Bands go “undercover” for charity this week at Motorco

Several local bands are the draw for Bull City Undercover, a three-night event at Motorco Music Hall that begins Thursday. They’re the bait, if you will. 


And the switch? That involves the songs those bands will play. The musicians will bypass their original work and exclusively perform tunes by an earlier band that has significantly influenced their work. Think of it as a musical wife swap or Freaky Friday

The cover is $5 per person per night, with doors opening at 8 p.m. Proceeds from the event will benefit SEEDS and the Central Park School for Children

“It’s a good way for bands to have some fun and raise some money for great causes,” said Chris Tamplin, a partner in Motorco and the venue’s booker. 

The identities of the participating acts aren’t secret; see below for the full lineup. But the bands they’ll be covering are supposed to be kept under wraps until each 30-minute set begins. 

Guitarist Alex Maiolo will be performing Saturday with an unnamed band that got together just for Undercover. He knows from past events that part of the fun is guessing who will be playing what. 

Spectators and musicians “show up, they stand around, they see people milling around in the crowd dressed like they aren’t normally dressed,” he said. “And then you sit there and you look at somebody and you say, ‘Is that guy supposed to be Elvis or Roy Orbison or — I’m not quite sure who he is.’ And then, of course, people get on stage and, and you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, it’s so and so!’ ” 

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Motorco set to open tonight

After more than six months of construction, Durham now has another new music venue.  Motorco Music Hall, a 450-person music venue in the Durham's Central Park district, is set to open its doors for the first time tonight.

Motorco is tMotorcohe second music venue to open in Durham this month, fresh on the heels of The Casbah, a 300-head club in the Brightleaf Square area.

First introduced to the world as The Geer, Motorco Music Hall is a collaboration between Chris Tamplin, Jeremy Roth, and Mike and Candy Webster.  With a capacity of 450, the new venue will be the fourth-largest daily rock venue in the triangle.

Booking at the new venue is being headed by Chris Tamplin, who was formerly in charge of booking the Local Band, Local Beer series at Raleigh's Tir na nOg.  The series became quite successful over the last three years, with Tamplin eventually becoming responsible for booking music 3 nights a week at the bar.  Tamplin's experience booking Tir na nOg led him to meet Motorco's three other partners, who were in pursuit of opening a new Durham venue.

The group has spent the last six month renovating the Weeks-Allen Motor Company building at the corner of Rigsbee and Geer.  After countless hours of hard labor by the group, the new venue is ready to open.

Tonight, Motorco hosts a CD release party for the Chapel Hill band North Elementary.  The venue has a second show  slated for tomorrow night, featuring Luego and The Huguenots.

Although all are excited for the new venue to open up at 723 Rigsbee, Roth warns that tonight's party will indeed be a soft opening.  Motorco is waiting on their ABC permit, the last of the hurdles to complete before fully opening.  Music fans shouldn't fret, however, as Triangle Brewing Company will be present with a selection of their beer.

Tonight's show starts at 9:00pm and has a $6 cover.

Music venue 'Casbah' set to open tonight

Casbah, the new, Brightleaf-area music venue on Main Street, is set to open its doors tonight at 6pm.  After a frantic week of final construction and the unavoidable regulatory hoops, owner Jana Bradley is ready to debut the nightspot she has been working on for the past nine months.

At approximately 300 seats, Casbah weighs in at half the size of Chapel Hill's Cats Cradle.  That won't stop Steve Gardner, Casbah's booking guru, from trying to draw in the best of local, regional, and national acts.  

Gardner has over 15 years of experience working for record labels, but besides for a few house shows, this is his first time on the other side of the bookings table.  Although it's still early, the venue appears poised for success with October and November's schedules almost full.

Casbah is hoping to have shows Wednesday through Saturday each week.  Additionally, the venue has lined up a monthly date with The Monti, a group dedicated to storytelling and narrative.  Casbah is also available for private parties and other events.

The venue has a grand opening set for September 15th featuring Joy Kills Sorrow and Caitlin Cary and Matt Douglas of The Small Ponds.  The first two weekends will be an opportunity for the community to come out, view the new space, and obtain their state-obligated membership.  

