The Carolina Theater Presents: Loamlands, Phil Cook, Lonesome Leash

The Carolina Theater Presents: Loamlands, Phil Cook, Lonesome Leash

TBA, Skylar Gudasz, Reese McHenry & The Fox

Sun, November 18, 2018

Doors: 5:00 pm / Show: 6:00 pm

The Pinhook

Durham, NC

Cash donations at the door / No Pre-sale!

This event is all ages

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Loamlands
Loamlands
Most of the important dates I can recall are moments of drastic change - because they’re painful. These are moments of personal growth that wedge themselves into our memories. These are the anniversaries, the birthdays, the points on a timeline. Moments that we remember clearly because they are recorded meticulously in lyrics, photo albums, and journals. Listening to recordings of my first band brings me back to parking garages with "good acoustics", playing music with my best friend, and the excavation of bodily trauma while locking in harmony with her. Those were songs written purely for ourselves that somehow made their way to DIY venues and houses across the country. The experience was formative, and then it imploded - leaving me to reexamine my relationship to music and performance. Thus was born Loamlands, a musical endeavor aimed at telling stories of being from the South through present day queer caucasian eyes.

When Loamlands began, I wanted to break out of the folk-punk cocoon that I had spun around myself for eight years. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to write thoughtfully. I was on the cusp of something new, but I wasn’t quite there yet. I rarely plugged in. I was terrified by the idea of writing a song that revolved around something other than a feeling. I had internal guilt around loving the major label classic rock and country music my parents listened to. I never imagined wanting to croon like Loretta Lynn or play the perfect guitar lead — because "punk", because "fringe", because "queer". I slowly started to accept my own influences. I fell in love again with Stevie Nicks and Bonnie Raitt and Kim Deal. And then I got them all tattooed on my arm, never to forget the powerhouses that I grew up on, that saved my life.

Sweet High Rise chronicles this journey of reaching outside of my self. When I learned - at a free school - that NC pride was born out of the protest and riots following the murder of two gay men on their way to a swimming hole in Durham I wrote Little River. Seeing the constant barrage of police, borne out of the institution of slavery, killing people of color, queer folk, and countless marginalized communities and getting away with it, I wrote "Get Ready". How can any thoughtful human not be angry at the current state of our world? Those people know that they will stay in poverty under the current system while the word “progress” is used as a pat on the back for liberal policy makers and developers. The same story is repeated under a different guise; slavery still exists — it’s just more covert. Prisons still cage folks and make them invisible to any passersby attending expensive reproductions of The Lion King or whatever at the multi-million dollar theater across the street.

I’ve been in the South, and in Durham in particular, most of my life. I see the same things happening to my small town that I’ve read about for years in history books. Speedy gentrification is raising property taxes and kicking poorer folks further towards the outskirts of town. We know this. On this record, I’m telling stories. Stories about love, about abuse, about Durham’s brutal history with LGBTQ and police violence. I’m telling stories of my own, stories that I’ve encountered, stories that enrage me and that maybe not everyone knows. These are reflections of a queer dirtbag in love, of owning the desire to kill all abusers, of small town break ups, of the pent up anxiety that comes being on the cusp of identifying as angry and of standing strongly as genderqueer when I am misidentified as "she" or "he." This record is a release.

I'm honored to have been able to place these ideas in the hands of musicians and pals like Will Hackney, Phil and Brad Cook, Matt McCaughan, Jon Ashley and Collier Reeves. I’m glad to be here and going further with friends. Thank you for helping me along the way.

- Kym Register, 2016
Phil Cook
Phil Cook
It’s autumn in North Carolina, and the southern sun is casting a golden filter onto the fiery-red dogwood leaves that scatter the roadside landscape. Phil is behind the wheel, one hand driving and the other gently holding mine as we turn onto an unmarked country byway. We’ve dropped our son off at school and are filled with a coveted sense of freedom for the day ahead. We start by setting our course to meander the open road.

This morning’s drive is not unlike ones we’ve taken in the past. For every project, album or other piece of music that Phil has created, we find a stretch of open highway, dial the volume knob to max, and drive the listening length of road. This particular trip holds more weight than those that have come before. Despite the autumnal perfection surrounding us, I can feel anticipation in my stomach and in Phil’s twitching fingers. Today he is sharing his newly completed solo record with me for the first time.

