Eric Hodge Interviews

Underhill Rose
Lynne Harty / UnderhillRose.com

You may have heard the music of Underhill Rose on WUNC's Back Porch Music.  The trio of Eleanor Underhill, Molly Rose and Salley Williamson has been singing and playing together since 2011 from their base in western North Carolina.

Their latest recording is called The Great Tomorrow

A picture of Sarah Shook
disarmers.com

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers' debut album, Sidelong, tells the story of someone who wants to be left alone, but can't quite resist the glance of an admirer. That might, or might not, prove to be a bad move.  Broken relationships and broken bottles inspire many of the songs on this collection.

An image of musician Noah Gundersen
Philip Harder

Noah Gundersen grapples with some big topics on his latest album Carry the Ghost. The Seattle-based songwriter's introspective excavations range from understanding the meaning of life and letting go of faith.

A photo of Clyde Edgerton
Brent Clark

 

Author Clyde Edgerton has written 10 novels, a book of advice, and a memoir.  Three have been made into movies, and several have made it to the stage.

 

The North Carolina native has written about small-town bigotry, religious hypocrisy and greed but in a darkly comic vein with a focus on characters.  Edgerton is also a musician and a professor of Creative Writing at UNC Wilmington.

An image of Langhorne Slim & The Law
All Eyes Media

Langhorne Slim has come a long way since his last album three years ago. He left behind booze, drugs, Brooklyn and a longtime relationship on his way to recording his latest record The Spirit Moves with his band The Law.  

 

 

An image of musician Phil Cook
Middle West Management

 

Wisconsin native Phil Cook headed south for a new home in North Carolina 10 years ago.  Since then, he has been in a band with Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, formed Megafaun with his brother Brad Cook and drummer Joe Westerlund, and has played on or produced records by everybody from Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls to Hiss Golden Messenger.

Along the way, Phil got married, had a son and settled himself deep in North Carolina's red clay.  Now he's releasing his first solo record called Southland Mission.  Fans of Megafaun will find Cook’s new music to be groovier with a more rootsy vibe than some of that band's work, but there are hints of the past in some of the vocal harmonies and instrumentation. On the whole, the album reflects a passion for southern music that’s been growing in Cook for decades.

"I had the title of the record before I had the songs written. I liked the idea that a title for a record is a theme for your life, a theme for your music, and seems to be the title of the chapter for wherever you’re at," Cook said. "To me, Southland Mission seemed like a great way to sum up being in the South for 10 years now, and longed to be in the South 10 years before that. I had built up quite a mission in my mind about, 'What was I coming down here for?' Well, it was the music."

An image of young kids learning to play the harmonica
National Council for the Traditional Arts / NCTA

Musicians and dancers across the country are converging in Greensboro this weekend for the 75th annual National Folk Festival.  The festival begins Friday, September 11 and goes through Sunday, September 13. It is the first time the festival has come to the Tar Heel State.

An image of Mipso
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

Mipso's new album Old Time Reverie soars with the group's sharp bluegrass composition and lilting harmonies. It also delivers complex and nuanced songwriting, strengthening Mipso's craft as storytellers.

The band has been on the road for most of the last two years since the release of their last album Dark Holler Pop, venturing further away from their origin days as college students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This process of growing up is reflected in "Everyone Knows," featuring fiddler Libby Rodenbough.

Charlie Asher was just a normal guy, until he died in battle with creatures from the underworld, but his soul lives on in a small animal—a "meat puppet"—with a crocodile head. And he's just learned that his 7-year-old daughter is now the Luminatus, a being with power over Death. 

An image of jazz musician Kamasi Washington
Mike Park

Kamasi Washington is putting his mark on jazz this year in a big way, venturing outside the world of backup saxophonist to an explorative and evocative bandleader.  

An image of The Old Ceremony
Yep Roc Records

Ghosts, grocery store clerks, jetlag and the "Magic Hour." Those are just a few things you will hear on The Old Ceremony's new album Sprinter.

The Old Ceremony has crafted its sound for more than a decade. With Sprinter, guitarist and lead singer Django Haskins said the band welcomed some exciting outside help from R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, whose contribution comes to fruition in the song "Fall Guy."

A picture of Chris Stamey playing guitar.
Gardner Campbell / https://www.flickr.com/photos/gardnercampbell/8554646232/

Chris Stamey has been on a busy streak over the past couple of years. 

He organized a tour of musicians to play Big Star's third album around the world, reunited with his band The dB's and put out his own record Lovesick Blues.  He's also been lending his talents to artists like The Old Ceremony. 

Now he's back with a new recording called "Euphoria."

An image of musician Josh Moore
Soleil Konkel

 

Josh Moore has been pouring coffee in Carrboro and playing music for years. His smooth and soulful vocals have backed up local acts Mandolin Orange and Skylar Gudasz, but Moore is now stepping to the center stage with his long-awaited solo album, Parted Ways.

 

John Howie Jr.

The Back Porch Music on the Lawn concert series returns Thursday night at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham with a performance by honky-tonk musician John Howie Jr. The concert is free and will start at 6 p.m.

 

The Chapel Hill country singer will play with the Rosewood Bluff and will be joined by Tonk. But before he gets on stage Thursday evening, Howie Jr. decided to stop by WUNC to talk with Eric Hodge about his approach to writing country songs and life as a parent.

A picture of 6 String Drag.
Michael Traister / 6stringdrag.com

Raleigh-based roots rock quartet 6 String Drag is back after more than 16 years in hibernation. Front man Kenny Roby came into the WUNC studios recently to talk about getting the band back together, and their new album.

Before Roots Rock ‘N’ Roll was released last year, Steve Earle produced 6 String Drag's celebrated album, High Hat in 1997. After that, Roby says, the band drifted apart.

A picture of Kim Gordon playing guitar.
Pat Blashil / Harper Collins Publishing

Kim Gordon became alternative rock royalty in her 30 years singing and playing bass with no-wave band Sonic Youth. They released 16 albums together. Gordon will be at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro tonight to talk about her new memoir, "Girl in a Band."

The book covers Gordon's upbringing and creative inspirations in California and New York. But, most notably, it describes the rise and fall of Sonic Youth, which she formed with guitarists Lee Ranaldo and, Gordon's husband of 27 years, Thurston Moore.

Drummer Brian Blade Live at INNtöne Jazzfestival 2006.
Thomas Radlwimmer / Wikipedia

Brian Blade is a jazz drummer who has played with artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, saxophone great Wayne Shorter, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris and producer-musician Daniel Lanois.

Since 1997, when he's had time, Brian has been recording with a group called Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band. Their latest album Landmarks was nominated for a Grammy.  

the artist

The Steel Wheels is a band with a raw, cool sound.  Based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the four-piece string band marries old-time musical traditions with their own current sound.

The foursome play the Fletcher Opera Theater at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts Friday night, but first spoke with Eric Hodge about, among other things, doing 9 shows in 10 days in North Carolina. (They went place to place by bicycle. "We figured it would be all downhill.")

Jonathan Byrd and his band.
jonathanbyrd.com

North Carolina's Jonathan Byrd has been served well by his time on the road. His travels have inspired his songs – both the gritty and gentle ones – and have earned him a huge following, especially in Canada.

He's a star in Quebec and southern Ontario.

"I sell out every show. The reception is just incredible, and I'm honored to be a part of that."

Jonathan Byrd's latest recording is "You Can't Outrun The Radio."

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:

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