Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back from the ‘70s and ‘80s, but Asheville’s own The Secret B-Sides are bringing it back from much further—roughly 65 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth. At a recent show on Hannah Flanagan’s patio, front man Juan Holladay sang the praises of the prehistoric reptiles as much as he did of human women, bringing a sense of fun absurdity to the band’s neo-soul explorations.
They set a flirtatious mood from the start, opening the show with “Playa Play Her,” a standout Holladay original that, as on many of his songs, features his voice sounding like Love Below-era Andre 3000.
The set really got popping when the song “Nearest Star” inspired a group of drunken middle-aged woman to hit the dance floor. A waiter soon became the focus of their booty train, earning cheers from onlookers on the sidewalk and deck above and enlivening the dinner crowd, who until that point seemed more interested in their nachos then in the space funk being played.
Unfazed, the band kicked off its second set with a series of party jams as if they were playing a packed club. Holladay led the charge, digging into his wah pedal and ultra-stylized nylon string guitar like a younger Lenny Kravitz. Letting the spirit of the psychedelic funk chords take control, he delivered the unapologetically cheesy line, “They say that dinosaurs are out of style, but ohh, girl, I’ve been watching you for a while” with enough panache to make Jamiroquai proud.
Keyboardist Jeff Knorr helped keep the extended jams interesting, lending tasteful Rhodes and organ accompaniments to Holladay’s cooing. A producer/engineer at Collapseable Studios and a recent addition to the group, Knorr successfully worked melodic double duty all night long, filling spaces usually reserved for regular saxophone player Caleb Sherrod. Rounding out the group was the solid rhythm section of Robin Tolleson on drums and Shayne Heather on bass.
Late into the set, Holladay and company were joined by local artist and rapper, G-Frost, who spit sharp-witted freestyles about everything from badgers and skyscrapers to the current financial woes facing Wall Street. With the dinner crowd all cleared out, their lyrical back and forth led the younger folks who had taken over the dance floor to new levels of revelry (including the woman who had been studiously reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States).
Look for the band to integrate more hip-hop into their sound in the near future, with local DJ/producer Brett Rock doing a remix of the group’s Lost Episodes EP, and collaborations in the works with local rapper Chach. They’re also putting the final touches on a new album, Live at the Mothership.
The Secret B-Sides return to Hannah Flanagan’s on Oct. 3. They play the Emerald Lounge on Oct. 4.
Loki and LEAF: Buy your tickets now
Two upcoming events—Loki Music Festival and Lake Eden Arts Festival—both promise weekend-long entertainment, and both promise to sell out early.
Loki, to be held Friday, Oct. 10, through Sunday, Oct. 12, at Deerfields, lists George Clinton, Toots and the Maytals, The Roots, and Toubab Krewe among its headliners. General admission tickets are $145, with VIP tickets available. All tickets include camping. Purchase online at www.lokifestival.com.
LEAF offers its fall iteration from Friday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 19, and includes Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet, Donna the Buffalo and Bettye LaVette on its artist roster. The family-friendly gathering sells tickets only in advance and online. An adult full-weekend pass runs $135 including camping; community passes (no camping) are $85 and single-day passes are available. However, all ticket sales end on Friday, Oct. 10. Visit www.theleaf.com.