Just that easy

Why do we need a special occasion to put on a show? Does every community event really need to be organized festival-style, stamped with a cute name and printed up in travel brochures so that the tourists can come out and gawk at how “funky” our town is? Probably not, at least according to local musician Jeff Markham.

Hellsayers unplugged: Wayne Robbins and co., usually heavy on the distortion, play a rare acoustic show in Montford. And it’s free.

Aiming for nothing more grandiose than a free, laid-back event open to all, Markham has organized a low-key, family-friendly acoustic show at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre in Montford, home to the Asheville’s summer Shakespeare festival.

“Really, I just wanted to put on a community function,” Markham says. “We’ve got all these great public venues in town and most people don’t realize how cheap and easy it is rent these places out for a few hours.”

He hopes locals will use the event as an excuse to get together as a community as much as for a musical performance.

“I’m hoping to see whole families coming out,” he says. “People should plan to bring picnics or play with their pets and just enjoy themselves.”

As for the scheduled entertainment, it’ll include an eclectic assemblage of local talent playing short, stripped-down sets:

• Multi-instrumentalist and singer Joanna Malcolm will play piano backed up by Markham’s bass. She comes from a long musical background, including the flute and violin. Not terribly long ago she played with a pop/punk band The Sinators. She’s recently been on stage at Asheville Community Theatre, and also performs with the wedding band Orange Krush.

• According to their MySpace site, Kovacs & The Polar Bear met on a soccer field. Since then, the band has been treating Asheville to its brand of catchy indie folk/pop. Last year, the trio released its first album, A Seagull’s Landing. Using acoustic guitars, piano, electric bass and subdued percussion, Kovacs & The Polar Bear creates heartfelt pop ballads with an unmistakable, yet decidedly un-rootsy, mountain tinge.

• Pan, named after the Greek god of shepherds and flocks, released its first album, The Cabbage Mass, last year. The Asheville duo usually deals in light electronics and heavy psychedelia. But for this show, Pan will shed its tape manipulation and distorted riffs to deliver an acoustic translation of its normal set.

• Markham’s own band is The Bluelight Transmission, which typically conjures hypnotically dreamy space rock with nebulous arrangements that leave the listener awash in rainy-day melodies and breathy, melancholy vocals.

• Wayne Robbins & The Hellsayers will play a rare acoustic set, departing from the earcrushing walls of distortion the band favors. Helping define Asheville musically, they toured Europe last year with rock darlings Band of Horses and earned mentions in some of the nation’s glossier music magazines. An average set from The Hellsayers can include anything from traditional country to ‘60s psych pop to sea shanties.

[Dave Cole is an Asheville-based freelance writer.]

what: Family-friendly acoustic outdoor concert featuring Joanna Malcolm, Kovacs & the Polar Bear, Pan, Bluelight Transmission and Wayne Robbins & the Hellsayers
where: Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre, Montford
when: Sept. 10. 6 to 10 p.m. (Free)


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