Recollecti­ng Willie

Willie Nelson has been called a spiritual leader, an outlaw and a guru. Some even say they’ve seen him heal people. In anticipation of Nelson’s upcoming Asheville concert, Mountain Xpress readers wrote in to share connections with Willie — bonds that transcend his music. Cherie Adam, a Baltimore resident who e-mailed her story to Xpress, […]

Who’s the boss?

What do the 1964 World’s Fair, the TV show Malcolm in the Middle and a piece of dirt have in common? All are the subjects of songs by They Might Be Giants, an independent and prolific rock duo that’s hit the big time after 20 years. “For 10 years, we basically toured our brains out,” […]

Outside the box

When 27-year-old Tiffany Simms and her 4-year-old daughter moved to Asheville, they were met with an unexpected and seemingly insurmountable obstacle. “I had a job that was waiting, but they said that I couldn’t have it unless I had car insurance,” she remembers. “And I didn’t have any car insurance. I didn’t have any money […]

The world tonight

There’s a phenomenon, unique to city life, that’s captured perfectly in Bela Fleck & The Flecktones’ latest release. It occurs when, walking alone along a busy street, you suddenly find you have time to spare. You stop to lounge in a particularly inviting cafe, sip your favorite hot beverage and stare out the window at […]

Don’t kill your television

It’s ironic but true. Television — the very same gadget that so often becomes a substitute for meaningful human contact — is enriching lives all over America by enabling ordinary people to speak out and be heard. No, I’m not talking about Jerry Springer or Oprah. I’m referring to public-access television, an often-misunderstood medium that’s […]

Little Ani, big truth

Whoever said “it’s lonely at the top” never met Ani DiFranco. For the 29-year-old indie folk-rock singer and record-label owner, it’s getting pretty crowded up there. “I played music for so many years in some kind of crazy little vacuum,” she recalls from her house in Buffalo, N.Y., in a caramel voice punctuated by frequent […]

David Sedaris won’t read this

“I haven’t got the slightest idea how to change people, but I still keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.” — from Naked (Little, Brown and Company, 1997)by David Sedaris The hardest part about reading the work of David Sedaris — the best-selling author and NPR […]

Rising from the Dead

When Ratdog played the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium on June 2, I was prepared to encounter some manner of drugs and free love — and Dead-sure I’d see hippies of all ages at the downtown venue. And indeed, I found all of this — along with, more importantly, new insight into what rock ‘n’ roll is […]

Duly noted

Like the stars of High Fidelity, the proprietors of the Asheville-based A-Tone Music — who own more than 8,000 albums between them — map their lives through their music collections and musical memories. Nancy Alenier dated Stevie Wonder in the late 1960s and befriended rock stars like Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne (with whom she […]

The winning number

“Why’d you have to draw that line in the sand, why can’t you love me for what I am?” That line, from “Tell Me Mama” — the opening track of BR5-49’s new live CD, Coast to Coast (Arista Records, 2000) — is addressed to an aloof sweetheart. But it might as well be a message […]

Pick of the litter

Before I interviewed Old Crow Medicine Show vocalist/fiddler Ketch “Hawkster” Secor, I was assailed by an interesting rumor. It went something like this: “There’s a lot of posers out there in music land, but these boys sound like the real thing.” And while I pride myself on my ability to spot a phony, I’m not […]

The road less traveled

Life on the road — and in the recording studio — is a mighty risky business for The Bad Livers. Mark Rubin, the band’s bassist (and occasional tuba player), explained this to me after an exceptionally rough day on tour. “Well, you know … there’s a big conceit in the music business about touring,” he […]

Back to the future?

The popularity of that extraordinarily silly sitcom That ’70s Show, “retro,” to many young people, conjures up bell bottoms and beer anthems. But for those slightly older kids still jitterbugging on the coattails of the swing resurgence, the word has a different ring entirely. Here, I introduce two bands — playing two different Asheville venues […]

Notes from the edge

Live shows by popular rock musicians often provide little more than a replay of the album — albeit with a little good-natured chatter tossed in for variety. But an upcoming show at The Grey Eagle, featuring the alternative-acoustic sounds of Kristin Hersh and Vic Chesnutt, promises something much greater — though it’s unclear exactly what. […]

Quirky is as quirky does

Those who’ve not taken time to listen closely to Lyle Lovett’s music peg him “quirky” for all the wrong reasons — the superficial ones. There’s his hair: think Seinfeld’s Kramer with an edge. Then there are his acting forays — like his role as the suspiciously but harmlessly bizarre baker in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, […]

The more strings change…

This Saturday, four of the world’s pre-eminent steel-string-guitar players will land in Asheville — but chances are, you haven’t ever heard of them. Although fellow musicians speak these artists’ names in hushed tones, the performers billed on the Masters of the Steel String Guitar national tour play second fiddle to their own instruments. And though […]

She’s with the band

Unlike her mainstream contemporaries, 28-year-old singer/fiddler Alison Krauss strives to stay out of the limelight. While divas like Celine Dion have become center-stage marketing monoliths, Krauss has thrived on the “music” part of the music business by concentrating on quiet collaboration with her band, Union Station. Krauss has unassumingly collected 10 Grammies — plus a […]

Moving with what moves him

Anthony Gongora is a man compelled to dance. The organizer of Fall into Dance ’99, Asheville’s first modern-dance festival, says of his beloved art: “It’s one of those things that demands your entire being, spirit, mind and body. But producing the festival — a labor of love that spans the first three weekends in October, […]

Deke after dark: friend, not faux

If you want definitive proof that Deke Dickerson isn’t really from this decade, consider Exhibit A: Number One Hit Record! (HighTone Records, 1998), the roots-based solo debut of Dickerson and his band, the Ecco-Fonics. The disc also offers definitive proof that Dickerson should be closely monitored by music lovers — particularly those who are enemies […]

Livin’ high on the zydeco hog

When it comes to beating unhappiness, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas prove that Creole kicks Prozac’s butt. You can’t frown over a hot jambalaya, it’s impossible to cry into your remoulade sauce … and you certainly can’t sulk in the presence of a piano-accordion played by Nathan Williams. “It’s enjoyable music to make people […]