It would be easy to dismiss the Buckerettes, Asheville’s only cowgirl band, as a novelty act. A cowgirl band? OK. Right. Easy, that is, unless you’ve heard them. Sure, it’s a shtick, but they’ve got the goods in those saddlebags, and they deliver.
Last Saturday night, the Buckerettes had booked a paying gig at the Grey Eagle Music Hall, but something more important interfered with that plan. It became apparent that their friend Mary Anne Bowers needed help with extraordinary medical bills incurred during ongoing treatment for metastatic breast cancer. The gig morphed into a fund-raiser, complete with a silent auction of a wealth of donated crafts, books and art work. Then jazz pianist/music producer Aaron Price and jazz-fusion artist Jar-E joined the musical line-up.
But the stars of the packed show were the cowgirls.
Though they’ve only played together for a few years, Robin Cape, Deb Criss and Roberta Greenspan are seasoned pros and the music they make together is a treat. Whether it was a thematic (if slightly twisted) ballad like Cape’s “Zen Cowgirl” (“She’s traded her horse for a pillow, now she’s riding the astral plane …”), one of Greenspan’s fired-up fiddle instrumentals or one of the melodic and humbly spiritual tunes such as “Open Your Heart,” written by Criss, every song shone. The close harmonies in the latter typified the group’s polished performance and the sparkle of the evident joy they share in making music is infectious. By the end of their set the dance floor was jammed.
Nor did they limit themselves to original material, but ponied up cowgirl covers of songs ranging from Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” to the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride.” Cape’s powerful voice lent particular strength to songs like “Fools” or her own recent composition “Shadow Dancin’ Blues,” while Criss and Greenspan exhibited utter delight in high-kickin’ instrumentals that play flat-picking guitar against a fiddle in a format that seamlessly ranges from bluegrass to classical.
The Grey Eagle Show once again hints that the Buckerettes may soon be little more than a legend in these western hills. There are bigger pastures out there and these gals know how to ride.
— Cecil Bothwell, staff writer