I’ve heard most of these songs before, or at least fragments of them. I had heard early versions when they came back from the mountains after being conceived. I hear them when Phil sings in the car between our otherwise monotonous errand runs, and I hear them as he sings our son to sleep at night. The majority of the creative process that went into this album, however, has happened within the walls of my husband’s prodigious mind and in a studio in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Today’s listen to the full production signifies that he’s finally achieved the sync of what he’s been hearing in his head for the past few years and what listeners will come to know as his solo debut. He is thus filled with a duality of pride and requisite anxiety.

* * *

When we moved to North Carolina from Wisconsin in 2005, a specific era of our adult lives melted in the rearview as we crossed over the Mason Dixon. I remember clearly that the majority of arguments Phil had laid out for me when pitching this cross-country move were focused on the artists and music that came from this swath of land. He had just picked up the banjo for the first time and was diving deep into the used gospel bin at the record store. Appalachia, The Delta, and the Bayou were all calling to him.

As we settled into the state, Phil slowly began to unravel and wrestle with the region’s own complex dualities. He, along with an incredible collection of creatives in the area, have been finding their sounds and voices within a regional paradigm that shifts and shuffles, ever so slowly, with the passing of each sweltering summer. Now, over a decade into our stay, Phil has become a staple in the area’s studios. He has produced, composed, written for, and recorded on dozens of regional and national releases. He is enthusiastic, steady and humble in his work. He is a partner and an ally for other musicians, drawing people together through subtle alchemy. Phil Cook has become a conduit of American music.

“[Phil Cook] has influenced a lot of musicians that have played with him, and he's influenced a lot of musicians that are pretty successful. He's a populist, like Woody Guthrie. He's never moved into the limelight, but all of these other amazing people learn from him. It helps them become successful.”— Amy Ray

It is only recently that Phil Cook’s story has turned from one of a departure, to that of an arrival. Southland Mission is a soundtrack of shared experiences and Phil’s purity in leadership is self-evident from the moment the needle hits the record. The songs have no prerequisite, no pretension. Instead, as a collection, they call on listeners to witness and immerse themselves in their own journey. Placing focus on the way the tracks make them feel in lieu of searching for superfluous descriptors and categories. With this album, Phil is offering up his claim that the industry labels and genre constraints are rendering themselves irrelevant. Each track is a palpable glance back at the heritage of a our shared musical culture, subtly encouraging what will be a vital shift in keeping true artistry alive. Things tend to come into focus after a long journey, and this record is no exception.

I have cursed this record throughout it’s making, raising hell about it’s interruptions and inconveniences, but above all else, I’ve missed my husband. I’ve spent many nights rolling over in bed only to find his side cold and empty with the faint sound of strumming coming from some corner of the house. On walks, as he holds my hand, I can feel his fingers fretting along to the song he’s humming. Being present means something different when you have music coursing through your veins, this is something I’m learning and growing to love. Because despite my intermittent feelings of bitterness or abandonment, I know that what is coming is worth it and quite frankly, there’s no stopping it. The gravitational pull that brought us here has resulted in a collection of life and career-affirming moments that, when looking back, makes the decision to move here seem laughably inevitable. He was always preparing the path, whether he knew it or not.

So, throw open your folded arms and embrace the anthemic reveal of “Great Tide”, a sound big enough to fill a stadium. Absorb the percussive heartbeat under Phil and Frazey's poignantly resonant verses on ”Anybody Else”. Hop in the truck and blare “1922” out of some blown-out speakers, then find a quiet place to plug in your headphones to hear every peak and valley of the guitar solo on “Ain’t It Sweet”. The lyrics tell stories of loss, layered with sentiments of self-doubt and intermittent promises of change. The compositions are Phil’s testament to truth in music, integrity in creativity and reverence for those who paved the way for these sounds to fall on our ears. Southland Mission is certain to compel you to stomp your feet, pump your fist, and sway and spin with reckless abandon.
Phil’s mission is far from complete, but for the first time in his life, it seems to be clear where he’s headed. Undoubtedly, with this record as our induction, we are all in for an epic ride.

* * *

Back in the car, Phil’s smile strains with anticipation. His eyes are tired and his hair has grown unruly. He’s poured himself out into this music, and while his reserves may be empty, his heart is brimming.

