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Wilco's Glenn Kotche keeps his own time

The last time I interviewed Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche was 2006, at which point Wilco wasn't too far past its revolving-door period. But even though Wilco had near-constant turnover of personnel during its early years, the band's lineup has been a model of stability since right around that time.

"Things are still going well with the Wilco camp," Kotche said in a recent interview. "Everybody gets along, we all still believe in the music, the live shows are still exciting. We just found the rite lineup. Once Nels and Pat joined seven years ago, it just clicked and we can kind of do anything we want with this lineup. There's enough experience and everyone is comfortable enough in a lot of different genres to handle anything. And everyone is personally very cool, so it works out."

One cool aspect of Wilco is that everyone in the band has intriguing side projects, and Kotche is in the Triangle this weekend for precisely that reason. For details, see the preview in Friday's paper.

What to Watch on Saturday: NFL honors and great late night music

My Cat From Hell (8pm, Animal Planet) - Jackson Galaxy helps a woman whose cat attacks her roommate every chance it gets. I say, maybe the cat knows something she doesn't know. Also, some newlyweds move into a new house and then their cats suddenly no longer get along.

NFL Honors (9pm, NBC) - In advance of this weekend's Super Bowl, the NFL salutes its top players and plays in Indianapolis. Host Alec Baldwin is joined by celebrities and NFL stars, and awards are presented to NFL MVP, Coach of the Year, and the Walter Payton Man of the Year.

Pit Boss (9pm, Animal Planet) - The rescue of a severely abused pit bull turns dangerous for Shorty and Sebastian when the dog is frightened.

Saturday Night Live (11:29pm, NBC) - Channing Tatum hosts. Despite that fact, I will tune in for the musical guest Bon Iver.

Austin City Limits (Midnight, UNC-TV) - Wilco performs from their 2011 album "The Whole Love."

My best-of-2011 countdown

In this age of on-demand micro-niches, the consensus implied by year-end top-10 lists is truly a thing of the past. The very idea of "albums" seems pretty dated, too. And yet good ones are still coming out all the time, albums that hold up as complete listening experiences. Here are the 10 that I found myself returning to most often during 2011, most (but not all) of them far from the charts.

 

(1) Wilco, "The Whole Love" (dBpm) -- Proof that clean and sober does not necessarily equate to dull. Thanks to Jeff Tweedy's anguished yelp, "The Whole Love" courses with a tension that does not release until the epic closer, "One Sunday Morning," which is as pretty and hopeful as a sunrise.

(2) Bon Iver, "Bon Iver" (Jagjaguwar) -- Who knew that Justin Vernon had a musical crush on Bruce Hornsby? Vernon's second full-length as Bon Iver follows up his debut's rustic folk with the sort of lush synthesizer ambience that was topping the charts 25 years ago, without sounding the least bit musty.

(3) Gillian Welch, "The Harrow & The Harvest" (Acony) -- How Welch and David Rawlings get so much out of so little remains one of the wonders of our time. This is just voice and acoustic guitars, yet it somehow conjures up vast and deep galaxies of feelings and images.

(4) The War on Drugs, "Slave Ambient" (Secretly Canadian) -- Where Bon Iver uses technology to evoke crystalline frigidity, Adam Granduciel conjures up something far warmer with The War on Drugs. "Slave Ambient" sounds like a combination of Bob Dylan and Tangerine Dream, and it's brilliant.

(5) Youth Lagoon, "The Year of Hibernation" (Fat Possum) -- In a similar vein is Youth Lagoon, nom de plume of Trevor Powers, a young man from Idaho who makes dreamy bedroom pop. It sounds impossibly far away until you realize it has wormed its way into your heart.

(6) Black Keys, "El Camino" (Nonesuch) -- Beck hasn't been heard from in a couple of years, but this Ohio garage-rock duo fills in for him admirably. "El Camino" stands as a very tasty junk-culture pastiche that's more pop than blues, but it's still plenty of both.

(7) Megafaun, "Megafaun" (Hometapes) -- So much popular music can seem like a huge dead end. But in the capable hands of this Triangle trio, it's a living, breathing thing on their third album -- a sprawling, weird and wonderful folk-rock concoction.

(8) Wye Oak, "Civilian" (Merge) -- Take the earnestness of revivalist folk, add a bit of electronic texture and guitar wizardry, turn the seriousness way up and add a chewy pop center of catchiness. Presto, you've got the latest from this Baltimore duo. The best album Durham-based Merge Records put out this year, and that's saying something.

(9) Smoke Fairies, "Through Low Light and Trees" (year 7) -- This British twosome is aptly named, in that their music evokes misty mountains cloaked with the forest primeval. You half expect King Arthur himself to come riding up.

(10) Tom Waits, "Bad as Me" (Anti-) -- Waits' albums all sound like he's cut out a small piece of himself and set it to deep, primitive blues. "Bad as Me" is no exception and it's not an easy listen -- but it is an effective one, heavy on the bangs and clangs. There's still no one better at always sounding exactly like himself.

Wilco plays Raleigh

About an hour into Wilco's Tuesday night show at Downtown Raleigh Amphitheater, Jeff Tweedy broke his vocal spell just long enough to banter a bit. Noting that Wilco's new album had been released that day, he deadpanned, "Won't you join us in singing along with songs you don't know?"

That preceded a song with the conclusion, "I was born to die alone" -- and funny thing, that just happens to be said album's first single. Leave it to Tweedy to make a song laced with existential dread the radio-emphasis track. But doing things the hard (or at least unconventional) way has always been Wilco's style. Meanwhile, there's also this: Even if you can't sing along with Tweedy's words, you can probably sing along with Nels Cline's guitar.

Barring that, you can see lots of photos from Tuesday's concert here.

