Monday, August 29, 2016

Chatham County Line Photos, Charlotte, NC, Aug. 26, 2016

Chatham County Line
McGlohon Theater
Charlotte, NC
August 26, 2016
All photos copyright 2016 Daniel Coston

August 29, 2016

Update From FB

Friday, photos of Carolina Business Review, Chatham County Line at McGlohon Theater, and Chris McKay and Abbey Road Live at the Visulite Theater. Saturday, photos of the Southern Women's Show, Tosco Music Party in the Park, and the Great Gatsby Gala. I don't get to wear my vintage clothes often enough. Sunday, listening to and digging Bless These Sounds Under The City's album release party at Petra's. Congrats to Albert Strawn and Derrick J. Hines for making another badass record. News coming soon on upcoming concerts I'm promoting, and a third (yes, third) exhibition of my photos in Charlotte. See you at the galleries, and see you on the road.

Great Gatsby Gala

Hello All-

If you're here because I photographed you at the Great Gatsby Gala, welcome! Yes, that was me in the vintage hat, luggage and cane. Send me an email to danielcoston at aol dot com, and I'll send you a link to the photos. Best wishes,
August 29, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

CLTure Promotes My Talk Tonight At The Charlotte Museum Of History

See you there,
August 25, 2016

My Venue Talk Is Tonight (August 25th), See You There

Thursday evening! August 25th! 6pm! Charlotte Museum Of History! Me, talking about the history of music venues in Charlotte! 6pm reception, talk at 7pm! With lots of never-before seen photos! Can I get any more exclamation points into this post to get your attention? Yes, but I'm trying to be dignified about this. See you there, and see you on the road.
August 25, 2016

Hard Working Americans/The Congress Photos, August 23, 2016

Hard Working Americans
The Congress
Neighborhood Theatre
Charlotte, NC
August 23, 2016
All photos copyright 2016 Daniel Coston

August 24, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Update On Museum Of History Talk On August 25th

Contrary to what the Observer printed in CLT, my talk at the Charlotte Museum Of History is on August 25th, and not tomorrow. Set your coordinates to August 25th. Reception at 6pm, talk at 7pm, and explanations and apologies (depending on how the talk goes) at 8pm. I'll also be showing some photos from the 90s Charlotte music scene, more of which I'll tell you about at the museum. See you there, and see you on the road.
August 14, 2016

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Unknown Hinson Photo, Charlotte, NC, August 12, 2016

Unknown Hinson
Visulite Theater
Charlotte, NC
August 12, 2016
Photo copyright 2016 Daniel Coston

August 13, 2016

Snyder Family Band, Charlotte, NC, August 12, 2016

Snyder Family Band
Great Aunt Stella Center
Charlotte, NC
August 12, 2016
Photo copyright 2016 Daniel Coston

August 13, 2016

The Levine Museum Posted This Photo Of One Of My Pictures On Exhibition

It Could Be Nothing
Milestone Club
Dec. 31, 1995
taken on my first visit to the venue.
August 13, 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Joe Craven Photo, Charlotte, NC, August 7, 2016

Joe Craven
Smokey Joe's
Charlotte, NC
August 7, 2016
Photo copyright 2016 Daniel Coston

August 11, 2016

Hillsville Diner Interior, Hillsville, VA, August 9, 2016

Hillsville Diner Interior
Hillsville, VA
August 9, 2016
Photo copyright 2016 Daniel Coston

August 11, 2016

Monday, August 8, 2016

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Reminder About August 25th At The Charlotte Museum Of History

Just a reminder that I'll be back at the Charlotte Museum Of History on the evening of August 25th for a new talk about my photo retrospective, and newly discovered photos in my archive from the Charlotte music scene of the 1990s. See you at the museum, and see you on the road.
August 4, 2016

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Double Door Inn Exterior Photo

August 2, 2016

Kickstarter Site For New Double Door Inn Documentary That Features My Photos

And more....
August 2, 2016

Ancient Cities Interview

Ancient Cities: Alone In The Universe
by Daniel Coston

Tangents Magazine: New album. Supermoon Blackout. Discuss.

Stephen Warwick: Supermoon Blackout is our new album, which comes out July 1st.

Justin Fedor: 'Supermoon Blackout' was exciting to record because finally we were a band recording an album instead of a group of guys becoming a band around an album. We hashed out arrangements and put our own touches to Stephen's songs.
Tangents: How was the band’s sound changed since the first album?

Warwick: The first Ancient Cities album is definitely more acoustic guitar based even though I was expanding my sound by adding electric guitar and synths. A lot of it still fell into that folk realm. Also, I didn't have a band when I began recording the first album, so everything was recorded at separate times. With Supermoon, we had been playing as full band for a while and wanted to capture that raw energy. Most of the songs were recorded with everyone playing together live. It’s a more fuzz-driven album for sure.

Fedor: With the band being established going into the recording, we were able to lose a lot of the extra layers and record our parts for what they were. It's raw and rocking ...

Tangents: You wear your psych-rock influences proudly. Do you come out at psych-rock via 60s bands such as Moby Grape or the 13th Floor Elevators, or later pysch such as Queens Of The Stone Age?

