Generally speaking, I’m not a great fan of cooking shows. True, I have watched the odd episode of Top Chef, but this is largely due to my guilty fascination of drama-drenched reality TV, rather than any deep love of the culinary arts. So, when I first heard about Soundbites, a new television pilot by regional production company Changing Elevations, I was more than a little skeptical. Sure, it’s got a good gimmick — the show features regional music acts putting together tasty dishes — but that’s hardly groundbreaking stuff. (Consider that Julia Child was whisking eggs with the stars in the early 1960s.)
And then I read that the first episode of Soundbites was set to star Chapel Hill-based nostalgia act Bombadil making salmon steaks wrapped in banana leaves. Against my will, I was reluctantly forced to admit that, yeah, I’d kinda want to watch that too. But why?
That’s what I can’t figure out. I don’t dislike Bombadil — their last album wasn’t bad — and I can see why they got picked up by Ramseur Records (who also manage other regional favorites like the Avett Brothers and the Mad Tea Party), but under normal circumstances you couldn’t pay me to care what they most recently created in their kitchen. But now that they’re maybe going to be on TV, I’m desperate to know the outcome of the banana-salmon experiment. It’s kind of freaking me out.
Likewise, if the show gets picked up, will I suddenly be hungering to know what kind of sushi Agrolola can make if they really set their minds to it? Will I regularly tune in just on the off chance that Dig Shovel Dig has been slated to stew up a mess of gumbo? And, on the very slim chance that the show gets picked up by Food Network, PBS or The Learning Channel, will I suddenly lament that I never got to see Stephanie’s Id whip up a batch of strawberry shortcakes because Soundbites has moved on to bigger names? (Kelly Clarkson makes “American Idol” apple pie, with “Smooth soul” cream topping provided by guest-guest star Taylor Hicks, perhaps?)
Why, as the regional music buzz begins to draw more and more attention to the Asheville area, is my normally trustworthy taste so symbolically failing me?
Or could it be that I’m making too big a deal out of this? I guess there’s only one way to be sure. On Thursday, Aug. 2, the Fine Arts Theatre in downtown Asheville will present a free screening of the Soundbites pilot (which was edited by local film-snipper Martin Ramsey) at 9:30 p.m. Maybe I’ll see you there, if I’m not at home wracked by visions of crêpes à la Sharkadelics.
— Steve Shanafelt, A&E editor