Random acts

Of note

Not so fast … Former chunkstyle bassist Dan Taylor will not be joining local metal group New Dark Science as reported in the Sept. 4 edition of Random Acts. Taylor briefly agreed to work with the group as bassist, but due to creative differences, the arrangement ended late last month. For more information on NDS, e-mail John Cogburn at newdarkscience@aol.com.

Second Exit Local punk headliners Holiday Rd. have announced plans to record a second full-length CD. The currently unnamed album, a follow-up to this year’s Next Exit, should see release in early 2003. For more information on the band, visit www.holidayrd.com.

Front-row reviews

What: Jubal Foster

Where: Jack of the Wood

When: Saturday, Sept. 7

Though Jubal Foster are practically regulars at Jack of the Wood, even that pub’s experienced waitstaff were having trouble explaining the band’s music to inquiring patrons. “It’s sort of like country,” one waitress explained … “only sort of like rock, too.” As it turned out, her description was about as accurate as one can offer (at least while trying to fill a dozen drink orders for the thirsty Saturday-night crowd).

In the show’s first moments, the band seemed to be just another country/bluegrass outfit. The first few songs were almost too typical, and for a while it seemed likely they would simply retread the well-worn O Brother path.

But then, about a third of the way into the first set, the five members of Jubal Foster loosened up a bit and let their own style emerge. Imagine a young Huey Lewis fronting a progressive Appalachian bluegrass band playing songs from a cheatbook of ’80s and ’90s pop hits, and you’ve got Jubal Foster at their best. There’s something for practically everyone — foot-stomping fiddle; upbeat, roots-rock drumming; mellow bass-strumming; twangy electric guitar and mandolin — all led by a solid acoustic guitar.

The music rarely went deep — the band’s set was mostly composed of dance-ready numbers. But for a Saturday-night Jack crowd, it sounded just right.

Listening room (album reviews)

Blessed in an Unusual Way — David Childers

David Childers is one of the most dangerous men in traditional roots music. Who else would rearrange a classic Hank Williams song like “(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle” around a sitar? Who else would put out an album that successfully rides the thin line between making fun of hard-core Christian fundamentalism and paying homage to it? And who else would place a bizarre rainstick-and-spoken-word sound collage into an album of such music, as Childers has with “Saturday”?

Childers does it all, and flawlessly. His original songs here are often deceptively simple, and yet all are solidly performed, fully crafted works. Even the vague religious themes are easily overlooked in favor of the simple power of the music. Rating: 5 out of 5.

Local vocals

The echo inside Battery Park Apartments is uncanny. Every sound winds on forever in this mammoth man-made cavern, and every little whispered cough seems to boom. Along one wall, Rick Wallace and his band Back Home have set up their equipment. Even though it’s obviously well-played, their music sounds tinny and harsh coming out of a worn PA. I wonder why Wallace was so insistent I see his band play here, in this chamber of hollow refrains and endlessly distracting musical ripples.

And then here comes “Ghost Riders in the Sky” — not exactly a song I haven’t heard before, but somehow, in this unusual venue, it makes perfect sense. The trio sounds like a full, lonely-prairie orchestra; their voices haunt the room like the weary ghosts of cowboys looking for one last place to rest. What others must spend days setting up for in a studio, Wallace has done in no time with acoustics and architecture.

After their show, I ask Wallace — for whom I now have a newfound respect — about his choice of venues: why this long, hollow lobby over some other place?

“Well,” he answers with a laugh, “I live here.”

There’s more to the story. In the late 1920s, the lobby of the apartments (then called Battery Park Hotel) was used for live radio broadcasts. “Musicians and writers from the past,” he explains, “like [country-music forefather] Jimmie Rodgers, might have stayed here.”

At age 68, Wallace can refer to his bandmates — electric guitarist Chris Carter and harmony vocalist Karen Somers (both well into adulthood) — as “these kids” and really mean it. He also takes obvious joy in chiding them. Wallace came to Asheville last year from New York, where he was working as an actor. Moving to the senior-citizen apartments at Battery Park hasn’t slowed his bones, though. He’s just recorded an album of originals, and is very excited about working with his new band. “This is fun, playing with these youngsters,” he says.

“And,” he adds, “they like my music.”

You can also find Rick Wallace in Asheville Community Theatre’s upcoming production of Fiddler on the Roof.

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