Warwick: I grew up listening to my dad's records, which are mostly from the mid to late 60s. So I'm definitely more influenced by that era of music in general, bands like The Zombies, Love, Moby Grape, The Doors, and into the early 70s like Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Grand Funk Railroad.

Fedor: I love modern and classic psych rock. My friends used to kid me and say we sounded like a Pink Floyd/My Morning Jacket lovechild. When MMJ backed up Roger Waters at Newport Folk Festival while we were there last year, they all said "See! I told you so"...I'm still not certain what that means, but I like it...

Tangents: How was the writing process changed for you both since the first album?

Warwick: I wrote all the songs for both albums, so I wouldn't say the process has really changed much since the first album. I usually record demos and present them to the band. Then we'll sort out where everyone fits into the song and go from there.

Fedor: Stephen writes the songs and presents an initial arrangement. He then opens the songs up for us to add our individual sound to it. It's a fun process which can be heard most prevalent in the title track 'Supermoon Blackout'...

Tangents: Both of you have your own projects. How much time are you both devoting to Ancient Cities, for the forseeable future?

Warwick: Ancient Cities really took over where my solo project left off. I was pretty uninspired with trying to write songs that fit into a certain a genre, and with the direction my writing was going I felt like it was time to start fresh. So, for now Ancient Cities is my main jam.

Fedor: When I moved to Charlotte, Stephen quickly became my favorite songwriter in town. We've been friends for over a decade now. I'm pretty comfortable here and I get to jet out on my own from time to time to continue my americana endeavors. Stephen's also working with me on arrangements for my own album. We work well together and have already enjoyed more success together than either one of us did alone. I'm not in the market for any more projects...

Tangents: Do the outside projects actually help with the writing of Ancient Cities songs?

Fedor: I actually want to stay away from americana for Ancient Cities. We experimented on the first album and tossed some banjo on for shits and giggles, but then everyone kept referring to us as a 'folk' band. I think this new album will shatter that spectrum...

Tangents: Justin Faircloth just joined the band on keyboards. What has he brought to the band?

Warwick: Yes! Faircloth joined the band at the end of the Supermoon recording sessions. We’ve been friends for about 10+ years, and I was always a fan of his band The Houston Brothers. So when we 5were looking for a new keys player he was our first choice. He has an great musical instinct vibes well with Ancient Cities. He knows when to take it to the next level and when to back off, and he plays with such energy and emotion.

Fedor: Having Faircloth join at the tail end of recording the album was a blessing. We had become pretty regimented with how we performed the songs and when he walked in, he instantly broadened our scope with new tones and chops that we hadn't imagined before. I think the track 'Actress' best shows his influence on a song. Beyond just his talent, his personality works with us which is vital for us to survive on the road as a band….

Tangents: Where did the idea of the whited eyes come from?

Warwick: Whited eyes is something I incorporated into the collage I did for the Supermoon Blackout album cover. It represents a sort of zombie mind-state, having no recollection of one’s actions, like the Mr. Hyde lurking in everyone.

Fedor: Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes...

Tangents: Psych question. Brit psych-rock, or American psych-rock? Or both?

Warwick: I like both British and American psych-rock. A lot of the British rock in general was derivative of the American blues, so you couldn’t really have Brit rock with out it’s American influence. But the Brits had this baroque pop element in the 60s that I really love, and America just couldn’t replicate that without it sounding contrived. 

Tangents: Ancient Cities is…….

Warwick: Ancient Cities is good times.

Fedor: Ancient Cities is a rock band.

Sinners & Saints Interview, From August 2016 Edition Of Tangents Magazine

Sinners & Saints: Two Men And A Van
by Daniel Coston
From August 2016 Edition Of Tangents Magazine

Tangents Magazine: How did you two come together?

Mark Baran: I saw Perry play solo at Snug Harbor and his song writing struck me in a way that I was compelled to ask if he ever wanted to add a bass player to the mix. He hit me up about a gig after a month or so and we started working together.

Perry Fowler: Like all great romances begin, we met at a bar. Snug Harbor to be specific.

Tangents: How would you describe the sound of this band?

Baran: Americana, indie, folk haha just kidding. We get a lot of comparisons to the Avetts, sometimes to Violent Femmes, but as with any band the sound is a mix of our musical influences and sensibilities. Perry has a really broad range of influence, but for sure was brought up on that staple of classic and old country. I did not experience old country growing up, but came to find and love it later in life. To avoid the categories when someone asks me what we sound like I just tell them we are a two-man one-man band.

Fowler: Chuck-a-chuck-a click-clack boom-pop boom-pop

Tangents: Was there a conscious decision to play as just a two-piece? 

Baran: When we started Perry played a stomp box that he built. It's a wooden box with a tambourine on top. We asked a friend Chad Shores to play fiddle for us and so for a brief time we were a 3 piece. After Chad left we started playing with the drums and evolving to our current setup. From stomp box and a small kick, to small kick and snare, and finally a full kick and snare. Being a 2 piece that can make a full sound is definitely something that makes us unique and is one of the things we get the most comments about. A lot of people say "I didn't realize there was only 2 of you." For me there is a little worry that if we expanded we might lose that magic. 

Fowler: Most definitely. Drummers are a bunch of drunks and full of drama. 

