|Photo by Agatha Donkar|
There was so many excellent things that it seems unfair to pick out highlights, but I did have some. On Thursday, on an unofficial "singer/songwriter" night, Eleni Mandell (whose first YR release, I Can See The Future, came out in July) absolutely blew me away. I was familiar with Mandell's name, but not her music, and her self-professed set of songs about her "crappy ex-boyfriends" was both fun and heartbreaking. (Her best line, in introducing a song about a relationship that had failed because she wanted kids and he didn't, was thus: "I'm here tonight. He's babysitting my kids.") I Can See The Future is her first label release after seven previous LPs, and I can't wait to dig into her back catalog.
Also on Thursday, Nick Lowe closed his set of hits from his extensive catalog with "I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock 'N' Roll)", a song that is near and dear to my heart. It inspired a bit of a crowd shout-along, and was absolutely a highlight of the weekend.
Saturday evening was a highlight, start to finish -- you can't claim that YR saved the best for last, as no one would ever describe Fountains of Wayne, Liam Finn, Robyn Hitchcock, or Sloan, who all played on other nights, as less than YR's best, but Saturday had a tinge of North Carolina pride that made me alternately grin and get a little weepy. After excellent sets from YR newcomer Darren Hanlon and Nashville's country-psych songwriter Jim White, the evening took a turn for the North Carolinian with local favorites Chatham County Line, whose set included a John Doe-fronted cover of X's "In This House That I Call Home".
I've seen CCL a dozen times in my seven years in NC, and I could never have fathomed seeing a punk rock icon play that song with them; only a little part of the magic that Yep Roc quietly makes here.
|Photo by Agatha Donkar|
I might have gotten a little weepy over that, but I'll never tell whether I actually did.
The evening closed with a joint set from John Doe and the Sadies, and Yep Roc couldn't have closed out their party in a better way. John Doe, established and cheerfully grumpy; the Sadies established in Toronto but only starting to gain traction in the States thanks to their relationship with Yep Roc. I like my rock and roll grumpy, cheerful, and above all, full of electric guitars -- and Yep Roc does that.
They do everything, really, a label that's defied genre definitions and expectations for 15 years now. I'm grateful they choose to still call North Carolina home, and I'm thrilled that they invited Speakers In Code to the party. Thanks for having us, guys. We'll come to your birthday parties any time.
My full set, more than 100 photos, of the weekend is available on Flickr. Everything that Yep Roc has ever released, including that long out of print Tift Merritt / John Howie Jr record, which is seeing a vinyl re-release next year, is available at their website.