It would be Django Reinhardt's 100th birthday on Saturday, Jan. 23. To celebrate the life of the jazz great, a group of local musicians who've been supremely inspired by him are having a show. Members of the Django-esque group One Leg Up will host the event, the always ebullient Firecracker Jazz Band will perform, and guitarist Jon Corbin promises there will be "many, many special guests."
Not familiar with Reinhardt? The show could be a great introduction to the man. A brief bio, courtesy Corbin: "Django was a Roma gypsy, born in a field in Belgium on January 23, 1910. He survived a debilitating fire in his caravan that left him clinging to life, badly burned, and without the use of two fingers, and went on to become, according to Chet Atkins, the most influential guitarist of the 20th century. He was moved to tears when he first heard Louis Armstong, and began the process of blending Hot Jazz with his own traditional gypsy music, which itself had a lineage going back to the Middle East and the beginning of time. He was a primary influence on Les Paul, as well as Hendrix, B.B. King, and every jazz guitarist to ever pick up an axe."
The show is $10 and starts at 9 p.m. www.thegreyeagle.com.
Not everyone is as young, lovely and talented as singer Jesse Barry from local powerhouse teen blues-rock group Skinny Legs & All. The town's atwitter over her trip to American Idol (and Jesse, we've got fingers and toes crossed for you, not that you need it) and we're all rooting for the diminutive redhead with the giant-sized voice. And now we've got an Idol-style competition of our own: The White Horse Black Mountain is debuting its Great Blue Ridge Talent Search for singers.
Judging a band competition last year, White Horse co-owner Bob Hinkle and music industry veteran was a delightful table-mate. His insights were witty, cheerful and dead-on, and he's offering to share them with area singers. If you're an unmanaged singer, come compete for $1,000 in cash and prizes, including a show at White Horse, career consultations, free demo recording and supportive feedback.
The competition starts on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m., and will run alternate Thursdays (Feb. 11 and Feb. 25) and into March, as needed. Cost is $10 to compete, free to watch. Come out and root for the next WNC idol.
And on a more serious note, White Horse Black Mountain is hosting a two-night benefit for Haiti, organized on the fly and with an outpouring from local musicians. The lineup at press time includes blues maven Kat Williams, folk legend David Holt, bluegrass greats Sons of Ralph, the sirens of Menage, Skinny Legs and All and many, many more. After White Horse coowners put out the call, they were inundated with musicians eager to support Haiti and the relief effort. Vibrant songstress Nikki Talley has helped spearhead the effort, and proceeds will go to an organization that's been on the ground in Haiti for three years: SOIL, or Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods. Talley's brother had interned with them, and she knew the group does good work.
The benefit will be Saturday, Feb. 6 and Sunday, Feb. 7. Stay tuned to mountainx.com for more details, and www.whitehorseblackmountain.com.