Tangents: You all play out of town a lot. Was that also a decision that you both made early on? 

Baran: I think we both just decided that we were going to work really hard at giving this thing an honest go. Touring and getting out there is just part of that. It's been some of the most trying and rewarding things I've done. 

Fowler: Yeah from the very beginning we decided that we didn't just want to be a local band. Touring is one of those things that it's either in you or it ain't. And we love to tour.

Tangents: What are the pros and cons of touring, and touring as just two people? 

Baran: The greatest thing about touring is meeting some really wonderful people and experiencing a little bit of the culture of the places we visit. However, when we get to a town we don't really see it as a tourist. We load in, play a show, crash on someones floor then head to the next town. It can be pretty exhausting. A 5 hour drive followed by carrying equipment into a venue you hope doesn't have stairs, playing for an hour or 3, then hoping someone will let you crash on their floor and not want to party till 4 in the morning. After days and weeks in a row it can wear on you. Perry and I are a bit like brothers. We are very similar so we get along really well together, and mostly are pretty quiet around each other. Every once in a while we can drive each other crazy and the more days your in a car together for 5-6 hours the worse that can get. All that said I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for anything. We just think of it as paying our dues.

Fowler: It's definitely easier to fit two people and their gear into a van than it is 3 or 4. And it's also easier to keep track of two dudes schedules as far as practicing and making time to go out on tour. 

Tangents: Which recording do you think captures your sound the best, to date? Has that recording been made yet? 

Baran: I think that our Love & Misery recording by Doug Williams of EMR Recorders captures our sound best to date. On that recording we still separated out a lot of the tracks in the studio. We have plans with our next recording to really focus on making the process as close to our live show as we possibly can and record as much in one take as possible to attempt to capture the energy of playing off each other.

Fowler: I'm still on the fence. Don't get me wrong, I like all our recordings so far cause they basically all sound different since our instrumentation as far as the foot drumming has changed up over the years. I think each of our records has a different feel about them. We're in the process of deciding where we want to record our next full length and that's one of things we've been asking ourselves. How do we want our next record to sound? 

Tangents: Where do you draw inspirations for your songs? 

Fowler: A lot of people tell me my songs are really sad, even though a lot those songs are upbeat and sound like happy songs. I like to write about things like loneliness and depression and hard times and such, but give them a different feeling than what the words are actually expressing. Cause everyone has those feelings but not very many actually show it on the outside. 

Tangents: Sinners & Saints seem to connect with audiences. Why do you think that is? 

Baran: I think I can answer this from an outside perspective because Perry's song writing really spoke to me all those years ago at Snug Harbor when I first caught his show. There's a real honesty to his lyrics and melodies that I think most people can relate to. In addition to that his songs are both uplifting and heart wrenching. It's a very cathartic experience. Hence "Love & Misery" even though that track itself is more about letting go of that self pity.

Tangents: Wildest Sinners & Saints shows, so far. Tell us! 

Baran: Ha, probably a house show we had at Perry's place years ago. Like most of our stories begin "we had been drinking..." Perry ended up throwing his neck out from playing like a madman and the floor of their living room sunk an inch from everyone jumping around.

Fowler: Oh man, that's a entirely different interview. There was the time we played heavy rebel and were drenched in PBR and sweat afterwards because everyone kept throwing their beer at us. I guess it was a good thing because we were told that's how they show their affection for bands, by pelting them with cans. Theirs still had beer in them though I'm not so sure. Then there was one time we stayed over at a dudes house in Virginia Beach (we had never met him until that night). He was apparently a label rep and was interested in signing the band we were touring with and he also approached us about signing us. Well after our show we earned that he had taken acid right before the show had started so he was tripping pretty hard by the time we got to his house. It was definitely a weird night. There's all kinds of weird and wild things that happen on the road. 

Tangents: Do labels, or genre questions, get in the way of people discovering, or even enjoying music? 

Baran: Depends on the person. Americana... what is that anyway? Some people find them helpful in discovering other music they love. They are usually open minded enough to explore other genres as well. Others write off everything because it falls within a genre they are convinced has no value. Either way there is no escaping it because humans will always categorize. 

Fowler: I was talking to a guy yesterday about genres and how some bands can misrepresent a certain genre and turn some folks away from discovering other music tha fits a certain genre. And he told me, "Well every genre has their Mumford and Sons." So yeah I definitely feel that attaching labels to things can hurt in a way. But also, there's SO MUCH music out there. And that's great and it's a beautiful thing, but at the same time, it helps to "classify" things just to make it easier to find what you're looking for. But we run into the genre thing all the time. 

Tangents: Finish this sentence. When it comes down to it, Sinners & Saints is… 

Baran: Americana.

Fowler: a band, not a duo.

Temperance League Interview, From August 2016 Edition Of Tangents Magazine

Temperance League 
by Daniel Coston 
From August 2016 Edition Of Tangents Magazine

Tangents Magazine: New album. Discuss.

Jay Garrigan:  This record is an evolutionary step for Temperance League. Bruce wrote songs that were bit more psychedelic and had a more perspective, and therefore needed more detail both in the foreground and background. Mitch Easter encouraged us to explore the studio, and I think we all dug a bit deeper into our parts and tones. It's also different mix-wise for the same reasons. We actually recorded a few more songs than are on the record, but decided cut them because they didn't fit the music landscape and theme. Bruce wrote a lot of songs, at least 1-2 a week for several months, and we kind of figured which were working and which may fit another record.

