Charlottes music scene is exploding with a plethora of talent and frankly its time to give the city and its musicians their due. Here are the Queen City artists and Carolina acts that you have to hear today.
Although Charlotte is known for a lot of things, a great music scene has not typically been one of them. Thats not to say that there havent been a lot of great musicians and bands that have come from Charlotte, its just that most of them have not typically stuck. Without a true musical identity like other cities have had i.e., Detroit/Motown, Seattle/Alt Rock, Chicago/Blues, etc its been hard for homegrown artists to find a foothold here in the past. But times they are a changing! With the arrival of so many transplants from across the country, and with them, many musical backgrounds and talents, it seems that this is becoming the identity of the Charlotte scene. Artists like Jocelyn Ellis, Sam The Lion, and Maddie Shuler are doing a mashup of different genres and the result is a whole new sound. In addition there are countless bands like Saints and Sinners and David Childers who are still carrying on the regional genres bluegrass and Americana that the Carolinas originated. There is a lot of great music and artists coming out of Charlotte and North Carolina and these are the best of the best.
The Charlotte native and singer-songwriter, Charlie King, released his debut LP in early January at NoDas The Evening Muse. Path Of The Moon, produced by Patrick Boyd at Sioux Sioux Studio, is a melodic ten track musical voyage that culminates with a whimsical, beautifully written title track. Along the journey, explore love and truth through an oceanic lens. The LP, inspired by the vastness of the beach and saltwater, is nothing more than authentic, a combination of Kings well written prose and magical vocals reminiscent of the Fleet Foxes.
SAINTS AND SINNERS
The duo of Perry Fowler and Mark Baran are an amazing concoction of strong vocals and harmonies reminiscent of young Avetts, guitar, harmonica, upright bass, and banjo. One of our favorites in the city and growing in popluarity in the regional and national music scene daily.
THE NEW FAMILIARS
This band that brings in the nitty gritty sounds of Appalachia and the drum rhythms of rock and roll has made a splash in the music scene throughout the Southeast. Their version of Americana Rock has allowed them to play some of the best music festivals and venues around the region and has caught the attention of some of the greats, such as the Allman Brothers Band and the New Grass Revival.
5th AND YORK
Originally formed in Charlotte in 2006, this ensemble of versatile artists are still going strong and continue to evolve. Some would label them as urban jazz, others would call them a contemporary or smooth jazz band. We just call them plain good. They are able to seamlessly meld influences of R&B, funk, jazz, hip hop and rock into a sound that is all their own. With two full length albums, and a laundry list of accolades, they are great ambassadors of the Queen City jazz scene.
White is a Rennaissance man of sorts that has been blazing the trail for the Charlotte Indie and Underground music scene since he started his independent record label, Kinnikinnik Records in 2004. He started this as a way to showcase his own as well as other underground bands that other established labels werent willing to take a chance on. Although he is the head of his own label, he is first and foremost an artist with a wide range of talents as a multi-instrumentalist, composer, lyricist, and producer. Over the years he has been in several bands including: Calabi Yau, Black Congo, NC, and currently The Bo White Orquestra. bowhiteorquesta.wordpress.com
Crashing onto the scene in 2010 bringing their alternative country and indie rock sound, Pullman Strike has staked a claim in Charlottes music scene. Cultivating their own genre, they have a loyal following and play some of the best venues in the Queen City. They recently released their latest album Silver Lining and they had their album release party at the acclaimed Neighborhood Theatre.
Coming out of Rock Hill, this alt-country band brings the meaning of being southern to the forefront. Their music tells stories of the easy way of life and also the tragedies and losses that affect us all. Formed in 2008 by brother and sister, Jeremy and Maggie, this group has become a staple in the South Carolina music scene. www.elonzo.bandcamp.com.
Benji Hughes has definitely made a name for himself since coming onto the music scene in 2008. From Charlotte, he as had several songs featured on successful television shows as well as feature films. He has also worked with artists such as Meshell Ndegeocello and Jeff Bridges. With his unique approach, his music and style spans many different genres. His debut album, The Love Extreme, was widely accepted and praised for its uniqueness. Now on his third studio album, you can catch Benji playing shows across the US.
Debuting on the Queen City music scene in 2008, Ellis angelic voice is reminiscent of Heather Headley and Vivian Green. Combining that sound with soulful lyrics and synthpop arrangements has helped her develop quite the following on the East Coast from Georgia to New York City. Her arrangements and dynamism is all her own.
GIGI DOVER AND THE BIG LOVE
Based in Charlotte, this husband and wife duo are a local product, but their sound draws from influences and genres from across the globe. At the root, their sound is very much Americana or folk/rock, but with their use of more obscure instruments like the sitar and rebab among others, various rhythmic structures and tempo coupled with Gigis unique and playful vocals, the result is a unique sonic cocktail that will appeal to a wide variety of audiences.
SOUTHERN FRIED JAZZ BAND
Band leader, Don Edwards and his ensemble of talented musicians offer up audiences a musical recipe that is sure to put a smile on your face and get your toes tapping. While paying tribute to the traditional style of Dixieland Jazz complete with the brass, rhythm and percussion that is synonymous with this genre, their performances are as much educational as they are entertaining by using the music as a backdrop to help explain how the genre developed and is known as the only original art form that America has given to the world. They have put their own Southern fried spin on the classics by sprinkling in some invigorating vocals, playful showmanship, and anecdotal humor that the whole family will enjoy.
