Eric Hodge

Host, "Morning Edition"

Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.

In August 2004, he took over the Morning Edition slot where he enjoys the challenge of bringing North Carolina news to listeners each weekday. Eric moved to Carrboro from New York City in 2000. He worked for the BBC and XFM radio while living in London, England. He has also run his own music marketing company, worked for major record labels in both New York and London, and worked on the Grammy Award nominated Harry Belafonte project, "The Anthology of Black Music."

Eric grew up in Michigan, trained at the Broadcast Center in St. Louis with CBS's KMOX radio and worked at a variety of stations in the Midwest and upstate New York.

Ways to Connect

Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg

Family members and officials at Fort Bragg welcomed nearly 300 paratroopers home from Afghanistan yesterday. 

Operations are winding down in that country, and yesterday's event was just one in a series of reunions over the past few weeks. 

Sgt. First Class Joseph Armas is based at Fort Bragg and helped organize the event.  He says yesterday’s ceremony came at the end of an eight month deployment.

A picture of Jason Isbell with a guitar.
Michael Wilson / Jason Isbell

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Jason Isbell has covered a lot of ground since leaving the Drive-By Truckers seven years ago. He's released several albums with his band The 400 Unit. He spent a lot of time on the road and last year put out his solo album Southeastern. Great reviews followed.

This fall, Isbell scooped up Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year at the 2014 Americana Music Awards.

Halloween in Chapel Hill
Matt Fields / Flickr/Creative Commons

Chapel Hill officials say they are prepared for tonight's annual Halloween celebration on Franklin Street. 

More than 300 police officers will be keeping an eye on thousands of people expected to attend the event between 9 p.m. and midnight. 

Lieutenant Joshua Mecimore works for the town's police department.  He says there are rules in place to help keep all the ghouls and goblins safe.   

“You know, we want people to know that you can't have alcohol in the event, you can't bring alcohol out of one of the restaurants into the event,” he says.

Photos from the #Panthers tie vs. Cincinnati:
Carolina Panthers via Twitter

A picture of the Diamond Shoal.
Public Domain

North Carolina used to have a floating light house. The Diamond Shoal bobbed in the water, warning ships about the dangerous sand shoals off the North Carolina coast.  The boat was in service for 21 years before it was sunk by a German U-boat in World War I.

That historic shipwreck is the subject of a new partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA. The two groups are jointly managing the site where the Diamond Shoal light boat went down after being attacked . 

Lauren Heesemann works for NOAA.  She says there are extensive plans for the wreck near Cape Hatteras:

A picture of three banjos.
plenty.r / flickr

Fans of bluegrass music are in Raleigh this week for the World of Bluegrass Festival and conference. 

The gathering is organized by the Nashville-based International Bluegrass Music Association.  The event is part business conference, part music festival.  

Nancy Cardwell is the IBMA's Executive Director.  She said some of the world's finest musicians are in attendance, too.

Chatham County Line
http://www.chathamcountyline.com/

The world's premier bluegrass music event is all this week in Raleigh. The International Bluegrass Music Association's annual gathering and Festival used to be in Nashville but moved to Raleigh a year ago.  

Tens of thousands of people attended last year and city officials say visitors spent more than $10 million on food, hotels and entertainment.    

The organization has since decided to put down roots and committed to holding the event in Raleigh for the next six years.  

A picture of cleaning chemicals.
Collin Anderson / Flickr

The Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a chemical safety data summit in Research Triangle Park today and tomorrow. 

Unless a chemical is being used as a food additive, a drug, a pesticide or one of a few other specialized uses, EPA officials say there's not a significant amount of testing required. 

Russell Thomas is a director at the EPA.  He said there are hundreds of new chemicals introduced into the environment each year.

A picture of the Wood Brothers.
The Wood Brothers

Brothers Chris and Oliver Wood went their separate ways after growing up in Boulder, Colorado. 

Oliver headed to Atlanta where he formed the band King Johnson which combined, blues, R&B, funk and country. 

Chris traveled to New York to continue his studies on jazz bass and went on to form the instrumental Medeski, Martin and Wood

A picture of sweet potatoes.
Llez / Wikipedia

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving millions of dollars to North Carolina State University to research sweet potatoes.  The grant is aimed at developing new breeding tools to improve crop production in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Craig Yencho heads the university's sweet potato breeding program and is the project director.  He said sweet potatoes already feed millions of people in the region.

