Melissa Swingle Duo, Johnny Dowd, David Childers

Melissa Swingle Duo

Johnny Dowd

David Childers

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

$8.00 - $10.00

Melissa Swingle Duo
Melissa Swingle Duo
Melissa Swingle earned her outsider status early. She comes originally from Mississippi by way of the Ivory Coast, where, as she puts it, “I gained the knowledge that I would never really fit in wherever I go.” This is good news for us, as Melissa’s search for meaning has led her to write and sing marvelous songs of American life, tour the country, and record and perform with three bands. The first of these, Trailer Bride, made five records. Three more albums were issued by Swingle’s subsequent band, The Moaners. Through it all Melissa has toured the country, performing with Neko Case, The Mountain Goats, The Drive-By Truckers and Jesco White, The Dancing Outlaw. Such is her commitment to Southern expression that Swingle drove fourteen hours straight from a gig at Tipitina’s in New Orleans to be the last act to ever play Sleazefest in Chapel Hill. Meantime, her songs have appeared in movies and radio.
Johnny Dowd
Johnny Dowd
American alternative country musician. Born 29 March 1948 in Fort Worth, Texas, USA.

Previous band Neon Baptist disbanded in 1995, and Dowd was recording songs alone in the office of his Zolar Moving Co, songs that first appeared in 1995 on the cassette album Wrong Side Of Memphis, crediting Dowd as a solo artist, featuring Kim Sherwood-Caso on two instances of background vocals. Most of tracks were re-mixed or re-recorded for the CD version of the album, which was initially pressed as a self-released CD and then officially released on the European label Munich Records and the Chicago-based Checkered Past label.
David Childers
David Childers
Singer-songwriter David Childers is the proverbial study in

contradictions. A resident of Mount Holly, North Carolina, he’s a former high-school football player with

the aw-shucks demeanor of a good ol’ Southern boy. But he’s also a well-read poet and painter who cites

Chaucer and Kerouac as influences, fell in love with folk as a teen, listens to jazz and opera, and fed his

family by practicing law before turning in his license to concentrate on his creative passions.

The legal profession’s loss is certainly the music world’s gain. Childers’ new album, Run Skeleton Run,

releasing May 5, 2017 on Ramseur Records, is filled with the kinds of songs that have made him a

favorite of fans and fellow artists including neighbors the Avett Brothers. Scott Avett contributes to four

tracks, and Avetts bassist Bob Crawford co-executive- produced the effort with label head Dolph

Ramseur. (Crawford and Childers, both history buffs, have recorded and performed together in the

Overmountain Men).

In fact, it was Crawford who kickstarted this album, Childers’ sixth solo effort, by suggesting he reunite

with Don Dixon (R.E.M., the Smithereens), who’d produced Crawford’s favorite Childers album, Room 23

(done with his band the Modern Don Juans). Crawford also suggested tracking at Mitch Easter’s

Fidelitorium Recordings.

“I’ve made records in my living room and been perfectly happy with it. But I think ol’ Bob wanted to give it

one more shot,” Childers says. “It’s kind of like the Wild Bunch at the end of the movie, on their last train


Not that he’s suggesting this is his “last train robbery.” Not with songs as rich as these. Sounding like

literature and playing like little movies — several are under three minutes long — they’re populated by

sailors, hermits, lovers and killers, facing off against fate, skeletons, good, evil, or simply the trials of

everyday existence. Lust, virtue, guilt, innocence; alienation, desperation, sorrow, gratitude … he

examines these conditions with such precision — combined with music that draws on folk, rock,

rockabilly, country and Cajun influences — he doesn’t need lengthy exposition.

“You look at a song like ‘Pancho and Lefty’; it tells a story in four stanzas,” Childers notes. “An amazing

story. That’s the way I approach songwriting. You don’t have to say so damned much. ‘The train went

down, oh lord oh lord.’”

That line is from “Belmont Ford,” a mandolin-laden disaster song about the Great Flood of 1916. It’s

based on a poem by Mary Struble Deery, a Chicago friend. The twang- and bluegrass-infused “Collar and

Bell” (featuring drums/percussion by his son, Robert, and fiddle by Geoffrey White) had a similar origin; its

lyrics are derived from ones written by Shannon Mayes, an Ohio school principal. Another Ohioan, Mark

Freeman, shares credit for “Hermit,” a mid-tempo rocker of sorts with Dixon singing harmony, that

Freeman started and Childers finished.

“I’m always looking for ideas,” he says. “I’ve never been able to get any serious writers to co-write with

me. Here are these folks, just regular people, and they got something to say, and they’re sending me

stuff, and I’m going ‘Well, if they’re gonna send it to me, I’m gonna try and do something with it.’”

Childers has always regarded his place in the musical pantheon as that of an outsider, though not

deservedly so. As those involved with this album indicate, he’s well-regarded among tastemakers.

Evidence includes playing the syndicated World Café and Mountain Stage radio shows (he’s done the

latter twice), as well as Merlefest’s mainstage. He’s also toured in Europe, and hopes to again. But he

credits the support of Crawford and Ramseur with helping him sustain his musical career — which began

in college, though he didn’t start recording until the ’90s.

Childers’ father had given him a banjo when he was 14, but he still had his “jock mentality” back then and

didn’t do much with it. That changed when he picked up a guitar at 18.

“My girlfriend had left me for one of my best friends and I was all shook up and needed an outlet besides

drinking and fighting. As soon as I learned my first chords on a guitar, I knew I had a friend who would

never betray me,” he recalls. He formed his first band, the acoustic trio Steeltree, in 1973, and released

his first album, Godzilla! He Done Broke Out!, as David Childers & the Mount Holly Hellcats, in 1995. His

first solo album, Time Machine, came in 1998. He spent several years playing rock, folk and honky-tonk

with the David Childers Band, then the Modern Don Juans, whose fans included the Avett boys. He calls

his current band the Serpents, but says he’s given up trying to label each incarnation.

His last album, 2014’s Serpents of Reformation, delved into religion; this time, several songs address

aging and the perspective of a man in review mode — a perspective he sums up on the final track,

“Goodbye to Growing Old,” written with Theresa Halfacre. It approaches the subject with a mix of

acceptance and defiance.

Well, it’s mostly just a state of mind/And I ain’t about to say that it’s time/To surrender to anything.

Anything. Anything, he sings, driving home his points with harmonica and his own layered harmony.

“I used to be afraid of growing old, but now I wouldn’t trade where I am for all the lean fury of my youth,”

Childers insists, saying he’s happier now than he’s ever been. Especially now that he can concentrate on

making music and painting; he and Robert did the album cover, a fine example of his primitive/outsider


He’s also considering adding memoirs to his publishing credits, which include two books of poetry. And

there’s gardening, and dogs and cats, to tend. Yep, life’s pretty good for the man Crawford likes to call

“the sage of Mount Holly.”

Crawford has also called Childers “a great friend, a great thinker and a great man … a true North Carolina


But let’s take out “North Carolina,” because Childers is the kind of treasure who can spread joy wherever

people love listening to great songs. In other words, just about anywhere. Or everywhere.
Venue Information:
Local 506
506 W. Franklin St
Chapel Hill, NC, 27516