New Raleigh talked to Sam McGuire about the Double Barrel Benefit, which is put together by local airwave juggernaut WKNC. Sam, aka BigFatSac (on Mondays from 5pm-7pm), has been playing curator to this event since 2005. Sam got his start in college radio while he was still in high school. Sam had a show called “Freshly Squeezed” on WJPZ 89.1 FM, based out of Syracuse University. Sam started “Wash Behind Your Ears” back in September of 2003, so this will be his fifth year on the air at WKNC.
The Double Barrel Benefit (DBB) was started as an event to raise needed money for the station. The money goes to cover mostly equipment repairs and upgrades (including the 25,000 watt antenna) which could not always be budgeted ahead of time. The station approached bands about playing a show on behalf of the radio station by a donation of their time and talent. The venue also was a big part. Kings, which was the site of the first 4 DBBs, also donated their space. Kings Barcade was always McGuire’s favorite venue in Raleigh, but it being no more took the wind out of that sail. The first DBB was February 6th and 7th, 2004. It was organized and put together by then General Manager Jamie Proctor (who now works for Chicago-based powerhouse Thrill Jockey. Over the years, the DBB has developed into a local showcase in addition to the benefit thrust. However, the scene and the scope of the DBB yields the point that one does not have to look outside of the Carolinas for amazing and talented bands that can pack a house (Annuals, Mountain Goats, Future Islands….). The generous ones have not only come from Durham and Chapel Hill- bands from Greensboro, Greenville, and Athens, Georgia have participated in this annual event.
“The Pour House Music Hall, where the DBB is this year, is a tremendous place to see a show.” McGuire says. “I don’t think I’ve had a better sound experience anywhere else.” But that doesn’t mean he has no love for Slims, which he thinks “is small but books great bands and sounds great”.
When we asked about the varying styles of the line-ups, especially with this year, Sam could only promise that each of the eight bands on the bill create something unique and beautiful; like a snowflake, with loud muscles. As for the next installment, Sam’s had a few ideas, such as expanding from 2 to 3 days and including a night for hip hop and electronic artists. Silent auctions of donated items from artists and local businesses have also come to mind. Pylon was asked to perform this year, but could not due to other commitments. However, they offered to have something of theirs to be auctioned off instead. This shows that even when bands can’t perform, they still try to help with any ideas they may have. Each year gets better and better and hopefully number six will follow suit. Eventually, Sam hopes that the DBB becomes a nationally recognized event along the lines of Macrock or even SXSW.
The one amazing thing I’ve learned from working on the DBB is how much love
there is for WKNC from bands both local and national. Preparing, practicing,
driving, hauling gear, and playing is a lot of work for a band. To do it without
any compensation, save a t-shirt and a good feeling that you helped out,
is simply astounding.
- Sam McGuire