Friday, March 29, 2013

Album Review: "Haw" by Hiss Golden Messenger

Haw is released on April 2, 2013 on Paradise of
M.C. Taylor is a songwriter whose talents have flourished with each subsequent release under the moniker of Hiss Golden Messenger.  Taylor has been eloquently intertwining love, life and faith with a unique blend of roots driven country/folk for years now, but his 2011 release Poor Moon garnered heavy acclaim.  Poor Moon made waves in the North Carolina music scene, the unparalleled sense of honesty and individuality even led to attention from publications like Paste and Washington Post.

As Hiss Golden Messenger gains more attention, the defining characteristics of Taylor's music seems all the more clear.  Haw is named for the landmark Cape Fear tributary and reeks of Southern sentiments, it's filled with passion, devotion and rustic images that resonate not only with the native southern but with anyone that's ever battled with their inner-most thoughts or pondered upon days that were and days that might have been.

Haw opens with a rattling statement of self-identity, "Red Rose Nantahala" kicks off with Taylor's soulful croon begging to let him be the one he wants as he proceeds to do just that.  The bouncing country rhythms give way to powerful lyricism lined with forked-tongued detractors and a powerful plea to the lord for happiness.  M.C. Taylor's sense of character and purpose is powerful but most importantly it's a characteristic that defines this brilliant album.  Haw is a mystical blend of gospel, country and folk that makes for an instantly gratifying listen.  Each track feels like a vital piece of the puzzle, from the flooring emotion displayed in "Devotion" to the smooth-jazz stylings that can be found in "Cheerwine Easter," the listener is taken on an adventure through Taylor's ethos that feels as relatable as it is personal.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shakori Hills announces spring lineup

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music
and Dance is on April 18-21, 2013
Twice a year festies from all over the area travel to their mecca, the four-day paradise in Pittsboro, NC known as Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival.  The spring and fall installments fall within the perfect timeframe, six months apart and right as the weather is finally settling in to a consistent temperature.  To be honest the lineup barely matters at this point for me, Shakori Hills is a guaranteed great time filled with old and new friends and fantastically diverse music.  This spring gives us much of the same, as Shakori Hills announced their lineup yesterday much to my excitement.  While Shakori always brings in a couple of unique headliners, this year's pull feels like a truly special event.  From April 18-21 festival goers will be enjoying the sounds of Keller Williams & The Traveling McCourys, Oliver Mtukudzi & The Black Spirits and countless local and international acts that will get your feet stompin' and your hands clapping.

Known for it's wide-spread diversity, this year's festival brings back some Grassroots favorites and welcomes some new members to the family as well.  Late night sets from acts like Noot d'Noot, Dirty Bourbon River Show and Equanimous Minds have given way to vivacious dance parties while local standouts like The Tender Fruit and Sarah Shook & The Devil provide intimate shows that showcase the connections that these artists are capable of making with their music.  Sitting on the floor of the Dance Tent or Cabaret Tent while listening to a stripped down set from your favorite local folk artist is a feeling that's absolutely incomparable.  Shakori offers the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, with wild sets from Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba and The Beast (a special big band performance with trumpets, saxophones, trombones and more!) fitting in perfectly alongside the deep country acts and low-key folk artists that are found throughout the festival.