How Charlotte’s Matrimony and Others Boil Down Southernness to Find Mainstream Success

Saturday at New Brookland Tavern
By Corbie Hill
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 |
Matrimony
Things are looking good for Charlotte’s Matrimony. The country-ish, folk-ish band has a record, Montibello Memories, out via mainstream giant Columbia Records. Big-time attention has been bubbling for the band since they were signed in 2011; two years ago, one of its songs was used in a Chevy commercial. The tunes on the new album are big, melodramatic and anthemic — aimed at spacious rooms and arenas — goals that seem very much within reach.

What: Matrimony
Where: New Brookland Tavern, 122 State St.
When: Saturday, Oct. 4, 8 p.m.
With: All New Badges, Volcanoes in the Kitchen, Barnwell
Price: $5 ($8 under 21)
More Info: 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com
Such major-label success might be rare in today’s rock world, but it’s more common in country, where up-and-coming acts openly — and realistically — shoot for mainstream success. It makes sense, then, that acts in the same vein as Matrimony, bands blurring the lines between big country and indie rock, have had such good luck of late. Durham’s Delta Rae, too, has seen success with radio-ready pop drawing on country, folk and indie Americana. In bands like these, there are soaring, memorable choruses, pounding drums, and — of course — banjos.

It’s a natural progression, building on the chart dominance of the similarly minded Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, who themselves benefited from an ongoing revival of old time folk techniques. Yet Delta Rae has been severely lambasted by many critics, particularly in the band’s home state, for festooning populist folk-pop with deliberate Southernisms, often to the point of kitsch.

Delta Rae beat Matrimony to a major label LP by two years with 2012’s Carry the Fire. Grayson Currin, music editor at Durham, North Carolina’s INDY Week, described it as “an album with gargantuan ambition, where arms-outstretched, eyes-closed, steering wheel-pounding choruses arrive only four minutes in, and extreme dynamics consistently squash subtlety with melodrama.” He said their Farm Aid set last month in Raleigh was “all volume and pizzazz and no finesse or craft,” while Free Times’ own Jordan Lawrence asserted that “Delta Rae is a lie” in a March 2013 essay for Charlotte’s Creative Loafing.

What’s common to these criticisms is the idea that Delta Rae and bands like it boil down the complexities of Southern life and history into something digestible and one-dimensional. It makes sense to a degree, considering that the recent bluegrass and Americana resurgence has focused on the dignity and craft of previously maligned Southern forms. In popular circles, the banjo was a joke as recently as the ’90s — the most common punch line stemming from the unfortunate connotations associated with “Dueling Banjos” because of the film Deliverance.

Today, the banjo is not only an acceptable instrument, but a hip and marketable one. And, yeah, it’s natural for traditional music aficionados to squirm a bit when it’s played behind bland lyrics, as in Matrimony’s “Southern Skies" — “I like the Southern roads/ I like the way they roll.” It’s also understandably cringe-worthy for bluegrass devotees or anyone actively concerned with where these traditions came from and what they actually mean.



But such people aren’t among Matrimony’s target demographic, which is why these criticisms — and those lobbed at Delta Rae — don’t always hold up. Viewed through the lens of big country, such bands make sense: In Nashville, it’s not important that Taylor Swift is from Pennsylvania or that Keith Urban is Australian. What is important is that they can charismatically carry an arena-sized tune and look good doing it. Painting the South with boiled-down platitudes and overdone colloquialisms is part and parcel of this territory, keeping songs accessible by keeping them nonspecific.

This is Matrimony’s territory. And it sells tickets. And it sells trucks. There’s nothing wrong with a Chevy commercial, and there’s nothing wrong with a band like Matrimony. But you best call them what they are.

Columbia SC Club Calendar: Oct 1-8

By Free Times
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 |
Wednesday 1
live music

Delaney’s: James Gatch
Mainstreet Cafe: Open Mic w/ Nikki Lee & Herbie Jeffcoat
new brookland tavern: Ghosts of the Kodiak, The Lenghts, Oneforall, Unsettled, Dog Hits Car
Red Door Tavern: Acoustic Open Mic w/ Adam Corbett
Shooter’s: Ronnie Hopkins (acoustic)
Utopia: Mike Fore & Marv Ward

karaoke
555 Lounge: T & J’s Karaoke
Art Bar: Linda’s Carraoke
Corner Pocket: Karaoke
CR Station House: Karaoke
Ozzie’s Country Island: Showtime Karaoke
Tsubaki: Karaoke

dance, djs & misc.
British Bulldog Pub: Pub Trivia
Drip (Five points): Poetry Reading
Jillian’s: Trivia
Locals: Trivia
Mellow Mushroom: Trivia
QUAKER STEAK: Bike Night
Wet WILLIE’S: Quizon Trivia
Wild Hare (Vista): QuizTheMasses Triviahecked\ed

