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For the far-left-field news item of the week, Asheville’s favorite guitar-slinging teddy bear, Warren Haynes, inexplicably assembled a ridiculously cash-money crew to serve as house band on former MTV pretty boy Carson Daly‘s late-night NBC show, Last Call. In addition to Warren and drummer Matt Abts from Gov’t Mule, the superhero ensemble included John Medeski (Medeski Martin & Wood) on keys, Dave Schools (Widespread Panic) on bass and Mr. Anti-mainstream himself, Skerik (Critters Buggin), on saxophone.

Surprising as it may be to see Daly choose something so un-lame for his late-night variety show, this is not his first attempt to woo the undoubtedly un-Daly jam-band crowd — the funk-slinging Galactic held down the same “house band” gig sometime last year. (The Warren edition aired last week.)

Record reviews & notes

• The not-so-bad-as-they-made-it-sound “ice storm” that concluded the last weekend of January kept me from making a cancelled, then un-cancelled, Dave Desmelik show at The Grey Eagle. As I’m now fast approaching the home stretch of my own Asheville tenure, I may not get an encore chance to see this Asheville-based, alt-country-ish singer/songwriter dude. Which is too bad — because if Dave’s 2002 self-released Afterthoughts is any indication, he’s more than got the skills to soar high above the area’s bloated flock of folkies.

Try your own luck with Desmelik at Westville Pub Thursday, Feb. 10.

• Meanwhile, a couple of scruffy-looking self-released discs have made their way to my Xpress mailbox of late, and despite their outward appearances, both of them are worthy doses of local music you, the reader, should also know about.

First, a newcomer to the Asheville scene, Pierce Edens, sent along his four songs. EP, containing, well, four songs. Three of the four are live tracks from Warren Wilson’s Sage Cafe and Westville Pub, while the last, and perhaps best, studio track, “jailhouse (devil don’t work alone).,” along with the live “pretty.,” clearly indicate Edens’ pleasant preoccupation with the naughtier side of life. With a stripped but well-tuned solo-guitar attack, Edens holsters a noteworthy life-torn voice — slightly reminiscent of a more stoned and somber Tom Waits (if that makes any sense whatsoever). It’ll be interesting to see if Edens can get a foothold ’round these parts, with guys like Desmelik to spar with over those precious singer/songwriter gigs.

You can next catch Edens at Sage Cafe Friday, March 25.

• And lastly, you’ve read here before about the New York State transplants who make up The Great Slide — and it’s admittedly hard to ignore a band whose drummer bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain Xpress music reviewer (especially one who used to play drums himself).

Anyway, in support of their upcoming Friday-night engagement at The Orange Peel, a man dressed in full space-suit gear recently dropped a Slide sampler off at Xpress‘ offices. I later learned from Slide bassist/keys player Jon Paul Hess that the Marvin the Martian imitator was, indeed, my look-a-like drummer: the almost-one-and-only redheaded/bearded Dave Hamilton.

The little sampler of six was recorded at the Slide’s own Silvermine Studio, where WNCW DJs Uncle Dave and Lee Miller have recently recorded several local bands for airplay. In their heart, The Great Slide is just a damn good rock band, but their lazy, sometimes spacey, groove leaves plenty of room for genre-bending fun, and their sometimes-eerie vocal harmonies sound a bit like angels gladly riding that great-slide-in-the-sky from grace.

Come support the snowballing groove of The Great Slide Friday, Feb. 11 at the Peel. Space suits and other costumes are encouraged.

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