The junk journal


In the Dec. 1 Xpress — an issue where I tried a little too hard not to come off like the glassy-eyed Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High — I ended up surpassing even that legendary space-cadet glory with the ultimate rookie mistake.

The Umphrey’s McGee article from that issue featured the dreaded gross factual error in the misspelling of guitarist Jake Cinninger‘s last name, which I wrote as “Cloninger,” as in ex City Councilman Chuck Cloninger.

I deeply regret the error.


Localpalooza, Friday, Dec. 3; The Orange Peel.

As the heroic, oedipal Greg Brady might observe, there must have been something really super fantastic going on somewhere besides The Orange Peel during the recent Localpalooza IV. The event was so poorly attended, in fact, that it was almost as embarrassing as misspelling the name of someone you’re trying to lavish with prose praise (see above).

But it’s a credit to all three of the diversely talented bands involved in this year’s festivities that they played their respective asses off anyway — despite the disheartening turnout for this locals-only showcase. The crowd maxed out at maybe 50 people when The Great Slide polished the evening off with their homegrown bag of refined, post-psychedelic groove.

And in addition to the Slide’s inspired set, the flaming emo-meddling of Zero to Sixty and the stunning — if not plain sexy — jazz ‘n’ rock sway of Ruby Slippers effectively reminded the faithful few gathered that the music’s all that matters anyway.

The aptly named sports-car rock of Zero to Sixty scores as particularly interesting, embodying a unique hybrid of influences from the last two decades of popular music. Vocally, singer/bassist Eric Weissinger evokes something very distinctly ’80s with a bad-boy tone that’s a little Simple Minds or perhaps even Depeche Mode.

The admittedly attractive threesome of Zero to Sixty actually looks a lot like an ’80s band, too. Weissinger’s black suit, white tie and luscious bass opposite the very serious black-leather pants and frightening guitar work of Randy Roland would have appeared right at home adorning the house band at the Brat Pack’s beloved St. Elmo’s Fire.

But beyond their hot pants and memorable vocals, Zero to Sixty sounds more like the best of heavier ’90s-style alt-rock — Afghan Whigs or a little Jane’s Addiction, perhaps. Roland, who ripped fiercely throughout the group’s all-too-brief set, brought accomplished rhythm and tight, well-honed solos to the mix, delivering this trio a full, original sound that simultaneously spanks and caresses the ear.

Another attractive threesome in Ruby Slippers began the evening behind the beautiful voice of Molly Kummerle. The only real question we need to ask about this lady is: Where the hell did she come from? The answer, according to the band’s Web site, is the Virgin Islands — which solidifies Kummerle’s classy-diva thing as all the more intriguing.

Her voice melts butter across the room with microwave ease, while vaguely evoking the best of Ani DiFranco or even Fiona Apple. Kummerle’s guitar/drums accompaniment completes the sultry jazz flavor of the Slippers’ contemplative sound. Guitarist Andy John fingerpicks the lush textures of a Heritage hollow-body electric, while seasoned drummer Robin Tolleson displays jazz-trained prowess with his pedigreed strokes.

A bass player would complete their lazy-in-a-real-good-way sound, but Lord knows, with attendance numbers like Localpalooza had, the band probably can’t afford to pay one.

Zero to Sixty and Ruby Slippers are fairly recent Asheville conglomerates. Both emerged in 2003 and continue to fill obvious voids in our local scene. The Great Slide, however, has been at it for close to 10 years, spending the first half of that tenure in their native Upstate New York.

This accomplished quartet incorporates the best of longhaired rhythm and groove, with a textured two-guitar front buttressed by either drums/bass or drums/keys, depending on multi-instrumentalist Jon Paul Hess for each new song.

The Slide respectfully summons up a little Revolver-era Beatles in places, balancing a knowledgeable approach to jam with insightful, concise songwriting. Musically, they may score as the most technically proficient of the evening’s groups — but this dedicated crew basically lives in their own damn studio, anyway.

Score: On the collaborative-concerts scale, the latest Localpalooza scores last summer’s dead-in-the-water Lollapalooza, an event that — despite rich musical offerings — never got off the ground because of really, really bad ticket sales.

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