Two years ago, when we were putting together the annual Music Issue at SF Weekly, the Bay Area alt-media outlet I was editing at the time, music editor Matt Saincome and I volleyed over whom to put on the cover. Would it be 16-year-old San Francisco jazz prodigy Matt Wong? Would it be the king of West Bay power pop Tony Molina? Would it be the tough Oakland rapper Queens D. Light? We ultimately decided on Atish Mehta, an Indian-American DJ who was making waves on the city's legendary electronic scene.
Not once did we consider putting a big-name act on the cover, let alone a big-name act that wasn't from the San Francisco Bay Area. The sole reason for an annual music issue at an alt-weekly is to introduce readers, both locally and nationally, to the latest and best music from your particular area.
Fast-forward about a year. I was sitting at my desk, still in the Bay, checking out the latest online edition of Creative Loafing Charlotte, as I did on a regular basis, and ran across last year's CL Music Issue: There, on the cover, was former No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani, from Southern California. On the inside were stories on another '90s alt-rock act, Garbage, whose singer hails from Scotland, and singer Sarah Jarosz, from Texas.
"What is going on in Charlotte?" I wondered. Is there no local music to write about anymore?
At the time, I had no thoughts of returning to Charlotte or Creative Loafing, but when circumstances brought me back home to both earlier this year, I sat down with the staff and we all committed to dramatically change the course of coverage here. Not only will you not see has-been national acts on the cover of CL's Music Issue as long as I'm editor, you won't see national acts on the cover of any issue going forward.
When I was editor here in earlier years, we did put national acts on the covers of some non-Music Issue editions. But we're no longer even doing that. Why? Because you don't need us to cover non-local music at Creative Loafing. You can find out all you want to know about national bands and oldies acts by following them on Twitter or reading Rolling Stone.
Our job at Creative Loafing is to cover Charlotte music. And why wouldn't we? Charlotte's music scene is as vibrant today as it's ever been. In the years since I left in 2013, Ms. Bunny Gregory opened her home to local rappers, creating The Underground, which has spawned numerous great acts from the duo Th3 Higher to the insanely talented Allamuto, who's featured in this week's annual Music Issue. If you've been keeping up with Creative Loafing lately, you'll know that the hip-hop scene in Charlotte is lit.
But it's not just hip-hop that's producing great music in Charlotte today. Experimental artists who've been around for years are still producing cutting-edge art: Bo White's recent Patois Counselors did a residency this past month at Snug Harbor, and saxophonist Brent Bagwell and drummer Seth Nanaa's Ghost Trees has created a real jazz sound for Charlotte. In the arena of Americana, there's Sinners & Saints, and in indie rock, there's Leanna Eden, Junior Astronomers, the Business People, Dylan Gilbert, Mineral Girls, Modern Primitives, and on and on.
There's so much great music in Charlotte that it's difficult to decide what to cover in each new issue. For that reason, to coincide with the 2017 Creative Loafing Charlotte Music Issue, we're launching a weekly Creative Loafing music podcast, Local Vibes. We'll be posting them every other week, and this week's inaugural edition features Tizzy from Th3 Higher.
You may not recognize all of the names in this year's Music Issue, and that's good. You shouldn't. They're all acts that are either brand new or under-recognized. On the cover is local trio The MollyWops, who first met in the western Kentucky college town of Murray but didn't come together as a band until all three had moved to Charlotte. News editor Ryan Pitkin tells their unlikely story in the main feature of this year's Music Issue.
Also in the Music Issue spotlight are the aforementioned rapper Allamuto as well as female rapper Sidenote; the Latin band Quisol; acoustic folk-soul singer Randi Johnsoon; R&B singer Dexter Jordan; bedroom punk project Lofidels; and contemporary classical/avant-garde composer John Starosta. Those represent just a tiny sampling of the music that's happening right now in Charlotte.
We hope you check out each of the artists in this year's Music Issue and continue following Creative Loafing and our Local Vibes podcast for info on the latest sounds coming from this ever-expanding, ever-creative city. Don't let anybody tell you Charlotte is the bastard stepchild of the Triangle ever again. In 2017, the Queen City is on the cutting edge of all kinds of music, and if you're not hearing it, you're simply not listening.