The first Noël: Pagan dance tunes were remade into Christmas carols long before the Scots-Irish settlers arrived in the Appalachian mountains, says fiddler Jamie Laval.

Tartan tidings

“By the time Scots-Irish settlers came to this area, the Christmas music tradition had already been well-established,” says award-winning fiddler and Asheville resident Jamie Laval. So, while there is a signature music from Appalachia, “a lot of the traditional carols that we all know and love had existed for centuries,” says Laval. A deep love […]

A wild man onstage: R. Stevie Moore says he’s very generous with spontaneity at his live shows. Oh yes, and he wear’s plus-size women’s clothing, for added effect. Photo by Joe Demiglio

Have songs, won’t travel

When R. Stevie Moore is known at all, he’s known primarily as a studio rat. That is, he has more than 400 albums to his credit. No, that’s not a typo: this underground sensation has recorded and released that many — first on cassette, and then later on CDR — since 1966. Despite all the […]

A lot of magic: The album’s title comes from a children’s book that Mark Casson (above, left) read. He and wife Shannon, above right, have been The Cheeksters for 20 years. Photo by Sandlin Gaither

The Golden Birds takes flight

Mark Casson and Shannon Hines Casson — the husband-and-wife musical team leading The Cheeksters — clearly aren’t from around here. Mark’s British accent and Shannon’s Memphis lilt make it clear that the pair, like others before and after them, have made a conscious decision to settle in Asheville. And they’ve developed the trademark Cheeksters sound […]

Black to the Future

“It’s always been in our nature to be somewhat contrary,” chuckles Joshua Wells, drummer for Vancouver-based Black Mountain. The band has always had an interest in “taking things in a different direction. I don’t think there’s any point in making the same record twice, right?” The quintet’s self-titled debut came out in 2005, followed by […]

Veteran cosmic rockers

Forty-three years after the release of the symphonic-rock classic Days of Future Passed, the Moody Blues are still at it, regularly touring their music to concert halls worldwide. Three members of the classic-era quintet still remain: Justin Hayward (guitar, vocals), John Lodge (bass, vocals) and drummer/vocalist Graeme Edge. The three men — all now in […]

Henry Rollins takes your time seriously

Henry Rollins has always been involved in a wide array of projects. From music (Black Flag, Rollins Band) to writing books, from acting (Sons of Anarchy) to his radio show, "I like the work," he says. "And I have no illusions about where I come from; I'm from the minimum-wage working world. So when someone […]

Smashing tambourine­s

Swedish multi-instrumentalist, composer and band leader Gustav Estjes describes the music of his band Dungen as "heavy, but soft as well." While Dungen is unabashedly heavy, there remains great subtlety in the songs, conveyed through extensive use of flute, violin and keyboards. Dungen's sound is a swirling mix, informed by psychedelic rock and European folk. […]

From party boys to tempered domestics

“For two guys who aren't siblings, we really mesh very well. I'm really big on two-part harmonies,” says Peter Holsapple, talking about the new record he's made with longtime musical collaborator Chris Stamey. Best known as the acclaimed songwriters of the dB's, the two have returned some 18 years later with a new album, hERE […]

King Khan and the Shrines

There may be better bands than King Khan and the Shrines: bands with calculatingly unparalleled prowess, capable of bloodless technical precision. But King Khan and the Shrines aren’t interested in that fancy-pants conservatory graduate stuff. Their playing is expert, but balances right on the edge of chaos. Should-be classics like “(How Can I Keep You) […]

Richie Havens still plays every weekend

Singer/guitarist Richie Havens released his first major-label LP, Mixed Bag, in 1967. Now, more than 40 years and two dozen albums later, he’s released his latest, Nobody Left to Crown. So how has he seen his music develop? Pleased to meet me: Nearly 50 years into his career, Havens still goes wherever there’s an audience. […]

The King Khan & BBQ Show

The King Khan & BBQ Show is the same as other rock ‘n’ roll acts, only different. They’re a duo, and the only instruments—both onstage and on record—are guitar, percussion and vocals. Sound familiar? Maybe you’re thinking of The Flat Duo Jets, Dexter Romweber’s band from the ‘80s. Or maybe the White Stripes. Or the […]

The personal and the universal

When the character Forrest Gump compared life to a box of chocolates (“you never know what you’re gonna get”), he could have just as easily drawn a comparison to the music of Todd Rundgren. Throughout his career—beginning in 1967 with proto-powerpop quartet Nazz, through his solo work, albums with Utopia and extensive production duties for […]

Sunshine and darkness

In the 1960s and 1970s, groups like The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers explored the common ground between rock and country. Their best work in this hybrid genre showed that pedal-steel guitars and country-based song structures could find a home with rock audiences. Don’t be fooled: “The lyrics are pretty dark, but candy-coated by […]