Thursday 2

live music
Art Bar: The Powder Room, The Fishing Journal
British Bulldog Pub: Brent Lundy
Delaney’s: Carroll Brown
Hemingway’s: Erik Smallwood
Mainstreet Cafe: Brian Conner & Freinds
Michael’s Cafe: Big Nickel & Barefoot Blues
Music Farm: Cherub, Ghost Beach, Gibbz
new brookland tavern: True Bars and King Woods
Pearlz Upstairz: Chris Andrews
Speakeasy: Tony Lee Group
Utopia: Open Mic Night w/ John Scollon

karaoke
Applebee’s (Oneil Ct.): Karaoke w/ DJ Regina
Bentley’s Beach House: Karaoke
Corner Pocket: Karaoke
KC’z Tavern: Kay’s Karaoke
Kelly’s: Karaoke w/ DJ Snow
liberty on the lake: Karaoke w/ DJ Snow
ale House lounge: Linda’s Carraoke
Outsaloon: Billy Ray’s Karaoke
Ozzie’s Country Island: Showtime Karaoke
Shooter’s Grill & Pub: Karaoke with Bobby Whittle
South Lake Saloon: S.I.N. and Karaoke with D.J. Shelly O
Tsubaki: Karaoke

dance, djs & misc.
Art Bar: Foundation Danse Macabre
Carolina Ale House (Vista): Trivia w/ Ryan
Carolina Wings (Cayce): Team Trivia
Carolina Wings (Lexington): Quizon Trivia
Corner Pocket: Shag Night
Foxfield BAr & Grill: Drunk Bingo
JILLIAN’S: Shaggin’ in the Shack
Main street Cafe: DJ
PT’s 1109: Thirsty Thursday Drag Show
Social: Stylees & Complete
TLC Sports Bar & Grill: Trivia
Uncle Fester’s: Quizon Trivia
The Wild Hare (Irmo): Quiz the Masses Trivia
The Woody: DJ Chadly D

Friday 3

live music
Bill’s Music Shop & Pickin’ Parlor: Open Bluegrass Jam
Blazing Copper: Home Brewed
British Bulldog Pub: Flat Out Strangers
Conundrum Music Hall: Analog Moon, Timshel, Mario McClean
Delaney’s: Carroll Brown
Hemingway’s: JägerTron
Mainstreet Cafe: David Love (acoustic)
Music Farm: Stop Light Observations
new brookland tavern: Cover of Afternoon, Crown the Cake, Albatross
Pearlz Upstairz: Robert Gardiner Jazz Quartet
River Rat: Earl “Jazzman” Hanna’s Smooth Jazz Band
Rhythm on the River: Bubblin’ Crude
Speakeasy: Nick Brewer
tin roof: Andrew Velez
Utopia: The Items
wild wing cafe (Irmo): Alter Ego
wild wing cafe (The Village): Tokyo Joe
wild wing cafe (the vista): Scarletta

karaoke
Blue Fin: Linda’s Carraoke
Karl’s Korner: Karaoke
Liberty on the Lake: Karaoke
Outsaloon: DJ Ruckus Karaoke
Quaker Steak & Lube: Karaoke
S & E Rack & Grill: Billy Ray’s Karaoke
Shooter’s Grill & Pub: Karaoke with Bobby Whittle
South Lake Saloon: Dance Party/Karaoke w/ DJ Ruckus
Tsubaki: Karaoke
Ventures: Karaoke w/ Nancy

dance, djs & misc.
Art Bar: DJ Arambulance
Kelly’s: DJ Guy
Legion Post 215: Disco Night
Liberty Tap Room: DJ
Red Door Tavern: Comedy Without a Net w/ Joe Coughlin
TLC Sports Bar & Grill: DJ DDL
Uncle Fester’s: DJ Snow
The Woody: DJ

