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Mad Tea Party Gearing up for Two Releases

A double dose of ukulele vaudeville madness will soon take over Asheville. Local band Mad Tea Party will first release Flying Saucers in November. Composed entirely of covers, the record remodels tunes from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. Guests on the CD include Jake Hollifield (Blue Rags) and Reese Gray (Firecracker Jazz Band). A release party is scheduled for the Grey Eagle on Saturday, Dec. 17.

The band’s next release will be the all-original Big Top, Soda Pop, which will begin recording next month at 16 Ton Studio in Nashville. Seva of Soundcurrent in Knoxville, known for mastering Dolly Parton’s recent albums, will head the production. Since Mad Tea Party is independent, they are soliciting support from friends and fans to help pay for the recording (similar to what Stephanie’s Id did for “Spiral In”). People can contribute online through their Web site: www.themadteaparty.com. The release goal is spring 2006.

Jr. James and the Late Guitar, Semiconductor (Atone Music): Four Stars

Genre(s): Dub, Rock, Indie, and unclassified.

You’ll like it if: You’re just plain weird.

Defining song: “Work and Worry” — Full of forlorn guitars reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s fret introspections, it also contains the immortal line “Toil and trouble I’ve had double, I’ve spilled whiskey on beard and stubble.”

Imagine that blues great Willie Dixon has just arisen from his grave. Reeking of anger, Dixon ambles to Asheville with a washtub bass in tow. He then creeps over to Dubatomic Studios, demolishing its contents using the bass as a wrecking ball. This was the home of “Jr.” James Gardner, the musician behind the band Jr. James and the Late Guitar and author of the electronic song “I Just Want to Loop Beats With You,” a tainted form of Dixon’s staple, “I Just Want to Make Love to You.”

Sacrilegious? Perhaps. But, it’s just this style of humor that permeates Gardner’s new release, Semiconductor. Not only does he redo Dixon’s song, he also revisits the Woodfin-sheriff diaper scandal in “Too Much Trouble.” His abnormality is infectious — all-star musicians like Donna the Buffalo’s Bill Reynolds (vocals on “Loop Beats With You”) and locals Aaron Price and Tyler Ramsey guest on the album. Nancy Alenier (keyboards, percussion, vocals), who’s been with Gardner on all four albums, does a sizzling job with the production.

Disorderly and diverse, Semiconductor can either be used for late-night interpretations or all-night dance parties.

[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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