John Booker's Top 10 NC State Fair Picks

1)      SUPERCHUNK. I should start by saying that I booked the majority of the 65+ acts performing at the NC State Fair myself, along with my amazing coworkers at Deep South Entertainment. Therefore, every single booking has my seal of approval so this is like picking a favorite child for me… but alas, I did have some “pet projects” that I made my mission to include in this year’s festivities. The big one has to be Superchunk – which has easily been one of my 5 favorite bands for roughly the past 20 years. Superchunk is one of the most important and influential indie rock bands in the world, and they just happen to hail from right here in the Triangle. Two of the founding members of Superchunk also founded Merge Records 27 years ago – one of the biggest and best independent record labels still going strong today – releasing hit albums by Arcade Fire, Spoon, She & Him, and many more. I’ve got walls lined with Superchunk posters, framed Superchunk setlists, etc. You could say I am a fan. So if there’s one show this year at the North Carolina State Fair that I am most geeking out over – it’s this one. Don’t miss it! (Wednesday October 19th – Dorton Arena – 8:30pm)


2)      ASG. I don’t default to heavy rock as much as a lot of my friends do, but I’m so glad they all turned me on to ASG – the melodically pummeling metal band from Wilmington. I caught them during Hopscotch Music Festival a few years back at Deep South The Bar, the Downtown Raleigh venue I manage – and they blew me away. They’ve been on my wish list for the State Fair all year long and I’m thrilled we were able to make it a reality! (Friday October 21st – Waterfall Stage – 5:30pm)


3)      JON STICKLEY TRIO. I also don’t default to intricately-jammy-bluegrass-tinged music too much either, but Jon Stickley Trio transcends every genre box you could attempt to place them in. The only way to “get it” is to see them live, but imagine three people that grew up on hip hop, pop punk, classical guitar, and 90s indie rock performing somewhere adjacent to the styles of bluegrass and avant-garde jazz. Truly a mesmerizing ensemble. (Thursday October 20th – Heritage Stage – multiple sets 10:00am-6:30pm)


4)      BODY GAMES. A relatively new discovery for me, Body Games play an electronic-based style of indie rock that is right up my alley. I haven’t had the chance to see them live yet, so I’m definitely looking forward to the Waterfall Stage set from this Chapel Hill 3-piece. (Sunday October 23rd – Waterfall Stage – 4:00pm)


5)      KICK-A-VERSE SHOWCASE. K-Hill and his Kick-A-Verse crew have been tearing up the hip hop scene in Raleigh for a long time now, and they bring the heat to every stage they step on to. Get ready for a showcase of some of the greatest MCs in the region – all assembled by one of the best in the business, K-Hill himself. (Saturday October 22nd – Waterfall Stage – 1:00pm & 2:30pm)


6)      KASEY TYNDALL. Kasey Tyndall is North Carolina’s hottest rising Country star. Full disclosure, I used to play in Kasey’s band and have co-written several songs with her as well – so I know firsthand just how insanely talented this 21 year old singer/songwriter is. I say it often and without hyperbole – she is the most naturally gifted singer I have ever worked with in my life, and it’s inspiring to see her in action. She’s really going places – come out so you can say you “saw her when.” (Sunday October 16 – Dorton Arena – 7:30pm) 


7)       ERIE CHOIR. Back from a long hiatus, Erie Choir features local indie rock royalty, including two members from one of my absolute favorite Chapel Hill bands – Sorry About Dresden. Erie Choir pull back on the volume just a bit and give these incredible musicians room to stretch out with some slightly more melancholy, intimate tunes. Full disclosure again – I played bass in Erie Choir for a few years in the late 00s. I’ve been in too many bands, that’s the problem. (Saturday October 15 – Waterfall Stage – 4:00pm) 


8)      THE SAMMIES. I’ve had the pleasure of playing several shows with Charlotte’s The Sammies over the years. They are one of those bands that will blow every other band on the bill out of the water, and that’s exactly what they did to my band every time and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only do they write these brilliantly catchy rock tunes, but they can also stage-banter with the best of them. Looking forward to seeing these guys ham it up on the Waterfall Stage – and hearing them play my frequently-playlisted favorite, “Falling Out.” (Saturday October 22nd – Waterfall Stage – 4:00pm) 


9)      OC7 NEXT GENERATION. Deep South Entertainment books Raleigh City Plaza’s free summer concert series Oak City 7, and this year we debuted a new feature – OC7 Next Generation – a showcase of local performers ages 13-19. We’re bringing Next Generation to the State Fair this year with a few of our favorite young artists. These sets will bring a giant smile to your face – how can you not want to rock out to the awesomely talented young women of rock group Ur Mom? (Sunday October 16th and Sunday October 23rd – Waterfall Stage – 10:00am-12:30pm) 


10)   HAPPY ABANDON. These Chapel Hill boys are turning heads right now, and rightfully so. Detailed, intricate, orchestral indie rock at its finest. There is just too much talent here in NC, it’s astounding – and it makes my job very easy, and even more fulfilling. Thank you Happy Abandon and everyone else performing at this year’s North Carolina state fair for sharing your art with us! (Thursday October 20th – Waterfall Stage – 11:00am and 12:30pm)