of an old friend having a conversation, rather than being talked at by someone with a microphone. As we took our seats with two very reasonably priced craft beers, Jim delivered an anecdote about the Olympics and his own lack of athletic prowess, noting, “When I was a little boy I had aspirations to be in the Olympics. If that seems ridiculous now, it would have seemed really ridiculous then” before continuing on about similar aspirations to be a genius. The story was a perfect set up for “If I Had a Better Brain”, a song about all that would be possible if – you guessed it – he had a better brain.

Jim Ashley CD

Buy Jim Ashley's CD Out on a Limb (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jimashley)

The solo acoustic set was a treat for people who come to shows to actually listen. The songs ranged from somber (“The Last Days of the Pony Express”) to nostalgic (“Paradise”) to frank and funny (“The Oprah Winfrey Blues”). The latter was a highlight of the set, largely due to Jim’s expert guitar work leading into the song itself. He dabbled in some Spanish flamenco for a little while and then somehow segued gracefully into blues riffs which led into a humorous song about the dangers of watching too much Oprah. Although he threw in a few Jim Croce covers by request, Jim stuck to mostly original tunes and played them in a way that connected with the audience. And that deserves our applause.

With the night still young, we decided to stop by a house concert on our way downtown. The Hart House ConcertHosted by two local musicians, it was a chance to jam and talk with like-minded people. The Harts are a husband and wife who literally rock in a bevy of Wilmington bands including Dirty Dakotas, and are fellow zealots of original music. We came in to find a handful of people bobbing their heads to a jam already in progress in the next room. The Harts (Chris on bass and Steph on vocals) improvised alongside an expert drummer and an adventurous guitar player and it was evident they were all having a blast. We’ve been to the Harts’ house concerts before. Last time the Black Hellatones from Jacksonville were there – Kelly Dickson, Storm  Castañeda, and Kazz  Castañeda. Their jam was nothing short of soul-riveting.

The Cellist

Katherine Niessner

The Harts host these parties regularly and attract a variety of musicians and people who love music.  Where else can you talk and jam with strangers (strangers who are musicians and/or music lovers), listen to The Police on vinyl, and watch a cello player doing Metallica?

We made it downtown around 11:30, with the Wilmington bar scene in full swing. The crowd at Duck and Dive on Dock Street was no exception, with the tiny British pub full of people talking and dancing to the music. There was a three-piece band crammed into a corner making sure they were heard. The drummer is a friend of ours whose skill on the drums is matched by his enthusiasm – we’ve never before see someone play the drums with a mile-wide grin on his face literally the entire time. We were happy to see so many people there listening to original music, rather than the usual onslaught of cover songs. It was a perfect counterargument to those who insist on booking cover bands because “nobody comes out to listen to original music.” Well, they do.

Starting to feel a little weary, we made our way a few blocks uptown to the Goat and Compass on Fourth St. in the Brooklyn Arts District. Another British pub, the Goat (as locals call it) was pretty lively for a place considered to be somewhat off the beaten path. They have a large back yard area with picnic benches and cornhole, and a lot of open space. The back might be bigger than the bar itself, which is a smattering of randomness; a deer head on the wall, a “W” on each bathroom for “Watercloset” (which led some drunken patrons to confusedly wonder if there was no men’s bathroom), and a large drunk guy sitting at a tiny Ms. Pacman video game demanding we play with him. The crowd was just as random, with college kids and touristy-looking baby boomers, locals rolling their own smokes, and a healthy helping of blue-collar beer drinkers. When we walked in, Vision Vine, the duo of Clay Crotts on acoustic guitar/vocals and Michal Oliver on percussion, had the crowd swaying and moving to the music. We’ve seen Clay before and he always brings an abundance of positive energy to the stage, and last night was no exception. Michal added a vital boost with his skilled percussion work. When Clay broke a string, most people didn’t even notice as they were too busy marveling at a well-executed impromptu conga/djembe solo. Perhaps the flow from jam to song with little time in between is why the people who were obviously bopping along and engaged didn’t clap, but you got the feeling the guys were there just because they love to jam. Although they did do a mix of covers and originals, it is a credit to them that it was difficult to tell which was which. Their original songs are upbeat and catchy and their covers are performed in Vision Vine’s upbeat acoustic reggae style. We arrived not long before a break in the set and didn’t stay as long as we might have if we’d come there earlier in the evening, but it was a fitting end to a night that proved that yes, people do like original local music. They like it a lot.