Live music sounds better while standing under a big open sky. Fortunately, this summer the Blue Ridge region is full of options to get your outdoor sonic fix.A Big Dose of Alt-CountryWhile alt-country and Americana sounds are thriving through a continually expanding crop of new artists, an upcoming tour will feature three pioneering artists that have been messing with the borders of traditional twang for decades. The LSD Tour, a triple bill featuring Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and Dwight Yoakam, will offer a trip through the extensive catalogs of the extremely prolific singer-songwriters. This year Earle has been playing shows that specifically celebrate the 30th anniversary of his landmark album Copperhead Road, acclaimed for its mix of gritty rock and dusty Texas storytelling. Williams, too, has been looking back, last year releasing a re-recorded version of her 1992 album Sweet Old World to mark its 25th anniversary. Once a cowpunk trailblazer, Yoakam crossed over and became a country hitmaker in the late 80s. The honky-tonk icon released his last album, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars, in 2016, but he stays busy on the road and occasionally as an actor. He appeared in last year’s film “Logan Lucky” with Channing Tatum and Adam Driver.The tour includes stops this month at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (June 17) and Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore, Md. (June 19). Later in the summer, the tour moves deeper into the South, stopping at Chastain Park in Atlanta, Ga. (August 9), Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, N.C. (August 10), and Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre in Charlotte, N.C. (August 11).Alternative NostalgiaThirty years ago the Pixies released Surfer Rosa, a breakout debut album that put the band on its way to becoming pop-punk heroes. Six years later similar melodic angst was heard in the debut self-titled record from Weezer; an effort affectionately known to fans as “The Blue Album” that contained the hits “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So.” This summer the two bands with mutual admiration for each other are teaming up for a lengthy summer tour of huge outdoor sheds. Fist-pumping alt-rock anthems will be plentiful as both groups dive into their extensive catalogs. The Pixies reunited in 2004 after a break-up that lasted 11 years; the band has since released two albums, the latest being 2016’s Head Carrier. Weezer has been more prolific, recently infusing its sound with modern electronica touches on last fall’s Pacific Daydream. At press time, the band was scheduled to release another self-titled effort (this one known as “The Black Album”) on May 25, but few details had been revealed.The joint tour includes stops at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va. (July 22), Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, N.C. (July 24), and PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, N.C. (July 25).DangermuffinBreweries Tap into TunesAround the region many craft breweries with expansive properties are using their open spaces to host outdoor shows. This summer, Devils Backbone Brewing Company, located in the mountains of central Virginia near Wintergreen Resort, is launching the new Music in the Blue Ridge concert series with shows taking place on the first Saturday of June, July, and August. The series starts on June 2 with a triple bill featuring Yarn, Dangermuffin, and Grateful Dead cover band the ‘77z, and during all shows the brewery will offer onsite camping.Down in Black Mountain, N.C., Pisgah Brewing Company is known for churning out some great beers like Greybeard IPA and the rich Valdez coffee stout. The brewery also has an outdoor stage with enough room to host bands like Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers (June 26), Rebelution (June 27), Lake Street Dive (July 3), and the Punch Brothers (July 13).Wheels of Soul Rolls OnIt was sad times last year for fans of blues-rock legends the Allman Brothers Band after the deaths of founders Greg Allman and Butch Trucks. But fortunately, former member Derek Trucks and his wife Susan Tedeschi are carrying the torch of Southern-flavored jams with the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The 12-piece outfit tours relentlessly, delivering high-energy shows that highlight Trucks’ blazing guitar licks and Tedeschi’s deeply soulful vocals, backed by a powerful band that includes tight rhythm and horn sections.For the fourth straight year, the group is embarking on its Wheels of Soul Tour. The roots-driven caravan takes the band across the country this summer, this time pairing Tedeschi Trucks with Drive-By Truckers and the Marcus King Band. Dates in the South: Volvo Car Stadium in Charleston, S.C. (July 1), Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va. (July 11), Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, N.C. (July 13), and Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre in Charlotte, N.C. (July 15).City SoundsMany Southern cities host concert series in the summer with impressive line-ups for little or no cost. In Richmond, Va., the three-decade-old Friday Cheers features top national acts along the James River on Brown’s Island for no more than 10 bucks. Through the end of the month, catch sets from Tyler Childers (June 1), Rhiannon Giddens (June 8), Parquet Courts (June 15), Knower (June 22) and the Turnpike Troubadours (June 29).In Asheville, N.C., the monthly Downtown After 5 concert series takes place on the third Friday of the month from May through September. This year bands playing for free on North Lexington Avenue include Town Mountain (June 15), Fantastic Negrito (July 20), Southern Avenue (August 17), and hip-hop legends the Pharcyde (September 21).
