Tony Joe White With Jonah Tolchin
Tony Joe White
Jonah Tolchin
May 2, 2014 at 9:00 PM
The Double Door Inn
Charlotte, NC
Ticket sales ended May 2, 2014 5:00 PM. Additional tickets may be available at the box office.
$17 in Advance/
$20 Day of Show/
$2 Underage Fee/
Doors @ 8pm/
Doors @ 9pm/
- 16+ Show -
Music : Genre: Alt. Country,Americana,Blues,Folk Rock,Rock,Singer/Songwriter
Tony Joe White | 9:00 PM
“I’ve had unbelievable, beautiful freedom with the music for the last several years…” reflects Tony Joe White as a grainy dusk settles. Just entering his seventh decade, White spends his days off the road coaxing inspiration from his surroundings. Not one to write songs on command, they seem to find him—usually when he’s out on his property, a quiet couple of riverside acres some forty miles or so outside of Nashville. “All I can hear from where I sit,” he notes, “are coyotes, birds, or wolves.”

Amidst that tranquility was born HOODOO, his latest album, which emerges via Yep-Roc Records on September 17, 2013. “I never try to sit down and come up with something,” White says. “But I can be running down the white perch by the river or sitting by a campfire, and suddenly a line will come up, and it stays with me for a week or two.” These fragments reveal themselves to him as time passes, coalescing into songs of uncommon power whose humble beginnings and earthy parables reveal universal truths. And, sometimes, the truth stings…

Awash in danger, spiritual uncertainty, and environmental fury, HOODOO’s lyrical concerns are matched by a particularly intense strain of White’s trademark swamp funk. Hence the title’s double-edged meaning: “hoodoo” referring both to the songs’ ominous tone and the palpable vibe that filled the studio as the songs were cut. “Our studio is an old antebellum house,” White says, describing his Church Street Studio in Franklin, Tennessee. “I hear it was used early in the Civil War days as a doctor’s office. Wood floor, lotta wood everywhere—good for the acoustics.”

Cut mostly live to tape—vocals and all—much of Hoodoo consists of first takes. “There’s some actual magic that came over all of us when we were doing this,” White recalls. “I would sit down with my drummer Cadillac (Bryan Owings) and my bass player the Troll (Steve Forrest), play twenty seconds of the tune, and then say ‘We’re gonna hit record, and you just play what comes into your heart.’ It’s like everyone is getting the hoodoo sensation. Spontaneity is beautiful. And,” he adds, “since it’s our studio, there’s no hurry: no one is over our shoulder saying when we gotta get in and when we gotta get out…we were the record company.”

Culled from an initial stack of seventeen or eighteen tunes, the nine songs that comprise HOODOO come alive in the haunting atmosphere and intensity of the stripped-down recording process. Whether writing alone or with collaborators (including his wife Leann, who has been composing songs with and for her husband for over four decades), White gives the listener just enough to fire the imagination while leaving some elements tantalizingly unsaid. “Sometimes, he says slyly, “I like to let people figure out what happens next.”

HOODOO fades up upon a mist-shrouded cemetery that serves as the background for “The Gift.” “The gift,” he explains, “is music and songs. But it was just too powerful for this boy in the song, so he sat up in an old slave graveyard with a bottle of wine and a guitar.” As the protagonist hangs his head in lamentation, figures walk out of the past and appear before him, led by a mysterious woman. “These figures were Robert Johnson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and guys from off the plantations, and she was protecting them, because they hadn’t crossed over. They didn’t know how to. But this strange white boy on a tombstone starts singing and playing and singing this tune and…you can hear how it ends in the song, but it gives me chillbumps when I think about it.”

A specter of a different stripe hovers over “Storm Comin’” and “The Flood”—twinned tales of environmental devastation. “The Flood” is particularly resonant to White, as it tells the story of his trek homeward following the Nashville flood of 2010. “I was actually in Memphis the night it happened, we were playing a gig down there,” White recalls. “Trying to get back to Franklin the next day, we ran straight into the back ends of 40 miles of truckers. I finally pulled over and asked them what was going on, and he said ‘Franklin and Nashville went under a flood last night.’” When he finally got back to Franklin, he says, “We saw it, and we didn’t know it. Didn’t recognize it. And in the old studio there is an 11-foot basement. The water had come into the basement about two inches below the first floor, which is where we keep the guitars, the tapes—my life story. I was very lucky.”

