Americana Archive

Acoustic Syndicate’s Deep Roots are Positively Growing

Acoustic Syndicate has been defying genre stereotypes for more than a quarter century. The beloved Western North Carolina group has been claimed by fans of bluegrass as well as the jam band crowd, and the band’s sound draws from rock and jazz as well. Founded in 1992 by brothers Bryon and Fitz McMurray (banjo/guitar and

Album Review: Bill Kirchen – The Proper Years

What to make of possible hyperbole? When I read that Bill Kirchen is known as “The Titan of the Telecaster,” I wasn’t at all sure what to think. At first I thought I was wholly unfamiliar with his work. A cursory big of digging reminded me that he was a longtime member of Commander Cody

30 Days Out, August 2020 #2: Jazz Night, Lovely World, Consider the Source, Steep Canyon Rangers

This edition of “30 Days Out” features four shows in or near Asheville. The roundup is a mix of live-in-person and livestream events. For the non-virtual ones, the standard caveat continues to apply: check your local listings before heading to the venue. You never know what’s going to happen these days. Artist: Jazz Night at

30 Days Out, August 2020 #1: Robin Bullock, Cliff Eberhardt, Eleanor Underhill, Christy Lynn

Two steps forward, one (and sometimes two) back. The United States’ continued failure to contain the spread of COVID-19 is having more and more lasting effects. Beyond death and permanent health effects, countless businesses have shuttered. Here’s hoping most of those closures are temporary. Here in Asheville we’ve already lost one beloved music venue. The

Sarah Louise’s Atmospheric Americana

Describing herself as a musical omnivore, Sarah Louise makes music that draws inspiration from seemingly unrelated styles. The prolific Asheville musician has released five albums since her 2015 debut; three of those have come out just since early 2019. Her latest, Earth and its Contents finds her applying her talents to enhance the work of

Just Like Home: John Doyle

Irish musician bridges the gap between Ireland and Appalachia He’s an acclaimed and globetrotting figure in Irish music, guitarist, singer, folklorist and songwriter. But when he’s off the road, John Doyle makes his home in Western North Carolina. Nominated for a 2010 Grammy (Best Traditional World Album), Doyle is an astoundingly busy and in demand

Heart, Head, Hands and Feet: The Paper Crowns

It’s the age-old chicken-or-egg question. Which came first: the marriage of Spiro and Nicole Nicolopoulos, or their musical collaboration, the Paper Crowns? “Technically,” Nicole responds with a laugh, “the musical collaboration, then marriage.” Spiro clarifies things: “We had a year-and-a-half relationship before any musical collaborations.” Starting as friends, building a relationship, launching a duo and

Album Review: The Harmed Brothers — Across the Waves

Though it’s billed as rock/Americana, The Harmed Brothers’ fifth album Across the Waves is better described as heartland rock. There’s twang in the music to be sure, but the earnest and soulful presentation of these songs is truer to the rock ‘n’ roll spirit. “Skyline Over” benefits from a tight, concise and memorable melody, and

Brushfire Stankgrass: Making Up for Lost Time

“We’re not a bluegrass band,” insists Will Saylor, co-leader with brother Ben in Brushfire Stankgrass. Instead, the popular Asheville quartet uses bluegrass as the launching point for its musical excursions, venturing well into folk, jam and rock forms in the process. And while the group makes no claims to capture the essence of Asheville in

30 Days Out, June 2020 #1: TAUK, Ben Folds, Vancouver Electronic Ensemble, John Prine Tribute

In recent weeks I’ve conducted interviews with a number of professions whose businesses involve servicing the music community in various ways. A consensus seems to be forming – and this isn’t likely to come as any surprise to you, I suspect – that widespread live concerts aren’t likely to return until 2021. Festivals and small