Music and baseball are two of America's greatest pastimes. It's not surprising, then, that the two pair so well together — the crack of a bat perfectly complementing the opening notes of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." That being said, you wouldn't be alone in feeling a little worn-out by the music that so often gets played at baseball games. (We get it, guys. The "We Are the Champions" punchline is a little overused at this point.) Lucky for you, Merge Records is here to save the day.
The Durham, North Carolina-based independent record label known for acts like M. Ward, Arcade Fire, and many, many more teamed up with local AAA team the Durham Bulls for Merge Records Night, an annual event in its fourth incarnation. Taking place tonight as the Bulls take on the Norfolk Tides, Merge Records Night features Merge artists in-person — John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats is throwing out the first pitch; guitarist William Tyler is perfoming the National Anthem — and over the loudspeakers, as the Merge team is curating tonight's at-bat music. Fans in attendance can pick up a CD sampler featuring those very tunes.
The Durham Bulls are also partners of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit and friend of BGS working to preserve and protect traditional Southern music. "[The Bulls] started a new brewery called Bull Durham Beer," Music Maker co-founder Timothy Duffy says. "Right by the box office, they’re opening a blues club. For every beer that you buy there at the taproom, they’re giving Music Maker a dollar and also providing a budget for us to hire Music Maker acts. I think it’s going to be the nation’s greatest blues clubs because it’s one of the only places you’ll see these kind of guys playing. "
The blues club isn't open just yet, but in the meantime, check out the stellar lineup for tonight's walk-up music and CD sampler below. If you're in the Durham area, pick up your own ticket/CD combo right here. And if that isn't enough Merge for ya on this fine Thursday, WUNC will feature Merge music and periodic conversations with Merge co-founder and Superchunk bassist Laura Ballance from noon to midnight EDT today. Non-locals can listen online here.
Merge x Durham Bulls sampler CD track listing:
1. The Mountain Goats, “Choked Out”
2. Wye Oak, “Watching the Waiting”
3. Little Scream, “Love as a Weapon”
4. M. Ward, “Girl From Conejo Valley”
5. William Tyler, “Kingdom of Jones”
6. Mount Moriah, “Cardinal Cross”
7. Eric Bachmann, “Carolina”
8. Bob Mould, “Voices in My Head”
9. Will Butler, “Madonna Can’t Save Me Now”
10. A Giant Dog, “Sleep When Dead”
11. Benji Hughes, “Magic Summertime”
12. Hiss Golden Messenger, “Biloxi”
13. The Clientele, “E.M.P.T.Y.”
14. Superchunk, “Seed Toss”