Listening Party: Caroline Pond, Opus Grey and Silver

This week’s Listening Party starts with the solo work of Caroline Pond, best known for her fiddle playing and singing with local all-star bluegrass/swing/novelty outfit Snake Oil Medicine Show. Not surprisingly, Pond’s solo work reveals an eclectic mix of elements, from jazz and bluegrass to pop and “psychobilly.” A frequent collaborator with Asheville-based novelty jazz act The Mad Tea Party, Pond’s solo work has a similarly infectious sense of fun to it. We suggest starting with “Dance Instead,” which you can find on her MySpace page.

Next up is Opus Grey, a fairly straightforward heavy rock group with a few surprises up their collective sleeve. For the most part, their songs tend to be thick, threatening and muddy guitar-driven works that would make for great intro music in any sporting event where people hit each other. This description seems to fit their group identity, too. “Now beware, beware the four-headed snake, poisonous and euphoric,” warns their MySpace bio, “for our names are Mystery, Madness, Groove and Grit.” But, once you get past the image, it quickly becomes obvious that Opus Grey has softer side. This is particularly true on ballad-y tracks like “Bliss,” and on Led Zep-meets-Limp Bizkit song “Sweat.” To start your Opus Grey experience, however, we suggest “Wicker Park,” which is available on the group’s MySpace page.

And lastly, we have Silver, a vaguely Christian-oriented alt-rock group which claims both Raleigh and Asheville as their hometown. While they’re not exactly blazing a new trail with their music, Silver does seem to know how to put a listenable song together. Although “The Second Coming” is probably their most revealing track, we suggest starting with “December,” which has a ‘90s college radio feel to it.

Now, it’s your turn. Tell us your thoughts on these performers by posting into the comment fields below. This is your chance to be the music reviewer, so praise and pan as you see fit.

Also, if you’d like to suggest a band for Listening Party, or have questions about the column, visit this thread on our forums.

— Steve Shanafelt, A&E editor


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16 thoughts on “Listening Party: Caroline Pond, Opus Grey and Silver

  1. Arrrr

    Silver is one of the best bands of 2007 hands down. They have a good sound that is fresh, and catchy.

  2. j halfway

    I’ve seen Silver play in Raleigh, great experience. “The Second Coming” is the kind of song you listen to over and over on myspace. Definately worth the trip to check them out.

  3. I enjoyed Caroline. Nice eclectic mix to the asheville scene. Opus is truly the ballad band it seems.

  4. gringo


    Have you listened to Gran Dios?

    They’re local. I guess their drummer just had a kid, but they’ll be playing out and about again very shortly, like mid January.

    Their myspace is:

    It’s a rather full sound for a trio.
    Some hooky stuff in there too.

  5. Gringo: Would you mind suggesting that again on the forums? (Follow the link at the end of the article.) You’re already registered as a site user, so you shouldn’t need to do anything other than post it again.

  6. jamfan

    The tracks on Caroline’s myspace page are actually Snake Oil Medicine Show tracks from their CD (2005?) “Make it Nice.”

  7. jamfan

    Oh, and I don’t really think Mad Tea Party is a “novelty” act anymore – they have a new sound, which is really more like rock-n-roll.

  8. Jamfan: They were pretty “novelty” when I saw them on Saturday. It’s less old-timey jazz-oriented than it once was, sure, but it’s still a woman in striped tights and a uke singing mostly cutesy songs over a blues/jazz/old-time foundation.

    Don’t get me wrong; I love the Mad Tea Party. I’ve been listening to them since their first album (the one on cassette before “Be in Life,” mind you), and I think Ami and Jason are great folks. But, if they aren’t a novelty act, they SURE aren’t rock ‘n’ roll band, either.

    I’m not sure about the songs on Caroline Pond’s MySpace page, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that they were Snake Oil songs. Given how closely knit that group of performers are, it’s hard to tell which where Snake Oil ends, and where the other projects (like CX-1) begin.

  9. jamfan

    Ah yes, semantics/genres/etc. I mis-typed on my comment, I meant to include the whole phrase “novelty jazz” that you used, since novelty jazz is actually a genre made popular by bands like the Hoosier Hotshots, material that the Tea Party used to cover. I definitely do not hear that in their sound now. I hear more rock-n-roll than jazz or old-time, though it is definitely early rock-n-roll, like Chuck Berry’s era, maybe. So I guess I disagree with you.

    But I will agree with you that they are a “novelty,” in that I don’t think there are any other bands like them. Maybe I take issue with the word novelty since it can come off as dismissive. Mad Tea Party’s music is unique, but deep, and certainly not fleeting or any less legitimate than less “novel” acts.

    Wow, I never knew about a cassette. But I have only been listening to them for a couple years.

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. It is interesting how two people can hear the same thing so differently.

  10. Jamfan: Well put. Adjective games aside, I think we’re probably having a similar listening experience. MTP is branching out ever farther from their “novelty jazz” roots, regardless of what one calls the result. They still sound kind of folky to me, though.

  11. Moropus

    Caroline Pond’s stuff is definitely quirky, and she seems to have a great deal of talent doing what she does. The songs on her page all definitely have that ‘hook’ that many people around here would find catchy. Production is very good for a local artist. I think listening to an entire album of that would make me bonkers, though.

    Silver is very… safe. They remind me of a cross between Blues Traveler and Nickelback, especially on “December”. They are young enough and seem driven, so if they keep it up I can easily see them on some station all the youth-group kids listen to. I would like to see them expand their songwriting and start rocking out. Good visuals on their sites.

  12. I agree Moropus. Its way too safe. Our sound has changed and we hope to have some more tunes up there soon. Thanks for the criticisms and comments. We’ll head that “rawking” direction.


  13. Moropus

    I’m biased, because I suggested them, but I’d like to hear comments on Opus Grey. Without using the word “ballad”.

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