My initial intent was to give my thoughts on the highs and lows of 2011. However, out of the 116 concerts I attended last year, a large number of them were really good. Then I figured any shows that were that horrible didn't even need to be mentioned. So, instead, I'll focus on 10 memorable moments (in random order) of the last year that stood out to me:
Rodney Lanier Memorial — This event left me thinking, "If this is the way everyone's life is celebrated, there'd be no fear of dying." Featuring brief sets by Sunshone Still and Sea of Cortez, friends, family and fellow musicians gathered at the Chop Shop to celebrate the life of Rodney Lanier. It was all capped off by a New Orleans style parade to the Evening Muse. Words can't describe the emotions that poured through the streets that night...
Grids — No fanfare or bullshit. The hardcore-punk band threw down at its last show at The Milestone, with plenty of friends surrounding them. Keep an eye on Brain F=, No Power and Double Negative for your fix of the band members in the aftermath.
Dancing on the Darkside — Kudos to Eric Mullis and company for having the guts to put together an original project that combines dance, visuals and music. This event paid tribute to Pink Floyd and he's put together another series called the Telepresence Project that continues the idea with a more original soundscape.
Brandi Carlile — The folk singer performed a solo show at the Knight Theatre that showcased her vocals and was spotlighted by an in-total-darkness a capella version of "Amazing Grace." Amazing, indeed.
My Morning Jacket — The most memorable part of this show was the fact fans didn't move a muscle when the rains came pouring down. They stuck through it and waited until the band came out, even if it was an abbreviated set.
Hayes Carll — The country/folk artist performed for more than two hours at the Stage Door Theatre. When the show was over, he headed to the Thirsty Beaver for another impromptu set for a small crowd. Having fun is the best way to do it...
Manu Chao — The folk singer made his Charlotte debut at The Fillmore and brought an unending energy to the stage in several languages. The show wasn't sold out, but that only made more room for the crowd to dance their asses off.
Ronnie Burrage/Branford Marsalis — If it wasn't enough that Ronnie Burrage came to Petra's Piano Bar for a night of jazz, the fact that he brought along Branford Marsalis sealed the deal. Unfortunately, jazz like that doesn't come through town often enough.
Avett Brothers — The group returned home for a sold-out concert at Bojangles Coliseum. Hopefully they'll be back before too long — especially if it's for another release party.
Charlotte Identity Crisis — John Thomsen of Grown Up Avenger Stuff organized this show outside of Salvador Deli that featured Charlotte bands (The Spiveys, GUAS, The Between, HelloHandshake, The Chelsea Daggers and The Jupiter Tide) covering other Charlotte bands. A great inaugural event that I hope will continue in its efforts to bring the music scene closer together.