Saxophonist, Ziad Rabie has been the driving force and Creative Director of The Bechtler Museum of Modern Arts wildly popular series, Jazz at The Bechtler, since its inception in 2010. On the first Friday of each month, Ziad and his quartet perform themed sets that typically compliment or reflect the current exhibit, season or era that is being highlighted at the museum. Through his pursuits with Jazz at the Bechtler, Ziad and his quartet have almost singlehandedly revived the fading Charlotte Jazz scene where quality options and venues for jazz enthusiasts to see live jazz had become few and far between. So much so that even after adding two shows per event, they still sell out every month.
SAM THE LION
Lead vocalist Lindsey Horne, Chris Lonon, and Chris Waldorf (all former bandmates in The Sea of Cortez) have teamed up with guitarist David Driscoll to create a moody synthpop vibe that will lull you into what can only be described as an aquatic abyss of sound. Reminiscent of Portishead or Mazzy Star, Hornes soothing and whispy voice will captivate you in that it is equally as endearing as it is eerie. Their unique sound is probably the closest thing to an out of body experience that we will experience.
What started off as an acoustic duo, founders Clee Laster and Chris Sheridan decided to put a full band together in 2003. Fusing influences of rock, reggae, island, roots, with just a touch of funk, this Charlotte based band has a feel good sound that has garnered them mass appeal and acclaim both regionally and abroad. They are the definition of a working band playing local venues as small as The Rusty Rudder or as big as Time Warner Arena or out touring across the US. Even if you dont love the music itself, you have little choice but to have fun at their shows because their enthusiasm and love for the music is infectious.
At the ripe old age of 19, this Providence High School product has already released a full length album called Roots and Wings (produced by legendary percussionist Jim Brock), made live appearances at local venues and on television, and is currently enrolled at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston studying guitar. Maddie is a singer/songwriter with a diverse background of influences ranging from folk and Americana to Celtic and bluegrass, whose sound is reminiscent of legendary singer/songwriters, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell among others. She plays a myriad of instruments including acoustic guitar, piano, mandolin, bass and electric guitar, percussion and virtually anything else that she can get her hands on. It will be interesting to see what her musical career has in store for young Maddie but based on her current trajectory, the sky is the limit.
Kenny Carr is a world renowned jazz trombonist and is arguably one of the most successful musicians to come out of Charlotte that you have never heard of. Kenny started his illustrious music career at the age of 6, right here in Charlotte playing shout music at his local church. Shout is a kind of worship music typically associated with African American Pentecostal churches featuring brass instruments, with roots stemming from Dixieland Jazz. As an adult Kenny formed his band, The Tigers, and today, he is widely recognized as one of the premiere soulful jazz trombonists and shout artists in the world, and has toured the world while playing alongside the likes of the late Ray Charles, Al Green, Ramsey Lewis and Gladys Knight just to name a few.
Fronted by lead vocalists and husband and wife duo, Ashlee Hardee Brown and Jimmy Brown and accompanied by Ashlees brothers, Jordan and CJ Hardee, their chemistry and deep connection to both the music and one another are evident when you listen to their music. Their sound has many influences with elements that draw from Jimmys Celtic and Irish folk roots and love of rock and roll, as well as the Americana and Bluegrass roots that have long been a part of the Hardee family tradition. They recently released their first debut album entitled Montibello Memories through Columbia Records that marries all of their influences into a folk pop sound that features intricate harmonies, and arrangements and meaningful lyricism that details their musical journey.
BLESS THESE SOUNDS
UNDER THE CITY
The dynamic duo of Derrick Hines and Albert Strawn got together in 2013 to form Bless These Sounds Under The City. Drawing from their wide variety of mutual interests and influences of artists like Radiohead, St. Vincent, Bob Dylan, and Grizzly Bear, Bless These Sounds Under The City features amazing songwriting, compelling vocals and arrangements, and an experimental synthesized sound that uses progressive rhythms and loops and undulating tempos that can best be described as indie or electronic folk.
This acoustic quartet based out of Charlotte is fronted by Cameron Floyd and is made up of a group of friends that got together to make heartfelt, feel good music whose influences include Jason Mraz, John Mayer, and Gavin Degraw among others.
Although her sound is rooted in artsy folk pop, over the years, her musical palate has evolved to include influences of rock, pop, and even soul. Coobs is a gifted songwriter and her soulful yet sensitive voice is able to take you along with her on her musical journey, often detailing her life experiences of love, heartache, and sometimes just blind fury. Her current album, Acoustic Home Demos From What Love is All About is available to download free on her website.
The Gaston County born songwriter has been writing and performing around Charlotte and the Carolinas for almost two decades, and has been referred to by some as the most prolific North Carolina songwriter alive today. He is credited with paving the way for todays generation of artists and performers in the region. In his early years he was known for writing provocative music that spanned from gritty punk music to folk. After an almost ten year hiatus from writing and performing, David was coaxed out of retirement by Avett Brothers, bassist Bob Crawford to collaborate in a new band called the Overmountain Men where David explores gospel themes of redemption, salvation and forgiveness, while creating a hybrid sound of folk, blues, electronic, country and other influences.