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Onward, Soldiers
Friday, April 27th
Soapbox • 255 N. Front St.
10 p.m. • $8-13

ALLURING AMERICANA: Onward, Soldiers brings its charming and eclectic folk-rock back to Wilmington after a two-month tour. Courtesy photo.

Only a few short months ago the local men of Onward, Soldiers released their sophomore album, “Monsters,” to illustrious reviews. The catchy and charming single “Telling Nobody” earned the interest of iTunes, as the music giant selected it as a featured song. The band took off on a vigorous two-month tour, laced with shows at festivals like 35 Denton in Texas and venues like the Fox Theatre in Colorado. Of course their trip began here at home on the cozy stage of Soapbox Laundro-Lounge. It’s the same scene in which we can welcome them back, as they’ll bring their upbeat, unpredictable Americana to Soapbox on Friday, April 27th.

“The tour was great, a learning experience both musically and personally,” drummer Kevin Rhodes expresses. “We are proud to be North Carolina artists out there representing. We were well received and [we’re] grateful for that.”

The band—completed by bassist Jarrett Michael Dorman, lead guitarist Lincoln Morris, and the undeniable and alluring vocals of young Sean Thomas Gerard—will focus on the eastern part of the nation during its summer tour. Before they take off again, Onward, Soldiers will be joined by two captivating groups in their own right: Mount Moriah and The Great Book of John.

Folks may remember Heather McEntire from her days with Bellafea, a three-piece grunge/punk outfit that uprooted from Wilmington to Chapel Hill last decade. Renowned then for her formidable but always magnificent vocals, she now fronts the duo Mount Moriah. Along with guitarist Jenks Miller (and sometimes utilizing the musical talents of friends), they produce folk-rock sprinkled with a dash of gospel and soul.

The song “Lament” from their self-titled album/DVD, released April 2011, receives air time on Penguin 98.3, and they’ve even performed it live on 89.3 The Current in Minnesota. In fact, NPR featured the irrevocably haunting tune as a song of the week last fall. Its lyrics, spawned from McEntire who studied poetry at UNCW, harp both angelically and bewitchingly on heartache. “A mouthful of bees/Couldn’t stop me/From whispering/‘I don’t love you.’”

This show will be the second in an extremely long list of concerts during Mount Moriah’s spring tour, including a stop in Nashville for the first time. “I love traveling and performing, so touring is really enjoyable for me,” McEntire shares. “It’s hard work, but it’s crucial to tour and get your name out there. And I feel like we [are] sonically really different live than on record, so that’s fun.”

Hailing all the way from Birmingham, Alabama, The Great Book of John is an exciting four-piece with many layers of sound. The instrumentation is dramatic, earning the band reviews which have likened it to Radiohead and Wilco. “You can hear our backgrounds in soul, our folk undertones and even classic rock,” vocalist Bekah Fox explains. “There’s attention paid to the lows of Gillian Welch, solos of Hendrix and emotional energy of Cobain.”

Filled out by Taylor Shaw (lead vocals, guitar), Alex Mitchell (upright bass) and Chip Kilpatrick (drums), the group released their mostly acoustic debut record, “Yves’ Blues,” in 2008. From that point, they pursued working with well-known executives to create their most recent, self-titled release. Jeffrey Cain, producer and musician of Remy Zero fame, Grammy Award-winning engineer Darrell Thorp (Radiohead, Outkast), and Paul Logus (Jimmy Page, Beyonce) lent the group their talents. From “Yves’ Blues” to “The Great Book of band, too.”

A trifecta of sounds isn’t all Onward, Soldiers has up its sleeves for Friday. Rhodes also invited his friend, Kayne Darrell of Stop Titan Action Network (STAN), to the concert to share info about the nonprofit and local environmental consciousness. Last spring, Titan filed a lawsuit against the local mother and a pediatrician, Dr. David Hill, for statements made about the effects our area would endure should the corporation build along the Cape Fear River. The claim of slander was dropped earlier this month, but the two still oppose the cement plant coming to our community.

“Life is bigger than rock ‘n’ roll,” Rhodes says. “Positive and lasting change begins with each one of us. STAN is a group of regular people who [stand] up for us to ensure our rights to clean air and water. This issue is still active, and it’s important to get the facts on how we can help. Anywhere community gathers is a chance to spread good ideas—to share, to learn.”

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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