Leslie Noble Stratton (Image: Indiana State Excise)HOLTON – Family, friends and colleagues are mourning the loss of a local excise officer who passed away Wednesday morning after a long and courageous battle with cancer.Sgt. Leslie Noble Stratton, of Holton, graduated from Jac-Cen-Del High School in 1973, when he joined the United States Army. He served in the military for three years and was promoted to Sergeant.Stratton joined the Indiana State Excise Police on Jan. 8, 1979, after completing an internship with the agency as a student at Vincennes University, from which he earned his associates degree.He was initially assigned to the Vincennes district before transferring to the Seymour Area where he served the remainder of his career. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1987 and received the departments Educator of the Year award in 1997.“It is with heavy hearts that we bid farewell to our friend and colleague, Les,” Superintendent Matt Strittmatter said. “During my time as superintendent, I found Les to be a man of few words; however, when he spoke, he offered much wisdom. This is the result of his experience as an excise officer and his dedication to doing his part to ensure the safety of Indiana citizens. He will be greatly missed by the department, and our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to his family.”Sgt. Stratton is survived by his wife, Vernice (Owens) Stratton, of Holton, Ind.; his son, Roger Stratton and his wife, Rhonda Stratton, of Holton, Ind.; his daughter, Jennifer Nicholson, and her husband, Hank Nicholson, of Versailles, Ind.; and his daughter-in-law, Katherine Hiatt. He was preceded in death by his son, Scott Stratton, in 2003.Sgt. Stratton is also survived by six grandchildren: Emmett Stratton, Levi Stratton, Emma Hiatt, Lanie Nicholson, Lucie Nicholson and Clint Nicholson.Funeral arrangements are pending.
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and Vice President for Athletic Compliance Dave Roberts met with National Collegiate Athletic Association President Mark Emmert on Wednesday following the NCAA’s announcement that it would reduce sanctions against Penn State.“After learning of the NCAA’s actions on Tuesday regarding Penn State and the lessening of the sanctions that were imposed on that institution, when viewed in the context of the events that have shaken intercollegiate athletics over the past year, we felt compelled to discuss USC’s sanctions in a new light,” Haden said in a statement.The Penn State sanctions, which were instated as a consequence of the scandal surrounding former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, previously capped the university’s 2014 student-athlete scholarships to 65 scholarships. However, the NCAA announced Tuesday that the scholarship cap would be increased to 75 scholarships in 2014, 80 in 2015 and return to the full allotment of 85 scholarships by 2016, according to ESPN.Reflecting on the past · USC athletic director traveled to Indianapolis on Wednesday to meet with the NCAA about USC’s football sanctions. – Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanThe meetings focused on enforcement and sanction issues, specifically with regards to how to come up with fair solutions for both USC and the NCAA community.“After candid discussions, the NCAA asked us to provide additional information and indicated it would study our suggestions,” Haden said.USC’s sanctions came as a result of the 2010 Reggie Bush case, and reduced the total football scholarship limit from 85 scholarships to 75 annual scholarships. Haden noted, however, that football players who were injured or transferred left the Trojans with less than 60 recruited scholarship student-athletes.“I believe the penalties imposed on our football program in 2010 were unprecedented and inconsistent with NCAA precedent in prior cases,” Haden said. “Since the Committee on Infractions issued its sanctions in 2010, USC has been held up as a model and praised for its integrity and commitment to compliance, a fact often mentioned by the NCAA itself.”