Love Bluegrass? Head To Moorefields

On Saturday, September 6, Hillsborough’s Historic Moorefields will play host to an afternoon of bluegrass music.

“Bluegrass at Moorefields” will run from 2-7 p.m., featuring music from four area bluegrass bands: the Nash Street Ramblers (based in Hillsborough); Cagle Family and Friends (from Efland); the Bethesda Bluegrass Band (from Durham); and Constant Change (from Raleigh). Food trucks will be on hand, and beer and wine will be available too.

Clifton Preddy of Constant Change joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the air Friday.

Listen to two songs by Constant Change, “Mountain Man” and “A Song for Marie.”

Tickets for Bluegrass at Moorefields are $20 – free for children 12 and under. Buy them online, at the Hillsborough Visitors Center at 150 E. King Street, or at the gate on the day of the festival.

For more information – and for tickets – visit this link.

Elderberry Festival Hits Carrboro Saturday

This Saturday, downtown Carrboro will play host to the Elderberry Festival – eleven hours of music, with dozens of bands and artists playing on five different stages at Southern Rail and Second Wind.

Norm’s Farms, a Pittsboro-based elderberry business, is hosting the festival – which features more than 30 acts, including James Olin Oden, Tea Cup Gin, and Too Much Fun. Local craft breweries and food vendors will be on hand as well – and the whole festival is free and open to the public.

Rodger Lenhardt of Norm’s Farms and musician James Olin Oden stopped by WCHL on Tuesday and spoke (and played!) with Aaron Keck on the afternoon news.

The festival runs from noon to 11:00 p.m. on Saturday. For a complete schedule of events and more information, visit

“Be Loud 14″ Takes Over Cat’s Cradle – For A Cause

Head to the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro this Friday and Saturday for “Be Loud 14,” a two-day musical extravaganza to benefit kids with cancer.

The show begins on Friday at 8:00, with performances by the Pressure Boys (reuniting for only the second time in 20 years), the Connells, and the Dexter Romweber Duo. It continues on Saturday afternoon with a festival in the parking lot, featuring music, poetry, and food trucks – and concludes with another concert on Saturday night at 9:00, with A Number of Things and Let’s Active along with a repeat performance by the Pressure Boys.

It’s all to benefit the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation. Founded by Niklaus Steiner (director of UNC’s Center for Global Initiatives) in honor of his late daughter Sophie, the foundation exists to help teens and young adults with cancer “pursue their own interests whatever they are” – to live normal lives, even while undergoing treatments.

Niklaus Steiner and Pressure Boys drummer Rob Ladd joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the air Thursday afternoon.

Tickets to “Be Loud 14″ are $40 for the full weekend – or you can buy passes for each individual show as well, for $10-$25. For tickets, visit or – and visit for more information about the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation.

This Weekend In OC: Arts! Concerts! Tax Relief?

With tax season officially upon us, Orange County is once again offering the RSVP-VITA tax preparation service for low- to middle-income residents in need of assistance this year.

“VITA” is short for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. It’s a free program sponsored by the IRS. It begins in February in Orange and Chatham Counties.

You can find out if you’re eligible and make appointments either online or by phone. Visit, or to make an appointment by phone, call:

Orange County: 919.245.4242 (English)
Orange County:  919.245.2010 (Spanish)
Compass Center for Women and Families: 919.968.4610 (English only)
Chatham County: 919.542.4512 (Angel Dennison)
Chatham County: 919.742.1448 (Spanish)


From now through March, the Hillsborough Arts Council is offering walking tours of the town’s sculptures. The guided tour is called “Take A Closer Look”; it will focus on four of the six sculptures that have been on display since last April.

Tours begin at the Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery on N. Churton Street, at 1:00 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. The tours are free (though donations are accepted), and they last one to one and a half hours.


This weekend brings the third annual “Mixed Concrete” art auction to Chapel Hill, with proceeds to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Featuring local artists working with a variety of materials, the show runs from Friday to Sunday, January 24-26, at TRU Deli + Wine Bar on the corner of Rosemary and Henderson. There will be an opening reception on Friday at 7:00 p.m.

