DJ Chrome C., Hot Cakes Vol.2: Three Stars
• Genre(s): DJ
• You’ll like it if: You’re too poor at the moment to be a record-bin junkie.
• Defining song: The whole album. Playing on one constant segue, Chromey infuses beats that never allow the pulse a respite.
A professional photographer based in Asheville, Chris Chromey (aka DJ Chrome C.) put DJ’ing on the backburner in 2000 after his rap group, Funqtion, disbanded. However, his hands returned to center stage several months ago when he got a last-minute call to open for Digable Planets at the Orange Peel. His Hot Cakes Vol.2 is a party primer, the kind of disc you put on when it’s obvious the wet blankets have infiltrated the festivities. Most of the mixed songs are familiar here (e.g. James Brown, Sly), with a couple of surprises – especially Jimmy Castor Bunch’s “Bertha Butt Boogie” – latticed in. Those looking for more obscure beats (like, say, soundtracks for Italian porno) will discover only a few sounds that haven’t been plundered by scores of other DJs. Still, it’s a funky interlude when life is banal. For copies of his mixes (including Hot Cakes Vol. 1), contact Chris directly at Chris@Chromey.com.
One Leg Up at the French Broad Brewery Tasting Room: Four Stars
• Genre(s): Gypsy jazz
• Be glad you stayed home if: You prefer David Lee Roth cover bands and hostile-takeover beer over Parisian jazz and micro-brews.
• Defining moment: Django Reinhardt’s “Minor Swing” – A staple of numerous jazz bands, One Leg Up performed the chestnut like it was their own.
For folks phobic of big crowds or an errant beer spilled down the back, look no further than the French Broad Brewery Tasting Room. Set up to be a bachelor’s wet dream, the dimly lit sitting room boasts a small bar, several tables, a scattering of chairs and even a couch. The stage is so close that even a stray whisper can be picked up by the band. The line between performer and patron blurs, creating an atmosphere more affable than your own living room.
The group for the evening was One Leg Up, a sextet that echoes the sounds of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, a band first established by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli in 1934.
One Leg Up’s originality also stems from the group being “collective stars.” Like an astute big band, One Leg Up’s musicians are equally luminescent. At any moment, a violin, mandolin, or clarinet would take center stage, creating a stir usually reserved for a newly arrived brew. Also, the twin guitars of John Stineman and Jim Tanner revamped those bygone Django chords first strummed in pre-WWII Parisian clubs. And they can sing. Bassist Cary Fridley’s voice crisply cut through the mental fog created by the fresh beer, and guitarist Stineman delicately rendered the ode of patient love in “Exactly Like You.” My only complaint was having to leave.
[When he’s not bending readers to his will, Hunter Pope cooks, gardens, hikes and spends his mortgage money on CDs he’s never heard.]