Random acts

Of note

The Buzz from Off Centre: Local acoustic-rock outfit Off Centre is in the studio finishing their yet-to-be-titled, debut full-length. Although there’s no word yet on the album’s release date, the band expects to have it available at shows by early fall. A video for “Carry On” (the album’s first single), directed by Evan Schafer, is nearly done, and should be ready for Web release within the next few months. Visit www.offcentreband.com for more information.

Shock of the new

On the sweltering, sun-bleached Friday that kicked off this year’s Bele Chere weekend, I saw Ian Moore play his heart out for hours straight beneath a boiling sun. He was hollering and stomping, bowing his fiddle and dancing like a fiend — all for a crowd that could barely be bothered to slow down on its way to buy something deep-fried.

A few hours later, as the mob of people swelled and the sun scorched away, Moore found himself joined by two more members of his Asheville-based band, The Rib Tips. They played forever.

It was during this show that I came to the following conclusion: The Rib Tips are insane.

I mean, in a good way. They’re one of those local bands that everybody knows and nobody knows what to do with. On their screaming fiddles, back-porch guitars, thumping washtub basses and clattering washboards, they play the kind of old-time standards known by most serious fans of the strumming set. The only difference is, The Rib Tips apparently pour some sort of experimental jet fuel on these tunes, rocketing them into a manic, screamy place that only punkish rock music seems unreluctant to regularly visit.

Their take on songs like “Limehouse Blues” and “Mockingbird Hill” is something like the style The Stooges might have originated had they only come along circa 1925. And then there’s the matter of The Rib Tips’ curious song “Cluck of the Hen,” a musical mudfight between the old-time standard “Cluck Old Hen,” some punkish refrains and L.L. Cool J’s lite-rap classic “Momma Said Knock You Out.” But unlike with many other such covers, The Rib Tips don’t seem to be winking at you when they play it — it’s a song that feels just as electric as acoustic music can ever hope to.

(It’s not surprising, then, that even the group’s best recordings fail to capture the possessed feel of their live show. For their best-yet — if-still-not-quite-there-yet — recording, pick up a copy of their recent demo Strut, Stride, Stroll & Strings. It also includes the memorable remix of “June Apple” by DJ Black Kow and the Okranauts.)

Perhaps Kevin Barber‘s rhythm-chewing washtub-bass lacks possibilities for the intricate control available on the ever-popular stand-up model, and John Corbin‘s unornamented acoustic guitar can’t hope to outpower the electric charge of a custom newgrass jam-monster. And against the thunder of a fully-mic’d drumset, even John Mulholland‘s excellent washboard-ing can aspire only to holding its own.

But when you see a group of obvious madmen playing all day to an indifferent festival crowd in brain-frying summer heat — and playing better than most of the festival headliners could ever hope to — it’s hard not to wish that they’ll one day find a crowd worthy of them.

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

That’s it. So get spinning, and let us hear Asheville through your ears.

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