"It's a very hardy crop," said Yencho. "It can resist drought and heat very well.  It can be grown in a really wide range of soil types and it produces a lot of food per acre.”

Hiss Golden Messenger's album "Lateness of Dancers"
Merge Records

M.C. Taylor wasn't born in North Carolina, but he sure sounds like he was. 

The California native moved to the Tar Heel state about seven years ago to continue making music as Hiss Golden Messenger. 

The songs contain some of the basic ingredients of Appalachian music, but combine those elements in unpredictable ways, creating a sound that is both steeped in tradition and completely modern.

Taylor's new recording is called "Lateness of Dancers."  He plays an album release show at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro Saturday night.

Hurricane Arthur
National Weather Service / NOAA

Historically, today marks the peak in the Atlantic hurricane season. 

There have been four named storms so far and three of those were hurricanes.  Hurricane Arthur caused damage to eastern North Carolina when it came ashore along the Outer Banks in July.  

Richard Bandy is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Newport.  He said forecasts for a below normal season are proving accurate. 

Michael Rank has recently released his fourth album of new material in two years.

NCDOT

A new, longer ferry route between Hatteras and Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks is now permanent. 

Officials from the U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and the North Carolina Department of Transportation made the announcement Monday. 

Tim Hass of the state Ferry Division says the original shorter route continues to be a problem.

Jody Stephens, host Eric Hodge, Skylar Gudasz, Brett Harris and Chris Stamey in the WUNC Studios
Al Wodarski / WUNC

What music critics have said for years about The Velvet Underground could easily apply to Big Star, too: they were much more influential on later bands than the sum total of all the records they sold. Bands ranging from R.E.M. to Wilco to Cheap Trick to Teenage Fanclub to Dum Dum Girls all cite the influence of and appreciation for Big Star. A cover version of Big Star's "In The Street" served as the theme song for the popular TV sitcom That '70s Show.

Some thirty musicians (including Mike Mills of R.E.M. fame) are banding together Friday night in Carrboro, NC, to pay tribute to this seminal band by staging orchestrated versions of two of their albums.

  • Where: Cat’s Cradle, 300 E. Main St. Carrboro, NC.
  • When: Friday August 22 Doors at 8 p.m. Show at 9 p.m.
  • Tickets: via Cat's Cradle

Duncan Webster and Leah Gibson make up the Durham duo Beauty World.
the artist

Duncan Webster and Leah Gibson have each honed their chops with bands including Lost in the Trees, Hammer No More the Fingers, and Bowerbirds.  Recently the two Durhamites joined forces to form Beauty World.

The duo is also a couple. They've both played in several bands, but were introduced by a mutual friend.

The five-song E.P. features the song, "Architect". Webster wrote it about his own challenges in learning building design.

A picture of a sold sign in front of a house.
AKZOphoto / Creative Commons

A new national survey shows mortgage closing costs are rising across all 50 states. 

Holden Lewis is a mortgage analyst for Bankrate.com.  He says North Carolina ranks as the 12th most expensive state. 

“Mortgage closing costs went up this year about five or six percent compared to last year.  And lenders say that the reason is regulation,” Lewis said. 

A picture of Mark Eitzel.
Merge Records

Merge Records is well into it 25th birthday party. The North Carolina-based label is taking all of 2014 to celebrate its silver jubilee. There've been reissues of classic recordings and a 25K run already, but this week is a big one for the music, with a series of concerts. Tonight, Mark Eitzel will be at Baldwin Auditorium on the Duke University campus:

Mark Eitzel

Known for: Melancholy tunes and witty lyrics

A picture of Mike Hessman at bat.
milb.com

The annual AAA All Star game is being held for the first time at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park Wednesday. 

The Bulls have four players on the International League squad, and the team is being helmed by Durham manager Charlie Montoyo.  Festivities began with concerts and other fan events over the weekend. 

Scott Carter works for the Bulls.  He said excitement is building for tonight's popular Home Run Derby.

A picture of Kym Register and Will Hackney.
Trekky Records

Kym Register and Will Hackney are back in the Triangle after a long stint on the road. The pair makes up the band, Loamlands, and they’re playing a homecoming show in Carrboro this weekend.

