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WUAG comps showcase new music

by Jordan Green

A cardboard box containing 400 copies of the new Taylor 25 CD lays at the base of the folding table where WUAG 103.1 FM station manager Jack Bonney has the venerable broadcasting outfit’s merchandise displayed. Every paying audience member who shows up at the Greene Street club tonight will receive a free copy. It’s a testament to his optimistic outlook that he’s ready for any eventuality.

“We’re sending them out to a hundred and fifty stations, trying to show off the work WUAG does,” Bonney says. “Not every college station has the capability of recording bands. We want to showcase Greensboro, we want to promote Greensboro and the North Carolina scenes. And probably most importantly, it’s a fundraiser for the station.”

Founded in 1965, the station has been housed in its current digs in the basement of the Taylor Building for 23 years. In addition to bankrolling the station’s next compilation CD, funds from Taylor 25 will help pay for the station’s move next door to the Brown Building in November.

Taylor 25 is comprised of two CDs, the first featuring national acts that have played live in the studio or performed in “WUAG Presents” concerts, including Dutch hip-hop artist Nicolay, Brooklyn stoner country outfit Oakley Hall, melancholy folkie Richard Buckner and indie composer Tara Jane O’Neil.

Ten of the 14 bands on the second CD are from Greensboro, the rest mainly representing the Triangle. They range from the prickly Adam Thorn, who performs an acoustic reflection on aching disillusionment called “The Kids Are All Wrong,” a minimalist rave-up titled “I Thought I Was Bleeding…” by Embarrassing Fruits from the Subjective Collective, a brassy avant-rock number called “Lion Skulled” by the Royal Sun and “Georgia Buck,” an exhibit by black string-band revivalists the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

This is the fourth compilation CD overseen by Bonney, who was appointed station manager in 2004. The first, The Landscape, included only local acts and relied on submitted tracks. In 2005, the station collaborated with Andrew Dudek, who was recording bands at his now-defunct store Gate City Noise, to produce Sub-Rosa. In 2005 the station also received a grant to record bands live in the studio, and the following year WUAG bore the fruits of its enhanced capabilities with the double CD 18 Watts Is Better Than None.

Since the 26-year-old Bonney arrived in Greensboro as a first-year UNCG student from Baltimore in 1998, he’s watched the scene fluctuate from house shows to performances in squats to showcases at the defunct Flying Anvil and back to smaller venues.

“When I came here in ’98, hardcore, screamo, the hard stuff was really big,” he says. “The music has really lightened up. Some of the older compilations had a good number of punk bands. There’s not any punk bands on here. We don’t even get a lot of hardcore, punk or emo stuff at the station. I don’t know what that’s about. I’m fine with that. I’m more into the mellow stuff.”

The new CD has a good representation of Americana, a genre that has seen its fortunes rise. Bonney credits the Avett Brothers with stoking interest, and Langhorn Slim on the first CD represents that impulse. The Carolina Chocolate Drops, who have been featured on National Public Radio and received the praise of none other than Taj Mahal, are riding the crest of that wave.

On this rainy Wednesday night three acts included on the local CD are set to take the stage. The Bronzed Chorus, a duo that features a drummer-cum-keyboardist and a guitarist, rocks in completely unpredictable ways. Boa Narrow undertakes extended-jam explorations that match punk aggression with jazz introspection. The Foreigners, a hip-hop group whose name is an acronym for Futuristic Offspring of Revolving Entities Inevitably Gaining Neurological Ecstasy while Roaming amongst Savages, focuses on positive messages and blends easily with their indie-rock peers. The headline act, Brooklyn’s Parts & Labor, does not have a track on the compilation, but pleases with toy keyboard, guitar, bass and drum-driven havoc.

“Thank you guys for sticking around,” bass player BJ Warshaw tells the audience.

“Seriously,” rejoins keyboardist and guitarist Dan Friel. “Congratulations on the comp to WUAG.”

To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at jordan@yesweekly.com.

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