Salutations, fellow denizens of the night, and welcome to our newly-launched local music round-up, "Queen City Inferno." What's up with the sinful moniker and horn-ed imagery? Well, as the preacher man said, popular music -- rock, hip-hop, salsa, country, jazz -- is the devil's music. That's my purview, friends, so who better to deliver the news?
And what better place to start than with a band sporting a name after my own heart -- Blanco Diablo? The Charlotte-based, classic rock-tinged trio recently returned from its second UK tour, which stopped at the Oswestry Music Live Festival in Shropshire. Formed in 2004, Blanco Diablo includes bandmates Jamie Ray (guitar/vox), Jeff Nunnery (drums) and Patrick Jason (bass), who play rock with a metal edge and Southern roots -- what one reviewer likened to AC/DC picnicking on Billy Gibbons' ranch.
Its debut on New York's Rock Ridge Records, Paper Poison Revolution, has enjoyed some local and national kudos, including favorable write-ups in Charleston, SC, and at www.altrocksource.com. But it's in England where the white devils have made their biggest splash, including a sold-out date with Double Pneumonia at the famed Cavern Club in Liverpool. Ray called it a "religious experience" -- which makes me understandably nervous, but I get his point.
"We were told to push the record in our own backyard," Nunnery adds, "which we have -- it's just that our backyard is also 3,500 miles away."
And that's where the band's headed again for a month-long set of dates beginning in October, including some opening slots for Welsh hard-rock legends (and Spinal Tap doppelgängers) Budgie. Ultimately, BD's goal is to land a spot on next summer's Glastonbury Festival roster. For now, however, it's the gig-to-gig slog -- and that's fine by Blanco Diablo.
"It's not about the dollar with us," says Nunnery. "I'd rather have five Blanco Diablo fans in the audience than 50 waiting for a Nickelback cover."
Hmmm. So would Satan.
Blanco Diablo plays Amos' Southend on Aug. 26, opening for Led Zep tribute Zoso.
Live Out Loud: Queen City Independent has booked a slew of notable August shows (September's even better; go to www.queencityindie.com for full info), including the Say Hi to Your Mom date at the Spot. Opening will be Durham/Chapel Hill-based Bombadil, which joins the Avett Brothers on Concord's Ramseur Records as the label's latest signees. The four-piece sounds like Village Green Preservation Society-era Kinks crossed with the Band .... Speaking of the Avetts, congratulations to the punk-grass heroes for selling out New York's Bowery Ballroom recently. Locals can get an Avetts fix on Sunday, Aug. 27, when the band holds "An Avett Jubilee -- The Festival Essex" at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Donna the Buffalo, Langhorne Slim and the War Eagles, the Blue Rags, and the everybodyfields are also on the bill. Another QCI date is the Aug. 21 show at the Milestone, featuring New York City's Dirty on Purpose and locals the Talk -- which just happens to have wrapped up its new record at Mitch Easter's Fidelitorium. The as-yet-untitled record was produced by Triangle fixture Brian Paulson (Slint, Wilco) and is being mixed by John Agnello (Sonic Youth, the Hold Steady) at Headgear Studios in New York
Bigger Definitely Better: That's certainly the case at Amos' Southend, whose face-lift now makes it the largest club in the Carolinas, besides House of Blues in Myrtle Beach -- which, since it's in Myrtle Beach, doesn't mean dick to us anyway. I haven't taken a tape measure to Amos' new layout, but it seems downright cavernous with much better sight lines and really feels like a big city club. Now if the powers-that-be can continue mixing in quality gigs like the recent Echo & the Bunnymen show with the march of tribute bands...
Set to launch: In addition to the Talk's new one, a host of locals have albums either in the works or nearing lift-off. Calabi Yau has a split 7-inch with Asheville's Ahleuchatistas due out this month, and expect new releases soon from the following: Secondhand Stories, Simplified, Bill Noonan Band, Carey Sims/Black Market Radio, the Near Misses, Poprocket, Mike Orlando, Jared Allan, Pyramid and John Dungan. Thank you to one of my favorite local minions for input -- she knows who she is. And if we missed your band, don't sweat it. Drop 'ol Mephistopheles an e-mail at ElDiablo@cln.com and try to convince me which circle of the Inferno your act should be mentioned in -- but don't bother asking for your soul back; that ship sailed, friend.