CD reviews

Patrick Fitzsimons, Hoo Daddy: Three Stars

Genre(s): Acoustic blues, ragtime

You’ll like it if: You prefer albums that showcase the artist and not studio wizardry.

Defining song: “Walking Shoes” -The last song — and one of four originals on the 14 cuts — is the savior of the record, propelling it out of mediocre territory.

Perhaps a better title for Patrick Fitzsimons’ solo debut would be Busking: A 14 Part Overture. A professionally educated percussionist, Fitzsimons traded in the sticks for a guitar after college. Paid drumming gigs were replaced by street-corner strummings, which led him to travel the world, from North Carolina to Belfast. The blues minimalism on the album recalls the soft magnetism of folks like Mississippi John Hurt, whose song, “Richland Woman Blues,” is covered here. Still, the majority of the tunes have been covered by a nation of other artists, and there’s not much here that will imprint on you for long. The album’s promise is in Fitzsimons’ sublime originals, and his style hearkens back to an era when an electric guitar was seen as an interloper.

Show review

ANNA! at Diana Wortham Theatre, Saturday, Sept. 24: Four Stars

Genre(s): Rock Ballet

Be glad you stayed home if: You find the melding of rock and ballet as sacrilegious as the marriage of ketchup and mayonnaise.

Defining moment: “Lusciously”-brimming with sexuality, the final song in Act One took the show out of lull status, and created a sense of rejuvenation between the crowd and the performers.

Pre-recorded soundtracks always cheapen dance performances, and after seeing Stephanie Morgan and company in the flesh, I would advocate lock-up for anyone who uses canned choreography. But Anna! isn’t that kind of ballet. Playing tunes from their latest album Spiral In (Sid Music), local rockers Stephanie’s Id provided the living, breathing musical backdrop for Ann Dunn’s ballet troupe, ADDance. The movement on stage took a back seat, however, because my eyes refused to steer away from the band. Stephanie Morgan has risen from her days as a bar crooner into a bona fide show stopper. The trio of lasses who comprise the local acoustic folk act Menage played the backup role with sexual fervor, their sultry voices filling any auditory void Morgan might have left behind. Morgan’s band, the Id (with guest teenage percussionists, Victoria Nelson, Jordan Arnold, and Luke Yanik) performed like they were big city slickers coming to Asheville for the first time. Their orchestra image suggested cosmopolitan class, but once the music began, it was obvious this was a rock show meant for folks who hide their deviance behind tuxedos.

[When he’s not bending readers to his will, Hunter Pope cooks, gardens, hikes and spends his mortgage money on CDs he’s never heard.]

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