Yep Roc Records 20th anniversary bash
by Jessie Ammons
photograph by Charles Harris
“We always stop and ask ourselves, can we add value to what our artists are creating? Can we amplify what they’re doing?” says Billy Maupin, general manager of Yep Roc Records in Hillsborough. This month, the amplification will be literal: the indie label celebrates its 20th anniversary with a weekend-long live-music-packed bash in Carrboro and Hillsborough Oct. 20 and 21.
Yep Roc represents an eclectic mix of artists, including Raleighite Tift Merritt, Chapel Hillians Mandolin Orange, and mellow indie rockers like The Stray Birds and Aoife O’Donovan. Housed in an historic brick building in downtown Hillsborough, the label prides itself on a low-key, intensely artist-centered mindset. Reflecting back on two decades, Maupin says the approach has helped the company quietly build a label with legs. “We’ve never been an especially flashy company or one trying to create overnight sensations. We’ve been very determined and very methodical in how we’ve grown and established our brand.”
All bets are off, though, when it’s time to celebrate. The label threw a memorable 15th anniversary bash that’s inspired this month’s revelry, too. The main draw, of course, is the music: local musicians and Yep Roc artists that’ll keep the stage busy for most of the “three-night music extravaganza.” (As of press time, the total band count was at 12.) Performances take place at Chapel Hill’s iconic Cat’s Cradle. To connect the dots between nighttime shows, on Saturday there’s a daytime pre-festival in Hillsborough at the town’s River Park. Between impromptu acoustic performances, food from local restaurants, and specially brewed beer from Mystery Brewing, “it should be a pretty amazing day,” Maupin says.
In the spirit of the label, this celebration is creative rather than raucous. “One of the coolest things that came out of the 15th anniversary was the connection between the artists. It led to several interesting projects after the fact.” Maupin says music lovers will appreciate the chance to watch artists jam, collaborate, and freestyle. “It’s what we’re all about: partnering with people that we think are creative and have something to say. … We want to celebrate the longevity of that vision.”