Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts. Menconi's "Step It Up and Go: The Story of North Carolina Popular Music, from Blind Boy Fuller and Doc Watson to Nina Simone and Superchunk" will be published in Oct. by University of North Carolina Press.



Touring is not possible in the quarantine era, so Raleigh rock band Jack The Radio is showing off songs from their new album “Creatures” with a series of videos shot around the Tar Heel State. They didn't have to look far to find the perfect locale for the album’s title-track video: the Terror of the South dinosaur exhibit at North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.

“One goal of the series is to highlight cool or historic places that have some kind of craft or creation element, some of our favorite spots,” says Jack The Radio guitarist/vocalist George Hage. “The museum, it’s just a cool place. Before we shot this, I didn’t realize its history as the oldest museum in North Carolina, and the largest of its kind in the Southeast. Stuff like that is fun to point out.”

Hage will cop to having gone through the obligatory dinosaur-obsessive phase as a kid, showing a particular affinity for Tyrannosaurus Rex (“It always seemed pretty cool, even if that one’s always the villain,” he quips). He came up with the idea of using the museum’s dinosaur display as backdrop.

While it was only recently released, the “Creatures” video was shot last year by videographer Beau Vorous on a Sun. morning, when the museum was closed. Along with the band, it prominently features the Terror of the South dinosaurs—pterosaurs circling overhead as well as “Acro” in the background. Acrocanthosaurus atokensis translates to “high-spined lizard,” which aptly describes this astounding dinosaur with extremely long spines atop its back, hip and tail vertebrae. This particular prehistoric titan is the most complete Acrocanthosaurus skeleton ever found and is the only real Acro skelton on display in the world.

 

Also worth noting, the sound on the video is the band actually playing, not just pretending to play and sing to a recording. Getting everything just right took about a half-dozen takes.

“It is 100% live, not lip-synced,” says Hage. “One thing we didn’t think about before but became obvious as soon as we got in there is that the reverb in that space is stellar. It’s a dome with a super-tall ceiling, and the acoustics in there are pretty awesome. The whole vibe was pretty pleasing.”

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Alas, “Creatures” is one of just two videos that Jack The Radio made before the virus quarantine shut down most public places. So videos for the rest of the album are on hold.

As for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, closed since March, they're now scheduled to reopen to the public Tues., Sept. 22, with limited capacity and new health and safety protocols. Get more info on visiting the museum here.

You can order "Creatures" on CD and vinyl—plus band merchandise—here. You can also stream on Spotify, plus follow the band on Instagram and Facebook.

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