David Childers Quartet
Singer-songwriter David Childers is the proverbial study in contradictions. A resident of Mount Holly, North Carolina, he's a former high-school football player with the aw-shucks demeanor of a good ol' Southern boy. But he's also a well-read poet and painter who cites Chaucer and Kerouac as influences, fell in love with folk as a teen and listens to jazz and opera.
Childers' latest album, Run Skeleton Run, released on Ramseur Records, is filled with the kinds of songs that have made him a favorite of fans and fellow artists including neighbors the Avett Brothers. Scott Avett contributes to four tracks, and Avetts bassist Bob Crawford co-executive-produced the effort with label head Dolph Ramseur. (Crawford and Childers, both history buffs, have recorded and performed together in the Overmountain Men).
In fact, it was Crawford who kickstarted this album, Childers' sixth solo effort, by suggesting he reunite with Don Dixon (R.E.M., the Smithereens), who'd produced Crawford's favorite Childers album, Room 23 (done with his band the Modern Don Juans). Crawford also suggested tracking at Mitch Easter's Fidelitorium Recordings.
Crawford has also called Childers "a great friend, a great thinker and a great man ... a true North Carolina treasure." But let's take out "North Carolina," because Childers is the kind of treasure who can spread joy wherever people love listening to great songs. In other words, just about anywhere. Or everywhere.
Modern cosmic country duo Blue Cactus supplements their twang with soaring, space-rock-inspired guitars, while rich harmonies steeped in twang keep their tunes rooted on solid honky tonk ground. Based out of Chapel Hill, NC, Blue Cactus is led by long-time collaborators Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez, who create songs that range from gritty honky tonk to heartbreaking balladry.
Their 2017 self-titled debut album has given life to the future of country music and received praise from critics across the nation for its poignant songwriting, acute sensibility and expansive interpretation of alt-country. Seamlessly bridging the Bakersfield and Countrypolitan sounds with elements of modern Americana, the record encompasses everything that made country music matter.
Blue Cactus conjures a sound that will take you on a familiar journey into uncharted country, expanding tropes and breathing hope into the genre's limitless possibilities. In their eighth year of making music together, Arnez and Stewart have become a nimble creative unit, adept at exploring heartache and hope with time-tested Honky Tonk humor.