To see some of the art online or to donate to the cause, visit


If you’re still unsure about the new federal Health Insurance Marketplace, UNC Family Medicine is holding a “Health Insurance Enroll-A-Thon” on Saturday, January 25, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Officials will be on hand to answer questions and help you enroll.

The event will take place in the UNC Family Medicine Center at 590 Manning Drive. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit


The Orange County main library in Hillsborough is hosting an exhibition of folk art from January 24-March 24. It’s called “Road Trip: Folk Art from Mike’s Art Truck”—and it’s comprised of 20 pieces all created by self-taught artists.

Curators Greg and Karen Mack of Hillsborough will be on hand for a reception at the library on Saturday, February 1, from 2-5 p.m.


Orange County’s Department on Aging and the Friends of the Seymour Center are inviting you to attend a Celebration Concert honoring the memory of Pearl Seymour on Saturday, January 25.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. at the Seymour Center on Homestead Road; admission is free. Immediately following the concert, there will be a reception and a silent auction, with proceeds going to benefit the Department on Aging and the Friends of the Seymour Center.

For more information about the concert, visit


Saturday, January 25, you’re invited to a free performance of actor Mike Wiley’s “Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till” at 2:00 p.m. in the Chapel Hill Public Library. The performance is co-presented by the library and the UNC Program in the Humanities, part of a community dialogue on the legacy of Jim Crow and its impact today.

There will be an audience discussion following the performance.

Festifall to Crowd Franklin Street Sunday

CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill’s 41st annual Festifall on Franklin Street is Sunday.

***Listen to the Story***

“We always get excited for this beautiful event. It’s been voted the last 3 consecutive years as Chapel Hill’s best event,” event organizer Wes Tilghman says.

Festifall is on West Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill.  Tilghman and Chapel Hill Public Library staff member, Megan Rosen say this year the event is bigger than ever.

Attendees can expect art, music, live performances, local food, good reads, and plenty of dancing.

“We’ve got over 80 artists, 4 live performance areas, and we’re going to invite some of the local restaurants to the streets with us to join in,” Tilghman says.

Six blocks of West Franklin Street will be filled with all types of different artists, and community organizations from the Chapel Hill and Carrboro area. Over 120 different exhibitors will be at the festival.

Chapel Hill’s newly expanded and improved Public Library will host one of the exhibits with a digital book-mobile. And Rosen says it won’t be hard for the attraction to catch your attention.

“We’re bringing in an 18-wheeler that’s loaded for bear,” Rosen says, “It’s a 74-foot long tractor trailer, that’s tricked out with broadband internet access, HD monitors, an awesome sound system, and lots of interactive video and instructional material about downloading e-books from the Chapel Hill Public Library.”

Rosen says library staff members will be there to answer questions, help people browse the library collections, and see what it is the new library has to offer.

“We’re really hoping to expand people’s awareness of their community-owned resources at the library,” Rosen says.

WCHL’s own Aaron Keck will host the Dance Evolution stage. The stage will feature a lot of different types of dance, and dance productions.

“They’re going to get the crowd pretty involved, so you might find yourself on stage,” Tilghman says, “There will be lots of fun, local entertainers that everyone knows, and have heard before.”

Tilghman and Rosen hope you come out Sunday to support local artists, to purchase gifts, to grub on great, local dishes; or go to browse 6 blocks of Chapel Hill and Carrboro’s finest.

For more information about Festifall, click here.

Celebrating Congo 2013

CHAPEL HILL – The Sonja Haynes Stone Center will host an unprecedented festival of musicians, artists, and speakers, Celebrating Congo 2013.

Celebrating the Congo began on Friday evening and runs all day Saturday, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and ending with a special performance at night.  The programming is free and open to anyone in the public that would like to engage with issues from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Co-organizer Lauren Gillaird says this is the first time their organization is holding an awareness event at UNC.

“We are an organization through UNC, we’re called Yole!Africa US,” she says.

