Random acts

Of note

Low-down debut … Asheville-based rock group The Low Numbers is currently working on its debut demo/EP recording. A limited release of the as-yet-untitled album should be available at their Aug. 10 Vincent’s Ear show. For more information, e-mail the band at thelownumbers@wildmail.com.

All apologies … Local bar-band venue The Hangar was slightly miffed at their portrayal in a recent edition of Random Acts as a cowboy and wrestling-fan-oriented bar. This, the club’s management maintains, is inaccurate. They characterize The Hangar as purely rock-oriented. Our sincere apologies go out to any cowboys or wrestling fans who were misled by the review.

Front-row reviews

What: MiniVoid farewell performance w/Drop Comix, Bleak and Bull Rush

Where: Asheville Music Zone

When: Thursday, July 18

Years ago, Matt Robinson reluctantly saw MiniVoid perform at the request of a friend. It was loud, screaming heavy metal, and the band held nothing back from its performance. If you got too close, you could feel the sweat fly off their bodies as they played.

Since that night, Robinson has been a believer. He saw something in MiniVoid that inspired him, and before long, he was playing in his own bands, eventually forming his current one, Unscathed. But at heart, he was always a MiniVoid fan.

Meanwhile, MiniVoid was fading away. At the end of last year, they lost their vocalist and main songwriter, Grant Henry, and many fans predicted they’d never recover.

When I first saw MiniVoid in November 2001, they were clinging to the very end of a downward spiral: Grant Henry once characterized his departure to me as more a messy divorce than a creative split. Their last show with Henry struck me as lackluster and uninspired. They were worn out, and it showed. And then Matt Robinson tried out for the front-man position — just to be funny, never believing the band would take him in. But they did.

With fresh blood, the band improved for a while — but I’d say I’d still never seen MiniVoid at their best till their official farewell show at Asheville Music Zone on July 18. That night, MiniVoid made their stagemates — heavy hitters like Bleak, Bull Rush and Drop Comix — seem like perfect amateurs. It was an acrobatic show, with guitarists and bassists jumping high and hitting the ground hard as the held drum beats came hammering down around them. It was passionate, holding the entire crowd’s attention from the very first line (“We need NOTHING!”). And above all, it was honest.

Without MiniVoid on the scene, there’s a power vacuum in this mountain town. Some bands, like their longtime friends and professional rivals Estedy, will continue on, forever enriched by the honest spirit of competition between the two groups. Others, like Bull Rush, Stammer, Life’s Ruin, Underscore and Matt Robinson’s own Unscathed, will always have MiniVoid’s local success, their two albums and numerous packed shows, as a gauge against which to judge their own successes and failures.

But above all that, they’ll have the vital, heavy-metal scene MiniVoid left in its wake.

Local vocals

“This is the one band — and I’ve been in a few between my high-school days and now — that I would not fear you to call any place we’ve ever played and ask the manager their opinion of us,” says Soul Bone bassist Loren Green. He pauses, adding, “We go and we do our job, because this is our job.”

Soul Bone is a cover band and proud of it. Green and band co-founder/guitarist Terry Lee Palmer hoped the group would enable them to break free from the restraints of working as sidemen for other groups on the Nashville bar-band circuit.

“We were basically working for somebody and getting paid a set salary, while they were raking in the big bucks,” explains Palmer. “[We thought] we could be doing the same thing on our own.”

Since arriving in Asheville, the group has worked diligently to establish itself. One constant source of surprise has been that, in an area with so many talented musicians, few seem to be actively marketing themselves.

“Actually, I’m kind of glad they’re not,” jokes Palmer, “because that gives us an edge … a little extra push.”

The group’s current goal is to release an album of original songs later this year. For Soul Bone, playing other people’s songs is just a way to make ends meet. As Green puts it, “[It’s] our nine-to-five.”

But even a cover band has its limits.

“If anybody requests ‘Freebird’ from us,” says Palmer, “it’s $100. Minimum.”

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