Random acts

Of note

Folkie Newsflash: Singer/songwriter Brianna Lane (www.briannalanemusic.com) is currently recording her debut album, on rooftops, with the aid of local producer Chris Rosser. The album should be available in July.

OEF finds new bassist: Just a few days after Asheville-based heavy-metal band One-Eyed Fish parted ways with bassist Slim, the band found a replacement in Tom Mone. For more information, visit www.oneeyedfish.cjb.net.

Front-row reviews

Who: Strut

Where: The Emerald Lounge

When: Friday, May 3

Just before the show, an extremely cocky young man dressed in expensive-looking hip-hop fashions strode onto the dance floor. He began to spin and whirl, breakdance style, to the bass-heavy remix of a ’70s disco tune. He was pretty good, and he knew it. When he was done, he swaggered back to his friends, confident that no other dancer could challenge his moves. It was obvious his plan for the evening was to singlehandedly rule the dance floor.

Moments later, the band took the stage, immediately going into its first song. Their heavy funk flowed with richly textured bass, sweetly smooth guitar and the crispest percussion a groove fan could ask for. The breakdancer froze … then fled. You see, although he could swagger, the guy just couldn’t Strut.

But the band did far more than run off egocentric B-boys. Bassist Elijah Cramer, guitarist Casey Cramer and drummer Pat Thomas wowed the crowd from the very start, mixing a very heavy funk base with elements of blues, hip-hop and Latin dance music. The trio even included a few ska numbers, bringing in their friend Agent Ishi to handle the lyrics. Even though the crowd was mostly the under-25 set, Strut’s grooves recognized no age barrier.

What: “Rediscovering My Muse” (art by Sharon Trammel)

Where: Tressa’s Downtown Jazz & Blues

When: Friday, May 3

Tressa’s limited floor space, thirsty patrons and bustling waitstaff does not make it the ideal place to stand around pondering the deeper meanings of art. Thematically, however, Sharon Trammel‘s exhibit “Rediscovering My Muse” worked beautifully in the setting. These particular paintings had a fairly commercial feel, not unlike themed magazine illustrations. The event brought out a great many local artists and art enthusiasts, and even though it isn’t directly music-related, it brought out Random Acts as well.

The central theme of Trammel’s exhibit seemed to be the exploration of the female face, usually with a semi-fantastic or mythological sub-theme. This included several pieces depicting the Muses, the nine sisters whose role is to inspire. Trammel’s colors are often dark and brooding, occasionally shot through with a slash of blood-red or a thread of gold. In fact, her smart use of color to evoke and enhance mood is her most vivid strength.

Local vocals

“People need to start coming to see us in Asheville so that they don’t lose us,” jests Senatobia front man Phil Lomac.

“Otherwise,” he says, “we’re just going to move to Russia, where people like us.” He’s not completely kidding. In the last few months, Senatobia has become a hot commodity on the airwaves of 102.9 FM in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. It’s typical of Senatobia’s luck over the past three years.

“We seem to do well in places that are out of our reach,” explains bassist Christian Justus. The group’s self-titled first album was something of a success on college-radio stations, even breaking into the top-10 in places like New Jersey and Portland. But for all their air play in those distant places, the band couldn’t seem to accumulate a decent local fan base. Maybe that’s because Senatobia’s music is firmly rooted in one of Asheville’s least-represented genres — college rock. Or, as the band would have you call it, “polysonic mountain-brewed garage-pop.” Either way, their somber themes haven’t caught on with locals.

“I don’t think people know what to do with us,” says Lomac. The band has been combating its lack of recognition with an extensive schedule of out-of-town dates. As drummer Andy Balla puts it, “We’re pretending we play the East-coast circuit.”

The strategy seems to be working. Their most recent album, surprise, has been widely well-received by music critics. They’ve been able to book highly sought-after gigs in Manhattan’s West Village clubs, and even landed themselves on the bill for this year’s Freedom Weekend Aloft celebration in Greenville, S.C. performing just before 38 Special.

Even their Russian connections are paying off: The band was recently invited to perform at a radio festival there. Even if they are still relatively obscure in their hometown, Lomac isn’t too disappointed: “The fact that I’ve gotten to perform original music in front of people … the fact that this band has enabled me to do that … it’s awesome.”

Top three

The top-three staff-picked CDs of the week. This week’s picks come from Xpress graphic designer Brannon Booth:

• Bob Dylan, Desire

• Radiohead, Kid A

• The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers

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