by Ryan Snyder


Christmas Alabama-style with the Blind Boys at SECCA

With two remarkably successful seasons nearly under wraps, SECCA’s Crossroads series has secured a firm foothold as one of the Piedmont’s most innovative — and maybe even the Triad’s premiere — concert series. This Sunday’s performance by crossover gospel icons and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients the Blind Boys of Alabama is more than just a terrific “get”; it’s a continuation of curatorial vision that this area’s arts community has sorely needed. The success of Crossroads has gone beyond merely its booking of interesting music, but how it presents it as well. The room at SECCA is intimate, yet comfortable without a bad seat in the house. It has balanced the best Southern roots with homegrown talent, but also boldly stepped out into the unconventional with a presentation of Dean & Britta’s 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. Sunday’s 3 p.m. performance by the Blind Boys will continue the winter installment’s holiday theme, but also brings about the series’ next evolution in a 1 p.m. grits and cocktail bar prepared by Sundance Plaza Hotel Chef Derrick McCorkle. Come early and come hungry. General admission ickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door.

Pop punk enters the era of nostalgia

Consider for a moment that it’s been 10 years since the release of New Found Glory’s album Sticks and Stones. For people coming up in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, this particular album was a pretty significant moment, and also polarizing, one. For some, pop-punk was the very first scene that many millennials ever latched onto, and this album (for better or worse) was the one that put that scene over. For their peers who absolutely disdained everything about its music and fashion, it was validation that they too were on the right cultural course.

A decade later, and neither side came out on the right side of history (and there were definitely only two sides), but New Found Glory themselves are offering. Their Sticks and Stones 2012 tour, which hits Greene Street Club on Wednesday, is a chance to reassess the suffocatingly tight jeans, swept hair with fuchsia streaks, silk scarves and studded vestments of its fashion, as well as the saccharine melodies and soaring choruses. Or maybe just to come out and laugh at how ridiculous(ly fun) it all was. The Story So Far and Candy Hearts will support, and tickets are $18.50 in advance and $22 at the door.

His career spans 35 years, but hey, Malcolm Holcombe’s an Emerging Artist

So long as his shows continue to be under-attended (i.e. not sold out), Malcolm Holcombe will continue to appear in this space. But then, the Swannanoa native’s story is somewhat typical thus far of the tortured songwriter: Toil brilliantly but remain overlooked, fade into obscurity and ultimately become forgotten, before a glorious revival. Holcombe has been stuck on the toiling phase for decades now, possessing an extremely devoted but smallish fan base. What keeps him from fading out like the Michael Penns, Hasil Adkins and Gary Farrs of the world is elementary: just seeing him perform live. Holcombe is the fix that every Tom Waits fan yearning for the next tour needs. As a songwriter, he’s a monumentally gifted storyteller, tempering raw emotion into complex but relatable narratives. As a live performer, he’s a primitive presence on stage. He swears like it’s a second language, tells stories that neither have nor need an ending and fingerpicks his guitar like his eternal soul depends on it. He’s primarily a solo performer, but that’s not to say that he doesn’t have a lot of friends. His record-label transience has built him with a unique supporting cast on every album, namely Luke Bulla and Tim O’Brien on the last two, and vocal help from Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris on his latest Down the River. Holcombe will surely offer some of those songs and more then he performs at Hanesbrands Theatre’s New Song Emerging Artist Showcase (do what now? Emerging artist?) this Saturday. Tickets are $15 and the music starts at 8 p.m.