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"The Geer" announces new name

One of Durham's two new music venues, currently undergoing construction at the corner of Rigsbee and Geer in the DAP district of downtown, has announced their official name (for info on the second venue, see this BCR story).

According to a profile of Chris Tamplin in this week's edition of the Indy, the venue has adopted the name "Motorco Music Hall".  Mind you, this announcement may be inadvertent, as a Facebook post from July 14 claims that the unveiling of the name will not occur for a few weeks.

For pictures of the construction progress, visit the new venue's official site,

2010 looks like it will go down as the year that the DAP area re-emerges as a vibrant commercial district.  This year should mark the official opening of Fullsteam brewery, the opening of Motorco Music Hall and, if the health inspection report at CarpeDurham is any indication, King's Sandwich Shop should be opening in the next few weeks.

Broad St. Cafe faces one citizen's noise/parking complaints at City Council

Broad Street Café has provided coffee, drinks and entertainment to local neighborhoods for several years since its transformation from the old Ooh La Latte several years back, with entertainment taking on a larger role since the space’s renovation.

And while usually known for the performances that take place on its new stage, this Thursday it will find itself on a different stage: that of the public record, in the form of an citizen’s unusual request at tomorrow afternoon’s City Council work session.

On March 4, Durham resident and Walltown property owner Waldo Fenner petitioned to appear before the City Council to voice noise and parking complaints about the popular entertainment venue and restaurant/bar.

Fenner is the owner of both 1116 and 1119 Clarendon St. where he lives and leases space to two tenants.  In his petition (viewable as a PDF at the City web site), he alleges that his residences on Clarendon are affected by noise and parking violations by Café customers on Thursday through Saturday, at least three weekends per month, and that he has had difficulty finding and keeping residents, according to his calculations costing him approximately $250 per month.

In an email to BCR, Broad Street Café co-owner John Hite responded that he and his partners have no knowledge of any parking or noise violations since they took over the restaurant and concert venue in May 2008. 

He added that the owners were planning to be on site this week to measure and document noise levels outside of the Café and on the boundary of the two properties, stressing that the popular business “truly want[s] to be good neighbors to both the businesses and residents in the area.”

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Angsters unite: Morrissey to play DPAC on Mar. 11 (N&O)

Morrissey-Viva_Hate We're not sure quite why British pop-rock star Morrissey chose the Durham Performing Arts Center for what the N&O's David Menconi notes is his first Triangle appearance in a decade -- perhaps he found the rest of the Triangle is just full of crashing bores?

(Or perhaps the light saber will make him feel right at home, being a fixture of a couple of installations back in the U.K., after all.)

But it's true -- the tour bus will be taking the former lead singer of The Smiths here to the Bull City before he heads back to dear old Blighty. Tickets for Morrissey's show at the DPAC go on sale on Friday, according to the N&O's blog.

Our question: with musicians' tour buses parking on busy Mangum St. during DPAC shows, and the proclivity of Morrissey fans to swarm said bus to catch a momentary touch of the hand of the singer -- will it actually give an opportunity to observe, say, a ten-ton truck crashing into us?

ATC, The Pinhook to host big bashes tonight; downtown parade this weekend

A few events in downtown are worth a little extra attention and time this evening and weekend.

First up, if you're in the mood for some holiday festivities, the Lucky Strike tower will light up in its holiday colors this evening, beginning at 7pm.

The 134-year-old Lucky Strike Tower will be outlined from head to toe in new holiday lights for the fourth annual tower lighting on the American Tobacco Campus.  Thousands of feet of holiday garland and lights, and hundreds of poinsettias and seasonal planters will blanket the 250,000 square foot campus, just in time for holiday sightseers and ‘light-seekers’.

Shortly thereafter: the Pinhook in downtown Durham has been open for a few weeks now, but is planning its official Grand Opening bash tonight.

The festivities kick off at 9:00 pm with Sweet By and By, a band described as "captivating three-part vocal harmonies and traditional instrumentation into old-time bluegrass standards and contemporary originals." At 10:00 follows Mosadi Music, described by ReverbNation as "sinewy groove music, lyrically savvy and musically astute." DJs Ryah and Soulful Love follow at 11:00 until closing.

