Random acts

Of note

Steep Canyon Sweeps Fair WNC-based bluegrass headliners The Steep Canyon Rangers made their presence felt at this year’s N.C. Mountain State Fair. The band won Best Bluegrass group (which allowed them to open for Earl Scruggs, the Fair’s headlining act) as well as awards for Best Banjo, Best Fiddle, Best Guitar, Best Stand-up Bass and Best Mandolin. For more information on the group, visit www.steepcanyon.com.

Evil to the end Asheville-based Misfits tribute band Evilive has announced plans to disband after their Halloween show at the Brewery in Raleigh. According to vocalist DougEvil (also know as Holiday Rd.’s Doug Mitchell), the split “is amicable, and the main reason is everyone being too busy with our other projects.” For more information, visit www.celibaterecords.com.

Album update Local heavy-rock act Unscathed has recently announced plans to record their first full-length album. The group will spend several dates in late October and early November working with Swift’s Jamie King. The group expects to release the effort later this year. Visit www.unscathed.net for more.

Front-row reviews

What: Fashion Show and Dance
Where: The Watershed
When: Friday, Sept. 20

I’ll own up to it: I’m not a fashionable guy. I combine clothes that don’t require much effort into reasonably non-comical outfits — usually mono-colored T-shirts, jeans and interchangeable white athletic socks.

Yet somehow, I got personally invited to review a fashion show.

Having never been to the newly opened Watershed, I decided to go. After all, what fun is a Friday night if you can’t go out and watch cute women (and men, I guess) strut their stuff in fully coordinated, hip regalia? I was not disappointed.

The show itself was rather brief, maybe 15 minutes long, but immensely fun to watch. Amateur models strode across the Watershed’s stage exuding all the attitude of true runway waifs. (They didn’t seem to mind that this show was more or less a promotional event for local boutiques, namely Black Mountain’s Anna B’s and Asheville’s Honeypot — it was their time to shine.)

From what I could tell, most of the outfits seemed to be assembled from reworked vintage clothes. There were nods to fashions of the past, ever so slightly tweaked and updated, like a high-hemline single-piece dress that would have looked appropriate on a Sonny-era Cher. There were roller-skating disco divas, cowboys in black mesh tank-tops, a duo of belly dancers, and even a few children’s fashions.

But the evening’s real “show” came after the models had taken their turns and the DJs began to do their work. The whole ensemble of creatively attired people mobbed the dance floor, grooving to the mixing skills of Bret Rock and later DJ Freq. Their spinning did wonders for the crowd, and two memorable re-mixes included a strangely heavy dance version of The Police’s “King of Pain” and a slightly d&b revamp of Tommy Tutone’s “Jenny (867-5309).”

Much later, as the dancers grew weary, came a seemingly impromptu “Best Dressed” contest, judged by riotous audience response. By the time I left at a little past 1 a.m., the party was still going strong.

What: Two Dollar Pistols
Where: Westville Pub
When: Saturday, Sept. 21

The Two Dollar Pistols not only looked the part of the new breed of twangy, old-school country musicians — they also backed it up with a deep understanding of the style. Vocalist John Howie Jr.’s voice was perfect for this brand of music, a clear baritone with just a hint of hard-life raspy grit, and it greatly complemented the near-rockabilly playing of lead guitarist Scott McCall.

Nearly all the group’s original songs hearkened back to the founders of modern country, with constant nods and references to Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Roger Miller, and Johnny Cash. The vast majority of the band’s offerings were upbeat, dance-type numbers, and it wasn’t until the Pistols’ second set that they introduced a few slower tunes.

The crowd initially seemed a bit reluctant to take to the dance floor, but by the end of the second set, the smallish area next to the stage was tightly packed with shufflers and stompers. All in all, a good showing for the group’s first appearance at the Westville Pub.

Listening room (album reviews)

External Auditory — Estedy

Estedy’s most-recent release is a local heavy-music milestone — and quite possibly the defining local metal release of 2002. Though the album is less diverse in content than MiniVoid’s Readjust or Vic Crown’s Long Time Coming, its presentation is much stronger. Assuming your ears are accustomed to the dense, modern heavy-metal style — and that you can easily digest the dark and melancholy mood of such music — there’s much to enjoy and brood over here. External Auditory’s production quality is quite good, nearly rivaling some major-label releases. Of particular note is the raw power of one of Estedy’s more-notable numbers, “Mourning Sickness” — the song’s live punch was preserved in the translation. The album’s only nagging flaw is a lack of diversity material-wise. While all the songs are well-arranged, many sound incredibly similar, making the album seem a little repetitive. Still, External Auditory is a thematically solid release that makes the best case yet for giving Estedy a listen. Rating: 4 out of 5.

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