Before spotting this bit of news Saturday on the cover of Rolling Stone during an early-evening foray to Barnes & Noble (i.e. about Guns N’ Roses’ seminal album celebrating 20 yrs.), I had, only hours earlier at Bele Chere, spied Custard Pie drummer Jamie Stirling sporting a vintage GN’R T-shirt. Two days before that, I heard “Sweet Child O’ Mine” on Asheville’s new Mountain of Rawwkkk radio station (105.9) — and was pleasantly surprised at how well that old nugget of a power ballad has held up in the intervening two decades: It’s all coming together like the strawberry cornrows in Axl Rose’s suspiciously non-thinning hair. That the Replacements’ Tommy Stinson is still installed as GN’R’s “new” bassist now provides the interesting link between die-hard-rock fans and cooler-headed listeners who averted their eyes and ears when Rose’s squeamishly emotive “ow-wow-wows” and “ai-yai-yais” failed to survive the ‘90s. In high school, I was banned from seeing GN’R live but was allowed to attend a Replacements concert — the latter band was going through their brief non-drinking phase with the release of Don’t Tell a Soul, and, to my parents, seemed relatively non-threatening (at least in their videos). Unfortunately, the four of us (average age 16.5) who went to see the Replacements suffered a near-fatal car accident afterward (my sister still has scars and a slight limp). The moral of this story is: Just because Paul Westerberg doesn’t wear leather pants doesn’t mean he’s safe for underage girls. Welcome to the jungle, indeed.
— Melanie McGee Bianchi, staff writer