Wilco will abide -- but not pay attention

Not that the band registers beyond a tiny blip in the Perez Hilton quadrant of show-business gossip, but Wilco has never lacked for buzz and drama. In fact, there's enough Wilco chatter in the online world that lead guitarist Nels Cline (the guy in the red jacket) puts a bit of effort into ignoring it.

"When I was joining Wilco, Jeff Tweedy asked me, 'Do you prefer to remain shrouded in ignorance?'" Cline said in a recent interview. "And I said 'yes.' It's nothing I'm proud of. I have this crazy idea about having a real life; quality time and all that. Plus I'm an older guy, I don't have much time left. Everybody thinks I'm this weird workaholic who never sleeps, which is so not true. I actually wish I could work harder, but I love sleeping too much. Anyway, I stay out of all of it. I don't do my FaceBook page or even look at it, because it would just be more layers of obligation and guilt. I know people who look at the different comments online and find them fascinating. I just find it woeful, all the disappointing and aggravating things people think and say."

For lots more about Wilco's fab new album and details on the group's upcoming Raleigh show, see the preview in Friday's paper.

Coming our way: Wilco's September (27) Song

New to the local concert schedule, Wilco at the Downtown Raleigh Amphitheater on Sept. 27 -- which just happens to be the very day the group's new album "The Whole Love" will be released. That's pretty cool, but something even cooler is the opening act: Mr. "Jesus of Cool" himself, the great Nick Lowe (who has a local connection, in that he records for Triangle-based Yep Roc). Ticket details are pending.
 

What to Watch on Saturday: Moses and the Final Four

NCAA Basketball Final Four (6pm, CBS) - Butler vs. Michigan State and Duke vs. West Virginia. Get your Blue Devil on!

The Ten Commandments (7pm, ABC) - Four hours of Cecil B. DeMille's epic story of the life of Moses. Starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, and Anne Baxter.

Amish Grace (8pm, Lifetime Movie Network) - A repeat of last week's debut, which was the highest-rated movie ever on Lifetime Movie Network. 

The Wanda Sykes Show (11pm, Fox) - Wanda's guests are Drew Carey, Wendy Williams, Craig Ferguson, and Erykah Badu

Austin City Limits (Midnight, UNC-TV) - Last Saturday Wilco was live in Durham. Tonight they are in your living room thanks to a 2007 repeat in which the band sings songs from their cd, "Sky Blue Sky."

Wilco plays Durham

Wilco played Durham Saturday night, a show that has been hotly anticipated ever since it sold out in 17 minutes back in January. Wondering how it went, and if it matched the build-up? Click on through...

The secondary ticket market: Wilco responds

So the ticket-scalping story from last Sunday's paper is the subject of an editorial in Friday's paper -- check it out. The story also drew a response from one of the acts mentioned, which is below.


Dear Mr. Menconi,

I have a few points to make with regards to your recent article on the concert ticketing issues surrounding Wilco's upcoming show at the Durham P.A.C.

Most importantly, and despite the implications therein, let me say unequivocally that Wilco have never participated in nor profited from the secondary ticket market. Unfortunately there are many people, firms and organizations utilizing that  market as part of their business plan; some of them in the employ of those responsible for ticketing thousands of venues across the country and around the world. I'm not implying that happened here, but it is something that anyone  purchasing a concert ticket needs to be aware of,  as you rightly point out in your story. Wilco does take measures,  where possible, to minimize the number of tickets that wind up in the hands of resellers, but we have found that without resorting to costly, intrusive, time-consuming security measures, it's impossible to eliminate that market completely.

Specifically regarding Wilco's show in Durham, the actual number of tickets available to the public for this 2700 capacity show was 2566 tickets -- not the misleading 1000 ticket number cited by promoter Frank Heath in your article. That total includes 837 tickets sold via the Ticketmaster public onsale, 449 tickets sold via phone / box office public onsale, 270 tickets sold via the presale at www.wilcoworld.net (available to anyone who logs into the site and requests a password), 250 tickets made available to Duke University ID holders (of which 69 were purchased by students; the balance folded back into the public onsale allotment) and 939 tickets sold via a presale run by the venue. (Note that the 900+ ticket venue presale was not approved by the band or anyone in their organization,  but that's another story for another time). The entire purpose of our presales is to better control the ticketing and to offer the band's fans at least one way to buy tickets with significantly lower ticketing fees.

So there you have it. Despite the fact that sometimes Wilco tickets wind up in wrong, greedy hands, the band continue their efforts to keep ticket prices reasonable and to give those who actually buy the tickets and attend the shows real value for their money by putting on the best performance possible every night in every venue.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Tony Margherita
manager, Wilco

What to Watch on Thursday: There's a new vampire in town

Vampire Diaries (8pm, The CW) - Stefan and Damon attempt to learn the identity of a new vampire in town, and also accompany Elena to a 50s-themed school dance. 

Bones (8pm, Fox) - Remains found in a trench at a Civil War battle site belong to a 21st century victim, but the team has a hard time determining the cause of death because of a strange residue on the bones.

Flipped: A Mobster Tells All (9pm, Discovery) - This is the first episode of a new documentary series about mobsters who turn on their crime families. At 9pm is the story of Michael "Mikey Flattop" DeRosa and at 10pm, Kenny "Kenji" Gallo. 

Burn Notice (10pm, USA) - Sam's old friend comes to town and asks for a favor. Meanwhile, Michael tracks down a child predator and finally meets Gilroy, the mysterious former Mi-6 agent who oversees freelance black ops. Chris Vance, right, ("Prison Break," "Mental") stars in a 4-episode arc.

Project Runway (10pm, Lifetime) - The designers are forced to work in pairs. Naturally, egos clash and tensions reach a fever pitch on the runway.

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (12:35, CBS) - Wilco is the musical guest.

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