It’s no secret that Hopscotch, a festival hailed as “wildly diverse” by The New York Times, offers fans an abundance of experiences. The four day event brings together artists who create almost every type of music, in a variety of hues. The Hopscotch Handbooks are one way of dividing the 2017 lineup to help make your scheduling choices more fun and manageable. Each chapter is essentially a small festival in itself, and many Hopscotch performers fall under more than one. Whether you’re discovering an act for the first time, or reconfirming them as one of your favorites already, we look forward to hosting you this Sept. 7-10 in downtown Raleigh.
Chapter 4: Folk/Americana
Angel Olsen — Red Hat Amphitheater, Sunday, September 10
Angel Olsen is a singer-songwriter who hails from St. Louis, MO, and currently calls Asheville, NC home. In 2011, she appeared on the Bonnie “Prince” Billy album Wolfroy Goes To Town, and then followed it up a year later with her solo debut, Half Way Home. After signing to Jagjaguwar Records, she released the critically acclaimed Burn Your Fire For No Witness, with The A.V. Club calling her voice “a cross between Roy Orbison’s wounded sob and Odetta’s all-consuming roar.” Two years later, she released her latest record, My Woman, which hit #40 on the UK charts and which Pitchfork named its ninth best record of 2016, followed up by a headlining tour in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Margo Price — City Plaza, Thursday, September 7
First impressions matter. Especially on a debut album. Time and attention-strapped listeners size up an artist within a song or two, then move on or delve in further. Fortunately, it only takes Margo Price about twenty-eight seconds to convince you that you’re hearing the arrival of a singular new talent. “Hands of Time,” the opener on Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, is an invitation, a mission statement and a starkly poetic summary of the 32-year old singer’s life, all in one knockout, self-penned punch. Easing in over a groove of sidestick, bass and atmospheric guitar, Price sings, “When I rolled out of town on the unpaved road, I was fifty-seven dollars from bein’ broke…” It has the feel of the first line of a great novel or opening scene in a classic film. There’s an expectancy, a brewing excitement. Her voice has that alluring mix of vulnerability and resilience that was once the province of Loretta and Dolly. It is a tour-de-force performance that is vivid, deeply moving and all true.
Hurray For The Riff Raff — Lincoln Theatre, Saturday, September 9
Like a song-cycle from an imaginary Off-Broadway musical, The Navigator rises from the ashes of loneliness and striving, honky tonks and long walks by the river of urban dreams. From the wistful melancholy of “Life to Save,” to the stubborn resignation of “Nothing’s Gonna Change That Girl,” Segarra’s voice speaks with a husky weariness that coexists with a nave curiosity. It’s the voice of a rebel who wanted everyone to think she was so tough, and nobody could take her down, but at the same time was yearning for love and magic, some kind of an awakening.
Mount Eerie — Fletcher, Thursday, September 7
In 2016, the cartoonist and musician Geneviève Castrée passed away at the age of 35 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Her husband, the legendary folk musician Phil Elverum – who records under the moniker of Mount Eerie and is formerly the main member of the Microphones – channeled that sadness, anger, and confusion into A Crow Looked At Me. The result is at once the most moving album, his most self-aware, and the definitive album of his career. On “Emptiness Pt. II,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to a track on 2014’s Sauna, he sings: “Conceptual emptiness was cool to talk about, back before I knew my way around these hospitals.”
Big Thief — City Plaza, Thursday, September 7
The trails that Big Thief take us down on Capacity are overgrown with a wilderness of souls. Their highly anticipated second record was released on June 9th by Saddle Creek. These are carnivorous stories, with pangs of sadness and joy. Showing us the gentle side of being ripped open, and then recounting the second act of pulling oneself back together to prepare for it all to happen again.
Kevin Morby — Kings, Saturday, September 9
Kevin Morby rose to prominence as bassist in Woods, with who he recorded seven albums on Woodsist Records while also forming The Babies with Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls. Morby’s 2013 debut solo work Harlem River was a homage to New York and featured contributions from artists including Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley (of White Fence), while 2014’s Still Life garnered universal critical praise. “It’s easy to picture Morby with a wineskin under his arm,” noted a Pitchfork review. “His every worldly possession hitched to his back, an eye constantly fixed on some faraway point on the horizon.” Morby’s latest release, City Music, is one full of listless wanderlust, it’s a collection inspired by and devoted to the metropolitan experience across America and beyond by a songwriter cast from his own mould.
Songs: Molina — Fletcher, Friday, September 8
The 2013 death of legendary singer-songwriter Jason Molina – who released albums under the monikers of Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company, as well as his own name – was a tragic loss for the independent music community. But Molina’s friends and bandmates have kept his memory alive with Songs: Molina, a tribute act of Molina’s songs started by five of the seven original members of Magnolia Electric Company. In 2017, the band again came together to celebrate the release of a book about Molina’s life written by Erin Osmon, Jason Molina: Riding With the Ghost.
Dear Nora — Lincoln, Saturday, September 9
Katy Davidson’s music represents a spectrum of styles encompassing melodic folk, experimental music, and ethereal pop. She writes lyrics with layered meanings that contemplate the vast realms and intersections of wilderness, humanity, morality, technology, late capitalism, and love. Aesthetically, Dear Nora has borrowed from Judee Sill, Young Marble Giants, Joni Mitchell, Arthur Russell, The Roches, Bob Dylan, Kate Bush, Nico, Linda Perhacs, and Yazoo.
