Auld Lang Syne and all that jazz
By: Katei Cranford
As boughs of holly give way to streams of champagne and belts of Auld Lang Syne, it’s time to look back on Triad music in 2018, while looking forward to what’s ahead.
In Greensboro, Somewhere Else Tavern will sing its swan song with a round of final shows, culminating on New Year’s Eve. The four-day festival will run over the weekend, and according to organizers, “will be the very last show at this SWET location, and possibly the very last SWET show in history.”
In brighter news, between Big Boi and the George Clinton block party, it was a banner year for Blind Tiger. Though they’ve broken out of their jam band mold, the venue will host a show for their homies with The Mantras, The Wright Ave and Marvelous Funkshun on New Year’s Eve.
2018 saw a shift toward show spaces in downtown Greensboro thanks to the Strictly Social series at LaRue Elm and Smith & Edge while the Dance From Above parties at the Mill cast spells of rave magic and light shows among the silos and Elm Street over the summer.
Most notably, the backroom at Boxcar became the hot ticket show space toward the latter half of 2018; it’s a trend that hopefully continues into 2019.
The Carolina Theatre showcased some major players such as Neko Case while continuing more intimate shows in its upstairs Crown room.
Beyond downtown, Geeksboro moved a few blocks North on Lawndale to bigger digs as “the Battlepub.” In late-November, they tipped their toes into the rock show realm. And they’ll keep on rocking into 2019 with a blast-from-the-past show featuring Rocket, a Smashing Pumpkins tribute and Tré Cool, a Green Day cover band, sprinkled with DJ sets by Quilla and Martin J Dolan.
Shocking music news in the UNCG area came early when New York Pizza blinked out of existence for a bit in February–much to everyone’s surprise. Since then, they’ve continued hanging-on as the corner hardcore spot and will be hosting a New Year’s Eve Ball for folks who wanna get fancy.
Over in Winston-Salem, the opening of The Ramkat in March ushered an avenue for major acts. Since then, the Ramkat has roped heavy-hitters and helped keep local traditions, such as the Jukebot Halloween cover series, running. They’ll ring in the new year with a celebration hosted by The Plaids.
Just across Ninth Street, the recent addition of Earl’s, a country-western eatery and venue, holds promise for smaller twangy acts. Part honky-tonk, part chicken joint, Earl’s looks to be a cozy contender for country music come 2019. Their New Year’s party will feature the Johnny Folsom 4, a solid tribute to the man in black.
Meanwhile, Monstercade hit its stride with a year full of rock shows, game shows, electronic parties, comedy showcases, and all sorts of fun. The little weirdo closet club ran the entertainment gamut and blossomed through the year with a strong finish.
Beyond spaces, Triad bands put work in, and releases out, over the year.
Your writer holds a bias for Instant Regrets, but regardless, their self-titled March release straight rips.
2018 saw a slew of sweet songwriter records such as Johanna Breed’s “Is It Too Late,” Kelcey Ledbetter’s “The SunQueen,” Anne-Claire Niver’s “I Still Look For You,” and Vaughn Aed’s “Shy Winter.”
Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk released “Insides” to much Winston fan fair, fellow Winston experimental act, 1970s Film Stock, put out “Irrational Aesthetics: Live in Gastonia” on cassette, and Greensboro electronic and hip-hop hits came from Tide Eyes’ “Waveformer,” and Bond’s Eye’s self-titled release.
A handful of punkers put out notable material over the year: Basement Life’s “Devour,” Swartzwelder’s “Bottomless Pit,” Totally Slow’s “Imperium,” and “The Disaster Tapes” from Blood Ritual made waves through the Greensboro circles.
Southern rockers had their rounds with Caleb Caudle’s “Crushed Coins,”
Josh King’s “Into the Blue, ” Old Heavy Hands’ “Mercy” and Matt Walsh’s “The Midnight Strain.”
From the noodly realms of jazz and jam came: Fortezza’s “Fiend,” GrayScale Whale’s “Catalyst,” The Mantras’ “Be the Light,” and The Rinaldis’ “Rain in the Face.”
And then, of course, there were the festivals: the inaugural North Carolina Folk Fest (which hopefully won’t run the same weekend as Hopscotch in 2019), GSOFest, Gledonfest, FemFest, Tate Street Fest, and WUAGapalooza will all hopefully come back in 2019.
Who knows what the new year holds, but hats off to the memories made in 2018. To loves, and losses, and new beginnings. Let’s pick the daisies fine, dear Triad.
Cheers to 2019.
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands touring through NC the following week, 5-7pm on WUAG 103.1fm.