CHARLOTTE, N.C. The musical lineup for CarolinaFest includes an honorary Carolina legend, an Oscar-winning country singer, a youthful modern funk-soul star, beach music legends, a homegrown Latin music combo and rootsy Carolina staples. Heres a rundown:
Carolina is still in Taylors mind. Although Taylor was born in Massachusetts, he grew up in Chapel Hill where his father was a professor and later dean at UNCs School of Medicine. The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductee has lived on both coasts since leaving the Carolinas (he resides in Massachusetts), but Carolinians continue to claim him. He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
The 64-year-old Grammy winner has history with the Democratic Party. In 2004 he performed in swing states supporting Democratic nominee John Kerry. Hes since performed for President Obama and guests at the White House. In addition to headlining CarolinaFests main stage, Taylor will perform along with Durhams Delta Rae and Sheryl Crow prior to President Obamas speech at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday.
Jeff Bridges & the Abiders
The veteran actors Oscar winning turn as a down-and-out alcoholic country singer in 2009s Crazy Heart reignited his music career as a country-folk musician (hed released an album independently in 2000). In 2011 he released a critically acclaimed self-titled album produced by T-Bone Burnett.
Bridges has often leant his music to causes, including Neil Youngs Bridge School Benefit concert and the We Are the World remake, but its his pet cause that brings him to Charlotte. Bridges has been working with organizations to fight childhood hunger since the 80s and is currently a spokesman for Share Our Strengths No Kid Hungry program. Hes supported Obamas pledge to end childhood hunger by the year 2015 and also stopped in at the Republican National Convention in Tampa to talk with politicians and screen the documentary Hunger Hits Home, which he narrates.
The new CoverGirl spokeswoman and eclectic genre splicer makes her Charlotte debut on the CarolinaFest main stage. In just a few years the 26-year-old Kansas City native has taken listeners on a musical adventure, spicing up her funky take on R&B and worldly dance music with alternative rock, retro jazz and a fondness for musical theater.
The Blue Dogs
The Carolinas have a rich history in many musical genres, but it doesnt get much more down home and rootsy than this Charleston band. Established in the late 80s, the roots outfit turned bluegrass on its ear by creating whats now referred to as Americana or alternative country before those terms were commonplace.
Its name is associated with conservative blue dog democrats, but that term (coined in 1995) was actually first used in politics well after the coastal band began selling out southeastern venues.
Chairmen of the Board
Although it hails from Detroit, this veteran soul group makes Carolina beach music. Its Carolina Girls became a regional hit in the 70s, while songs like Give Me Just a Little More Time and Finders Keepers were even bigger nationally. The group moved south in the 1980s leader General Johnson to Atlanta and saxophonist/vocalist Ken Knox to Charlotte, where the bands Surfside Records is based.
Before the 2010 death of its band leader Norman Johnson, General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board frequently toured the South and were a draw at Amos Southend, where Johnson performed his final show. The group carries on without him, maintaining a busy touring schedule and led by Knox, who has been with the group since 1978. Its latest album features the single Carolina Man. Members were inducted into the N.C. Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
Possibly Charlottes busiest independent band with 25 dates scheduled between now and mid-October, Simplified makes sunny acoustic-roots rock for fans of arena-fillers like Dave Matthews Band. Members call Charlotte home, but their reggae riffs and Sublime-like hooks indicate the group is most at home beachside with a lawn chair and a beer.
Simplified will spend its afternoon jamming for the CarolinaFest crowd before heading to NoDas Neighborhood Theatre for a private DNC gathering, but two shows a day is nothing new for this hard working group.
West End Mambo
This nine-piece Latin music ensemble brings international flair to CarolinaFest without venturing far from home. Although its members hail from South and Central America and the Caribbean (as well as the U.S.), the group is based in North Carolinas Piedmont region. In fact it has performed original orchestral salsa arrangements with symphonies in Greensboro and Winston-Salem.
Its music is based in traditional salsa and is somewhat reminiscent of Ry Cooders famed Buena Vista Social Club. Bring dancing shoes.