Back Track

Sixteen years ago, Charlotte- and Asheville-based rock band, Charlie’s On Acid, was at the top of its game. The band’s members appeared as Hangman’s Joke, the backing band to Brandon Lee’s rocker character in The Crow. Then, Lee (son of action star Bruce Lee) was accidentally killed during filming in Wilmington.

“Back when it was all about spandex and big hair”: Charlie’s on Acid then and now. The band, along with three other 90’s rock outfits, reunite at the Orange Peel this Friday. Photos special to the Mountain Xpress.

Bassist Eric Metcalf remembers that Lee was “a super-nice guy. We all got along with him. He was learning to play guitar.” And Charlie’s on Acid had also just played a gig with White Zombie—“so it was a double whammy.”

Though Metcalf doesn’t blame Lee’s death (and the associated “bad vibe”) for the band not getting signed, within a few years the members of Charlie’s on Acid had gone their separate ways. The good news: Now, a decade since they last played together, the group has reunited for Asheville Rewind, a four-band showcase to benefit residential and foster care facility Eliada Homes.

The concept—bringing some of the best-known local bands from the 80s and 90s out of retirement—is the brainchild of local musician Joe Lasher. Lasher grew up in Asheville and, from 1990 to ‘94, played guitar in rock and metal band Mother Soul. “What inspired the event was that my formative years were shaped by such great music,” he says. Because Asheville has “shifted from that rock scene,” nostalgia inspired Lasher—now in his mid-30s—not just to reassemble his former group (vocalist Joel Shaffer, guitarist Scot Calloway, bassist Jim Nance and drummer Mike “Rockjaw” Hunnicutt), but to convince some his favorite bands of that era to do the same.

In the ‘90s, Asheville had a thriving rock scene. The Stripp Band, above, was part of it. They may bust out some Whitesnake for the Asheville Rewind show.

With the help of Jerry Lyda (owner of West Asheville business Music City), Lasher dreamed up and organized Rewind Asheville.

Also on the bill: Prayin’ for Rain—which included vocalist Ritchie Tipton and guitarist Mike Barnes (Barnes will not be at the Orange Peel show, due to a scheduling conflict) who have both gone on to other projects; and hair-metal outfit The Stripp Band (with guitarist Jack Mascari)—which played the first Warren Haynes Christmas Jam in 1988 at now-defunct venue 45 Cherry.

“I love that the event is creating an opportunity for these groups to reunite,” says Carolyn Ashworth, a spokesperson for Eliada Homes. The benefit is also a great opportunity for the nonprofit agency.

The economy has hurt Eliada’s fundraising efforts, but the children and family-service nonprofit depends on donations for many of its programs, including its therapeutic equestrian program and its athletics.

The four bands agreed to donate proceeds from the Rewind show to Eliada Homes because, according to Lasher, “we know what a safe haven music has been for us. It’s our hope [Eliada Homes] can build a music program.”

Mother Soul guitarist Joe Lasher says his group, at its hey-day in the early ‘90s, are calling the show “We Ain’t 40 Yet.”

Since announcing the Rewind show, Lasher says he’s been contacted by “so many groups from the past 20 years” about putting on future events. Anne Coombs of Primitive Future, the band Legacy and musician Bruce McTaggart are among those who might play upcoming Rewind showcases.

While picking back up after a decade- (or more) long hiatus isn’t quite as easy as getting back on a bicycle (“None of these bands was playing together before six weeks ago,” Lasher says), the reunion is proving doable. “We’ve put it all back together,” Lasher promises.

Of Mother Soul: “We’re calling it ‘We Ain’t 40 Yet.’ We’re going to rock it out.”

Of the Stripp Band: “They’ll be playing some Whitesnake. I think they’ll be a crowd favorite.”

Metcalf (who, with vocalist Sean Frazier, guitarist Toby Bryant and drummer Rusty Burnette) actually remembers opening for the Stripp Band back when it was all about “spandex and big hair. You had to look a certain way—you couldn’t just have good gear.” Now, he says, music has changed.

“I can just show up as Eric wearing whatever.” And gone are the days of cross-state road trips to hang flyers. Now, “you just go to MySpace and Facebook and put up a few e-mails and you get twice as many people.” That ease, and the maturity that comes with age (the bassist and his cohorts are now in their late-30s), means for Charlie’s on Acid, this reunion might last beyond Asheville Rewind. “We’ll try it on a limited basis and see how it goes,” Metcalf says.

Crystal Zoo and Keith Flynn reunite, though it’s not part of the Eliada Homes benefit.

Another reunion: Crystal Zoo and Keith Flynn

Coincidentally during the same weekend, heavy-rock band Crystal Zoo (which also had its Asheville heyday in the mid-90s) reunites for a show at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 1 Edwin Place. The show, dubbed An Evening of Poetry and Rhythm, is sponsored by Asheville Wordfest and the Prama Institute. Sebastian Matthews, Laura Hope-Gill and students will present poetry. Tickets, $15 or $10 students/seniors, available at Malaprop’s or www.pramainstitute.org. More info at http://keithflynn.net.

who: Asheville Rewind
what: Benefit for Eliada Homes
where: The Orange Peel
when: Friday, May 22 (The Stripp Band at 7:40 p.m., Prayin’ for Rain at 8:40 p.m., Charlie’s on Acid at 9:40 p.m., Mother Soul at 10:40 p.m., All-star jam at 11:40 p.m. $10. www.ashevillerewind.com)

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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