Jeff Lowery and Rob Stevens started Charlotte's local Rocket 13 Records in 2005, but this winter the label will be kicking it up a notch.
Stevens and Lowery, the publisher of the free local music monthly, Amps11, recently signed Texas-based The Von Ehrics, a cowpunk trio equal bits early Old 97s, Bob Wills and Reverend Horton Heat. Their debut, The Whiskey Sessions, was recorded at Rocket 13 studios (formerly Left of the Dial) under Stevens' production and released in September. The Von Ehrics play the Milestone Saturday, Nov. 25.
Also in the Rocket 13 pipeline for the new year are Lou Ford's long-anticipated return, Last Call, and a greatest hits package from Massachusetts' Angry Johnny & the Killbillies, which will feature new songs recorded in Charlotte at Rocket 13 as well.
"The whole idea is to get working bands that we feel that we can get behind," Stevens said. "We're not looking to put out vanity projects."
The Lou Ford release, their first in seven years since Alan Freed's Radio, finds the four original band members -- brothers Alan and Chad Edwards, bassist Mark Lynch and drummer Shawn Lynch (no relation) -- reunited for the first time on record since their 1999 debut Sad, But Familiar. Still playing self-described "rural pop for yesterday people," early mixes from Last Call can be heard on the band's MySpace page and suggest a slightly meatier sound.
"Jeff really believed in their music," said Stevens, who moved to Charlotte from Winston-Salem in 1997. "They were kicking around when I first got to town, but I never got to really meet them until they came into the studio. They were very professional, plus I really warm up to the music they play, too."
Rocket 13 hopes to attract other acts with both the Von Ehrics and Lou Ford releases.
"It's an ongoing thing, you want to generate some cash flow so you can invest in the next band," said Stevens.
Milestone Documentary: Queen City Independent productions may be leaving town, but plans for the documentary they're producing about the Milestone Club, The Secret Altar, will go on. The film now has a home on MySpace.com, and the filmmakers are still soliciting photos and especially video, particularly from the club's early era.
Over There: The Avett Brothers are going international, making their first trip to Europe for a February/March tour of Britain and Scotland with dates in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham. The band has also signed with The Agency Group, who booked the tour. Another trip to the European mainland should follow later in 2007.
Behind the Lens: Make sure to catch local music photographer Daniel Coston's latest photography exhibit, entitled "Music In A Crowded State: Photographs of North Carolina Musicians," running throughout November at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center at 1401 Central Avenue. According to his Web site, this is a show "featuring musicians from all over the state, both young and old, and known and should-be-better-known." Many photos have never been published or exhibited ... Coston's Johnny Cash photos have traveled up Highway 85 to Raleigh, where they'll be on display at the Bickett Gallery (www.bickettgallery.com) throughout November.
Back in the Saddle: After a five-year layoff, the Weedeaters -- now Weedeaters Deluxe -- return with what they're calling their 1st Annual Weedeater Deluxe Thanksgiving Eve Bash this Wednesday, Nov. 22, at the Visulite. The band is shooting a DVD and recording the show. Members include Joe Detullio (drums), Keith Inman (guitar), Aaron Willis (vocals) and Chris Linker (bass).
Wheels of Steel: Eden hosts a couple of memorable DJ shows coming up in December, including DJ Shortkut of San Francisco's seminal Beat Junkies on Friday, Dec. 1, and the All Good Funk Alliance out of Washington, D.C., featuring Frank Cueto and Russell Belicek, on Dec. 15. Shortkut's been at it since the late '80s, mixing hip-hop, rock, techno and his accomplished scratching. All Good Funk Alliance blends beats from Latin, classic rock, techno, hip-hop, house and industrial.
Odds & Sods: Brian Doyle & the Hamiltons have just released their fourth record, All Roads Lead to Home. It's Doyle's first release since relocating to Charlotte from Atlanta, and was recorded at Joe Kuhlmann's 36th Street Studio. The Hamiltons include Dan Hood (ex-Noises 10) on guitar, Scott Daily (ex-Bellyfull) on keys, Flavio Mangione (ex-Static) on bass, and Greg Lisi (ex-HoneyChild) on drums ... Poprocket main man Jay Garrigan has formed a side-project, Riser, which he says will include a rotating cast of musicians. Riser has a show scheduled at the Evening Muse Dec. 2, with Neil Allen of the Virginia Reel on bass and Scott McCannell of Babyshaker on drums.
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