Eric Hodge Interviews

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:

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

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.

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

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

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