Celebrating Congo 2013 will provide critical and creative space to engage an array of educated speakers.

“There will be some great figures to help lead conversation,” Gillaird says, “such as internationally acclaimed film maker and activist Petna Ndaliko – his films have contributed to independence movements in Congo – and we’ll also have community organizer Samuel Yagasse, who is a pioneer of autonomous development initiatives and is part of Sacrificial Poets. And we will also have a round table discussion with renowned scholars including the famous VY Mudimbe.”

To end the festival, one of the most famous and world renowned African bands, Kanda Bongo Man will perform for free at 7 p.m. Saturday.  Tickets for the performance should be reserved online.

For more information click here.

Strawberries, Jazz, Faculty/Staff Satisfaction

CHAPEL HILL/CARRBORO – A majority of UNC faculty and staff say the university is a “highly effective organization” with a strong vision for the future. That’s according to the results of a University-wide organizational effectiveness survey conducted in January.

UNC officials say they received more than 3,000 responses, an uptick from the last time they conducted the survey three years ago.

Among the results: 66 percent of respondents say UNC is a “highly effective organization,” and 79 percent say they’d recommend Carolina as a place to work.

The numbers aren’t all rosy, though: 54 percent also say UNC needs to make “significant changes” in order to remain successful five years from now.


Head to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market this Saturday for their annual Strawberry Jamboree. Beginning at 8:00 a.m., you can sample fresh strawberries, plus shortcake and homemade whipped cream; you can also find lots of strawberry recipes—and Benjamin Vineyards will be on hand to offer strawberry wine.

The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is located at the Carrboro Town Commons, on W. Main Street adjacent to Town Hall.


And beginning this Thursday, May 23, Southern Village is kicking off “Swinging Big Band Thursdays,” a concert series that will host big bands on five different Thursdays throughout the spring and summer.

The concert runs from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the Village Green; the 17-piece Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra will be performing. It’s open to the public and entirely free, but donations for the orchestra will be accepted.

The World's Greatest Mother-In-Law

This “Music In My Head” column is going to be a little different, but it’s a reflection of what’s been in my head lately…and there’s music, so here goes:

Let me tell you about my mother-in-law.

That song was obviously written by someone who had no appreciation for his mother-in-law, maybe with good reason. 

Sometimes mothers-in-law get joked about…and that plays right into the old stereotype, that they’re just plain evil, with no good intentions toward their sons-in-law.  That may be true for some, but let me tell you about mine.

I loved Sue as much as I loved my own mother, and she was an amazing woman.  She passed away a few days ago, and the world won’t be the same without her.  Anne Beverly Allen Wooten Harkins Montague outlived three husbands, and that’s how she got that long name.  I only knew two of them, since Bev’s dad passed away when she was only eighteen. 

Anne Beverly Allen Wooten Harkins Montague was always called “Sue” by her family and friends.  The story goes that her father really wanted to name her Suzzanne, and he lost the argument, but that didn’t stop him from calling her that anyway.  The new name caught on, and eventually, was shortened to Sue.  Sue had three brothers, and it was that way for them, too.  The oldest was Thomas Coley, but he was called Bill.  Next came Ben Lacy, and most people called him Mac.  Sue’s surviving brother is Cary Durfey, but what do we call him?  Maxie.  Apparently, Sue’s dad lost a lot of arguments, but managed to get the final word.  Bev tells me it’s just one of those Southern family things, but I’m from the South, too, and I’ve never seen a family like this one.

She may have been known to most as Sue, but I called her Mama.  We all did.  Mama did not like me one bit when I first got together with her daughter.  She just assumed that since I was one of those “disc jockeys” I was up to no good.  Even at our wedding, she still had not really warmed up to me.  She didn’t even bother to get her hair done, and if you knew Sue, you know she always had to have her hair done for special occasions.  Our ceremony was held outside, in the garden of a church here in Chapel Hill, and it was a beautiful, sunny, fall day, but she insisted on keeping her coat on, and wouldn’t even put down her pocketbook for the wedding pictures.  Her daughter was somewhat concerned about her disdain for me at that point, but I told her not to worry — that I would eventually win her over.  It wasn’t long before Mama came around.  As time went on, Bev even told me several times she thought her mom loved me more than her…that wasn’t true, of course, but I do know she came to love me like a son, and I loved her like a mom.

