Feat. Young Bull, Africa Unplugged, Ebz the Artist

Friday, Nov. 29, 9 p.m., $10–$12

Motorco Music Hall, Durham

If you follow the Triangle music scene, you’ve likely encountered a project that Will Darity was involved with, whether you realize it or not. As a guitarist, the jazz-steeped Durham native has dabbled in everything from funk and hip-hop to West African music and country tributes, amassing a breadth of musical and business knowledge along the way. 

Recently, Darity has funneled those experiences into his own booking agency, Forging the Musical Future. His musical worlds collide at his annual Thanksgiving throw-down, Dubsgiving, which started five years ago as a reunion for Pierce Freelon and Aden Darity’s hip-hop duo, Language Arts.

What began as a way for Darity to celebrate his brother’s project’s ten-year reunion has since blossomed into a Durham tradition that showcases a disparate array of sounds.

“I’m always looking for ways that I can pull different crowds together,” Darity says. “I like to give the crowd something they might not otherwise see.” 

That’s how you get bills with local indie stalwarts Blanko Basnet alongside a hip-hop duo and R&B vocalist Drake Murphy (at the inaugural Dubsgiving at The Pinhook), or the ‘80s pop extravagance of Breathers with local soul and hip-hop standouts like Niito and Young Bull last year at Motorco.

Darity’s eclectic lineups are what you’d expect from an Oberlin Conservatory graduate that’s currently fronting a Charley Pride tribute act while lending guitar work to Young Bull and the West African project Africa Unplugged, both of which perform at this year’s event at Motorco on Friday night, along with Ebz the Artist

But Darity isn’t just throwing things at the wall and hoping they stick. With his booking, he’s bridging gaps in genres that others might not see and connecting artists. 

“I noticed certain bands were overplaying the market. They just wanted to play, play, play, and weren’t getting a consistent crowd to their shows,” Darity says. “Forging the Musical Future is about getting people to see that, rather than playing three shows in Durham in a month, let’s get these other bands in the mix.”

Darity’s endeavors as an agent are informed by his continued work as an artist; he’s constantly picking up industry knowledge along the way. He says his time with the Greensboro-based Afropop project The Brand New Life (now based in New York as Super Yamba Band) was professionally formative.

“Brand New Life was the first time I really went out touring, and I learned a lot,” Darity says. “There’s door deals, guarantees, lining up dates, putting a tour budget together, finding out where we’re gonna crash that night. It made me realize, man, I can do this. I can see what’s out there, I don’t just have to play around town all the time.”

Dubsgiving displays Darity’s refined ability to curate bills like the sultry electronic R&B of Ebz  with his own projects. It’s a union of similar-but-different, a community-building project to pull folks out of their houses the day after Thanksgiving and onto the dance floor.