Category Archives: Raleigh NC

Sorry for my lack of updates.

I had a problem logging into WordPress (fixed by deleting some plugins).

I am also in the throes of recording an album, having written 13 songs with my friend Alex. Some of this is the best material I have ever composed. As we near the end of our time in Raleigh I hope it will make for a good product.

Meanwhile I have a couple of draft blogposts I’m working on, one of which involves Yorkshire Tea for the Yorkshire Lad in me!

Famous jazz musicians from North Carolina

I currently live in Raleigh, North Carolina and would like to pay tribute to the amazing jazz musicians from this and surrounding regions. It may not be an epicentre of jazz like New Orleans, Manhattan, or Los Angeles, indeed none of a recent top 10 southern jazz players were from North Carolina. Nevertheless some notable players are from here.

Jazz musicians with connections to the Research Triangle:

  • Jeb Bishop is a jazz trombonist who grew up in Raleigh and studied at NC State.
  • Pee Wee Moore left medical school to pursue jazz saxophony full time. He was born in Raleigh and returned to the city in the 1970s after living in New York.
  • Billy Strayhorn was a composer, lyricist, and arranger. He spent his summers at his grandparents home in Hillsborough, just northwest of Durham.

Jazz musicians with connections to the Piedmont triad (Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem):

Other notable NC jazz musicians:

  • Nina Simone was born in Tryon on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Widely acclaimed singer, pianist, and songwriter she was also active in the civil rights movement.
  • Percy Heath
  • Theolonius Monk

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Emerging from burgers, sculptures, and football to say “Hello again!”

I’ve neglected this blog for too long. Sorry.

One reason for the three month delay is that, in addition to my musical pursuits, I am now working at Corbett’s Burger and Soda Bar in Cary.

The other reason is that I have been to visit family in Britain and Texas, and enjoyed a visit in March from my Mum and Dad. Here is a photo of my Dad and I in front of the rings at the North Carolina Museum of Art. We are wearing Yorkshire Lad t-shirts that mimic the Yorkshire Tea logo.

Dad and I standed under a ring-shaped sculpture on a blue skies day
One Brit spotted us and asked, “Are you really from Yorkshire?” “YES!” we said.

Here is a close up of me wearing the tee when I watched the Denver Broncos lose the 2014 Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is a distinctly American event, but thankfully my buddies were happy for me to show off my Yorkshire roots at the party.

I am wearing a camouflage cap and a black t-shirt in front of a wide screen TV showing an American football match.
Yorkshire Tea should sponsor a sports team as the bright colours work really well!

There has been lots going on, but luckily I have some music blogs in the pipeline that I will edit and upload. More soon!

Review: Clutch at the Lincoln Theatre, Raleigh

Well, my ears are still buzzing! Here is my take on a phenomenal show:

Crobot

Quite cool as support acts go, and a good match with the other two bands, but not quite my kind of thing. A very outgoing singer who never missed a chance to talk with the crowd. My wife thinks he looks like Russell Brand except with a less full beard, a hairless chest and greasier hair. To me his voice and moves were like Sebastian Bach, except with dark hair and a beard.

The Sword

I own and love all this band’s albums so I went with high hopes. They were the most unassuming three front men I’ve ever seen including a very deadpan bassist. They did not disappoint me though, delivering a slick set with energetic and engaging bass and drum playing. My only regret is that we were on the wrong side of the stage to properly hear the lead guitarist, but all band members talent shone through and I would encourage you to hear this band’s live music if you ever get a chance.

Clutch

This was my first time seeing Clutch and they were one solid powerhouse of a band. I regret not listening to enough of their back catalogue to appreciate everything they played. I only got into them having got tickets to see The Sword, and Clutch became my favourite band of 2013. The lead singer Neil is a fantastic entertainer. He watches the crowd, at times hardly blinking, and communicates by hand gestures, the occasional comment, and looks on his face like a man possessed by rock. In some songs he plays guitar, in others a cow bell, and all the time sporting a pair of black Adidas shell toes. An all round appealing sound and visual experience, even the drummer was great to watch. The final song, Electric Worry, was by far my favourite of their set.