Tangents: This is the fourth TL album. What separates it from the other Temperance League albums.

Garrigan: Bruce has an interesting vision for the recordings, much like Bob Dylan where what we record isn't necessarily what we do, or how we sound live. It's peculiar if you think about it - how can you get at least six instruments to work together via two speakers? How can you get all the excitement, passion, emotion, ache, elation and the unplanned moments you feel deeply captured within two little speakers? How can you do that when you have six people trying to do just that in a coordinated effort based on intuition over reading charts? It's quite perplexing, but we somehow do just that. I think it has a lot to do with the band being together for 7+ years (I joined four years ago by the way, and still the new guy, lol).

Playing live and recording are two very different art forms, and in my opinion, you can't approach them the same way and be genuine to the moment. In this instance, we embraced more of the studio and the artistry that can come from doing just that.

Tangents: Has your lyrical focus changed on this new album? (I.e., what you’re writing about.)

Garrigan: Bruce usually gives a nod to our last record and gives a preview of the next in the songs and through his lyrics. I'll have to defer to Bruce or Shawn on the lyrical subject matter. 

Tangents: You did this album with Mitch Easter again. Describe the awesomeness of this. 

Garrigan: Mitch Easter is one of the greatest rock-n-roll engineers of our time.  He really understands the mechanics of timeless gear and microphones, and knows how that translates within the aesthetics of a band's performance and a song's mix. Also, he's a heck of a nice guy, and knows how to get the best performance out of the band. 

Tangents: What are your plans with this album’s release?

Garrigan: The good folks in Temperance League are most interested in playing live and making great-sounding records. It's what we are good at, and works for us. I think anything else would be icing on the cake, and while we're hungry and curious, we're not necessarily in line for cake. 

There is another aspect to your questions that isn't easy to answer. If this batch of songs resonates strongly with people, maybe we'll have longer touring weekends in our immediate future. There are bridges that we'll talk about crossing if they make sense. I think "plans" outside of those terms seem like wishful thinking.

We want to make good records and play great shows. Anything outside of that doesn't seem real to us, and I think our collective experiences with the music industry has shaped our attitude. I can't speak for all band members, but I think while we may be in the group for different reasons, we all can agree that we want to keep playing rocking shows and making great sounding records. 

And, we enjoy each other's company. This is the first band that I've been in that craves hanging out with other. So with this release, there will be more of that!

Tangents: Your live shows have a celebratory, throw it all in the air kind of feel. Would you describe TL’s shows as a release?

Garrigan: I think a few things about Temperance League live shows. First, you have to know that we're not afraid to have a good time and we're there to have fun! If the muse hits us one way or the other, we usually ride it out and see where it goes. Second, every show is a unique. While we write definite parts for the record, Chad and Bruce encourage the rest of the band to explore the moment. It's quite invigorating to experience the band ebbing and flowing a bit from the record.

Tangents: Have you thought about recording a live album?

Garrigan: We'll probably put out a b-side record before a live record, but I think we've casually mentioned a live record made at The Thirsty Beaver.

Garrigan: Bruce is the songwriter, and we usually try to express his vision. He will reign us in if we are getting too far out (usually me). Shawn and Chad tend to have production mindsets. Shawn is really good at organizing us in the studio. Chad is really good with sequencing the songs on the records. We all have ideas to contribute, some more or less depending upon the song. While we all love rock-n-roll, we all come from a slightly different place, and I think that adds to what we are trying to do. 

Tangents: Does each bandmember have a role in the group? If so, what are they?

Garrigan: Bruce is the songwriter, and we usually try to express his vision. He will reign us in if we are getting too far out (usually me). Shawn and Chad tend to have production mindsets. Shawn is really good at organizing us in the studio. Chad is really good with sequencing the songs on the records. We all have ideas to contribute, some more or less depending upon the song. While we all love rock-n-roll, we all come from a slightly different place, and I think that adds to what we are trying to do. 

Tangents: Complete this sentence. On any given night, ______ might happen at a Temperance League show?

Garrigan: "An Uber ride to FossCross" - yes, an inside joke. I think this band has been through everything and then some on the live front. Nothing surprises me anymore, and to be honest, I'm a bit disappointed if something extraordinary or surprising doesn't happen. We're a damn rock-n-roll band, and we mean to keep it that way. 

Tangents: In the end, is it all just Rock & Roll. Or is there more?

Garrigan: Personally speaking, while wisdom tells me there is much more to life, I don't think I'd like to do or be known for anything else but music. For the band, I think rock-n-roll is our life. It's our escape from our day jobs. It's our moment to dream of something... different, more colorful and much louder. Many people give up their rock-n-roll dreams, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to play with six crazy pals who focus on what racket we can make next.

