You've probably heard it all before -- we've had a few items in the paper discussing the Crowntown Showdown and what it's all about. So, why should you care? Because it's a great way to see a variety of music -- local and regional -- for a low price. And if you don't like one of the bands, don't worry, they're only on for three songs.
August's showcase was packed with 10 bands of all styles, including Natalie Royal who was recently featured in this column. September's showcase may not have had as many acts -- thanks, high gas prices! -- but that doesn't mean there was a lack of quality.
It's nights like that when I'm glad the showcase is no longer judged, but instead viewed as a celebration of great music and talent from top to bottom.
Mac and Juice -- The duo from Wilmington kicked off the show with dueling acoustic guitars creating a nice aural harmony for a backdrop. Their third song of the night, "Español," had us thinking of Desperado. I hope someone checked their guitar cases at the door.
Erika Blatnik – Blatnik's quirky style showcases her songwriting talent. Her solo work provides a great dichotomy to her work with The Lights, Fluorescent. She's becoming a fixture on the music scene and I expect more great music from her coming down the road.
Ian Thomas Trio -- I've heard plenty of good things about Thomas for months, so I was glad I finally got to catch a trio of his songs. He's an old-school folky in the mold of Bob Dylan. Harmonica, and even a kazoo, kick his songs up a notch and this night he was performing with two of The New Familiars. He's got a good groove going and I hope it sticks around the Queen City for a while.
Austin Hill -- I've seen Hill perform with Humans and Stump Dickens and his solo work is equally impressive. He opts for the electric guitar back up instead of acoustic, but it's his strong lyrical songwriting that draws you in.
Atilla's Honey -- There's a lot of talk about these guys around town, and the music justified the hype. While their three-part harmonies may have sounded a little fuzzy, the band's combination of mandolin, banjo, bass and acoustic guitar showcased their musical talent. It sounded good as an instrumental or with vocals.
Melissa Alessi -- I don't know much about the singer-songwriter from Salisbury, other than she recently moved from Delaware and is attending Catawba College. She's a talented new addition to the local scene and we can only hope to see and hear more from her in the future. I'm always impressed by people who can finger-pick a guitar while singing -- it's not easy!
Horse Ghost – Yet another band with buzz that's been zipping around the scene and I haven't had a chance to catch them. They wrapped up the showcase with four or five songs that sounded great. It's a combination of blues, rock and country in a style of its own. It's as comfortable in a club as it is around a campfire.
Incognito Mosquito, Durham's Hammer No More the Fingers and Winston-Salem's Caleb Caudle were all supposed to perform on the bill, as well, but high gas prices and delayed traveling from out of town led to cancellations. Hopefully, they'll be at another showcase in the near future.
The next Crowntown Showdown will be held on Oct. 22 at The Evening Muse. Hope to see you there!
More Shameless Self-promotion – Creative Loafing Presents Jeff Hahne's Homebrew: Summer Stash 2008 is slowing making its way out to the masses. We're passing them out at random shows in the area, at shows by the featured musicians and at area record stores such as Manifest Discs and Lunchbox Records. Keep your eye out for it -- it's free!