The Venue

The Lincoln Theatre is lovely smaller venue with a capacity of about 1000. There is a small upper level for those who want a seat and view from above, and a lower level where you can get really close to the performers. The bar serves a range of beers, including a very nice Porter.

Remainder of the Tour

The Clutch will continue their US tour and there are tickets still available for most of the shows. They then venture to Australia, then to the UK, Ireland and Germany. I’d highly recommend you see them!

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Find your ideal guitar amp

Amplification is important for all electric guitar players to get right. Finding the right sound can be like searching for the holy grail. Whether you already use built-in effects or prefer external pedals, amps are becoming so good these days that they might seem to make pedals obsolete. However many friends of mine (myself included) would be hard pressed to give up their trusty pedals and rely solely on what an amp offers.

That said, I love the distortion from a Marshall amp when coupled with a Gibson guitar: it creates a good, solid, universal tone. But Marshalls aren’t cheap. The Marshall MG series seem like good value, though finding one in stock to play in a guitar shop in Raleigh is like trying to find rocking horse poo! Most guitar shops sell various brands, and some specialise in used amps. From experience I can also recommend the Roland cube- they are cheaper than Marshalls.

Whatever amp you are considering, or even if you’re wanting a head and speaker setup, my only advice is that you MUST check out the sound with your guitar in person before buying. It’s also a perfect opportunity to feel the weight and size of your amp (generally the larger the speaker the heavier the amp)- is it portable, will you be able to take it to gigs or open mic nights with ease? Do not just order online, you are chancing disappointment and a lot of wasted money.

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Music worth dancing to

Swing dancing is a popular activity in North Carolina. Each December the state hosts one of the largest swing dance festivals in the world, Lindy Focus. Barely a weekend goes by without friends in Raleigh telling me they’re spending their evening in some dance hall or other.

Some people dance to recorded music, but often swing dances are places to savor the thrill of a live performance, where musicians and dancers together generate a captivating atmosphere. You can get swing dance lessons, or just turn up to an event. Here are swing dancing opportunities in the area:

Events

Carolina Music and Dance Productions
Triangle Swing and Shag meetups
Central Smooth Groovers meetups
Raleigh Swing Dance Events

Societies

Triangle Swing Dance Society and their Facebook group
NCSU Student Dance Club
Dancing in North Carolina
Piedmont Swing Dance Clubs

Some other dance groups

Raleigh-Durham Triangle Dance
Raleigh Dance 4 Fun

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Guitar advertising places

How do you hear about upcoming music events and guitar performances? Where do you market your local music business? Here’s my advice on advertising in and around Raleigh, based on my experience setting up my guitar teaching business. If you know about other opportunities please share with the rest of us by posting in the comments below.

To reach students and academics there are cylindrical poster boards on NC State’s main campus by the Free Expression Tunnel and near Harrelson Hall, but these are heavily used and abused, i.e. posters are quickly ripped off or pasted over. There is a non-commercial solicitation rule on campus. You can pay to advertise in The Technician, and events of interest to the university community could be posted on the noticeboard in the Music Department. It is courteous to ask before sticking up your notice.

Listservs
There are many popular local email lists, some of which may include thousands of potential customers, such as those interested in live music or music lessons. (I’m on one with over 4000 subscribers but it is private so unfortunately I can’t post an accessible link here). A good place to search for your interests might be on Yahoo Groups or Google Groups. Another thing people like to do is to accrue a database of the email addresses of potential customers, either by storing their details from past purchases (with their permission of course), or by including an email subscription box on your website.

Community noticeboards:

  • Sam Ash on Capital Boulevard. Material removed after 30 days, sooner if it is out of date.
  • Guitar Center on Capital Boulevard.
  • I have also found business cards of interesting bands on the corkboard in the men’s toilets in Raleigh Brewing Company (might be similar in the women’s but obviously I haven’t been in!).
  • Craigslist offers free classified advertising for specific cities and is split into topical boards, see for example one of my ads.
  • Local libraries, such as this one at Cameron Village. Usually you hand in your notice and it must be approved before the librarians post it.

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