It's Snakes Interview, From August 2016 Edition Of Tangents Magazine

It’s Snakes: It’s Alive!
by Daniel Coston
from August 2016 edition of Tangents Magazine

Hear music. Learn to play an instrument. Start playing music. This has been the jumping off point for many a musician. The sense of discovery, the joy of having every song and show be someting new. For Hope Nicholls, that idea has never left her. For the past 35 years, Nicholls and her partner Aaron Pitkin have been leading figures in the Charlotte music scene. Fetchin’ Bones, Sugarsmack and Snugglepuss have all featured their sense of youthful enegy and punkish minimialism. For Snugglepuss, it was Pitkin that learned to play drums for the band. For their new band, It’s Snakes, Pitkin has switched back to guitar, and Nicholls has taken up the drums. 

It’s Snakes harkens back to a time when surf guitar rock, garage rock and proto-punk all came from the same garage. Joined by bassist Darren Gray and guitarist Greg Walsh, Nicholls sings and screams while banging out a primal beat on a stand-up dumkit. It’s loud, it’s loose, it’s all fun. Nicholls checked in with us via email to talk about the band, learning to play drums, and balancing work, family and music.

Tangents Magazine: How did It’s Snakes come together?

Hope Nicholls: We came together in our basement, starting with Aaron and Darrin jamming while I attempted to play along and not mess things up! Aaron had 20+ years of things he had been tinkering with on his acoustic guitar, ever since Fetchin Bones was no more and he moved on to bass and drums. Aaron chills out almost everyday by playing his acoustic, not intentionally writing ditties, just noodling, whatever comes to him. Some things stick and become more song-like. They started playing some of those riffs and once  I had a beat that seemed to work, I would try to think about singing. Once I could think about singing while playing drums, I could usually hum my idea, then finally sing it. 

Tangents: How would you describe the sound of this band?

Nicholls: I think by nature of my rudimentary drumming, plus songs often started on acoustic, we have a touch of roots in our sound, but our roots are gnarled and odd. Inspirations include all disco-era dance and 70’s African music, as well as Bo Diddley, ZZ Top, The Animals, Iggy Pop and the Rolling Stones. Darrin writes amazing, melodic bass parts that rock and really fill out our sound. His roots are as punk rock as it comes.

Tangents Magazine: Hope, this is the first band that you’ve ever played drums in. How did that come about?

Nicholls: I wanted to play drums in this band as a change and challenge to myself, to not just be a singer. I have been a frontman for many decades in many bands and I was ready to add something more in. I was not even sure it would work! Some days I’m still not. I want to get so much better. But during a show with Plaza Family Band, I had this realization that I was singing, playing a shaker and tapping my foot. I realized that was enough for me to play drums the way I care about drums. I am not trying to be Stewart Copeland. I like songs that have one beat all the way through; some of the best songs ever do. Being a virtuoso has never been important for me. I just want to be part of the whole sound and drums are the foundation. As a singer/drummer, I get to be the foundation and the cherry on top! Most importantly, Aaron, Darrin and Greg were willing to put up with my incompetence and baby steps as I learned how to play from scratch. 

Tangents Magazine: How did you come to play drums standing up? 

Nicholls: I started playing sitting down, but it’s hard to sing with your tummy all scrunched up, so I decided to try standing. It was easy since I was just starting out. After we were rocking about 6 months, I switched and had a blast building a stand-up kit from pawn shops and eBay scores.

Tangents: In the last few bands that you’ve formed, you’ve chosen to play instruments that you had really just learned to play. What does that bring to a band’s sound?

Nicholls: Aaron and I have always loved the sound of exuberance, the joie de vivre that novice musician have. It’s a punk rock thing: DIY and don’t worry about being perfect. It’s a soul thing: convey truth and feeling,  things more important than being perfect. That’s how we started playing together, without any training or experience musically, even in school, and we have always encouraged other people to do the same. We have always asked our friends to be in our bands, and if they happen to be musicians, all the better. It’s most important to have a love of art and sound and performance; the rest falls into place.

Tangents: Talk about balancing playing music, while at the same time managing a fuill-time job, and raising a family.

Nicholls: We decided to open Boris + Natasha when we wanted to have kids and needed a steady income that did not involve touring. During the following seventeen years, we did Snagglepuss and then when Amy moved to South America, we relaxed for a bit before starting It’s Snakes about 1 1/2 years ago. I feel like one of the best examples anyone can set for kids is to show them passion. Ours is music. We have shown them by example what comes from working hard and having a blast. Our kids may not end up as musicians, but they will follow their own interests with gusto, and that is a great gift we have given them.

Tangents: Talk about the difficulties of establishing a band (or individual artist) in Charlotte now, as opposed to the Charlotte scene during the 1980s.

Nicholls: I think being a musician now in Charlotte is way easier. In the early 80’s, there were very few people making music compared to now. There were very few clubs. It was way harder to find out about new music. Now we have places like School of Rock, things like satellite radio, the internet, a lot of really great venues of all sizes. Music is everywhere simultaneously, not just in Charlotte, but globally. Being an original music maker is esteemed and originality is encouraged. The Charlotte audience back in the day did not understand what Fetchin Bones was all about, partially because this was a non-college, small town market. It took us becoming popular in Athens and Atlanta for the press and mainstream to accept us. I think currently there is an amazing community of younger musicians in this town, doing awesome stuff. Musicians in Charlotte have always faced a choice to stay here, as we did, and make this place home or set off for more lucrative destinations like LA, New York, or Atlanta. With the internet and all Charlotte has now, I see that as less and less of a necessity.