Saturday 4
live music
Art Bar: American Gun, Capital City Playboys, Danny Joe Machado, King Cotton & The Remnants
Bill’s Music Shop & Pickin’ Parlor: Classic Country Music & Dancing
Hemingway’s: Brent Lundy
new brookland tavern: All New Badges, Matrimony, Volcanoes in the Kitchen, Barnwell
Pearlz Upstairz: DM Radio
River Rat: Jahson and the Natty Vibez
skyline club: Ace of Clubs
Speakeasy: Robert Gardiner Jazz Quartet
tin roof: Seventy Six and Sunny
Utopia: Weekend Bender
wild wing cafe (The Village): Cash Money Band
wild wing cafe (The Village): Tokyo Joe
Zorba’s: Michael Smith
karaoke Chevy’s: Nightowl Karaoke w/ Chris 2nd
Corner Pocket: Karaoke
Karl’s Korner: Karaoke
S & E Rack & Grill: Billy Ray’s Karaoke
Shooter’s Grill & Pub: Karaoke
Tipsy Toad Tavern: Karaoke
Tsubaki: Karaoke
Wet Willie’s: Karaoke

dance, djs & misc.
Blue: DJ Riggles
Liberty Tap Room: DJ
Lucky 13: DJ Red, DJ Chadly D
Main Street Cafe: DJ
Music Farm: Oookay, Candela, Dylan Deekay
Publick House: Quizon Trivia
Scooner’s: DJ3
Uncle Fester’s: DJ Snow
Wild Wing Café (Irmo): DJ Tom Wise
The Woody: DJ

Sunday 5

live music
All Star Pizza: Ray Piazzola
British Bulldog Pub: WXRY Unsigned w/ Sun Brother
Five Points Fountain: JerryFest 2014
Music Farm: Jazz Workshop & Showcase
new brookland tavern: The Soul & the Sun, MyBrother MySister

karaoke
Legion Post 215: Karaoke
PT’s 1109: Karaoke w/ DJ Snow
Tsubaki: Karaoke

dance, djs & misc.
Kelly’s: Team Trivia
The Pizza Joint: Quizon Trivia
Speakeasy: Mo’ Betta Soul Sundays w/ DJ Preach Jacobs

Monday 6

live music
Conundrum Music Hall: Filthy Six, Greater Columbia Society for the Preservation of Soul
Kelly’s: Open Mic
New Brookland Tavern: Harlem Downtrotters, City Under Siege, Not Tonight Josephine, Cicero, The Apnea Effect

dance, djs & misc.
Buckaroos Grill & Bar: DJ Ray Ray
Publick House: Quizon Trivia
Red Door Tavern: Comedy Open Mic
Salty Nut Cafe: Trivia

Tuesday 7

live music
All Star Pizza: Open Mic w/ Ray Piazzola
Conundrum Music Hall: George Fetner, Nathan Alverson
Delaney’s: Singer-songwriter w/ David A.
Lucky’s: Open Mic
South Lake Saloon: Open Mic w/ AL-G

karaoke
Bentley’s Beach House: Karaoke
CJ’s: Karaoke w/ DJ Slinky
Corner Pocket: Karaoke
Tsubaki: Karaoke
Uncle Fester’s: Linda’s Carraoke
Wet Willie’s: Karaoke

dance, djs & misc.
Carolina Wings (Red BAnk): Quizon Trivia
Cover 3: Sex Trivia
Flying Saucer: Trivia Bowl
Liberty tap room: DJ
MainStreet cafe: Trivia
Mellow Mushroom (Lexington): Quizon Trivi
Quaker Steak & Lube: Team Trivia3
STATE STReet PUB: Trivia
Wings & Ale (Columbia):Trivia
Yesterdays: Trivia

Wednesday 8

live music
Delaney’s: Kenny George Band
Music Farm: The Revivalists, Naughty Professor, Tyler Boone Band
Utopia: Vince McKinley

karaoke
555 Lounge: T & J’s Karaoke
Art Bar: Linda’s Carraoke
Corner Pocket: Karaoke
CR Station House: Karaoke
Ozzie’s Country Island: Showtime Karaoke
Tsubaki: Karaoke

dance, djs & misc.
British Bulldog Pub: Pub Trivia
Drip (Five points): Poetry Reading
Jillian’s: Trivia
Locals: Trivia
Mellow Mushroom: Trivia
QUAKER STEAK: Bike Night
Wet WILLIE’S: Quizon Trivia
Wild Hare (Vista): QuizTheMasses Triviahecked\ed

Vinny Patel at The British Bulldog Pub

By Christian Barker
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 |
Photo by Christian Barker
Name: Vinny Patel
Setting: The British Bulldog Pub (1220 Bower Pkwy.)

What is it about The British Bulldog Pub that made you want to come in the first place?

I like to come here because it feels like home to me. I feel completely comfortable here. I know all the staff by first name, and I know a lot of the other people that come here regularly. It is a place I can come to unwind after work and watch sports.

But before you knew it would feel like home, what was it about this place that drew you in?

