Random acts

Of note

Sons Sounds: Good news for local revisionist-bluegrass fans: Sons of Ralph (Featuring Ralph) recently announced that their new CD, Mountain Boys, will be out in September. The album is a followup to Live … Tune to This, released earlier this year. Visit www.sonsofralph.com.

Bugs Licking Rugburns: Though The Licks and The Rugburners have folded, former members of both have recently formed a new group: Bugs Multiply. They’ll be releasing their debut CD, including unreleased Licks and Rugburners tracks, later this year. Visit www.bugsmultiply.com.

Front-row reviews

What: Armando Bellmas’ Photographs

Where: Lola Salon and Gallery (60 Biltmore Ave.)

When: Through Saturday, Sept. 6

“Megan” sits alone on a crumbling stoop. Her earrings match her sundress, but her eyes appear resigned.

Armando Bellmas has an eye for the lone story amid city chaos — scenes of isolation in a sea of action. In Photographs, the Asheville shutterbug turns his subjects into something between heroes and ghosts: The figures haunt these pictures, bleeding into living memory.

Bellmas is a former WNCW deejay, leaving the station in 2000. Not surprisingly, then, his lens often strays toward musicians: former Black Crowes front man Chris Robinson, for instance, summoning chords like some gaunt, mythical diabolist; a towering Philip Whack of local jazz group Taken Back Quartet, his soul pouring through his sax as he’s lit by strings of decorative bulbs.

Scenes that Bellmas captured while in Europe are mixed with shots of local political action. A vitriolic moment at last year’s Wal-Mart protests makes for a tormented, arresting vision — so powerful is it that Bellmas is using the picture to publicize his current exhibit.

But upon seeing Holiday Childress of The Goodies! — appearing in Bellmas’ photo as some half-mad vaudevillian glaring at an unseen audience — it’s clear this photographer feels most at home in a crowded club.

Bellmas turns playful in a photo showing animal-suited fans exchanging impish smiles backstage at the Flaming Lips show at The Orange Peel last spring; clearly, they’re anticipating some upcoming mischief.

Like all good storytellers, Bellmas holds back some details. You don’t need to know the song that performer Robert Walter is singing, for instance, or the piano notes he’s playing. All you need is the look on his face that Bellmas managed to capture.

In “Soundcheck at The Orange Peel,” the spears of stage light silhouetting the lone figure in the image tell all. If the details of the show were somehow included — if you even knew who the band was — the story might just disappear.

For a look at more of the photos you’ll see, go to www.bellmas.org.


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