Tom Merrigan’s Hot Racoons Album Release Blowout, with Curtis Eller’s American Circus
Get ready for a very special show! Two bands known for their phenomenal, ultra-high energy stage shows are teaming up for what promises to be one of the most cathartic outbursts of joy and outright fun of the new year. Both bands have gained loyal followings by taking traditional American musical forms, twisting them to the breaking point and cranking up the energy until audiences are whipped into a dancing frenzy. Alone, either band would normally be the moment that everything else builds up to. Together for the first time, be prepared to have the roof blown off! Finally, we’ll cap it all off with a sweet lagniappe (that’s New Orleans for “a little extra”) by ushering in the Mardi Gras season with a smashing New Orleans flavored set. The bands will combine and bring on surprise guests to create an exuberantly and unabashedly booze-soaked all-star romp as the Martini Gras Second Rounders. What could possibly go wrong?
Tom Merrigan’s Hot Racoons
Virtuoso boogie-woogie piano phenomenon Tom Merrigan is known for playing so fast and hard that he sometimes leaves blood on the keys! To assist him with the blood-letting several years ago he assembled a crack team of some of the area’s top musicians. Together, they belt out a collection of highly original tunes which manages to be both thoroughly quirky and new yet firmly rooted in the great, American boogie-woogie tradition. This evening they will celebrate the release of their album, “Let’s Get Lost,” recorded before a live audience as they lit the factory floor on fire at the late, great Mystery Brewing Company.
Tom initially rose to prominence in New York as a founding member of the New Rags, playing wild, high-speed ragtime piano through a maxed out guitar amp while a drummer thrashed with wild abandon. Crowds loved it! The quirky group gained a loyal fan base and even got picked up by Nike for a TV commercial.
Tom found his way to North Carolina where he started the Durham Street Piano Project. A fund raising campaign back in the early days of Kickstarter got him an upright piano with wheels on it and a trailer to tow it around town. Since then, he’s been popping up around town and on local stages, busting out his joyous noise in shows and surprising us at times on random street corners when you least expect.
A few years ago Tom began hankering for a band. He teamed up with a sax player, then added drums, then more vocals and finally rounded out the horns with a trombone. The group now boasts powerhouse singer Dana Marks, omnipresent local horn players Danny Grewen on trombone and Steve Cowles on sax, and Kevin Magill on a most unusual drum set that he built with his own bare hands. Dubbed the “Hot Racoons” in homage to Tom’s mild obsession with our trash panda friends, they began to take area stages by storm. Since then, they have developed a reputation for over the top, no holds barred shows that leave both themselves and the audience drenched in sweat.
Word of mouth has been spreading about the Hot Rocoons and their electric shows as their fans have become ever more numerous. If you are one, you know why. If not, come find out!
Baby Won’ t You Come On Home With Me
Curtis Eller’s American Circus
Curtis Eller will change every idea you might have ever had about what can or should be done with a banjo. The son of a circus performer and the father of a gymnast, his wild stage acrobatics are matched only by the explosive energy of his musical performances. Impossible to categorize, Curtis calls himself a “rock and roll banjo player,” and his live shows run the gamut from screaming barn burners to eccentric humor to poignant ballads and social commentary. He treads the line between thought provoking and completely out of control, and you can even dance to it! His music manages that rare combination of hooking you immediately with its catchiness and propulsive beat while at the same time giving you something more to chew on, with killer song-writing and smart lyrics that touch on everything from Hollywood choreographer Busby Berkeley to Abraham Lincoln to boxer Joe Lewis to comedian Lenny Bruce. He recently even recorded a Pete Seeger song that he once played for Pete himself, but Curtis’ version has definitely got a very different stamp on it. If you’ve never seen an audience flinging their limbs about in wild abandon to a song about Richard M. Nixon, this is your chance.
A Detroit native, Curtis spent 15 years in the New York and European music scenes before taking up residency in North Carolina. His current band and latest work takes Curtis in new directions, putting together seasoned NC musicians for a harder driving sound with horns, expanded arrangements and an unpredictable spontaneity on stage. With legions of fans and years of successful tours across the United States and Europe, this is a band that people cannot get enough of. On their recent European tour fans who saw them at the beginning of the tour began popping up again and again, traveling hundreds of miles to see them a second and third time. Long-time fans say that Curtis is at the top of his game and his latest songs and shows are better than ever!
Old Time Religion
The Martini Gras Second Rounders
It’s a secret, but you’re gonna love ’em. Just trust us on this.