Matrimony at Bele Chere

If you’re a fan of the current wave of earnest roots-rockers (The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Langhorne Slim & the Law, Mumford & Sons) then Charlotte, N.C.’s Matrimony is probably playing your tune.

The family group (husband and wife Jimmy Brown and Ashlee Hardee Brown, with Ashlee’s brothers CJ and Jordan Hardee, and brother-from-another mother, Ethan Ricks) took the stage at Coxe Avenue yesterday afternoon. (You can read an interview with Jimmy here.) Their set (possibly seen by the most audience members with pastel hair) was energetic from start to finish — even with a rain shower at the end — and ranged from rockers and power ballads to romantic slow songs that built to fevered pitches.

CJ played banjo on many of the songs (one of the elements that keeps the group anchored in the roots realm), but he also pulled out an electric ukulele foe one number, a light balance to the intense and ragged edge of Jimmy’s vocal. Jimmy and Ashlee took turns singing lead — her vocal is smoother and poppier, and even her stomp-ballad, “Mecklenburg Co. Jail” was delivered with a sort of polish that elevated the twist on a traditional prison song to a new level. During that song, a couple waltzed in the crowd.

Jimmy, though originally from Ireland, invokes Southern soul. His voice rose like an airplane taking off at the pinnacle of the songs on which he sang lead. And while most of Matrimony’s tracks are built in layers of instrumentation and intensity, it was the raw keen in Jimmy’s voice that opened each song out into its expansive possibility. Meanwhile, Jordan’s drumming was thick and driving.

It was that drumming, the bigness of it, that turned even slower songs with their plaintive notes into the kind of well-timed bombast that whipped the crowd into, if not a full-on frenzy (this was well before dusk and blood alcohol saturation), certainly happy revelry.

Matrimony played a number of songs from the band’s new EP, Montibello Drive: “Golden City” and “Giant” were among those. They also did a rendition of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly,” which was largely unrecognizable — thanks in part to CJ’s understated banjo (other roots-rock outfits could take a lesson) — until the chorus.

Photos by John Zara.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.