asheville Archive

A Chat with River Valley Blues Fest Headliners Janiva Magness and Grady Champion

Growing quickly from a 2015 local event in a bar ten miles outside of town to its current form – a two-day event featuring world-class talent – this year’s River Valley Blues Festival boasted a lineup featuring internationally-touring headliners Grady Champion and Janiva Magness. The festival took place August 19 and 20 at Salvage Station.

Album Review: The Undergrowth — Synergy

Asheville-based The Undergrowth isn’t a band. And it’s not a person. Instead, it’s a collective of musicians and producers working nominally under the musical umbrellas of electronica, drum and bass, ambient and psychedelic genres. The open-ended collective has featured at least 50 different artists, both from Asheville and around the globe. Though the music is

EP Review: DJ Audio — Shut it Down

The advent of low-cost, do-it-yourself recording technology has put the power to create music in the hands of a wider group of creative musicians. Knocking down barriers to entry has meant that the virtual stranglehold the corporate music industry has exerted is now far less absolute. But alongside those advances, these seismic changes in the

Album Review: BJ Leiderman — BJ

You know that Morning Edition theme on National Public Radio? BJ Leiderman wrote that, and a lot more for NPR besides. Understandably wanting to trade on those achievements, the 61-year old musician-composer planned to title his debut album Natural Public Leiderman (get it?) but apparently cooler – or more litigation-focused – minds prevailed, and after

Christopher Paul Stelling: Embracing the Unknown

Christopher Paul Stelling is a singer-songwriter; he doesn’t include an ability to predict the future among his skills. Yet unlike some of the most respected pollsters, the seismic political changes that took place in the United States last November didn’t come as a surprise to him. The songs that he wrote as the future began

Skunk Ruckus: Disrupting the Old-time Vibe

Nearly everything about Asheville-based band Skunk Ruckus is suffused with humor. But the band is very serious about its music. The inherent tension between those two realities is part of the band’s recipe for success, as is the band’s musical style: equal parts punk and mountain music, delivered in cheeky style. Skunk Ruckus celebrated the

Album Review: The Tills — Canon

Hardcore 1960s pop acolytes hold a special place in their hearts and record collections for “Mr. Dieingly Sad,” a minor ’66 hit for New Jersey group The Critters. And while everything about that track — its vocal harmonies and gentle guitar strumming — suggest The Critters are a friendly bunch of guys, the surviving band

Album Review: Laura Blackley and the Wildflowers — Tell it to the Darkness

An engaging Southern gothic troubadour, Laura Blackley is a beloved fixture on the regional live concert circuit. On Tell It to the Darkness, her well-honed strengths are on prominent display. Chief among her assets is a skill at crafting thoughtful lyrics — word pictures, really — that work as well on the printed page as

Album Review: Carpal Tullar — Horse of a Different Tullar

Carpal Tullar is an arty rock trio based in Asheville, N.C.; the band plays local dates occasionally. But Carpal Tullar is also a studio project that’s essentially the work of one man, Chris Tullar. Carpal Tullar (the project) has made four albums; the first of those, The Milquetoast Manual, was released in 2007. The latest

The Allah-Las: Record Store Days

The Allah-Las make original music that evokes the shimmering, melodic end of mid-to-late 1960s psychedelic scene. But because the members of the Los Angeles-based group write and perform their own material, they shy away from the “60s revival” tag. Still, there’s no denying that they honed their songwriting craft by absorbing the influences of that