Well, the most well-known dishes are bangers and mash and fish and chips.

I know chips are fries, but what are bangers?

Bangers is a specific kind of British sausage. It has different seasonings than any other sausage you would find at another restaurant around here. Their chips are really good to eat with some vinegar.

What else other than the food makes this place special or different?

This is a great place to network. There are a lot of young professionals that come in here and like to talk shop, which has really helped me out. I feel like I can bring my kids here, too. There is a difference between a bar and a pub. A pub is more family-friendly and has better food than a bar. They also have a playground outside the pub, and there usually are other families here. Tonight there’s a family celebrating a birthday.

What is your business?

I am in the hospitality business. I manage a few hotels around Columbia.

Does the Bulldog have any regularly scheduled events?

Yes, they have bands four to five nights a week. They schedule it around the sports schedule, of course.

What do you think the owners can do to make this place even better?

I think they have already started doing that. They are going to be adding more items to their menu. I have heard there is a whole list of new pies that they are going to offer.

Concerts in Columbia: Oct 1-8

Ghosts of the Kodiak, The Fishing Journal, Ookay, The Revivalists
By Free Times
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 |
Ookay plays Music Farm on Saturday.
Wednesday 1
Ghosts of the Kodiak — On last year’s Lifting Up the Ceilings, the Charlotte-via-South Carolina group Ghosts of the Kodiak further refined its knack for heaping moody art-rock atmosphere onto earnest emo tantrums. Guitars shimmer, spark and then explode, injecting graceful nuance into a genre frequently derided for its knee-jerk dynamic shifts. The words match the music, exploring personal struggles without becoming overly self-centered. — Jordan Lawrence

New Brookland Tavern: 10 p.m., $5 ($8 under 21); 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com

Thursday 2
The Fishing Journal, The Powder Room — Columbia’s The Fishing Journal blends distorted guitars that are punchy and driving with hammering percussion and a diffused background of shouted lyrics with powerfully dissonant harmonies. Sharing the stage is Athen’s The Powder Room, which strikes similar poses, albeit with guitar crescendos that are syncopated against solid rhythms, fusing noisy rock to sleek punk propulsion. — Dade Driggers

Art Bar: 8 p.m., $5; 929-0198, artbarsc.com

Friday 3
Bubblin’ Crude — This new, Flatt & Scruggs-referencing quartet is loaded with familiar faces from the Soda City’s roots and bluegrass scene: Members Susan Taylor Douglass and Cary Taylor have backed Jack Williams and Ronny Cox, and Susan released a solo album a couple years back. Randy Lucas is a national champion banjo player and a talented guitarist, while fiddler Jim Graddick, the group’s young buck, is making waves with bands such as Barefoot & Reckless. — Kevin Oliver

West Columbia Riverwalk Ampitheater: 6 p.m.; free, rhythmontheriversc.com

Pick ‘Em by Michael Spawn
Friday 3
Timshel, Analog Moon
This bill is a little uneven, but the acts still represent a nice cross-section of local and regional talent. Timshel conjures the spirit of bluesy arena rock from decades past, while Analog Moon boasts plentiful grooves and a killer falsetto. Mario McClean opens, bringing pro-caliber pipes to bear on stripped-down soul songs.

Conundrum Music Hall: 9 p.m., $5; 250-1295, conundrum.us

VS

Stop Light Observations
At times, Stop Light Observations have the feel of an uptown city slicker slumming it at a backwoods barn-burner. The glossy production whitewashes the group’s twang-first gospel-rock, but that’s no deal-breaker; these guys can still howl and wail. Though based in Charleston, Stop Light Observations don’t play Columbia as often as that proximity would dictate, so the next opportunity to see them might be a ways down the road.

Music Farm: 8 p.m., $15 ($12 advance); 577-6989, musicfarm.com

Saturday 4
Ookay — It was only a matter of time before Columbia’s new Music Farm inserted itself into the city’s burgeoning market for mainstream EDM. The Campus DJ tour brings the first such booking to the club on Saturday, throwing California DJ Ookay into the cavernous space. His clobbering and complex rhythms should play well on the Farm’s booming sound system, capable of delivering this rattling low end without forsaking Ookay’s occasionally tasty melodies. With Candela and Dylan Deekay. — Jordan Lawrence

