• Taking its cue from WNCW DJ Lee Miller and his excellent weekly program, Local Color (Fridays 9-10 p.m.), newcomers WPVM 103.5 FM have added their own weekly locals-only showcase called Be Here Now. The show’s moniker rather unhappily recalls the gone-now, sort-of-famous downtown venue of the same name — but the new slot still promises plenty of forward, or at least present-thinking, locals-only action.
Hosted by Aaron Price (owner of Collapseable Studios in West Asheville) and David Connor Jones (owner of local media company Halcyon Productions and programming coordinator for the station), Be Here Now airs Mondays from 9-11 p.m. As with Local Color, Be Here Now promises live studio glimpses from as many bands and individual artists as coordinators can get their paws on — plus, of course, plenty of recorded stuff and heady commentary on all of the above.
Interested local vocals should submit queries and CDs to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• A slew of tribute artistes have “covered” these mountains of late, and I now know for sure I’m not alone in my suckerdom for this particular brand of entertainment. In December, Elvis impersonator Eddie Miles showed the good people of Mars Hill why (despite being inexplicably sold like a not-so-cheap suit by his clearly shortsighted daughter Lisa Marie) the one-and-only Elvis is still King.
Meanwhile, The Orange Peel continued making cover history of its own, with Zeppelin cover boys Zoso and Pink Floyd copycats The Machine (which was unbelievable) both rounding out their January calendar. I’ve seen the strangely on-point Zoso more times than I care to publicly admit, and despite enjoying carbon-copy renderings of complex gems like “Ten Years Gone” and “In My Time of Dying,” I was still ashamed to observe more Zoso attendees than at almost every local-band gig I’ve seen.
And finally, this Friday, Feb. 4, Go-Go Girlie Action (“Asheville’s premier” — and certainly most ubiquitous — “go-go troupe”) will sponsor a tsunami benefit at The Peel, featuring yet another surprisingly popular cover band, local young’uns Yesterdays Tomorrow, who cover the Beatles. All proceeds from the show (including Team Peel’s precious tip money) will go to UNICEF’s tsunami-relief programs.
A welcome exception to the above attendance rule would be the recent Stephanie’s ID CD-release gig at Stella Blue — which I missed — that reportedly saw more than 200 folks getting in touch with their Freudian desires. That show kicked off Stephanie’s current mini-tour of the great Northeast; Morgan noted in a phone call from Baltimore that their shows so far had been fabulous despite some brutish winter weather.
Morgan made me shudder a bit myself: She revealed that Ruby Slippers’ Molly Kummerle had joined her unique quartet at Stella for a run through Bill Withers’ gloriously naughty soul classic “Use Me.” Morgan and Kummerle mark a pair of serious local divas who share sensuous voices that would be potentially troublesome to describe in some children’s magazines.
As with a good rendition of “Use Me,” Stephanie’s ID’s new self-released disc Spiral In doesn’t disappoint a bit. The busy Mr. Price helped produce and record the project at Collapseable, and the 12-track, 44-minute affair is as good a self-released outing as I’ve heard — precisely because it’s so very professional, concise and polished from start to finish.
The coherent string of tracks ably demonstrates ID’s unique musical approach, plus Morgan’s exceptional voice and outstanding lyric-writing prowess. One-part pop, two-parts jazz and three-parts something all their own, this band is clearly one of Asheville’s best — and perhaps most likely to succeed, too, what with the current national shortage of thoughtful and beautiful female stars.
Highlight tracks include “Lusciously,” with Price sitting in on guitar, and “This One,” with guest vocals from Menage ladies Mary Ellen Bush and Sarah McDonald.
The intoxicating presence throughout of Matthew Richmond‘s vibraphone (which sounds a lot like a xylophone) and Chuck Lichtenberger‘s nimbly diverse keyboard work, alongside the solid drumming and percussion of Kari Shannon, rounds out the work.
All in all, Spiral In marks a big-label-worthy effort from a rising local star. On the standout track “Quiet, Jimmy,” Morgan warmly, yet wryly, coos about the place she calls home: “This town is a lucky one: Two-point-two children. Cowboys and Cowgirls. Jesus is the savior — and that’s a damn good thing…” Indeed it is — with cowgirls like Morgan around, Lord knows we’ll need a savior. Yee-haw.