The Only Place You Can See It Live On the Radio, Gate City Port Authority


Pardon the “musician face” in this thumbnail image. It happens sometimes when I hit a wrong note.

Regardless, remember Avant On Air? That renegade music show on WUAG hosted by musician Matty Sheets and writer Rae Alton? The duo have recently launched  a second iteration of the radio program on Wednesdays night, this time, it’s got video.

Subscribe to the show’s YouTube channel and watch interviews, odd questions, and the general mayhem that ensues whenever Matty Sheets is in the room. Previous guests include Crystal Bright, Sam Frazier, and yours truly. It’s always good to see what Matty’s up to. It’s always something.

Gate City Port Authority

103.1 FM WUAG, Thursdays from 7-9pm. Local music and culture. Hosted by Matty Sheets and Rae Alton. Stream live at or use the TuneIn app.

We’re happy to be partnering with Cameron Hetteen to bring you two video series here. Live In The Booth, featuring live performances from musicians from Greensboro and surrounding areas, and Transmission, featuring interviews with our guests.

Googling for Water | Prologue

postcards from the swamp
A six song story series inspired by the Great Dismal Swamp in eastern North Carolina.

A six song story series inspired by the Great Dismal Swamp in eastern North Carolina.


And it stoned me

The song was a divining rod that summer, the year they painted the little carriage house apartment I’d rented from a friend. The A-framed efficiency sat back off the old neighborhood roads in the Westerwood ‘hood, so flush with green and old expansive magnolia trees that it shook the temperature down a full five degrees, even in July.

One of the house painters, Austin, arrived early in the mornings. I’d lay in bed under thin summer sheets and listen to him set up paint buckets and brushes and wait for the music.

He’d paint and play songs all day from what looked like a hard drive. It was a collection of .mp3s from old iPods and music players that his friends tried to throw away. It created a musical refuge of the most surprising stuff. Traditional Irish reels, Sinatra, Wilco’s “Summerteeth,” and that one song.

“What’s that?” I asked, when I first heard it, leaning out the window to ask Austin, standing on the scaffolding outside.

“I don’t know. I’ll burn it for you,” he’d say. He’d always say that.

“And It Stoned Me,” from “Unplugged In The Studio” by the astral, Irish, Van Morrison. A super spare record. No orchestral arrangement. No horns. Just up-bass and drums on a reel-to-reel tape that didn’t completely erase something they had tried to record over.

After the morning coffee was long gone, I’d sit for hours under the paddle fan on my one chair in the middle of the main room, listen to that record and google for water. A search for a free swimming hole turned up Lake Drummond at the center of The Great Dismal Swamp in eastern North Carolina.

Between the 1600s and 1800s the Great Dismal was home to 5,000 outcasts, outliers, maroons and indigenous americans—one of the largest refuge swamps like it in the United States. A portion of the Underground Railroad went through there.

I fantasized about renting a 1973 black El Camino truck and driving there. I would buy expensive coffee, plunge my hands in the mud and turn my luck around. But I couldn’t afford the gas money that summer for the 231 mile drive from Greensboro to the swamp. No job. No money. No luck.

I did, however, have a brand new Greensboro Public Library card and a short walk downtown.

CHAPTER TWO | Ornery Economy

A song and story series by Molly McGinn, inspired by the Great Dismal Swamp. Album available now, online.

Ryan Cavanaugh: From Russia with a 5-string banjo and an 8-string guitar player.

food, music, writing

Pretty quickly, you can figure out that Ryan Cavanaugh has phoned in a preview interview a time or two. He kindly spells out the more curious-sounding words, mid-conversation.

Like, Sochi. S. O. C. H. I.

Cavanaugh has recently returned from a tour in Russia with Bill Evans’ Soulgrass project, where the band played a festival in Sochi, a coastal town on the Black Sea. And Sunday, Ryan brings his solo project — Ryan Cavanaugh and No Man’s Land — to the Rooster’s Wife.

Ryan Cavanaugh and No Man’s Land Sunday, July 22 at the Rooster’s Wife. Tickets available online or at the Spot. 

Order tickets here.

Evans started the Soulgrass project with Bela Fleck, a crazy fusion of funk, soul, and bluegrass, Cavanaugh says.

“It’s very rootsy. Jim Hendrix with a sax.”

On the Russian tour, Cavanaugh and the band played with Igor Butman–Russia’s jazz offering to the world, and later gigged at “Le Club,” Moscow’s most famous jazz club.

“People responded to the banjo quite nicely,” Cavanaugh says.

Ever since Cavanaugh picked up the banjo at age 10 and started working his way from Earl Scruggs to John McLaughlin, Cavanaugh has been trying to bring the 5-string banjo back to jazz.

“Sometimes it’s really positive,” Cavanaugh says about the audience reaction. “The Bee Bop purists may not like it.”

Sunday’s show will, however, bring together a few world-class players from North Carolina.

“This is a unique line up. I don’t have a bass player, and I don’t have a keyboard player, but I have an 8-string guitar player, Chris Boerner, who plays both harmony and bass on one instrument. He’s from Raleigh.

“And Nick Baglio, on drums, one of the best drummers in North Carolina.”

It’s the first time these players will get their hands on Cavanaugh’s original material, but they’ve played together before, Ryan says.

Finally, when asked if he picked up a few Russian phrases on tour, he responds:

“I learned how to say ‘thank you,’ ” Ryan says, saying something that sounds like spah-seeba. “I don’t even know to spell it.”

(In case you were wondering, it’s Спасибо.)

by Molly McGinn, who has never been to Russia, but has been to Aberdeen.

A new world


“In the old world, you were defined by what you consumed*. In the new world, you are defined by what you create.” Christopher Carfi, The Social Customer Manifesto.

Maybe that could help explain the lack of posts and communication. And thank you Darcie for the comment. In the last few weeks, I’ve been helping a few friends create things to spread the word about their creations, and doing a little bit of creating myself.

    Blog coaching Justin Catanoso for the promotion of his new book, “My Cousin the Saint.”
    Recording four new songs of my own to flesh out “Girl with Slingshot” album. These are not quite ready yet, but I’m feeling really good about the work so far.
    Developing more content for Tonya Martin and her pilates blog.
    Recording the music for Bloody Blackbeard.
    Exploring some freelance work with David McLean at the local ad agency King’s English (more to come on that)
    And moving again. For reasons beyond explaining in the blog here, I’m moving again. This time, to somewhere a little closer to downtown, with a pool (!) and an exercise room, and a balcony, and just a short walk away from Sean’s house.
    A little Dotmatrix Project producing. This post is one of the best descriptions I’ve seen Sean write yet–and likely, he’ll up this one in a few weeks, too.



guitar tab

Started music lessons again today. This time with Scott Manring at String Studios by the Blind Tiger. The man can make two notes on a guitar sound like a thing of indescribable beauty.

I walked away today realizing I need to learn how to “see” chords on the guitar in terms of the notes on the scale. I’ve always thought of chords as shapes: the major shape, the minor 7th shape. Instead, Scott showed me how to see the notes within those chords, and what fingerings are actuall flatting the fifth, the seventh, and so on.

Hm. I’m glad he took notes for me.