Tangents: Do labels, or genre questions, get in the way of people discovering, or even enjoying music?

Nicholls: Labels and genres are superficial. When people use categories to define their own art or other people’s work, they flatten what should be multi-dimensional. I can’t categorize any of my favorite bands or artists, and I think that’s a very good thing. 

Tangents: Finish this sentence. When it comes down to it, It’s Snakes is….

Nicholls: When it comes down to It’s Snakes… we just want to have fun and never stop!

Sammies Interview, For August 2016 Edition Of Tangents Magazine

The Sammies
From August 2016 Edition Of Tangents Magazine

Tangents Magazine: New album. Tell us about it.

Will Huntley: We laid down most of the tracks, at Echo Mountain, while I was living in Asheville a couple years ago. Killer studio, nice folks. Shortly thereafter, I think everyone in the band had life changing events. We all either changed jobs or took a promotion of some kind, I had kids, Joe [Huntley] married, C.R. [Rollyson] married, several of us moved, just a lot of change.  We laid down a lot more tracks than are on this album, but the 8 that are, seemed to fit well, and we started to realize they needed their own album, and it told this story of change, so it felt right.  Once we were able to illuminate a bit, I was back in Charlotte, we reconvened at Charles Holloman Producations (CHP), spent more time on vocals, everyone had their punch list, mixed it with Charles, and with tons of small sessions, got it all together. Sometimes just shooting the shit, probably more talking than working, but it's tough to have those conversations at a restaurant or home with distractions and all.  It was also our first foray into doing it all on our own, for real indie style.  Man, there are so many tools out there now for DIY musicians, it's great to have options, but again, it all takes time. Anyway, like our other two albums, this one too is different, and so it goes.

Tangents: Where have you guys been since the last record?

Huntley: I guess I kind of jumped the gun above, but busy no doubt. Swimming in the river of life. Enjoying ourselves a bit, spending weekends at home instead of traveling playing bars and clubs.  It's like we kicked up so much dust, we had to stop and let it all settle before we could see where the hell to go.

Tangents: How was the recording process for this record different than the previous albums?

Huntley: Each album has been recorded somewhere different, and with different guys behind the board, not by design though. We were in the church side of Echo Mountain, and that was calming, I don’t think we ever did more than 3 takes. They had all of the awesome Moog products that most of us cannot afford (my wife would have a heart attack if I bought a 4K keyboard, but I will one day).  Moog products (and company structure) should be put on pedestals, I really believe in them, and I support the Bob Moog Foundation when I can. So, you can hear the nice analog synth. In between the songs is primarily a microKorg though, recorded at C.R.’s house and properly blended at CHP.  Process wise, we had our ducks in a row prior to setting foot inside Echo, so there was no songwriting happening on those recording dollars.  Whereas the Stones had the liberty to take ideas to the studio, and work them there, which can be magical as well. Drum and bass record well together, but this time we did rhythm guitar and drums as a backbone. On some songs we added bass lines after the fact. Some we tracked all at once.

Tangents: How has your sound changed since the first album?

Huntley: Good Lord, we were all full of piss and vinegar back then. Young, dumb, reckless, like good boys. We were out to make money playing music, trying to be famous, and we had the work ethic, I just think we lost the vision at times. Times in a band have certain windows, too. But, you have to grow, and we have. It's funny, I was talking to Benji [Hughes] one night about the subject, debating if some songs had a place, all of that, and he said something along the lines of, “Man, it's a point in time you capture, and that's OK, that's where you were then, and you can be somewhere else now, but they all have a place, and it's OK for an album to stray."  The Sammies have always been hard to pin down.  People always ask, what do you sound like, who do you sound like, and that's a hard question for me to answer well.

Tangents: What’s your favorite songs on this new album?

Huntley: “Secretariat", "Harlem Dreams", A lot. Musicians are not the best judge though, because a lot of times you get the songs they enjoy playing on what instrument they hold down.  Again, Stones reference, Brian Jones would play the Pink Panther or something like that when they played “Satisfaction".  He hated that song, and most of us would call him crazy, most of us do/did.

Tangents: What are your touring plans for this new album?

Huntley: We'll show up anywhere we are wanted, and money is not the object. I'd love to hit the road so to speak, but we also know that is easier said than done. We will probably hit weekends real hard, do as much of the East Coast as we can. I'm also a fan of alternative venues. I don’t know why bands have to play in bars primarily?  I understand the alcohol sales supplement it all, but, I'm not the only guy/girl who intends to go see a band, but they don't play until late, about 9-10pm rolls around, and plans change. Whereas earlier in the day, I was itching to go do something!

Tangents: Favorite shows in Sammies history. Discuss.

Huntley: The toga party first CD release show, I mean, a fair amount of folks wore togas! It was a good time in the band, we were on point, well-practiced, feeling like the sky was the limit.SXSW the first time, 2005 or 2006?  The festival was not as corporate, Austin is a great town, we bounced around on fire.  But every damn place we played was upstairs, so lugging that equipment each time got old quick, but all worth it. C.R. was playing in The Talk at the time, and we scooped him out of the bushes. Tyler was still with us and he hit the floor at some club way in advance of Brain Jonestown Massacre played, he proposed to a bartender, we stayed in a college apartment in exchange for playing their clubhouse one night, I met the guitarist from Talking Heads in the back of some Mexican restaurant, wild overall.

