We saw two very different bands in April, both at the Cradle. First off was They Might Be Giants. They did not have an opener and played two sets and @36 songs total. Really fun show with a crowd to match. Opened with Istanbul and closed with Birdhouse. Could not have asked for a better show from those guys.
Then we saw JOHNNYSWIM on 4/23. They were one of our favorite ‘new to us’ bands on Cayamo and hearing them live took us back to the boat for sure. The crowd was really great for them. They had played in the triangle before at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, but the club show was much more their style and energy. One song in Abner guaranteed a return to the Cradle just on the energy alone.
Whilst I am catching up, we also saw Duran Duran at the DPAC on a Monday night March 28th. They blew through all their classics, but stiffed us with no Reflex.
I finally righted a wrong and saw the Drive by Truckers live. Two night run at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC on March 17th and 18th. It was just as I had hoped and quite the rock show both nights. Crowd was lighter than expected on Thursday for St. Patrick’s Day and Franklin Street was a ghost town after the show as well. Held during spring break was probably a major root cause for the lack of rowdy afterwards in town.
Both nights were 3 hour shows and the encores did not start until after midnite. Cooley was killing it on his guitar solos and was playing better than I have heard him before. For my first DBT show I was not disappointed at all and high expectations. Will definitely make a point to see them many times again.
My new challenge is to spread the news of Caleb Caudle. His latest album Carolina Ghost is flat out amazing. He has been receiving tons of positive reviews, but is still playing tiny joints and dives. We saw him at Slim’s Downtown in Raleigh which is the diviest of dives in Raleigh. Barely enough room for a stage, but a full house for his album release party. If you have an interest in honest story telling and old style country music, do yourself a favor and get a copy.
We just recently caught the Black Lillies again at the Back Room of the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro and I even got a chance to chat with Cruz Contreras and their manager Chyna. Cruz was visibly exhausted from their show the night before in DC, but all that evaporated the second they hit the stage. Played a couple deep tracks and the only song I missed they did not play was 40 days from the new album. Great set and I really liked the jazz guitar and pedal steel back and forths. Looks like they are going to be back in the area several times before the year is out, so hoping we see them again including the free show at American Tobacco Campus in Durham.
Jacquie and I attended Cayamo the first week of February and are still trying to recover. I estimated that over 6 days we saw 19 full sets and no idea how many partial sets we sat in on. Highlights were John Prine and Jason Isbell, but so many other acts that really impressed. Prine and band were in as good of form as I have seen them and the energy level was superb. Great to see John healthy and kicking it live again. We saw all 4 sets by Jason and the 400 Unit with one set on the pool deck and 3 in the Stardust Theatre. I caught two sets of Amanda with Jason supporting in the much smaller Spinnaker and Jacquie caught the third show of their duo while listened to others on the pool deck that were on my must hear list. The last set of A&J included a brief sit in by Buddy Miller.
We are now huge fans of the Black Lillies who we caught a couple of pool deck shows from. What killer sound and energy they have. John Hiatt was up to his normal high level of performance and nailed a high energy set. Sam Lewis was a wonderful discovery for me. Big fan of his music now and look forward to him putting out more albums. Somehow we missed full or even partial sets by Steve Earle. Watkins Family Hour is superb and Slaid Cleaves was even more fun live than I had expected.
JohnnySwim was probably the most fun we had with a new discovery. Such great charisma between the two of them and it pours out on stage. We had a chance to chat with Amanda before dinner one night and she could not have possibly been kinder or more personable.
Cayamo I have found is very difficult to explain to people. While obviously loaded with top notch musical talent, the surprise to myself and Jacquie was just how approachable and fun the musicians would be on the boat. We had genuine conversations with John Hiatt, Jim Lauderdale, Amanda Sudano, etc. Conversations with Sadler Vaden and a few minutes later with Jason/Amanda Isbell in the surf off Jost Van Dyke while we enjoyed an excursion. I tried to keep a journal daily of the interactions and high points, but was overwhelmed after a couple days.
Late posting this, but we ate at Death & Taxes in Raleigh over New Year’s weekend. First visit since we went for the Firestarter meal with Sean Brock last May. In a word, amazing. We started with char grilled oysters and the main was a perfectly cooked steak with sides of pickled foraged mushrooms and her signature Aligot potatoes. We knew we did good when the runner said we had the ‘perfect order’ when it was brought out. Great bottle of pinot to pair with the meal. Ashley Christensen has definitely upped her game with this new restaurant. Everything was perfect, not a single complaint or improvement needed. Food and service were spot on wonderful.
Before dinner we had cocktails at Foundation. Wonderful bourbon bar with top notch crafted cocktails. I also overhead one of my new favorite phrases. ‘Put a Sazerac on the Blackshear’. I believe we like Foundation a bit better than Fox Liquor Bar, but that is just personal preference since we tend more heavily to bourbon and rye cocktails. I had a Captain Morgan which is a cocktail version of coke and peanuts. May have to make some peanut orgeat to recreate that at home.
We are all very excited to at long last have a brewery open in Rocky Mount / Nash County North Carolina. I have brewed with Eric before and he has a good nose for beer. The Pond as they named the tap room has
eight taps and they were all Koi Pond for opening day. There may be guest taps from time to time. Nice variety of styles available and my faves today were the Imperial porter which has gingerbread spices, the Thai basil saison, and the coffee stout. I have had other seasonals that will be out at some point that are quite tasty including a peach saison that I love.
The saisons use honey from the operation Rev. Richard Joyner runs in Conetoe as an outreach for impoverished youth in the area. Truly amazing work and so glad it is being worked into the recipes. Eric is looking to source local when possible which also includes hops from Cardinal Pine in Wilson County and peaches from Halifax County.
Normal hours will be Thursday and Friday from 5 to 10, Saturday noon to 10, and Sunday from noon to 6.
Sadie and I went to the M.C. Escher exhibit in Raleigh at the North Carolina Museum of Art a couple days ago. Very comprehensive collection on display with I believe 130+ pieces. It covered his whole career with early sketches, linoleum cuts, wood carvings, and even the simurgh his father brought him that was used in a few of his pieces. I have always been fascinated by his use of perspective and the amazing detail he works into each piece. Several pieces I had never seen before and several pieces I knew were completely new to me in their original formats. The exhibit is only open for a few more weeks until January 17, so get out if you have interest before it it gone.
No trip to Raleigh is complete without a meal and we tried Guasaca for the first time. It is a Venezuelan arepa restaurant and is has been consistently rated the best cheap eats in Raleigh on Yelp for a while now. I had the signature pork and Sadie created her own version of what she described as a Wrong Doug (reference Moe’s). Excellent meal for a very good price and the line went from two people to out the door while we ate.
Sadie and I made it down to Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville last week. Sam is the son of Pete Jones who founded Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden, NC. The new place honors the past while bringing in the present. Spacious interior and a broader menu than most old school BBQ joints in NC. They even have draft and canned beer which was a treat. The young man chopping the hogs took time to visit with us for a bit as we were sitting at the bar. They are doing quite well and should have a good future.
Wait staff were all very young and extremely helpful/attentive. Great location and food. Really enjoyed the ribs and pork.