Banjo player Nic Coker from the Swannanoa-based country swing band The Screech Owl Serenade was catching the final hours of hassle-free downtown busking on Thursday, as the city transformed itself for Bele Chere. Here, he performs an instrumental version of traditional tune “Bully of the Town.”
With their high-voltage style, musical saw and general whimsy, novelty jazz band Blind Boy Chocolate and the Milk Sheiks may be one of the most easily recognized bands in Asheville’s street music scene. Here, the group perform their version of the Mississippi Mud Steppers’ tune “Jackson Stomp.”
There was something approaching a reunion of the gone-but-not-forgotten 90’s epoch Asheville band The Spoonbenders on the streets of downtown over the weekend, as Isaac Alexander Johnson and Jim Barton busked in front of the BB&T Building. Although significant cajoling couldn’t convince them to perform one of their older tunes, Barton (on acoustic bass guitar) joined in on an unrehearsed version of Johnson’s tune “The Highway Song.” Let’s have a listen.
Every so often, a downtown busking group really sink their teeth into what they’re playing and give a truly memorable performance. And that’s exactly what happened here, when Asheville-based singer/songwriter Taylor Martin and fiddle-player Lyndsay Pruitt performed Martin’s original tune “Devil’s in the Barroom” on Pack Square on Friday evening.
Having a bit of a low Sunday? If so, here’s a tune just for you. It’s “Lonely Sunday”, written by local singer/songwriter Nathan Taylor and performed with fiddler Darin Gentry on Pack Square last week.
Local singer/songwriter PJ Bond and Sirius.B’s musical saw player Lauren Baker performed this tune in front of Kim’s Wigs in the Miles Building in downtown Asheville to a small, enthralled crowd on Friday night.
Last week, the Xpressstaff was all in a tizzy thanks to a performance by Lyric (aka Leeda September Jones), but weren’t quite able to get a recording of the young songwriter and her band. Luckily for the rest of us, Lyric is no stranger to the downtown busking scene. Here she is performing her song “Blue Skies” on Pack Square.
Listening to how neatly the members of The Leather Britches fit together as performers, you’d be hard-pressed to guess that the group had only been playing together under that name for the better part of an afternoon. Composed of four friends who came to Asheville for the Swannanoa Gathering, the group is: Nick DiSebastian (guitar) and Charles Muench (bass) — both of the band River Wheel — Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (fiddle) and Jen Starsinic (fiddle). Here, the quartet perform the cross-genre standard “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor.”
While Billy Joe Shaver has been influencing outlaw country music for nearly four decades, many younger listeners became introduced to his music when his tune “Warrior Man” was used as the theme to the Adult Swim cartoon Squidbillies. How influential was that theme song? Just ask buskers Obie Quiet, Ignorant and Captain Ahab, who performed their cover of the tune near Pritchard Park earlier this week. If you like what you hear, be forewarned that the trio lack any kind of Web presence, so your best bet to hear them live is to wander aimlessly on the streets of Asheville. Just a word of warning, though: The song is just a touch not safe for work.
Although he’s busked on streets from Austin to New Orleans, F.J.K. has been hanging out in Asheville for the last few weeks. Here’s his tune “If You End Up Broke” recorded live in front of Malaprop’s earlier this week.
Ashton and Rama Cheromaya are hardly strangers to the local busking scene, having passed through town regularly for the last several years. Although not Asheville residents, the couple claim that the city is their “base in the Southeast,” and opted to perform their original tune “Mayan Queen” for their Busk Break debut.
While he wasn’t too forthcoming with his full name, traveling Dobro player Dustin was more than happy to perform his original tune “Caroline” for Busk Break. Like what you hear, and want more? Sorry to disappoint, but Dustin claims he doesn’t have an online musical presence yet, has no downloadable tracks and is merely passing through town. This may well be your only chance to hear him in action.
Ready for a little downtown busking fun? Here’s Now You See Them‘s Shane Conerty performing his song “The iPod Shuffle” next to the Flat Iron sculpture in downtown Asheville. UPDATE: Now with video!
As anyone who has made themselves open to the free-flowing social scene of Asheville knows, it can be surprisingly easy to meet people of similar interests just by being open to chance encounters. And those meetings—even if fleeting—can create some very interesting (if perhaps short-lived) artistic collaborations. For instance, violinist Jeffrey Hershey and singer/songwriter Michael Jordan encountered each other outside of Mo Daddy’s one night last week, and the next day they were jamming in Pritchard Park. The tune is called “This Is What You Get.”
Not every downtown busker is seeking popularity and fame. Some just love performing, and aren’t particularly seeking to promote themselves. Take the Asheville-based blues busker known only as Ben. He wasn’t interested in giving out his last name, doesn’t have a website or social media page for his music, and insists that the only way to hear more of his playing is to randomly encounter him performing for kicks and tips on the street. In this clip, he’s covering the classic Jimmy Reed tune “High And Lonesome.”
Street magician Mick Stone wowed the crowds in the blazing hot sun on Friday, doing some very cool prestidigitation. Xpress caught a few moments of his act.
Although he’s just passing through town, Savannah, GA,-based busker Echo Bohymn was more than happy to play a pick-up set of novelty jazz tunes on a bright and sunny Friday afternoon. Odds are that he’s already moved on from Asheville—he claims he was just passing through—and he proudly claims to have no website or online presence. Luckily, Xpress caught part of his set for all those who didn’t happen to be within earshot of his busking spot in Pritchard Park. In this clip, he’s playing his take on the classic Spencer Williams-composed jazz standard “Everybody Loves My Baby.”
Local musician Eric Stephens performs his version of the classic Neil Young song “Old Man” on Pack Square.
Members of the New Orleans-based Sweet Street Symphony performed a set on the streets of downtown Asheville today. Here’s a sample of their sound.
Mountain Xpress unveils a look at what’s been hot at mountainx.com this year. From one terror-filled summer in Transylvania County to what it’s like to have sex every day for a year, our top clicks of the year are all over the place.