Live Music: Underhill Rose, Brendan James, Octopus Jones, BJ Barham

Great live tunes to check out this week

by

comment

PROVIDED
  • Provided
SOULGRASS | Underhill Rose
w/ Barefoot Movement, Flatt City
Fri. July 12
7:30 p.m.
$15/adv.,
$20/door
Charleston
Music Hall

Today’s bluegrass acts routinely draw from rock, jam, and jazz, but rarely — and by rarely, we mean never — do they draw from R&B. But lo and behold, that’s exactly what Asheville’s Underhill Rose has accomplished with their LP Something Real. “I Wanna Love You” and “Unused to You” in particular have a strong soul connection, and they’re both well worth your time. “My very first CD was Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, and since Michael Jackson pretty much ruled MTV, they both influenced my tastes in my formative years,” says Eleanor Underhill, who shares the stage with Molly Rose Reed and Salley Williamson. “Throw in TLC, En Vogue, and Mary J. Blige, and you can see how R&B made its way into my musical psyche.” She also grew up on the soundtrack from the movie Dirty Dancing, which introduced her to Motown. “To this day that is probably one of my favorite genres — it’s just so timeless.” Underhill adds that one of the things that she and her bandmates have in common is a love of all music. “I can’t imagine being a musician who doesn’t draw inspiration from other genres,” she says. “Just listening to Molly’s iPod on the road last weekend, her playlist went straight from an Afrobeat song to a George Michael tune.” We don’t know about you, but thanks to that type of mindset, we can’t wait to hear what Underhill Rose has in store. —Chris Haire FRIDAY

PROVIDED
  • Provided
PSYCHEDELIC SURF BOOGIE | Octopus Jones
w/ Hey Rocco
Thurs. July 11
10 p.m.
$5
Tin Roof

The move from Myrtle Beach to Raleigh has been a good one for psych-surf boogie band Octopus Jones. Since relocating in last October, they added a new member, began experimenting with songwriting, and they just started recording a new album with Brave Baby’s Ryan “Wolfgang” Zimmerman last week. The producer brought his “mobile recording unit” to the band’s house in Raleigh, and they started laying down the instrumental tracks. “We knew we wanted to work with Wolfy for some time,” Octopus Jones tells us. “He’s our cosmic brother — he speaks the same language.” There’s a darker element to the new material, and now that Octopus Jones has two lead singers, they get to be more creative with their vocal arrangements. “In some of the new material, we’re all singing, which is a first for us,” they say. “Getting out of our comfort zones and into new elements has been a process, and we hope it comes across on the record.” The last time the band was in Charleston, they played a wacky opening set at Brave Baby’s album release show — singer/guitarist Danny Martin has the charisma of a beach party bandleader — so we’re excited to see them again and with a new member.—Susan Cohen THURSDAY

PROVIDED
  • Provided
PIANO-POP | Brendan James
w/ Steven Fiore
Sat. July 13
8 p.m.
$15/adv.,
$18/door
Charleston
Music Hall

The most pivotal point in Brendan James’ music career was his decision to take a year off and find himself. “I had to change things in a big way,” he explains. “I started to lose the joy of being an artist and performer.” The exploratory hiatus influenced James’ current Simple Adventures Tour. “This tour is different. I’m doing half venues and half private shows to make 60 shows in total,” James explains in a happy-go-lucky tone. “It’s exciting because we are going to houses and big venues and saying yes to as many adventures as we can.” The piano-crooning singer/songwriter has a home over in Mt. Pleasant’s Old Village, so he’s stoked to be back and performing in the Lowcountry, even if it is just for one night. “Charleston,” the sentimental track from his last album, shows just how much he loves this city, and that affection has drizzled over into his new record as well. “This album is really, lyrically and in the production sense, a return to the simple,” James says. “It’s where I’m at in my life, keeping it simple with friends and new people.” Simplify will be available at the concert before it’s officially released on Aug. 6. —Kalyn Oyer SATURDAY

PROVIDED
  • Provided
SOUTHERN RAWK | BJ Barham
w/ Arleigh Hertzler
Fri. July 12
10 p.m.
$5
Tin Roof

Rugged indie Southern rawk got a boot in the ass from Americana, lifting up acts like Drive-By Truckers and Lucero. But the competition’s fierce, and other tremendous acts like BJ Barham’s band, American Aquarium, have found it tough to make it outside their grassroots following. That’s prompted Barham and frontment like him to fill fallow periods with solo tours. Like Lucero’s frontman Ben Nichols, Barham’s voice possesses a gruff, whiskey-wizened swagger, and his band’s followed a similar trajectory from old-fashioned country through cow-punk to a Springsteen-ish blend of soul-tinged rock. They hit their stride with 2009’s Dances for the Lonely, a biting break-up disc leading from the waltzing “PBR Promenade” to the bloozy bar band rave “Ain’t Going To the Bar Tonight” and the ultimate kiss-off, “I Hope He Breaks Your Heart.” That jump-started Barham’s lyrical creativity on 2010’s quieter singer/songwriter-oriented Small Town Hymns and last year’s rocking ode to the touring life, Burn. Flicker. Die. It’s an oft-downbeat and earnest album about chasing a dream that, like a woman, will leave you alone and empty in the dark. Dog-eared and desperate, the songs are a reminder of the ache and disappointment biting at our heels, threatening to overtake us. —Chris Parker FRIDAY

Add a comment