Earful

Local Music News

The Dark Continent goes Orange

Big congratulations to West African groove interpreters Toubab Krewe, who became the first local band to ever sell out the Orange Peel Social Aid & Pleasure Club on Saturday, March 25. The show was a launching pad for the group’s huge national spring and summer tour, which includes performances at prominent festivals like Bonnaroo, High Sierra, LEAF, and Joshua Tree. The tour also includes a stop at NPR’s World Cafe with David Dye on April 22 at 10 p.m.

Crunch Time

Everyone’s favorite crunchy collective is back after a one-year hiatus. Granola Funk Express — advocates of rap’s optimistic side — return to Stella Blue on April 14, the same stage that began their poetic journey back in 1997.

“Reformulation, studio experimentation, and two new members bring a fresh angle to an old favorite,” said GFE member Agent 23. “When the original bassist, Cricket, departed from the band, [we] took a break to find his replacement. After a few auditions, Dave Mack and Brian Turner (of the local jazz trio Q) emerged to handle the keys.”

Expect a harvest of new tunes and a “retooling of old classics” for the local show before GFE hits the road for their 4/20 Northeast tour.

Show review

Songwriters in the Round featuring Chris Jamison and Leslie Berry with host Dave Turner at the Root Bar; Friday, March 31: Three Stars

Genre(s): Singer/songwriter

Be glad you stayed home if: Folk music coupled with East Asheville rowdiness unnerves your soul.

Defining moment: Any time Chris Jamison stepped to the mic.

My experience at the Root Bar can be whittled down to one word — surreal. East of downtown, near Swannanoa, lies Rod Serling’s wet dream. I came for the singer/songwriters, but my entertainment was divided between the performers and the bar crowd. Hedonistic howls of pool-table victories meshed with the serious indulgences of folk angst. One elder gentleman (who offered instant coffee to anyone who passed by) started singing, either to me or some hallucinogenic creation of his own. Despite the distractions, I was compelled by the performance format. A few months ago, local singer/songwriter/pianist Dave Turner launched his round-robin format, where two new songwriters share their craft each week (with Turner sitting in). Afterward, each songwriter gets the spotlight for roughly 15 minutes.

Chris Jamison, who flowed with a Ben Harper/Jack Johnson vibe, was the standout performer of the evening. Lyrically clever (his original “Nine Lives” was a highlight), Jamison will certainly move beyond the parameters of the coffee crowd and into that realm where beer-guzzling lasses will offer promiscuity instead of caffeine-fueled compliments. Leslie Berry took on a G-rated Tori Amos feel. While a great classic pianist, Berry needs to let her lyrical style catch up with her taming of the ivories. Host Turner (who’s performed since 1976) comes from a musical world where Sir Elton John is king. His tunes, best described as Americana with a British twist, include stories of the “Rockola Motel” (yes, the same one in West Asheville) and of his love for a ’63 Chevrolet.

The beauty of the round robin is that before one story can bore, it’s on to the next tune, and even painful entries get a fresh start the next time around. Turner has a great idea; he just needs a more hospitable atmosphere.

[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.]

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