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Duke Performances sponsors summer garden concert series


Though the school year is winding down, those staying in Durham have the opportunity to check out Music in the Gardens, an annual program sponsored by Duke Performances. These weekly performances run from June 1 to July 27, and offer a variety of genres to suit any listener’s tastes. Here is Recess’s rundown of the eight performers:

No BS! Brass Band: The program kicks off with the No BS! Brass Band  June 1. The band, based in Richmond, is known for its original sound, combining the elements of James Brown, John Coltrane, Michael Jackson and Led Zeppelin. The band has performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and at NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert. The Wall Street Journal named them one of the ten best concerts of 2013.

Leyla McCalla: McCalla is multi-talented—she can play the cello, tenor banjo and guitar. She sings in French, Haitian Creole and English. McCalla derives inspiration from her Haitian heritage, as well as traditional Creole and Cajun music. She has toured across the U.S., Europe and Israel and is coming to the Gardens on June 8.

Skylar Gudasz: Durham local Skylar Gudasz will be dropping by the Gardens June 15 as a part of a tour promoting her new album “Oleander.” Gudasz, a singer/songwriter known for her delicate and drifting voice, ventures through songs that dabble in influences from old jazz to folk songs. Although some songs navigate more serious themes than others, a guitar beautifully accompanies her voice. In the Gardens, the bright cadence of Gudasz’s voice will bring a deep reflective vibe to the summer series.

Mount Moriah: The country-rock group Mount Moriah will provide a raw voice to the Duke Gardens stage. The group, led by lead singer and guitarist Heather McEntire, offers a rustic approach to themes of “symbolism, mysticism, alchemy, universality, sacred geometry” throughout their latest collection of songs entitled “How to Dance,” as they note in their biography. McEntire’s slightly rugged vocals tell meaningful stories that weave together the themes of the record and a relatable and compelling sound. Mount Moriah will offer a cool and addictive note June 29.

Sierra Hull: The bluegrass singer Sierra Hull has been in the industry since the age of 13. Today, at 24, Hull continues to grow in success as her recent breakout album “Weighted Mind” climbed to the top of the Billboard bluegrass charts earlier this year. Her deftly pure voice and strumming of her mandolin make Hull’s music comforting and reflective. Her music is reticent of feelings experienced around a warm summer’s bonfire. Hull performs in the Gardens July 6.

William Tyler & Jake Xerxes Fussell: William Tyler is a jack of many styles. Known for folk, indie folk and pop rock styles, Tyler will bring his brand of cool guitar instrumentals. Before becoming a solo artist, the Southern musician was a member of the bands Lambchop and Silver Jews. Additionally, Durham folk and soul artist Jake Xerxes Fussell will take the stage. Tyler produced and is featured in Fussell’s first debut record. The record features Fussell’s twangy, deep and humming vocals that give his songs a certain bluesy depth. Both artists will perform July 13.

Jonathan Byrd and the Pickup Cowboys: Jonathan Byrd, a Carrboro native, played in a variety of bands before beginning to tour full-time by in 2000. Byrd cites his childhood in Texas and his father’s collection of bluegrass vinyls as his inspirations. His folksy style tells stories about America, centering on the themes of love, life and death. Byrd has produced nine albums, the most recent being “You Can’t Outrun the Radio” in 2014. He comes to the Gardens July 20.

Black Twig Pickers: This four-person string band sticks to their roots of southwest Virginia with their old school Appalachian sound. Though their music is fast paced and takes listeners back to a simpler time, the band still brings something new to the table.

Tickets will be available starting May 3. Tickets will be available online at, at the Duke University Box Office and via phone at 919-684-4444.


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