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Wilmington "Super" Unplugged w/ Dead Horses & Kate Rhudy
Bourgie Night
Wilmington, NC
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Wilmington "Super" Unplugged w/ Dead Horses & Kate Rhudy
Wilmington "Super" Unplugged Featuring: Dead Horses

This will be a seated "Listening Room" Show.

Doors 7pm. Show 8pm. $15 ADV $20 DOS.

Dead Horses

Kate Rhudy

At fifteen, Dead Horses frontwoman Sarah Vos world turned upside down. Raised in a strict, fundamentalist home, Vos lost everything when she and her family were expelled from the rural Wisconsin church where her father had long served as pastor.

My older brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and my twin had mental illnesses and cognitive disabilities, explains Vos. When the church kicked us out, they basically told my dad, If you cant lead your family, how can you lead your church?

What happened next is the story of Dead Horses stunning new album, My Mother the Moon,' a record full of trauma and triumph, despair and hope, pain and resilience. Blending elements of traditional roots with modern indie folk, the songs are both familiar and unexpected, unflinchingly honest in their portrayal of modern American life, yet optimistic in their unshakable faith in brighter days to come. Earthy and organic, Dead Horses songs often reveal themselves to be exercises in empathy and outreach; not only to find meaning in the struggles Vos endured, but also to embrace kindred souls on their own personal journeys of self-discovery.

At the time we were expelled, we lived in the churchs parish house, explains Vos. Suddenly, my father was unemployed and my family was homeless. My parents couldnt afford insurance for the medical care my siblings needed. We were kicked out and completely abandoned.

However, Vos love of music carried on after she left the church.

Almost half of those services [were] just singing hymns, she reflected in a recent interview. I also went to a parochial school, so I had to memorize hymns and Bible verses all day, too. When I really look back, before I had the chance to explore music on my own, that was really central. Even the way I write songs [today] is reminiscent of hymns. Thats maybe why I was so drawn to folk music to begin with: its geared towards communities singing it together.

By the time Vos turned 18, her family had begun to get back on their feet. She headed to Milwaukee for college, and there, came to terms with revelations about her sexuality that her religious upbringing had forced her to repress. The mix of freedom and relief and shame and guilt was overwhelming, and a depressive breakdown ensued.

I couldnt take care of myself, she remembers. I couldnt sleep, I couldnt eat, I couldnt do anything. I stopped going to classes, and then I dropped out altogether and moved back home to Oshkosh. Thats where I met Dan.

When bassist Daniel Wolff and Vos first started playing music together, it felt as if the clouds had finally parted. Vos introduced songs shed been writing since high school open mics, Wolff learned a new instrument for the band (the double bass), and within months, they had earned a devoted local following. Regular gigs led to steady residencies led to regional touring and their first recordings. Two of the bands original members ultimately left the group due to opioid addictions (I still see the pawn shop sticker every time I look at my guitar tuner, remembers Vos), but the Dead Horses moniker the pair created as a tribute to a friend whod over-dosed from heroin stuck even after their departure.

When it came time to record My Mother the Moon, Vos and Wolff traded Wisconsin for Nashville to collaborate once again with producer/drummer Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo). Cut primarily live in the studio over the course of two weeks, the album is raw and understated, drawing its potency from the power intimacy and hushed revelation. With a sound that calls to mind everything from Joni Mitchell to Gillian Welch, Vos draws on a Biblical lexicon in her lyrics, but the gospel of Dead Horses belongs to no particular religion. Instead, these are songs of the people, stories of Vos own efforts to come to terms with her turbulent upbringing as well as stories of the men and women she grew up with in a rural America.

As much as I want to express the narrative of my own life within the lyrics, this album is also naturally very reflective of what Im observing every day on the road, Vos explains. One of the hardest things in life is watching your family suffer, to be so close but unable to ease their pain. Visiting my siblings in psych wards hurt me in a way that I'm still not sure I've made sense of. While I can look back now and say that it maybe wasnt conducive to me developing in a healthy way as a young person, I can see that it instilled such a sense of empathy in me. As much as that can feel like a weakness sometimes, I think its also a great gift. An essential part of any Dead Horses song or show is that sense of compassion for strangers.

On the gently fingerpicked Swinger in the Trees, Vos uses a Robert Frost poem as a jumping off point to explore the ways in which we isolate ourselves, while the waltzing My Many Days reckons with how we find fulfillment with our limited time on this Earth, and the tender Darling Dear comes to terms with the fact that our closest loved ones will always, in some ways, remain a mystery to us. Even when Vos approaches the political, as she does on Modern Man and American Poor, she does so on a very personal scale.

Poverty doesnt discriminate, she reflects. If youre poor, youre poor, but there are a lot of ways to be poor. You can be poor in spirit or poor in knowledge. Ignorance is one of the deepest kinds of poverty.

Perhaps the albums most arresting moment arrives with closer Aint No Difference, a heartbreaking, elegantly orchestrated track that swings manically between major and minor keys. Inspired by a vivid memory of a night of bitter conflict in her childhood home, Vos sings, The house is gone now / Its an empty lot now / There aint no difference.

Far from obliterating the past, though, My Mother the Moon draws strength from it. Its an album of catharsis and redemption that comes at a time when both are in high demand and short supply.


Bourgie Night (View)
127 Princess Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
United States


Music > Folk

Minimum Age: 18
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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