Aaron Price becomes a Tuesday tenant at Stella’s
Local piano prodigy Aaron Price has taken up residency Stella’s (in the downstairs of Stella Blue). Every Tuesday, starting around 9 p.m., Price will hold what he calls “a loose workshop performance.” The sounds will be similar to the “lab coat ventures” format Price used during his eccentric set at the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival. Musicians are welcome to sit in, and guests have already included local notables Jeremy Saunders on sax and Jordan Bates on the turntables. At 10:30 p.m., the sessions will turn over to open mic, where uncanny experimentation is expected.
The Biscuit Burners, A Mountain Apart: Four Stars
• Genre(s): Bluegrass
• You’ll like it if: You would sell your body to a band of roving sailors just to hear one more lick from that sweet Dobro.
• Defining song: “Sweet Whiskey” — There’s nothing finer than hearing Shannon Whitworth’s heavenly voice consecrate the goodness of a harsh drink.
A Mountain Apart is an album for doubters who feel that bluegrass has oversaturated Asheville’s music scene. Songs of the Civil War, mosquito-egg hatchings and harpoon-armed women are peppered by dual female harmonies (Shannon Whitworth and Mary Lucey) that affectionately chill the spine, and a picking section (Dan Bletz and Billy Cardine) that gingerly applies the heat. The opening track, “Ridgeway Backroads,” lets loose Whitworth’s howl, reminiscent of a forlorn wolf in search of meaning. The song is the cloaked hook that reels the listener in, and doesn’t relent until the album has finished its 12-song opus.
The four instrumental tracks fit in nicely, but they never seem like a respite from the lyrical material. It’s also refreshing to see an explanation in the liner notes of how each song was developed — a nice change from the usual enigma that accompanies poetic yet indecipherable tunes.
Wilco at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium: four stars
• Genre(s): Indie, Rock
• Be glad you stayed home if: You’re Jay Farrar.
• Defining moment: Jeff Tweedy dropping into the audience to serenade a six-year-old girl during “Hummingbird.” It revealed the essence of Wilco’s personality: Although the songs have a dark undercurrent, a childish innocence lurks at the center.
In their 10-year existence, Wilco has undergone numerous transformations with a parade of drama tagging along. However, their music continues to mature like a pristine cellar wine. I’ve seen Wilco four times now, and each show has been remarkably different — as well as just remarkable. Lead man Jeff Tweedy exudes onstage charisma, which seems at odds with his abundance of songs that wax alienation. The crowd relished every lyric, giving the band the fodder they needed to turn the Thomas Wolfe show into a scorcher. The bite of “Spiders” gets nastier every time out, while the beauty of “Muzzle of Bees” and “One by One” suggested that perhaps a band of pixies had enchanted the performance. The double encore was another highlight, with old favorites like the funky “Kingpin” and “Outtasite (Outta Mind)” reminding revelers that Wilco still knows old school, even if the faces are new.
[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.]