Similarly fortunate are the destitute characters in “Alligator, Mississippi.” “It’s a real place,” White explains. “Not far outta Tunica, not far from Greenville, and let’s just say…if you’re there, you should get gas and get out. I only stopped there once, because my wife had to use the bathroom. You get out and right away you’re surrounded by people wondering why you’re there—and they don’t care about you. In the song, you don’t know exactly how far he made it outta there.”

One of HOODOO’s songs, “9 Foot Sack,” tells of White’s upbringing. “That’s my story,” he says, “of when I was growing up in Louisiana on Daddy’s old cotton farm. Five sisters and my older brother—seven kids. We never felt like we were poor. We worked hard, but we had plenty to eat, and we cared about each other.” Back then, music wasn’t something you listened to. His family played music for entertainment, for release. The blues was added to his childhood diet of country and gospel thanks to a Lightnin’ Hopkins record his brother bought. From there, White was hooked, learning to play his father’s guitar by ear.

After he finished schooling, following a stint driving a truck in Georgia, he formed a series of bands and took to the road. Over countless gigs and a vast repertoire of cover tunes, his laidback, country blues-inflected vocals learned to thrive against the roil of an R&B backbeat. His signature sound was completed when he began to introduce original songs drawn from his experiences and upbringing. A trip to Nashville in 1966 was marked by one lucky break after another, and his fruitful recording career began at the fabled country-soul crucible of Monument Records. Gems like “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia” were just the beginning, as he proceeded to write, record, and perform regularly through the present day, finding great success both at home and abroad. Through the years, his songs have been recorded by everyone from Tina Turner to Elvis Presley to Dusty Springfield.

Despite his illustrious past, White feels no pressure to top himself. “There’s not a push nowhere,” he concludes. “Maybe I’ll stop playing shows and making records when the songs quit coming to me. But they still come to me. You see, I don’t work for a song—but once I get a hold of it I don’t let go. I just keep writing, and when I do, I want to go out and play it for somebody. It’s the songwriting that keeps me going.”

In fact, even with HOODOO in the can, White’s already gathering new material. “Yesterday I was fishing,” he says,” and a guitar lick comes into my head…then it lays back there. It’s still in my head, every 30 minutes it comes back. So I know that I gotta build a fire, sit down, and figure out what it’s gonna tell me.” more >>>
Jonah Tolchin | 9:00 PM
"I just moved in a few days ago," says songwriter Jonah Tolchin as he surveys his new surroundings. The busy summer season that enlivens the small coastal town of Bar Harbor, Maine is now in its twilight. A local fiddler has just stopped by to pay a friendly visit, and Tolchin is clearly reinvigorated by the prospect of a few days off from a relentless touring schedule that has largely consumed the past year of his life. Bar Harbor is the first place he's called home in a while. "I can't tell you how nice it is to have a place of my own," he says, relaxed and welcoming. "Finally I have a place to do things I love -- the things that inspire the songs. But before long, I'll be truckin' along again…"

There's something about the rugged resilience of this old New England town that suits Tolchin and his music, and one can't help but draw parallels…his songs are direct, tough. Born of deep feeling, of struggles and trials, he delivers them with elegant simplicity and a clarity that speaks to his deep foundation in -- and affinity for -- classic folk and blues forms. But Tolchin is no museum piece or revivalist. "I'm drawn to the older stuff," he explains, "because the belief and passion behind the singing is something I can feel in my heart and my bones. My mission has always been to find my place in this continuum and bring it forward in my own way -- in a new way." His way, illustrated so convincingly on the newly released Five Dollar EP and a forthcoming full-length release, bridges the gap between classic folk self-sufficiency and punk's DIY defiance -- with a uniquely poetic, open-hearted sensibility at its core.

Raised in a music-filled central New Jersey household by a professional storyteller mother and a father who once ran a record store on the Mississippi delta, Tolchin's ears were open to music's potential at an early age -- although it took a few years to fully settle in. "It's like my mom knew -- like she had a certain intuition," Tolchin reflects. "There were always these toy instruments around the house. I remember doing little parades around the kitchen with different ones." As he grew into a restless adolescence, guitar lessons came and went. "It didn't really completely stick," he says, "until my best friend that I'd known since pre-school started playing -- so, of course I did, too."

