Homegrown hip-hop

Crazyhorse & Colston play the Haywood Stage Friday from 6:30-8 p.m.

To local hip-hop band CrazyHorse & Colston, playing Bele Chere is a big deal — partly because the duo (Max Hupertz and Bryan Godleski) both grew up in Western North Carolina, and partly because at last year’s festival, hip-hop fans voiced their disappointment about the lack of the genre on the lineup. “It does feel cool to be someone representing it,” says Hupertz. Winners in Xpress’ Best of WNC 2011 poll for hip-hop, CrazyHorse & Colston are the right guys for the job.

Godleski says the duo applied to Bele Chere last year and didn’t make the cut. “We really stepped our game up,” he says. That includes the June release of the band’s second full-length, Backroads & Bonfires.

The 15-track LP showcases Hupertz and Godleski’s near-athletic ability to spit verses and manipulate rhythms, and the pair’s innate sense of poetry informed not just by clubs, streets and urban culture, but by the natural beauty of WNC. “We’re real proud of this area and we like showing it off,” says Godleski. (Check out the album’s gorgeous photography by Brandt Crabbe for more reasons to love the great outdoors.)

“It was partially planned and partially what came naturally,” says Hupertz. CrazyHorse & Colston (whose names are taken from a Native American figure and a great-great-grandfather who fought in the Civil War) spent three years on Backroads; part way into the process they realized their direction incorporated the landscape in which they’d grown up and the experiences they’d had. “We speak about what’s real to us,” says Hupertz. Like battered pickup trucks, waterfalls and a spiritual connection to nature.

CrazyHorse & Colston also used the album to delve into musical influences including rap, blues, bluegrass and country. Godleski’s father plays in bluegrass band Buncombe Turnpike; Hupertz’s dad is a harmonica player and lends his harp to a couple of tracks. The duo also tapped Sons of Ralph fiddler Don Lewis for a searing strings part, and a number of local horn players (trombone, saxophones and trumpet) can be heard throughout the record.

Typically, CrazyHorse & Colston play with DJ Kilby, who adds scratches and cues instrumentals. For Bele Chere, Hupertz and Godleski (who perform all of their vocals live) plan to have musicians on stage with them as well — it’s the direction they’re moving in as a band. One thing they won’t have at Bele Chere: The few strong words and adult themes that warranted the parental advisory on their record. Godleski has been carefully revising the set with an ear toward the family-friendly. His plan is to “use filler words tastefully.” But CrazyHorse & Colston don’t mind. “We don’t want to alienate anyone,” says Godleski.

Hupertz adds, “We want to play Bele Chere next year, too. And the year after that.”

who: CrazyHorse & Colston
when: Haywood Stage, Friday, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

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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