Car engine
Via Tsuji / Flickr Creative Commons

Drivers in North Carolina pay more when the check engine light comes on than motorists in other states. 

That's according to a survey from the organization Car M.D.  The annual state-by-state ranking found the average car repair cost came out to about $426 in the Tar Heel State.

John Howie Jr. and The Rosewood Bluff performing at a Back Porch Music On The Lawn concert in 2013
Kathryn Walbert / www.kathrynwalbert.com

John Howie, Jr. started off playing drums, but it wasn't long before he switched to guitar and began making some hard-core honky-tonk music, first in the Chapel Hill-based Two Dollar Pistols and now in his current band, The Rosewood Bluff.

The latest album is called "Everything Except Goodbye."  It's chock full of heartbreak, pedal steel, upright bass and John's baritone voice.

black bear
Casey Brown / Flickr/Creative Commons

Early Monday, officials were tracking a bear in the Five Points area of Raleigh. WRAL reported that information about the bear began to come in after midnight.

A mailman working in the area told WRAL News that a couple reported seeing the bear near a home under construction at the corner of Carroll and Whitaker Mill Road.

 

A picture of the 13th Amendment document.
NC Department of Cultural Resources

North Carolina's copy of the 13th Amendment is now on tour.  The document that marked the formal end of slavery in the US will be on display at the courthouse in Historic Edenton. 

Officials say the series of stops at historic sites across the state is part of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.  The timing is also linked to Juneteenth. African Americans observe June 19th as when the last of the enslaved learned they were free in the summer of 1865. 

Sarah Koontz is a state archivist.  She said the document has to be handled with care.

A picture of the Fishing Pier at Ocean Isle Beach, NC.
Pubdog / Wikipedia

It’s National Rip Current Awareness Week. 

Rip currents killed at least seven people along the North Carolina coast last year, according to the National Weather Service.

Spencer Rogers is a specialist on shore erosion for North Carolina Sea Grant.  He says rip currents are a natural phenomenon that happen when narrow currents of water flow away from the coast.

Mike Birbiglia
The artist

Comendian Mike Birbiglia is headed to the triangle this weekend, for a gig at the Carolina Theatre.

Mike's film  Sleepwalk with Me won the audience award at Sundance in 2012. It was co-written by This American Life's Ira Glass.

The movie stars Mike and is about his own life -- trying to be a comic, and discovering he is a sleepwalker.

The stories are true, and they are really funny.

Chatham County Line
Michael Podrid / Yep Roc Records

“There’s a lot of growing up in this record,” says vocalist/guitarist Dave Wilson.

“We’re maturing in this world and seeing things through a different set of eyes – and that materializes in a lot of these songs.”

Chatham County Line is celebrating the release of their latest album, Tightrope from Yep Roc Records. The foursome stopped into the WUNC  studios to talk with Eric Hodge.

The interview begins with this song: Any Port in a Storm.

A picture of Joe Westerlund in a bird beak nose.
Spacebomb Records

Drummer Joe Westerlund is a busy man.  He plays with Triangle based band Megafaun as well as Califone and Durham's Mount Moriah.

But recently he's been working on something else altogether.  It's called Grandma Sparrow & His Piddletractor Orchestra. 

Westerlund describes it as a psychedelic children's song-cycle for adults.  It recons Frank Zappa, Monty Python and Firesign Theater.

A picture of the Airborne logo.
The US Army Institute of Heraldry / US Army

All American Week gets underway today at Fort Bragg to honor members of the 82nd Airborne Division. 

Events begin this morning with a four-mile division run with 20,000 participants. 

Wednesday is International Day, where military leaders from US allies will be invited to tour the base and attend a ball in the evening. 

Lieutenant Colonel Bob Risdon said the culminating events will be held Thursday when thousands will turn out to see the Division Review.

Back Porch Music on the Lawn Logo
WUNC / American Tobacco

Update: 12:28 p.m. Southern Culture on the Skids to has been rescheduled for  Thursday May 22 at 6 p.m.

Update: 12:06 p.m. Due to the weather, the concert tonight with Southern Culture on the Skids and the Letter Jackets has been canceled.  We're hope to reschedule -- stay tuned for details. We'll post updates on the main Back Porch On The Lawn Concerts page.

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