Hogs for the Cause began as a small pig roast with friends on a New Orleans levee, but has grown into a full-blown event in both the Crescent City and the Holy City. Hogs is the premier funding source for pediatric brain cancer outreach services in the United States, granting funds to over 100 families of children with pediatric brain cancer so far. This year, the second-annual Hogs Charleston will once again combine philanthropy with a whole bunch of barbecue and music.
A barbecue competition will pit five pro teams against each other — locals Home Team BBQ, Swig & Swine BBQ, Sticky Fingers, and Sweatmans, plus Atlanta's Fox Bros BBQ. In a separate competition, 10 amateur groups will also vie for best plate, sauce, and fundraising team. Meanwhile, Dr. Dog and four other killer national acts will take the stage. Here's what your ears have to look forward to.
Listening to the People's Blues of Richmond's 2015 album Hard-on Blues, the first thing that jumps out, other than the title, is singer/guitarist Tim Beavers II's raw, cranked-to-11 shark's-tooth guitar, which stands out in the mix like a bear trap. That unvarnished six-string snarl has drawn some comparisons to Jack White's sound, but this Virginia trio is more about the interplay between guitar, bass, and drums.
Underneath the guitar fireworks on the album's first track, "Well, Well," for example, bassist Matthew Volkes flies up and down the fretboard like a reincarnated Noel Redding, treating his instrument like a second lead guitar. And drummer Neko Williams, son of Wailers percussionist Drummie Zeb, locks into a series of effortlessly funky grooves, landing square in the pocket while pushing and pulling the rhythms of each song. Check out "Satisfied" for proof of the band's swagger: Beavers wails out a gravelly "evil woman" lament while the rhythm section locks into a Zeppelin-style "Lemon Song" strut that oozes confidence.
The vocalist, however, is anything but confident. Beavers' raw, hoarse groan reeks of after-hours desperation and heartache, conjuring agony and burning self-knowledge in equal measure. There's even a little bit of pure punk recrimination lurking around the corners of his performances.
But as the band's moniker suggests, this music is a lot more about low-down, dirty electric blues than instrumental virtuosity, vocal gymnastics, or attitude. The sound the band recalls most is early-'70s, pre-synthesizers ZZ Top. It's more about the time-honored 12-bar blues and reveling in the bottom of the bottle. —Vincent Harris
Nashville's Fly Golden Eagle exists in some kind of dream world where ethereal psychedelic pop and gritty indie rock sit happily side-by-side. Their 2014 album Quartz is like an all-winners jukebox where airy, vocal harmony-drenched pop is followed by Farfisa-fueled 1960s garage rock, which then morphs into knotted rhythms and stretched-out rock melodies, a la vintage Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
It's a heady blend of influences, perhaps explained by singer/guitarist Ben Trimble's background. In his teens, he began working for someone who boasted a 60,000-strong record collection, and Trimble immersed himself in everything from Motown to glam rock and beyond. Quartz is a 26-song tribute to those varied influences, burying the band in a layer of low-fi grime that gives all of the performances a raw, ragged edge. And given that the album was recorded in Trimble's bedroom, two studios in Nashville, Trinity College in Tehuacana, Texas, and a garage in the Lone Star town of Celeste, the sound is remarkably unified.
Quartz is also, somehow, meant as an artistic pairing of sorts with the groundbreaking avant-garde 1973 film The Holy Mountain, directed by Alejandro Jodorowski. The film involves a Christ-like figure in a greed-powered world being led to the titular mountain to seek enlightenment, and Trimble drew inspiration from the movie while writing Quartz — not that the two have to be experienced together. The album is just as enjoyable as a tour through the landscape of 1960s underground rock, drenched as it is in antiquated electronics, gritty guitars, fat bass lines, and propulsive drumming. —VH
Nashville's Nikki Lane knows how to write a catchy country hit and sing it with a sweet Southern drawl, yet the goodness of her music also relies on her ability to blend Nancy Sinatra-esque, retro pop with no-nonsense outlaw country. Her sophomore album, last year's All or Nothin', sails from the clap-along, slide-guitar, bad-gal single "Right Time" to the 1960s, Phil Spector-inspired "Good Man." But Lane's vintage vibes don't stop with her music.
Lane's vintage clothing shop High Class Hillbilly has been around in some form or another for years, and as of three weeks ago is now hidden away in one of the artsy pockets of East Nashville. Collecting goods like Western boots and tasseled shirts while on tour, Lane's vintage venture is one that, years ago, led to her introduction to the Black Lips' Dan Auerbach, who wound up both producing and performing on All or Nothin'.
If that sounds like a good story to you, you're right. In fact, when Lane came to Charleston last year, we were pretty blown away by the events of her young life thus far. We spoke to her about everything from growing up in Upstate South Carolina to running off to LA for a fashion career, getting casually discovered by a record label in New York, and meeting Auerbach at a Nashville flea market — yep, a flea market.
But Lane's list of cool stories is so long, we didn't even have room to also tell you about the time she met Wanda Jackson, but now we do. "She's a firecracker," Lane says. "I met her working on photo shoots when I first moved to Nashville for extra money, for GQ, and when they did the Jack White-Wanda Jackson photo shoot, I was the stylist. She told me in the specifications for what they needed that she was only gonna wear flats — she wasn't gonna wear any heels. Lane returned with a few heels, you know, just in case. "And I got up to her and I said, 'Miss Wanda, I got you the flats that you asked for, but I also got you this couple pair of heels that we can just slip on while you're sitting.' She said, 'Who you gonna slip 'em on? Honey, I did all my heel-wearin' in the '60s and '70s.'" —KRS
When the Memphis, Tenn. septet Lucero formed in 1998, they were like a lot of other ultimately great bands in that none of them had any idea how to play their instruments. But over the course of 12 albums, 250 shows a year for over a decade, and various lineups, the core members of the band (singer/guitarist Ben Nichols, guitarist Brian Venable, bassist John C. Stubblefield, drummer Roy Berry, and keyboardist Rick Steff) have perfected a ragged-but-right combo platter of raw rock 'n' roll, country heartache, and punk energy with bits and pieces of Southern soul and gospel on the side.
On their more recent work, the band has refined its jagged-edge, Son Volt-style rock, working in a more laid-back acoustic vibe. But their new album All A Man Should Do takes an unexpected detour into keyboard- and horn-drenched soul that brings to mind the more rapturously earthy work of '60s and '70s Van Morrison.
Over this deeper and richer set of grooves, Nichols lets loose his inner barroom-philosopher. Whether he's using his torn-throat growl to lament the theft of his heart by a femme fatale in "They Called Her Killer" or taking a songwriter's journey on "Went Looking For Warren Zevon's Los Angeles," Nichols (or the character he's creating, it's never quite clear) seems to be painfully aware of the situation he's in, and despite his intelligence and perspective, he's never quite able to stop himself from taking that one last step that always gets him in trouble. —VH