She was a remarkable woman. Strong-willed, independent, and fearless.  She never hesitated to stand up for herself or for the ones she loved.  She was the go-to person, the backbone of the family, the one who always kept things together, and she always made sure everybody had what they needed.  Her daughter –my wife– inherited those endearing traits, and while that can be extremely aggravating at times for a husband who sometimes tends to let things slide…I do find it an admirable quality, and I know it came directly from Mama.

When Sue was 80 years old, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  She had a head tumor.  And it was pretty serious. Even the doctors didn’t hold out much hope for survival.  While many people at that age might have simply given up, she said she would overcome it.  She went through chemo and radiation, and a myriad of other medical trials and tribulations, and miraculously, she beat it.  There were physical consequences, of course, but she managed to endure, and enjoyed many more Thanksgivings, Christmases, and birthdays. 

Sue lived to see her grandson, Zac, graduate from college, and her granddaughter, Cam, get through three years of college (so far) and she didn’t miss a thing.  Bev and I would love to take full credit for bring up these two amazing young adults, we both realize  that Mama’s strong influence on them helped mold them into the wonderful, caring, level-headed, and loving people they are today.  She was always right there in the middle of everything. 

No matter what, she kept doing the daily crossword puzzle, cryptoquote, and word jumble, without missing a beat.  Usually, she had her trusty, black-and-white cat, Tom-Tom, by her side.  The cool thing is that even as her body failed her, her mind remained sharp as a tack to the very end.  And I’m happy to say we were all right there with her when she passed away, at the age of ninety-two.  She was old and frail, and most of all, just tired.  We thought she would give up the fight sooner, but she stubbornly held on, until Zac could get here from Oregon.  She just had to see him one last time.  By the time he arrived, she couldn’t communicate with him verbally, but she knew he was there.  We all assured her that everything would be okay, that we would take care of each other, and Cam promised to take care of Tom-Tom.  Only a few hours later, she quietly slipped away in the middle of the night.

I will always remember the ritual Mama and I had.  As I was lifting her out of her wheel chair, I would count “One, Two, Three,” to let her know when I was pulling her up. And she started counting with me, but added her own unique twist to it.  The saying soon became, “One, Two, Three…Billy caught a flea.  Flea died, Billy cried.  One, Two, Three.”  She had other little pearls of wisdom liked that, but that little ditty will stick with me from now on.

Mama had a positive impact on everybody she met.  Many of her friends and family are no longer with us.  She outlived husbands, and everyone, it seems.  Anne Beverly Allen Wooten Harkins Montague, you had a profound effect on my life, too, and I loved you even if you didn’t get your hair done, and even if you were holding your pocketbook in the pictures  So Sue, rest in peace.  We will miss you, Mama.

Mama was a charter member of St. Paul’s Christian Church in Raleigh.  She was very involved in the church for many years, and it was always near and dear to her heart.  And I can tell you there are some really wonderful people there — they’ve provided a lot of love and support for all of us.  For those who would like to honor my mother-in-law, contributions may be made to the church at 3331 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC 27612, or to Wake County Hospice, 250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh, NC 27607

The Gift of Music

At my house, everybody knows the best gift for me is always music-related. So when my birthday rolled around, it was only natural that it was time to do some serious listening. And with Father’s Day not far behind, I knew I was in for a couple of great weeks. Here are some of the highlights.

The celebration started early with a trip to the Lincoln Theater in Raleigh to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The tickets were cheap and I love the band. I’ve been fascinated with Grace Potter for maybe a year. She’s a great singer/songwriter, plays guitar and keyboard, and she’s almost a throwback. To whom, I’m not sure, but she’s really a musical phenomenon. So Bev and I went to the show that night, and never having been to the Lincoln Theater, didn’t realize it would be standing room only. It actually wasn’t too bad because at least we got there early enough to have a wall to lean against. My wife wasn’t crazy about it—mostly because it was so incredibly loud—but I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. It WAS very loud, but that’s the way I like it, so it was okay. If you’re not familiar with the band, take a look at this live performance from a similar concert by Grace Potter.