CMJ, can't recall exact year. It all happened in a NY minute, and it helped me understand that term. The show was awesome, there is a YouTube video somewhere, Josh threw his beer at the end of Trainwreck, into a light, it exploded, nobody cared, they wanted us to come back.  It was fashion week too, so we got into some parties, some clubs, blazing at a Tommy Hilfiger warehouse somewhere, needed a cab to go to another party, a limo pulls up and says $5 a head, we pull up to the place, the cast of Entourage is coming out, we say, you can take our limo.  We get in the elevator, some dude is like, who are they?  My buddy said, man that's the damn Sammies, and up we went.  Doors open to a penthouse, Chris Tucker is dancing to Michael Jackson, we are on top of this building, looking over the city, all they had left was straight vodka, so we poured that in a martini glass and took it all in.

Tangents: You play barefoot onstage. How did that come about?

Huntley: Not all of the time, but cords would get stuck on my shoes, I'd be kicking at them, trying to play, and eventually would just kick off my shoes. When I wised up, I just started taking them off prior. It also allows a nice feel if you get too close to the edge of the stage, you can land jumps better, kind of grounding I guess. I'm not a true hippie though, I prefer shoes most other times.

Tangents: What would you all say to the versions of yourself that recorded that first Sammies album?

Huntley: Dude, don’t be so nervous, you've got this, and you can sing, don't let others dictate how, you already know how.  Don’t try more than 3 times at a song without moving on, you can come back.

Tangents: Finish this sentence. Things that go well with Rock & Roll are…..

Huntley: Cold beer, cigarettes, good times, good company, and that High Fidelity moment of remembering what song played when something else happened you deem important in your life.

Al Oliver Photo, Charlotte, NC, August 1, 2016

Al Oliver
Knights Satdium
Charlotte, NC
August 1, 2016
Photo copyright 2016 Daniel Coston

August 3, 2016

Milestone Club Exhibition Essay

Milestone Club Exhibition Easay
from the August 2016 issue of Tangents Magazine

There's an old house on Tuckaseegee Road that’s had many lives. Home, grocery store, church, and best known of all, longtime home in Charlotte for Punk Rock, and many other subgenres of Rock & Roll. When the Milestone Club opened in 1969, it was originally intended to be home for artistic creative endeavors. By the end of the 1970s, it had become the place that many went to hear the music that they couldn’t find on any other stage in town, which is where the Milestone has preferred to stay, ever since. 

The roll call of bands that have played the Milestone are nearly as famous as the stories are about the venue itself. It’s Hole In The Wall nature. The dirt on the floor, and the graffiti on the walls. The bathroom, dare you should enter it. It’s a dump, but it's a world famous dump. But it’s a world famous dump. When the Milestone used the tagline in recent years, “Rock On Ghetto Fortress”, they weren’t kidding. But neither were they kidding about the importance like this on the local scene, as well as those that have toured and ventured to this venue over the past 47 years. 

Earlier this year, it was announced that the Milestone Club had found a new owner, but that the renovations that would complete the sale would total over $150,000. With the recent closing of Tremont Music Hall and Tommy’s Pub, and the impending closing of the Double Door Inn later this year, the news of the fundraising efforts that hit many in their hearts and wallets. How do you speak to that history, and the need to preserve it? When the Levine Museum Of The New South approached me about an exhibition of my photos of the Milestone, I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved.

The Milestone Club is where I took some of my first-ever photos of a Rock & Roll show. It was December 31st of 1995. Tangents Magazine had only been on the newsstands for only three months, and I started to become friendly with a number of bands that were living and rehearsing in an old warehouse on North Tryon Street. I had gone to high school with the guitarist for one of these bands, It Could Be Nothing. It was their New Year’s Eve show with another band, Black Plastic, that I went to on that night. I had just started taking photos, but I wasn’t taking it seriously, yet. It Could Be Nothing wore an amazing collection of homemade outfits for the show, with the singer wearing a suit entirely made of duct tape. Twenty-one years later, Tangents Magazine is three months into its second incarnation. I’ve never stopped taking photos since then, and one of my photos from that show will be featured in the Levine Museum exhibition. 

Unlike the Double Door Inn, the Milestone has not been continuously open over the past five decades. It’s had its stops and starts, ebbs and flows. Even on its better days, you made sure that you park in their lot, and you used the restroom before you went there, so that you didn’t have to use THAT bathroom. After a hiatus of several years, Neal Harper re-opened the Milestone in 2005. I had first met through our mutual friendship with It Could Be Nothing. It was Neal who invited to see the crop of new and cool groups over past decade. Wavves, Battles, Greg Ginn, Adam Franklin of Swervedriver, Oakley Hall, Kid Congo Powers, Owen Pallett, and more local and national bands than I can ever count. Some of the photos, you will also see in this upcoming exhibit. 