“You ready?” he asks, trigger finger on the play button.

I smile and nod. After all, it’s what we came here for.
Lonesome Leash
Lonesome Leash
Lonesome Leash is the solo project of Walt McClements, an accordionist and multi-instrumentalist known for his previous work in Dark Dark Dark and Hurray for the Riff Raff. Using a sparse palette of accordion, drums and voice, McClements crafts stark yet complex songs, nervous and triumphant hymns to the restless. Despite being anchored by the often anachronistic accordion, the music ends up having less to do with contemporary purveyors of old world idioms, and more to do with an alternate history—one where angular accordion lines take prominence over the guitar in a nervy and strangely cinematic post-punk tradition.

Precious Futures is the follow up to 2013's debut I am no captain, and is Lonesome Leash's first release on fellow Dark Dark Dark member Nona Marie Invie's Mind Rider Records. Where previous Lonesome Leash recordings explored layers of lush feedback and textural accordion tones, Precious Futures strips the songs to their sinew, offering an approximation of the project's "one-man-band" live approach: terse drums syncopated with accordion and distinctive, roiling vocals. This is McClements at his most exposed, and what these songs lack in embellishment, they gain in impact.

"Sometimes bridges burn themselves/no flint, no fuel, no careless match/you just feel the flames and you don't turn back" is the album's opening line, and it's a fitting introduction to a song cycle that primarily deals with motion. Most of the album was written in a two-year period of nearly continuous tour, a time of travel which served as the transition between McClements leaving his longtime home New Orleans and settling in Los Angeles. Precious Futures is comprised of fragmented stories, but they are fragments of one narrative, where momentum, love, and lust serve as stand-ins for the feeling of home. It is a record that chronicles movement and the thrill of the affair, but also explores the drives beneath those things, all with a wry wit that is so characteristic of McClements’ storytelling. The end result is at once romantic, neurotic, and ultimately gratifying.
Skylar Gudasz
Skylar Gudasz
"Sometimes a whisper can say more than all the shouting in the world.

Skylar Gudasz writes subtly evocative, quietly powerful songs, and she performs them with an understated authority that resonates deeply in the listener's soul. The 26-year-old Durham, NC-based artist's sublimely expressive voice and effortlessly enchanting compositions disarm cynicism and defy easy categorization, embodying a timeless blend of worldly insight and open-hearted innocence.

Although she's yet to release a solo record, Skylar has already won considerable international acclaim, thanks in part to her spellbinding performances as part of the all-star touring Big Star Third tribute concerts, with which she's appeared in such far-flung locales as New York, Chicago, London, Sydney and Barcelona, as well as at the SXSW music festival in Austin, TX. As an unsigned unknown sharing the stage with such notable artists as Ray Davies, Robyn Hitchcock, Sharon Van Etten and members of R.E.M. and Wilco, she commanded the attention of fans and critics, as well as her fellow performers. The Sydney Morning Herald called her "the most impressive figure of the night," while the shows' musical director Chris Stamey noted, "She'd sing 'Thirteen' or 'Dream Lover,' and time would stop." Indeed, the response she received from live crowds was so profound that it soon became known among her tourmates as "the Skylar effect."

Her breakout performances in the Big Star concerts convinced Stamey (known for his work as a solo artist and with the dB's, as well as his production for the likes of Ryan Adams and Alejandro Escovedo) to take Skylar into the recording studio, tapping the talents of noted avant-garde clarinetist Ken Vandermark, southern pop godfather Mitch Easter, Brad Cook of Megafaun, Michael Blair (Elvis Costello, Tom Waits), Casey Toll (Mt. Moriah), and several talented young musicians from the fertile Chapel Hill alt-pop scene. The resulting recordings mark Skylar Gudasz as both a unique talent and a major artist in the making." - Scott Schinder
Reese McHenry & The Fox
Reese McHenry & The Fox
Reese McHenry (Dirty Little Heaters, Second Wife) sings and plays guitar. Stephen Gardner (T’s, Trousers) sings and plays drums. Together they make powerful, catchy, power chord-heavy music that you’ll probably enjoy, or at least take notice of.
Venue Information:
The Pinhook
117 W. Main St.
Durham, NC, 27701
http://thepinhook.com/