MULTIMEDIA: "My mindset on a live performance is that I always want it to be new,” says MC Chris Shreve of Free the Optimus. The Boone-based artist teamed up with other rappers as well as local aerialists for a night of performance art collaboration. The event benefits Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. Shreve's photo by Carretto Studio, aerialist photo courtesy of Bromelia Aerial Dance Collective

Beats and feats: Rappers and aerialists collaborate on Hip-hop Circus

Think of hip-hop, and a number of images might come to mind: DJs, loose pants, B-Boys and graffiti, perhaps. Even if your list isn’t culled from stereotypes, it’s unlikely to include aerialists — though that might change after the Hip-hop Circus at The Orange Peel on Saturday, Nov. 29. That event pairs area hip-hop acts […]

ATTUNED: Formed in 1999, The New Pornographers boast an impressive arsenal of vocal talent with Neko Case, Destroyer frontman Dan Bejar and Carl Newman. On deciding who sings each track Newman says, “I just write songs and figure out what to do with them later.” Photo by Chris Buck

The New Pornographers play The Orange Peel

The New Pornographers’ Together was one of 2010’s standout albums, but compared with Vampire Weekend’s Contra, Sufjan Stevens’ The Age of Adz and Broken Bells’ self-titled debut — all of which successfully incorporated electronic elements into their creators’ indie sounds — its string-aided rock was a bit of an outlier. Four years later, arpeggiators and […]

INTROSPECTION: “I didn’t want to cloud the musicality of the record in a story,” Adam Granduciel says of writing The War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream. “It wasn’t really about anything other than my relationship to music and my relationship, at the time, to myself.” Photo by Dusdin Condren

The War on Drugs talks gear, songwriting and Asheville as a second home

It was gear that brought singer-songwriter and guitarist Adam Granduciel to Echo Mountain Recording Studios, one of five studios in five different states where he recorded The War on Drugs’ latest effort, Lost in the Dream. (The band also recorded parts of 2011’s Slave Ambient there.) Granduciel wanted to use Echo Mountain’s Fairchild 670 stereo […]

WHIGGING OUT: Founded 25 years ago, The Afghan Whigs return with a new album and a reissue of their first release. "Every record I make is a reaction to the place in my life I’m at then, so it feels more like a constant evolution of a life that I’ve cultivated for myself,” says frontman Greg Dulli, second from right. Photo by Piper Ferguson

The Afghan Whigs play The Orange Peel

These days ’90s alt-rock band reunions are a dime a dozen. Then again, there really wasn’t another ’90s band like The Afghan Whigs. When its major-label debut, Gentleman, dropped in 1993, the group’s sprawling soul-and-R&B-inflected rock histrionics and dapper style stood out among a crowded field of flannel-clad grunge upstarts. The Greg Dulli-led outfit went […]

DIRECT SHOT: Filmmaker Erin Derham, right, interviews musician Andrew Fletcher, left, at 5 Walnut Wine Bar. He often performs there, and on the sidewalk, pushing his piano on a dolly to his location. Also pictured: Director of photography Shane Peters and audio mixer Adam Johnson. Photo by Paul Clark

Local documentary “Buskin’ Blues” premieres

by Paul Clark The biggest challenge to making a movie about the busking scene in downtown Asheville, says Erin Derham, was knowing when to stop. New buskers cycled through town all summer, giving the filmmaker endless possibilities to flesh out her story on the subculture these musicians inhabit. Super-organized and deadline-oriented, Derham gave herself six months […]

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Smart bets: Jim Lauderdale

Although country singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale is as tied to Nashville as to the colorful, embroidered suits he wears, he’s actually a North Carolina native. The son of a minister and a church organist, Lauderdale was born in Troutman, N.C., and grew up in South Carolina. He did head to Nashville after college, but it was […]

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Even though Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is based on the West Coast, he plans to continue collaborating with Asheville artists. “We have a shared history, and I love the flavor,” he says. "That’s the staple of my whole thing, a mutated genre thing." Photo courtesy of the musician

Weirdos R Us: 23 Skidoo celebrates the Year of the Weird with a book and album launch

In the Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the Year of the Horse. For the United Nations, it’s the Year of Family Farming and Crystallography. And, as designated by Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, it’s the Year of the Salamander. No stranger to celebrating diversity and creative thinking for all ages, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo honors […]

BET XavierRudd

Smart bets: Xavier Rudd

Part multi-instrumentalist, part mythical creature, singer-songwriter/surfer/environmentalist/cultural activist Xavier Rudd took the didgeridoo from tribal instrument to legitimate dance club beat-maker. The musician, who lives in Australia, “gradually refined his globally influenced collage of world music — a matchless mixture of reggae, funk, blues, folk, and nearly every other sort of song with the ability to […]