Eric Hodge Interviews

A new movie set in Western North Carolina opens in select theaters this weekend. The World Made Straight is based on a novel by North Carolina native Ron Rash.  It follows a legacy of violence dating back to the Civil War. 

The main character, Travis Shelton, is seventeen when he discovers a grove of marijuana in the woods ... and then he steps into the jaws of a bear trap. Injured, he is discovered by the pot farmer who set the trap, Carlton Toomey.

A picture of George Poehlman and other aid workers
Dr. George Poehlman

Doctor George Poehlman recently returned from an eight-week aid mission in Liberia.  Upon his return, the retired Durham, N.C. family physician put himself in voluntary quarantine at a time when some other doctors around the country have refused such quarantine, noting that it's not necessary.

A picture of the Avett Brothers performing at the Outside Lands 2009.
Moses / Wikipedia

North Carolina drops an acorn, a pickle, and a possum every New Years Eve. But Concord-natives Scott and Seth Avett have their own holiday tradition.  The Avett Brothers will be playing their annual New Year's Eve concert at the PNC Arena in Raleigh this year. 

The band does a New Year’s show in North Carolina every year. Seth says it’s a tradition borne out of convenience. When the band started 14 years ago, they were on the road a lot. Like, more than 200 shows in a year.

the artists

Many local and national musicians come through the North Carolina Public Radio studios each year and 2014 is no exception. As radio reporters and hosts, we have the chance to book bands we love and ask them anything. Eric Hodge regularly does just that.

And so we asked Hodge, of all the interviews you conducted this year, which five should we not miss? Here are his choices, in no particular order:

Sylvan Esso: Durham-based duo Sylvan Esso's latest album is full of catchy tracks, ripe for getting stuck in your head.

Sylvan Esso
the artists

It's been a big year for the band Sylvan Esso, the Durham-based duo of singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn.  Earlier this month Paste Magazine named their song "Coffee" its Song of the Year.

Sylvan Esso’s music comes with a certain digital reality. It’s devoid of the oft-shallow feel of some electro-pop songs that are just about parties or typical relationship fodder. This maintains an earthiness that it takes a band from North Carolina to possess.

Mandolin Orange
NPR Music

The music of Mandolin Orange is pure and beautiful.  Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz call North Carolina home, but they have spent the better part of a year on the road, most recently touring Europe with Chatham County Line. Now home, the duo is playing at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC this weekend. But first they stopped by the studio to talk with Eric Hodge, and play live:

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.

Madison Bumgarner in his 9/8/2009 Major League debut.
Art Siegel via Flickr/Creative Commons / www.flickr.com/photos/artolog/15389351106/

In Major League Baseball,  the San Francisco Giants could clinch their third World Series title in five years with a victory over the Kansas City Royals tonight.  Leading the way for the Giants has been Madison Bumgarner. The pitcher grew up and learned the game in Hickory, North Carolina.

Jeff Parham is head coach at South Caldwell High School and he was one of the first to coach the future Giants' ace.  He first saw Bumgarner throw when the young man was in middle school. Bumgarner had come to a baseball summer camp.

How good was he?

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 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

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