Upcoming shows you should check out
The next 25 years of MerleFest begins this weekend
If my cover story last week (“The circle will be unbroken”) was any indication that, in the wake of the passing of a man who was not only a patriarch to MerleFest, but to the entirety of the bluegrass and folk world, MerleFest will be just fine, though it certainly won’t be the same. That’s not to say, however, that it should be. The festival dedicated to a man known to wear out British art-rock records at home, yet is posthumously paid tribute via an increasingly narrow selection of styles over the years is embracing a sea change of sorts. While there’ll be nothing as weirdly appropriate as Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, there’s a hard-rock headliner in Gov’t Mule, an R&B savant in Mike Farris, a pop (and that’s exactly what they are) chart-topper in Delta Rae and plenty of that “fancy music” from the Avett Brothers when MerleFest 26 kicks off this Thursday. Tickets are still available at merlefest.com.
Spinners gonna spin
It’s a sha-a-ame that the dulcet lead of Motown legends the Spinners should pass only a month before their Saturday date at the LJVM to benefit North Carolina emergency workers; Bobbie Smith was somewhat of an artistic contrarian in an era when grit and power were the prized traits of the male soul singer in Detroit. The style that he and his band mates spun were otherwise emblematic of their peers. The harmonies were close, the suits matched and the group was never out of step, but the Spinners were quicker to embrace the infusion of smooth pop that Motown sought toward the end of its heyday. From their doo-wop roots, it was a natural fit, and songs like “It’s a Shame” and “I’ll Be Around” remain among the most enduring hits of that era. The Spinners in their current, possibly final incarnation feature Henry Fambrough, the baritone, as the final original member and will be supported by roots-soul songwriter Hey Elsten, and tickets are $26 with the show at 8 p.m.
The people’s Kendrick Lamar show
Kendrick Lamar’s semi-secret performance in the heart of Wake Forest University’s campus last month was the show that almost wasn’t. When 3,600 Demon Deacons, so many of whom were obscenely drunk and obnoxiously rowdy, nearly tore down the second-rate barricade during the set by co-headliner Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, it not only forced an early end to the indie hip-hop stars’ set, but very nearly sent the crowd back to their dorms before Lamar could disembark from his blacked-out van. Wake students wanted the show all to themselves (you could count the public tickets sold in dozens) and it was almost their undoing. For Lamar’s next visit to the Triad, Greensboro collegians are demonstrating how show promotion is actually done. Kendrick Lamar will perform at the Greensboro Coliseum’s Special Events Center this Tuesday, April 30 in a joint effort of Guilford College and UNCG — hey, looks like private schoolers actually can coexist alongside reg’lar folk. Tickets are $29.50 and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. with former Jay-Z backup voice Bridget Kelly.