And third: don't miss tomorrow's downtown holiday parade:

On Saturday, December 6, 2008, the City of Durham will officially kick-off the holiday season with the Annual Holiday Parade and the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. The parade will begin at 4 p.m. at Blackwell and Jackie Robinson Streets (corner of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and American Tobacco Historic District) and will conclude with a Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at the CCB Plaza at 5:30 p.m.

Before the parade, enjoy holiday music and entertainment from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the CCB Plaza, 201 N. Corcoran Street.

DPAC opening: Bright lights, overflow crowd mark new performing arts center

"A lot of people have come up to me tonight and said, you know, Raleigh was really stupid [to turn down a Plensa sculpture.] And I said, 'You damned right they were.'"

So spoke Capitol Broadcasting chief Jim Goodmon on Monday night at the dedication of the Jaume Plensa sculpture "Sleep No More," one of the signature moments at the Durham Performing Arts Center grand opening -- one that drew appreciative laughter and applause from the assembled crowd, which packed the DPAC's lobby and plaza for the free public debut of the center.

The powering up of the Plensa sculpture -- seen in the video clip below (that's fellow Durham blogger Michael Bacon making the quip about the light saber) -- was by no means the only major moment at last night's dedication.

A crowd gathered for the dedication that, once entirely ensconced inside the DPAC's multi-story lobby, filled the entirety of the space, suggesting a turnout near that of a sold-out, 2,800 person show.

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N&O: World Cafe Live envisioned for Heritage Square

Hat tip to the N&O's Jim Wise for his reporting from the Planning Commission meeting yesterday, where architect Eddie Belk suggested World Cafe Live as a possible tenant for the renovated Heritage Square:

Belk dropped the club's name during the Durham Planning Commission meeting this evening. He was there to speak in favor of an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance that would allow nightclubs within 50 feet of a place of worship.

"World Cafe Live provides a broad stream of entertainment," Belk said, including "PB&J" afternoon shows for small children.

World Cafe is the long-running music program from UPenn-affiliated public radio station WXPN, a national pioneer in adult album alternative and world music.

There's currently one World Cafe Live location, in Philadelphia, where a partnership between the university and Real Entertainment Group built a complex including a three-tiered music hall accomodating up to 650, a smaller, intimate cafe, and retail space in a 40,000 sq. ft. Art Deco building. (Hey, who said universities were only good at monetizing the stuff happening in their research labs?)

Bull Durham Blues Fest enjoys its -- temporary or new? -- DBAP home

By all accounts this weekend's Bull Durham Blues Festival -- headlined by Taj Mahal and Marcia Ball -- was a big hit. Driving by American Tobacco on the Durham Freeway this Saturday, you could plainly make out a parking garage full of cars and the smoke from barbecue cookers wafting above the ballpark.

Though relocated to the DBAP only temporarily this year due to construction at the venerable Durham Athletic Park, the Herald-Sun's report on the event's final day made it clear that the DBAP is under consideration, at least, for a longer stay:

Dianne Pledger, president and CEO of St. Joseph's Historic Foundation, which puts on the festival, asked the audience to send e-mails to Hayti Heritage Center expressing their preference, so the festival can make an informed decision. Also, a survey was handed to audience members with the question : "If the Bull Durham Blues Festival moved to another venue/site, would you support it?"

Ed Gomas [actually, it's Gomes, H-S folks --BCR], festival chair, said he had heard mixed reviews after Friday night's performances. Some said they like the sound quality at the newer stadium, he said. Others, though, long for the ambience and intimacy of the old DAP.

We here at BCR had heard rumblings on this for a few months now. Clearly the City is interested in seeing the DAP, which is in the midst of a $5 million-plus renovation, get used for events like the blues festival and World Beer Festival.

Still, events with dollars at stake have the opportunity for larger concession areas, more parking in walking distance, and the like at the DBAP site. Expect to see some more back-and-forth on this question before all is said and done.