A self-described "rebellious child," Tolchin ended up dropping out of his local public high school, running afoul of the law, and lapsing into depression. He spent a year being home schooled while honing his guitar skills. "I realized that I needed an outlet for this energy I had," he says, looking back. "It was then that I found out that my dad had lived in Mississippi for a time. He introduced me to the blues. I really felt a connection with that way of expressing yourself and dealing with these pent up feelings and problems that we all have." Barely a teenager, he found solace first in the blues' electric mavericks -- Buddy Guy and Freddie King foremost among them.

His passion quickly invigorated his nascent guitar chops. "The first confirmation for me was when I was playing in a music store," he recalls, "and Ronnie Earl was there." The New England blues icon overheard Tolchin, and approached him. "He took me out to lunch and asked me to join him onstage at a show a few weeks later in Londonderry, New Hampshire. It was a really beautiful gesture. It was amazing to have that sort of validation from such a legend. I thought, 'I guess i can do something with this.'"

Tolchin's interest in electric blues grew to encompass its acoustic predecessors, which in term lead to him discovering and embracing other traditional folk forms. From Guthrie's talking blues to the unyielding pulse of old-tyme stringband music, Tolchin absorbed it, attempted to play it, and in the process found his own voice as a songwriter and a performer. "I have to say that for me, my turning point for acoustic music and songwriting was when I went to the Newport Folk Festival for the first time," he recalls. "It sent shockwaves through me, in a beautiful way. The most riveting thing there for me was Joe Pug. He was just starting out, and he played a low-key acoustic set by the water. When I was watching him play, I said to myself, 'This is my life's goal: to play this festival.'"

At that point, his high school band (the curiously named Uncle Fran's Breakfast) was dissolving, its members scattering off to universities around the world. "I didn't take the SAT," Tolchin says. "I knew what I wanted to do, and I couldn't put my faith in anyone but myself. So I went out and started playing. I worked seriously on writing songs. I bought recording gear. I played at open mic nights, which lead to shows." Now based in Rhode Island, he worked at making a name for himself, and completed his first full-length release, Criminal Man, recorded at Dirt Floor with Eric Lichter with the help of local stalwarts such as Ben Knox Miller of Low Anthem and Brown Bird's David Lamb and MorganEve Swain.

In 2012, with Criminal Man enjoying airplay at home and abroad along with fine notices in the media, Jonah Tolchin was asked to perform at the Newport Folk Festival. The pivotal experience came at a time when he was beginning to realize something. "Everything I've done since the beginning of my songwriting and performing career has been an evolution," he says, "And I've come to realize that I don't really consider myself a folk artist. I'm not an anything artist anymore: I don't believe in genres."

Tolchin has followed Criminal Man with the 5 Dollar EP, his first collaboration with producer Marvin Etzioni (Lone Justice). Its tracks were recorded solo, completely live. Etzioni rigged up a vintage Califone turntable and set the needle into the runout groove of Jon Wayne's Texas Funeral record. Tolchin played along to the crackle and hum, losing himself in a bygone sonic environment. The result is a visceral session that is also strangely otherworldly. "It was almost like a middle finger to the way records are made these days," says Tolchin, smiling.

Upon hearing "Song About Home," Roseanne Cash remarked, "This is an aching, intimate anthem that resonates with every journeyman or woman who's longing for home, real or imagined, inside or out."

Etzioni and Tolchin recorded the upcoming full-length Clover Lane, Tolchin's first full-band record, quickly and spontaneously in Nashville, with Mike Anderson engineering and an impressive cast that includes Chris Scruggs, Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), John McCauley (Deer Tick), Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson), and more. It was mixed in Silverlake, California with Sheldon Gomberg and subsequently mastered by Bernie Grundman.

Until Clover Lane's summer 2014 release, Tolchin will be back on the road -- following some much needed rest and recharge in his new hometown. He's also bracing for Clover Lane's release by assembling his first-ever touring band. "What I really want from my shows," he says, "more than anything, is to create more of an experience for everyone involved. For me, the most beautiful thing about music is collaboration." Collaboration is already proving fruitful for Tolchin, forming the first pages of what promises to be an invigorating new chapter of a saga just starting. more >>>
General Admission
Event Schedule

Tony Joe White

9:00 PM

Jonah Tolchin

9:00 PM