In advance of this season’s LEAF, the 41st bi-annual iteration of the festival, we’re talking to performing artists from the LEAF lineup about the festival’s New Orleans-meets-WNC theme. LEAF takes place Thursday to Sunday, Oct. 15-18, at Camp Rockmont.
Local jazz-swing-folk-old-time outfit The Resonant Rogues expertly mix old influences with new sounds and pair European savvy with American roots swagger. They’re also about to head out on a a West Coast tour, so LEAF is a great chance to catch the band. They’ll be playing shows geared toward both adults and kids.
The Resonant Rogues play at The Barn Saturday, Oct. 17, at 4:30 p.m. and the Roots Family Stage, at 7:15 p.m.
Xpress: Tell us a little bit about the performance you have planned for this season’s LEAF.
Sparrow: We are crafting our sets to suit the stages where we will be performing on Saturday. In the Barn, from 4:30-5:30 p.m., we will focus on bringing the dance party while still throwing in some tender tunes. Our later set closes out the Roots Family Stage, from 7:15-8 p.m., and will be more kid-oriented, featuring fun, high energy songs and a couple of my son’s favorite lullabies. Both of the performances will include our eclectic mix of original old-time, jazz and Eastern European-flavored music.
Will you be incorporating any New Orleans elements or inspirations into your performance?
Sparrow: New Orleans is a huge influence in all of our music. We started our band there, and that crazy, amazing city has been very formative for us, both as musicians and as people. Something that I love about New Orleans is that all kinds of different folks all hang out together and the music is very cross-pollinated. That shows in our wide range of genres.
Keith: One thing we’ve experienced in NOLA is the joy of inviting other musician friends up to sit in with the band. It adds a playfulness to the songs and invites more improvisation, which is always fun. I think there is a strong likelihood that we might have a special guest or two at this year’s LEAF!
Can you share a New Orleans memory?
Keith: What a can of worms! I spent several winters in NOLA making my living busking on Royal Street. Most days were spent bicycling with my instruments around town, running into friends on their bicycles with instruments. Taking walks on the levee, having a beer at the railyard, potlucks, swing dancing, seeing amazing art happen on the regular.
Sparrow: I saw my first old-timey vaudevillian accordionist there, and decided that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve lived there a couple of times. I learned so much from friends down there, and from all of the music and dancing and art and fun happening everywhere, all the time. I also learned that if I live there, it wears me out — I always come back to Asheville. I crave me some NOLA though, and make sure to get my fix every year.
Can you share a favorite memory from a past LEAF?
Sparrow: A couple of years ago, I came out to play at LEAF with a sprained ankle. While watching Beats Antique’s incredible set, my pal Zoe Jakes pulled me up on stage — but I had a giant boot on my ankle, which made it incredibly hard to get over the barrier and up there. I had to be lifted extremely awkwardly by several people, but I made it. Out of all of the folks begging to be picked, she had to choose gimpy old me to get enveloped by the giant inflatable cat. Definitely a hilarious moment in my life.
If you could collaborate with any other performer at this month’s LEAF, who would it be?
Sparrow: Dang, that’s a tough one. This year’s lineup is my favorite I’ve ever seen. As a jazz musician and vocalist, singing with Preservation Hall would be the absolute tops. As an activist, I would love to collaborate with Rising Appalachia. Their commitment to social and environmental justice is right out front, and the way they highlight that message in their music and performances is extremely inspiring to me.