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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

[Untitled] w/ Lara Americo, Episode 7, Part II

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 12:49 PM

Maf Maddix at The Last Word, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

[Untitled] w/ Lara Americo, Episode 7, Part I

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Rapper Maf Maddix seems to do it all. On the latest episode of [Untitled] with Lara Americo, his jazz-tinged rhymes filled The Last Word like plumes of smoke in a speakeasy, seeping into the old books on the shelves.

But Maf lacks one skill: Playing checkers. While he can cast a spell when rapping about inequality and hardship, he is no match for my board game.

In this week’s episode, Maf and I have a friendly yet competitive checkers match while digging into the power of words. 

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

[Untitled] w/ Lara Americo, Episode 6, Part II

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 10:08 AM

This week’s episode of [Untitled] with Lara Americo is an ode to the first day of spring, which officially started on Sunday. The band Death of August plays their original song, “Equinox.” Vocalist Helena Radeva and guitarist Amirah Brunache give us a killer riff a la Guns 'n' Roses and take us on their heavy metal-soaked odyssey.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

[Untitled] w/ Lara Americo, Episode 6, Part I

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 7:01 AM

There’s a thrilling disconnect between seeing and hearing the band Death of August. You may hear a solid combination of rhythm and lead guitar with heavy drums that rival a seasoned metal band, but you see two teenagers that still need to do Algebra homework after a show.

Soft-spoken vocalist and guitarist Helena Redeva balances high school life with her lead singer duties. Her bandmate, guitarist Amirah Brunache sighs at this. “You’re probably the coolest one in high school,” says Amirah, although she can shred on her guitar, red hair tips bouncing with each head bang. It’s safe to say both of them make their schoolhouse rock.

On this week’s [Untitled] with Lara Americo, two petite teenagers melt our faces. There are no whimsical Taylor Swift covers here.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

[Untitled] w/ Lara Americo, Episode 4, Part II

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 7:00 AM

It seems musicians Albert Strawn and Derrick Hines of Bless These Sounds Under the City were transported from a past life, where music had a pure, wandering soul. This duo may have been a pair of troubadours from the 11th century, traveling singers that were croning about chilvalry and courtly love. While this duo seems ripped from the past, a lottery ticket on the refridgerator told me they were firmly in the present and future. Albert, munching on a bag of hard ginger candy, said he hopes he and Derrick will strike it big. Their music in this episode of [Untitled] with Lara Americo tells me they are already on their way.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

[Untitled] w/ Lara Americo, Episode 5

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 9:59 AM

Punk pop band Hunter Valentine scorched The Milestone last Wednesday night as part of their Farewell for Now Tour. They are ready to take on new side projects involving music – and even food. They were last in Charlotte when they toured with Cyndi Lauper in 2014, and the city holds a special place for them.

“Everybody likes to really just party and have a good time [in Charlotte],” drummer Laura Petracca said, who wants to works as a chef and potentially open a restaurant. “Dancing is a big thing and nobody just stands and around and watches you. They get into it. I feel like in New York that happens, but it takes sometimes a warm up period.”

You may remember the original members of the Brooklyn-based band on season three of The Real L Word. “They wanted to focus on female musicians,” Petracca said of the show. “Of course they focus a little bit on your personal life and relationships and that’s also very hard.”

In this episode of Untitled, I catch up with lead singer Kiyomi McCloskey, along with Petracca, bassist Leanne Bowes and guitarist Lisa Bianco about their tour and post-Hunter Valentine plans.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

[Untitled] w/ Lara Americo, Episode 4, Part I

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 11:29 AM

I met with the duo Bless These Sounds Under the City, a self-proclaimed “electric folk soulful pop band,” while the Panthers played the Green Bay Packers this past November. The television blared in the living room of their ranch home in Charlotte.

“Can you keep track of the game?” asked percussionist and vocalist Derrick Hines, walking into his home studio for our filming session. Associate producer of Untitled Joanne Spataro nodded and went into the living room to watch the game for him.

Meanwhile, singer/multi-instrumentalist Albert Strawn prepared for his performance and talked about future touring plans. “Even people at the top, they talk about their stories about how they slept in alleyways and lived on busses,” he says. While the musicians are hungry to be full-time independent artists, yet they are split on whether that means temporarily living inside of a van while they tour the U.S. for long periods of time.

“As much as I love being on the road, [and] I freaking love the road, I can’t go out for nothing,” says Derrick ,who has a teenage son that often lives with the duo. 

The differences between the two musicians extend beyond their desired living situations. Strawn’s falsetto vocals are haunting when paired with the eerie sounds of a glockenspiel played with a bow. Hines’ vocalscould be compared to R&B artists such as Brian McKnight or D’Angelo . Together the two create an ephemeral, listening experience that breaks your heart and stitches it back together all in one listen. 


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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

[Untitled] w/ Lara Americo, Episode 3, Part II

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2016 at 9:39 AM

In this week’s episode of [Untitled] w/ Lara Americo, the Stolen Hearts give us an unconventional interpretation of the blues. In their song “Witches Brew,” Robert Johnson accompanies vocalist/guitarist Pam Taylor with a variety of percussive instruments, including a foot tambourine, shaker, and noise maker that mimics the sound of thunder.


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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

[Untitled] w/ Lara Americo, Episode 3, Part I

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 10:05 AM

“A lot of things had to fall apart for Stolen Hearts to come together,” says Pam Taylor. The blues duo consisting of multi-instrumentalist Robert Johnson and guitarist/vocalist Pam Taylor are also a couple offstage. While musical acts like The Cult and the Plastic Ono Band come to mind, the couple sets themselves apart with their self-proclaimed “Dirty Southern Soul” style of blues.


During the interview, we found ourselves negotiating with the bar’s maintenance team so we could use the kerosene heater in the back patio. After talking with the maintenance leader, we became mesmerized by Pam Taylor’s stories about southern food and dirt roads.

“We’re not bluesy enough for the blues clubs and we’re not country enough for the country clubs,” says Robert Johnson about the current state of the local music scene.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

[Untitled] with Lara Americo - Episode 2, Part I

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 9:29 AM

Dust and Ashes – sans two members – and I headed into The Diamond that Monday. We were looking to warm up after lugging heavy musical equipment in the cold rain. The morning crowd of hardcore regulars was about to experience anything but the usual in this well-loved Charlotte diner.

Lead singer Heather Himes, flutist Jude Salinas and cellist Leah Erin Smith began the first few notes. Then, their gritty, guttural thumping suddenly vanquished the dull chatter of the room. Smith’s cello groaned, soaking into the cracked wallpaper. The haunting melody of Salinas’s flute diced the air. Himes’ dark, wailing vocals and bluesy rhythm guitar made the walls shake and rock and tremble. It may have been a Monday, but the band with the tagline “Queen City Stomp Swamp” was taking us to church.

In the latest episode of [Untitled] with Lara Americo, you’ll see Dust and Ashes rock a diner. Plus, Himes and I take a break in one of the green booths to talk religion, music and God as a tattoo.

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