Music Farm: 8:45 p.m., $15 advance tickets; 577-6989, musicfarm.com

Sunday 5
The Soil & the Sun, MyBrother MySister — The Soil & the Sun have grand ambitions, but unlike their likely inspiration, the Arcade Fire, they’re almost sociopathically dull. For a seven-piece band there’s surprisingly little going on here. The harmonies are impressive, but the songs drift, led by quiet guitars and no discernible sense of melody or purpose. MyBrother MySister, on the other hand, produce enough pop-punk energy to complement the trio’s truthfully youthful angst — all three members are still in high school — and enough sophistication to belie it. — Michael Spawn

New Brookland Tavern: 7:30 p.m., $7; 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com

Monday 6
Harlem Downtrotters — Like any pop-punk band worth its salt, Harlem Downtrotters — more Bad Religion or early-’90s Green Day than mid-’00s mall-punk — balance snide, silly diatribes with self-serious f#!k-the-world rants. For this Columbia quintet, the former typically works better than the latter, but when it blends both approaches the results are potent. — Patrick Wall

New Brookland Tavern: 7 p.m,. $5 ($8 under 21); 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com

Wednesday 8
The Revivalists — The Revivalists are poorly named. Their mix of funky Southern soul and Creole-inflected folk-rock is lively enough, delivered with boundless energy and a wealth of passion. But these New Orleanians aren’t really reviving anything; all of the styles they play are healthy and respected by music lovers the world over. In trying to save something that didn’t need saving, The Revivalists replace authenticity with bland accessibility, doing to their beloved hallmarks the same disservice that The Black Keys have done to Delta blues. — Jordan Lawrence

Music Farm: 8:45 p.m., $15 ($12 advance); 577-6989, musicfarm.com



Jeffery Broussard

Carolina Downhome Blues Festival
Thursday 2 — Saturday 4

Housed at various clubs and outside stages in cozy downtown Camden, this festival is an annual highlight for blues fans in South Carolina. In its 18th year, the event offers some new and different sounds to complement old favorites, chief among them the Louisiana-based zydeco outfit Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys, which promises to turn Main Street into the French Quarter.

It’s truly impressive how much variety the festival crams under its limited stylistic umbrella. There’s the howling Delta sounds of Bill ‘Howl-N-Madd’ Perry and the Bayou-flavored acoustic blues of Missouri’s John Long. The Chicago-inspired electric blues of Floyd Wilson, The Billy Thompson Band and Anthony Charles is matched by the appealing acoustic styles of Jim Wheeler, The Hartness & Charles Project, Norman Taylor and Robert Lighthouse. The lineup also draws acts from around the world, with the gritty Australian guitarist Harper serving as an international highlight. — Kevin Oliver

Downtown Camden: separate $15 armbands for Friday and Saturday; free opening party on Thursday; full schedule and other info available at fineartscenter.org/events/2014/10/02/blues2014

American Gun’s Promised Youth

By Kyle Petersen
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 |
American Gun
Promised Youth
(Jangly Records)

The weakest moment on American Gun’s new EP, Promised Youth, is the opening monologue. It runs for just over a minute, a declaration of the band’s rock ‘n’ roll authenticity that is both awkward and schlocky.

What: American Gun
Where: Art Bar, 1211 Park St.
When: Saturday, Oct. 4, 8 p.m.
With: The Capital City Playboys, Danny Joe Machado, King Cotton and the Remnants
Price: $5
More Info: 929-0198, artbarsc.com
But in the context of the rest of the record, the band’s first release since 2011’s Therapy, the monologue takes on desperate insistence. “Rock and Roll Won,” the collection’s first real song, is a succinct alt-rock slab that voices frustration and disbelief at the notion that rock music is no longer a road to stardom. “Whatever happened to your Cobain legend? / Whatever happened to your rock jock picks?” lead singer Todd Mathis seethes. He and his bandmates deliver blunt-force hooks and chugging riffs that could have slid comfortably onto modern rock radio in the late ’90s or early ’00s.

Formed in 2004, the pedal steel and overt twang of American Gun’s early records are gone, replaced by new bassist Barry Corley’s withering low end and lead guitarist Noel Rodgers’ textured melodies. Songs like “Believe” and “The Archivist” shy away from the traditional song structures that were the once a hallmark: The former devotes half its duration to an extended coda that pits ghostly strings and keyboards against Rodgers’ sharp-edged machinations; the latter centers a swirl of distortion and effects on a pummeling bass line, hinting at the chaotic thrills of The Afghan Whigs.

“What It Takes” shows glimmers of the group’s Lucero-indebted early efforts. Here and throughout Mathis remains a dependable tunesmith and lyricist, but what’s remarkable about Promised Youth is how fearlessly American Gun throws itself at new challenges — and how far the band has come since its rough-hewn beginnings.

Let us know what you think: Email music@free-times.com.

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