Random acts

Of note

Second time around: According to Senatobia‘s Web site, these locally based alt-rockers will be taking the rest of the summer off from touring to complete work on their first full-length follow-up to Surprise, their 2001 debut. No word yet on a release date or the new album’s title. See www.senatobiamusic.net for more info.

Front-row reviews

What: Laura Hope-Gill’s Nothing Personal
Where: Be Be Theatre
When: Tuesday, July 20

Anyone who was part of the local performance-poetry scene in the early ’90s will tell you that Laura Hope-Gill was once its shining star.

She was only a few years out of college then, and though her words had weight, they were unencumbered by adulthood. She had a staunch belief in her stage presence, and the significant thunder of youthful rebellion in her words.

When Hope-Gill left Asheville to pursue other interests, she seemed a soldier going off to fight a just and necessary war.

But that was then.

In her recent one-woman show Nothing Personal, Hope-Gill’s youthful confidence was reduced to the bewildered glare of someone who’d taken on too heavy a load.

She’d replaced passion with a kind of tech-heavy show-and-tell, her once-explosive poems now backed by inconsistent, distracting musical accompaniment — almost as if she were trying to compensate for a loss of vigor.

The show’s first half was marred by breathy poems offered with uninflected syllables and stilted rhythm. Seeing this once-excellent performance poet struggle through her own words was disheartening. Technical glitches and an unresponsive crowd didn’t help much, either.

By the second act, things got brighter. Hope-Gill’s smiles and jokes were less forced, the dying-engine sputter of her verse seemingly cleared of the foul fuel of adulthood.

Her spoken-word Catholic-school bit set to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” bordered on brilliant, and “Behind Niagara” was also worthy of the poet’s talents. Interestingly, both pieces were childhood memoirs.

Listening room (album reviews)

Double Live, The SexPatriates (Major 7 Productions, 2004)

Ever since The SexPatriates announced they’d be releasing a live CD drawn from their Valentine’s Day show at Emerald Lounge, there have been mutters about how awful it would likely be. After all, these guys are a party band — a loud, raucous atom bomb of entertainment, for all the good and bad that suggests. How could a mere album possibly capture the explosive, raunchy wickedness of their live show?

Believe it or not, those fears were unfounded. Double Live is a winner, even though it fights dirty from time to time.

As Asheville’s least reverent cover band rips through Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown,” The Stooges’ “Fun House” and the Ides of March’s “Vehicle,” it’s hard not to get hooked by the band’s playing, which can only be described as furious — every note is soaked in blood, sweat and spit.

The SexPats’ version of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins standard says it best: “I Put a Spell on You.”

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Local Mix Tape Challenge

For the next month, Random Acts will be hosting a contest in which area music-philes can put their taste to the test to see who can come up with the best mix collection of local-only tunes.

Of course, like any game worth playing, there are a few ground rules:

• Only compilations created completely from local music are eligible. (This goes for sampled material, as well — all sound clips must be from locally produced sources.)

• Entries must be clearly marked with relevant album information, such as song titles, band or solo artist’s name and (if possible) the album title itself.

• Mix compilations must run no longer than 60 minutes each.

• All compilations must be received at Xpress by Saturday, Aug. 14, to be eligible to win.

Entries will be judged on song selection, mood transition, eclecticism and packaging. DJ mixes of local music are also encouraged, but again: All source materials must be locally originated, and samples (also local) must be credited.

The winning entrant will receive a Mountain Xpress T-shirt, as well as an in-depth description of his or her mix in the Aug. 25 edition of Random Acts. (Runners-up will also receive mentions.)

Send entries to:

Random Acts Comp Mix Contest
c/o Mountain Xpress (Attn: Steve Shanafelt)
P.O. Box 144
Asheville, NC 28802

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