Months ago, Bev had purchased tickets for us to see B.B. King at Durham Performing Arts Center. I couldn’t wait. The show was a week later, and I knew the experience (from a standpoint of comfort) would be different. Any show at DPAC is good, and the facility is terrific. Not a bad seat in the house, (and we had good ones) and with B.B. King on stage, I knew it would be special. It was wonderful just being in the guy’s presence. I respect this man so much, but B.B.’s getting up there in age now, and his skills have declined considerably. The show consisted of more talking and story-telling than music, really, and for me it was like sitting in your grandfather’s living room, while he reminisced. I kept waiting for him to break into some major guitar work with Lucille, if only for a few minutes, but almost before you could say, “The Thrill Is Gone,” he was thanking us for being a great audience. I was really glad I got a chance to see him in person, but wish it could have come earlier in his career. The man is truly a living legend. Here’s an earlier live performance of B.B. King’s most famous song.

Ironically, the next night we were back at DPAC for Stephanie Miller’s Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour, and it was a lot of fun being able to spend some time backstage, and then to introduce the show. The night wasn’t about music, but we did some serious laughing. It was thought-provoking and humorous. The whole DPAC experience, as always, was enjoyable.

My actual birthday was the following day, and it happened to fall on a Friday. That meant “Fridays on the Front Porch,” at the Carolina Inn for a few drinks and some music at the end of the day. Our daughter, Cam, works there part time, and is often assigned to this event, so we try and go when we can. This particular night, the music was provided by Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos. Mel and his band are great, with a combination of Zydeco, Cajun, blues, and rock.

We enjoyed the crowd and listened to Mel’s band for a couple of hours, and then, ironically, headed over to Mel’s restaurant, Papa Mojo’s out on Highway 55, to catch a late dinner and see the Harvey Dalton Arnold Blues Band. You might not have heard these guys—yet—but if you’re a fan of blues and rock and roll, you’ll love ‘em. Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse is not very big, but it’s a perfect setting if you enjoy listening to music as much as I do. The dinner was great, the beer was cold, and since we were sitting at a table just a few feet from some of the best musicians I know, it was a great night. What a show! And what a birthday present…just being able to listen to these guys play. You may have heard that Harvey Arnold is originally from North Carolina, played with The Outlaws, for years….and less than a couple of years ago, he had moved back to this state, bought a house in the country, and just happened to walk into a guitar store in Burlington, looking for some strings. That’s where he met Kim Shoemaker, they jammed in the back, and the rest is history. I first became acquainted with these guys a few months after that, when I had the opportunity to introduce them at Carrboro’s Fourth of July celebration. They blew me away that day, and they’re even better now than then. The musicianship and chemistry are amazing.

Harvey’s band did all their usual blues numbers, some by a variety of blues greats, and some originals, but since I saw them last, they’ve added material. Clapton, Cream, Hendrix, etc., and what really blew me away was their rendition of the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy.)” I’ve never heard anybody do that song besides the Beatles. They have gotten so good, it’s scary. Harvey and Kim trade licks and have so much fun doing it. You can see the sheer joy of playing when this band performs! As Jerry Lee Lewis used to say, “All killer, no filler!” I didn’t want the night to end.

This video really doesn’t do this band justice. They put on a great show, they already have a couple of CD’s out, and I love hearing them play. If you appreciate musical talent, you’ve gotta check ‘em out! Go to

For a couple of weeks there it was about as good as it gets for me. I had a chance to spend a lot of time with my family, and listen to some great music. I highly recommend it!

By the way, who do you enjoy in concert? Tell me some of your favorite performers. If I tried to list them all, my list would surely be a mile long, but I’m curious to know the bands that YOU enjoy! Maybe I can put some of YOUR favorite music in my head.

See you on the radio.