The junk journal

Rock you like a … (news)

The good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise (again), we should finally have this hurricane mess well behind us. That is, at least so long as Jeanne finds some other place to visit.

Countless folks in our community have now endured the wrath of back-to-back weather debacles. The second and far more heinous storm, Ivan, the rain-gushing Russian, seems to have taken its cues from its “neighbor,” Germany — specifically, from the Deutsch version of Spinal Tap, the Scorpions — in bringing an entirely new (if still entirely crappy) connotation to that vapid line “Rock you like a hurricane.”

Nevertheless, it’s good to see that Ivan has called it quits, even if the badly aging Scorpions refuse to show the same good sense.

So now it’s on to the business of picking up the pieces from the hurricanes’ destructive paths. And to that end, a music-based benefit for local storm victims is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 15, at The Orange Peel. Show proceeds are slated to go to decimated River District artists, many of whom saw years of work literally go down the drain in those first few moments of flooding.

The show promises a mack-daddy headliner (still TBA), buttressed with some of our most righteous and jubilant local-music offerings, along with food, plenty of drinks and an art auction rounding out the worthy cause. Call The Orange Peel for details.

Weather report (views)

More than a few locals hit by Ivan and Frances could have used a drink or two and some live music after the hurricanes finally passed — but there was no beer, and even less music, at the annual Brewgrass Festival, or at West Asheville’s Fiesta Latina, both slated for Sept. 18. Downtown officials prematurely cancelled both events, despite the Saturday in question turning out to be one of the most beautiful days in recent memory.

As tempting as it is to blame this blunder on the folks over at City Hall, the city does have bigger considerations in such matters than just suds and song (though I sometimes think local policymakers could use a bit more of both). I’m sure the city had everyone’s best interest in mind when staff made the call.

And when you get right down to it, The Weather Channel is the real culprit here.

After all, how can you fault the local-meteorology set when their heroes at the nationally syndicated weather mothership can’t land anything close to the right forecast?

Until the power went out after Ivan finally hit, I stared at that slowly progressing circular beast on TWC’s meticulous, play-by-play broadcast. What I saw (other than a totally blown weekend-weather forecast) was that these Doppler-dazed people have some serious issues of their own — and mostly in the musical influences their on-air performances clearly suggest.

On one side, there’s the anchors themselves, with their perfectly arced arm motions tracking the storms and their perpetually cheery voices adding up to some of the most bloodless delivery on all of broadcast television.

The Weather Channel crew’s numbing collective persona leads me to believe its forecasters must derive their inspiration from among the most anemic musical offerings of the last 20 years. The boy anchors (now including former WLOS meteorologist Mike Bettes) have likely traded in their Bruce Willis and Don Johnson solo records for the latest from the Bacon Brothers and Russell Crowe. The weather ladies, meanwhile, would seem to prefer Muzak and some of Celine Dion’s “harder stuff” when they’re tracking that next tropical disturbance.

Meanwhile, the channel’s “Local on the 8s” feature elicits its own share of troubling musical questions. More often than not, the background tunes for this segment are jazzy instrumentals from hippie-rock staples like Phish and Widespread Panic.

While I’m normally supportive of this sort of soundtracking, I’m not entirely sure that these are the fans you want tracking the delicate, complex patterns of much of anything — especially deadly monsoons. After all, a fully functioning short-term memory and an attention span extending beyond the band’s next tour could seem useful in the forecasting business.

Whatever the case may be with the inexplicable Weather Channel music backdrop, it’s more important to remember that the station’s margin for error can still exceed what City Hall apparently gives it credit for.

Score: On the rain-songs scale, The Weather Channel scores an “After the Rain” by bleach-blond duo Nelson, also frequently played on TWC loudspeakers.

The make-up dates for Fiesta Latina and Brewgrass are Saturday, Oct. 2, and Saturday, Oct. 30, respectively.

[Asheville-based music writer Stuart Gaines, a contributing editor at An Honest Tune, can be reached at]

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