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What do Cosmic Cantina, Phish and BIOL 272 have in common? They all inspired this band

Local flora
(Left to right) UNC students Eric Sugraman, Steve Wood, Peter Joyce and Charlie Garnett formed Local Flora in 2017.

Psychedelic rock: a makeshift genre that escapes the clutches of normality. Band members of Local Flora associate their sound as psychedelic rock not as a rigid genre but as a culmination of “funky bass,” “groove” and “weird vibes” to coalesce a unique sound that captures the fun-loving energy they both draw from and return to the community. 

Local Flora was created in 2017 from combining past and present roommates and a mutual love of band member Steve Wood’s Phish band tee shirt. The band is comprised of Wood and three other current seniors: Eric Sugarman, Charlie Garnett and Peter Joyce.

Last fall, the band entered the battle of the bands at Country Fried Duck and won— a booster to their popularity. Since then, the band has performed at many Chapel Hill venues including Cat’s Cradle, The Cave and Local 506.

Emphasizing local roots is an important aspect of Local Flora in regards to Chapel Hill and the surrounding area and also to their ties to UNC. 

Not only has the band shaped the students' time at school, UNC has influenced the band in a prominent way. The name of the class for BIOL 272, Local Flora, was the segway to the group’s name to fame. 

The group said the name also doubles as a way to embody ideals of roots and appreciation for nature and communal surroundings.

The Kenan Music Building has been an important resource for Local Flora to produce their latest album “Meadows” which released April 10. The album includes every original track the band has written. 

“The fact that we were able to put out 13 original tracks out to public on streaming platforms and to have that forever is really cool,” Sugarman said. “I think we have encapsulated the expression we were trying to build collectively in a way that we can listen back to that in any point in our lives and be right back in it and remember how it felt to play with these guys and that is really meaningful.”

“Meadows” is the result of months of time and effort from the band, but members say they wouldn’t classify any of their time together as work or even practice. Cultivating harmony through music, friendship and inspirational Cosmic Cantina burritos are the corner stones of the tight knit relationships of the group. 

“Cosmic Cantina is certainly one of our main inspirations,” Sugarman said. 

Garnett is better known by band members as “thadocta” for his musical versatility that extends into the three other original bands he is a part of. He said that time spent with Joyce, Sugarman and Wood has shaped his college experience.

“Playing music is such an intimate experience," Garnett said. "When you share it, it makes you a lot tighter with the people you are with.” 

Band members say they are excited to add to the vibrant music scene in Chapel Hill, especially at famous venues.

“Nirvana and other acts that have played the Cat’s Cradle, and to be able to follow that and carry on that tradition is really exciting for us,” Sugarman said. 

The power of music extends beyond Local Flora for band members who said they feel a part of something bigger than themselves — a community bound by rhythm and tangible energy. 

“There is a lot of support and empowerment across the community too,” Sugarman said. “So many people and different bands based out of Chapel Hill are coming to each other’s shows and not just coming, but dancing in the front. That support system is really cool to be a part of.”

The four graduating seniors now look ahead to several more shows followed by their final emblematic performance at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance at the beginning of May. The band members said it will be the climax and a rightful end to this leg of their musical journey.  

“(Our new music) is something we are excited about,” Sugarman said. “And we think people should listen to it on a beautiful spring day when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping.”

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