The second thing that the Levine Museum agreed upon for this exhibit was that we had to include the work of Chris Radok. Chris was known by many names, around Charlotte. Chris, Radok, Kodar. That guy. That weird guy. That weird guy that loved to put a fisheye lens in your face. Yeah, Chris was all of that, and more. When I started photographing music in earnest, Chris was only other photographer in town. And he still didn’t talk to me for a couple of years. Chris was an individual, through and through. He shot what he wanted, when he wanted to. The shoot, or the subjects, had to have some interest to him. Anything else was “A job”, as he once told me, and he really didn’t care for something that didn’t interest him.

My favorite story about Chris is the time that he and I were photographing Francis Ford Coppola. Each media outlet got ten mintues to photograph Francis, and it was second-ever shoot for Charlotte Magazine, and I was more than a little nervous. Chris saw me waiting to take Mr. Coppola’s photo, walks over to me, and says in my ear, “This is bullshit. I could be home watching cartoons right now,” and walked off. And all I could do was smile and laugh. Chris had no interest in the artifice, or the rules that often come with working in this business. 

By that point, he had been photographing bands for over twenty years. The business of music photography can wear you down. You can work with some of the biggest names in music, and you can care about your work more than you’re ever willing to admit, but it doesn’t always pay the bills. It’s something that I’ve dealt with at different times, and I’m sure that Chris did, as well. His prickly demeanor was a defense mechanism to keep out of clutter that he sometimes had to deal with in his work. But thankfully, he never stopped taking photos, until the day that he was taken from us in 2012, and his friends have since organized and scanned the prints, negatives and slides that Radok left behind.

I recently went to the Levine Museum to look through Chris’ color slides for this show. Yes, I said color slides. Chris shot color slides for various people, and himself for over twenty years. For many years, color slides were the gold standard for magazine publishers and record labels. There was no fixing color slides in post. You got it right the first time, or not at all. And yet, here was all of Radok’s fantastic photos of legendary Milestone shows. Fugazi, Rollins Band, Bad Brains, and so many more. There were also a number of shows that Radok shot elsewhere, that he would have never admitted that he shot them. Kiss, in 1977. The Rolling Stones, in 1981. Def Leppard, on the Pyromania tour. Flock Of Seagulls, at the Carowinds Palladium in 1983. I kept expecting Chris to walk in the room and growl, “How did you find those?” If I’d asked him about these shows, he would’ve shook his head with his goofy, endearingly condescending look, and said, “It was a job.” “Good gig, then,” I probably would have replied. 

I also came away from looking at these photos with an intense trepidation about exhibiting my photos next to his. Yes, I’m proud of my photos- I prefer to take the photos, and leave hyperbole to others- but Radok got great photos of now legendary bands. Twenty-five years or more after he took them, Radok’s photos have a power that I would to see my work to, given time. But for now, I realized that Chris’ photos were the star of the show.

I also realized that for all of our talk about the Milestone, neither of our archives had much in the way of photos of the venue itself. The bar, the stage area, the graffiti. Yes, even the bathroom. Sometimes, a place can speak volumes about the people that inhibat a place, without said people being in the photo at all. I realized that this was my new charge for this exhibit. As often happens, the photos that you’ll see in this show almost didn’t happen. I had worked three events that day, and I had clients that were emailing me for photos that they wanted as soon as possible. Thankfully, that voice- the one in my head that has pushed me for over twenty years- said, “Daniel, go. You’ll be glad you did.” And once again, that voice was right. 

I’m really glad that the Levine Museum Of The New South has asked me to do this show. While I am still fully committed to my retrospective at the Charlotte Museum Of History, which is back up on their walls, the Levine show is a chance to speak to an opportunity we have at this critical moment to preserve the history and legacy that many of us that have spent many of our lives’ greatest experiences in. The forthcoming loss of the Double Door Inn pains me in a way that is difficult to comprehend, or verbalise. Talk is cheap, and land values in Charlotte aren’t. So, we will do what we can, and carry on the message of life and hope to anyone that will listen. 

One of my hopes with this show is to also open more conversation with those that attended, or documented shows at the Milestone over the past 47 years. Did you take photos at shows by Nirvana, REM, Black Flag, Moe Tucker & Half Japanese, Sebadoh, or countless others? Do you have stories from those shows? Contact us at, or at the Levine Museum, and let the conversation continue, again. 

At the core of Punk Rock, or any artistic expression, is the idea that an individual or group that create something that speaks beyond themselves. Speaks of its creators, for its creators, and for those that are receiving these works. On paper, combining a Punk Rock venue with a major Southern museum might not work. But life is not just lived on paper. It is lived by those who create said works out of their heads, or put them into the open air. To the likes of Nirvana, REM, Bad Brains, and millions of others that have played this old house. To those that ventured into its dark dwellings, night in and night out. To two kids- Jeff Clayton and Joe Young- who saw half of the Sex Pistols play at the Milestone in 1980, and soon formed their own band, Antiseen, that inspired other kids around the world to do that they had also done. And in so doing, whether it is playing three chords, taking a photograph, or enjoying a life experience, places like the Milestone Club can live on for as long as we sing its praises. And if that ain’t Punk Rock, then I don’t know what is.

Here’s to Chris. Here’s to the Milestone. Here’s to Museums, and eyes and ears that listen. Rock on.
-Daniel Coston