Author Archive

Asheville Rock Collective: Three Chords, Intensity and the Truth

Asheville has a remarkably thriving music scene. In any given week, there are multiple opportunities to take in live performances of original music in a wide variety of genres. But some styles are more fully represented than others. And to make sure that straight-ahead rockers get their share of love in this music-focused city, the

A Look Back at Black Sabbath’s Debut Album

This essay first appeared in Best Classic Bands. Steppenwolf may lay claim to the first use of the phrase in a song, but a strong case can be made that Black Sabbath was the undisputed progenitor of “heavy metal thunder.” Every defining characteristic of the Birmingham, England band’s self-titled debut would become a hallmark of

Album Review: Ian Ridenhour — Ribcage

One of Western North Carolina’s most accomplished musicians is also one of its youngest. Ian Ridenhour has been busily writing and recording music for years; Ribcage is the third collection of songs from the 17 year old singer, songwriter and musician. Ridenhour’s full-length debut was 2014’s Quietly Making Noise; that 14-song album showed his deep

Album Review: Nina Simone — Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Sessions

Nina Simone (born Eunice Waymon) was a classically-trained pianist; she didn’t set out to be a jazz singer. Born in Tryon, N.C. in 1933, she was a musical prodigy, and would study at Juilliard. Her application for further studies at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia was rejected, so she continued studying piano on her own.

Dixie Dregs Answer the Question, “What If?” (Part Two)

Continued from Part One… In the early ’80s, the band made the decision to add vocals. With the benefit of hindsight, was that a mistake? I don’t know that any of us gave it a whole lot of thought. In retrospect, the Dixie Dregs were an immensely successful band as far as being a group

Dixie Dregs Answer the Question, “What If?” (Part One)

Atlanta (by way of Augusta and Miami) band the Dixie Dregs were among the most boundary-pushing acts of the 1970s. Deftly blending styles from hard rock to jazz fusion to country, the instrumental quintet released an impressive string of albums on Macon-based Capricorn Records. In later years, the band would flirt with different directions –

Delbert McClinton: Keeper of the Flame (Part Two)

Continued from Part One… Along with backing blues legends who came through Fort Worth, Texas, McClinton and his band often got the opportunity to go on the road with the traveling stars. Their roadhouse blues would influence McClinton’s own nascent songwriting. He also absorbed the influence of other musical styles of the region, including Tejano,

Delbert McClinton: Keeper of the Flame (Part One)

The term Americana hadn’t been coined when Delbert McClinton started making music. His brand of music has always drawn from blues, hillbilly, country, and rock ‘n’ roll, all filtered through a Texas sensibility. McClinton came up in a music scene that gave rise to legends like Doug Sahm, and in his earliest days he backed

Album Review: Idiot Grins — State of Health

Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield made some of the most enduring cinematic soul of the 1970s. Not coincidentally, both men created works that lent themselves exceedingly well to juxtaposition with onscreen images; Hayes composed the soundtrack to Shaft; Mayfield did the same for Super Fly. Of course their work transcended soundtrack music, but the connection

Album Review: Ajay Mathur – Little Boat

In the years just before punk broke in the UK, there was a musical scene bubbling under that would exert an influence on punk while (quietly) providing a bridge between mainstream rock and its more jagged variant. Like garage rock and freakbeat, the scene didn’t really have a name in wide use at the time;