Susto — Kings, Saturday, September 9
In early 2013 Osborne began performing solo in South Carolina & Cuba under the name of SUSTO. By August of that year SUSTO was performing as a full band. In addition to Osborne covering rhythm guitar, keyboards, & lead vocals; this line-up included Taylor McCleskey on drums, Eric Mixon on Bass and Johnny Delaware on lead guitar & background vocals.
Mount Moriah — Red Hat Amphitheater, Sunday, September 10
Mount Moriah’s history is disparate, from the projects of guitarist Jenks Miller (Horseback and Rose Cross NC, to name a few) to the discorded punk of Heather McEntire’s old band Bellafea, and that manifests itself in Mount Moriah’s sound. The main feature of this band, however, is that it has soul, and that soul has earned Mount Moriah a devoted fanbase both in North Carolina and elsewhere. Pitchfork called their most recent record, How to Dance, the band’s “fullest, peppiest album yet, with punchier tempos, flashier accompaniments, and a little more of a fighting spirit.”
Skylar Gudasz — City Plaza, Thursday, September 7
2016 ‘s Oleander, the first full-length effort from Skylar Gudasz, was praised by the Triangle music press as an “astonishingly great debut” (News & Observer) and a “largely perfect forty-seven minutes” (INDY Week). They ain’t wrong: it’s a brilliant, cogent set of folk songs reminiscent of Joni Mitchell that showcases Gudasz’s generational songwriting ability. In addition to her own solo work, Gudasz appeared with Big Star in 2016 for a tribute to Alex Chilton that was documented in the concert movie Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live … And More.
Cory Hanson — Kings, Saturday, September 9
The solo debut of Wand’s Cory Hanson came on as a panic, a car wreck, a shivering and sudden liquification. Every surface threatens with the promise of an untold depth, every depth threatens to collapse into a surface. The children of Limbo are gathered around a floor lamp, a darkening purple desert stretching out in every direction.
Loamlands — Lincoln Theatre, Saturday, September 9
Sweet High Rise might as well be a documentary about the state of Durham. The first full-length by the Kym Register-fronted Loamlands sees the songwriter sharply explore issues of gentrification, housing, and policing with a folk-country twinge. Hometown paper INDY Week said it was “a deeply emotional album, peppered with moments of tension, sadness, yearning, joy, and pain.”
Monk Parker — Fletcher, Friday, September 8
“Beautiful, languid… an overwhelming piece of horn- filled country melancholy… a melancholy clash of acoustic guitars and soft horns, held together by Parker’s heartbroken, well-whiskey vocals… Country slide guitars arch into trumpet fanfares with Parker’s voice pitched up into a stark delicacy. Had Jeff Mangum written a follow-up to In The Aeroplane Over The Sea while sitting half-drunk at an empty bar twenty miles outside of Austin, this could have been its centerpiece, fixation & all.
Dylan Earl — Fletcher, Friday, September 8
Dylan Earl released his first EP in August 2015, Blessing In Disguise, produced by Daniel Romano in Ridgeville, Ontario. Last summer saw the release of Yee-Haw from Arkansas a 3 track “pop-up” EP. A full-length pedal steel drenched studio album is due out Fall ’17 recorded in the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas. This past year consisted of shows ranging from Portland, ME to Portland, OR and many more stops across North America with his band the Reasons Why.
Shane Parish — Fletcher, Thursday, September 7
Shane Parish is a long time resident of Asheville, and has dedicated his life to perfecting his control over the guitar. Whether at the helm of cutting edge rock band Ahleuchatistas, cutting through ensembles as a world-class improvisor, or engaging as an educator, he is constantly focused on expanding dexterity. At the point of delivery, however, you maintain the feeling that his goal is not to impress, but to share.
Blois — Kings, Saturday, September 9
Blois aren’t just writing songs, they are making records. Their embrace of honest sentiment and simple live presentation is classically executed indie-pop, but it’s an audible love of production that gives shape to their latest release, April’s Lake, and what makes it one of the stand out records from a North Carolina band in 2017. The short release has it’s origins in a lo-fi ethos, but reaches for hi-fi sound worlds that predates and encompasses indie of the early aughts and echoes the legacies of Kate Bush, The Raincoats, Blondie, and David Byrne. Classic boldness filtered through modest expertise.
Hand Habits — Nash Hall, Saturday, September 9
“I know I’m not the picture perfect vision in your mind,” Meg Duffy croons in the ethereal opening salvo of Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), the debut record she released this February. The multi-instrumentalist didn’t pick up a guitar until she was seventeen, but her first record caught the attention of the music press, with Pitchfork saying that it “sounds birthed from exploration and experimentation.” They weren’t the only ones to take notice: Hand Habits released a follow-up 7” titled “yr heart” on Saddle Creek, the seminal Omaha label co-founded by Conor Oberst, in August.
Severed Fingers — Slims, Thursday, September 7
A folk punk outfit from the Bull City, Severed Fingers’ 2015 EP Trust No One straddled the line between AJJ and Tim Barry. The band heavily toured the East Coast and Midwest last summer, and are at work on their new record.