Asheville Arts and Entertainment Events Add An Event

The Christmas Jam

  • Date: December 9, 2017
  • Time: 6:45pm
  • Address:
    87 Haywood Street
    Asheville, NC 28801
  • Cost: From $62.50 to $72.50

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Upcoming Events for Ann Wilson

Upcoming Events for The Avett Brothers

If you put your ear to the street, you can hear the rumble of the world in motion; people going to and from work, to school, to the grocery store. You may even hear the whisper of their living rooms, their conversation, their complaints, and if you're lucky, their laughter. If you're almost anywhere in America , you'll hear something different, something special, something you recognize but haven't heard in a long time. It is the sound of a real celebration.

It is not New Year's, and it is not a political convention. It is neither a prime time game-show, nor a music video countdown, bloated with fame and sponsorship. What you are hearing is the love for a music. It is the unbridled outcry of support for a song that sings to the heart, that dances with the soul. The jubilation is in the theaters, the bars, the music clubs, the festivals. The love is for a band.

The songs are honest: just chords with real voices singing real melodies. But, the heart and the energy with which they are sung, is really why people are talking, and why so many sing along.

They are a reality in a world of entertainment built with smoke and mirrors, and when they play, the common man can break the mirrors and blow the smoke away, so that all that's left behind is the unwavering beauty of the songs. That's the commotion, that's the celebration, and wherever The Avett Brothers are tonight, that's what you'll find.

Upcoming Events for Blackberry Smoke

"We don't pull any punches about calling this Southern rock because that's what it is," says Blackberry Smoke frontman Charlie Starr. "It's what we think new Southern rock should sound like." Starr, guitarist Paul Jackson, bassist Richard Turner and drummer Brit Turner are indeed sons of the South, but their considerable chops recall The Swanee River Boys and The Stanley Brothers as well as Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers.

"We love all kinds of music - our CD collection in the van is extremely diverse," Charlie continues. "You can hear a bluegrass influence on our harmonies. We all grew up listening to that kind of music, and I started singing in church, so I think a little gospel flavor filters through, too. We like to mix it up and take some chances."

Still, discerning ears will detect a strain of Bon Scott in Charlie's upper register. "Our music is probably harder driving than what you'd call classic Southern rock," he concedes, "especially in the guitar and drum sounds." In fact, this ain't no gospel, this ain't no bluegrass, this ain't no fooling around: Blackberry Smoke is balls-out rock and roll.

The response of fans to the live performances on Bad Luck Ain't No Crime, the band's debut disc, is thrilling confirmation of that. Studio tracks "Testify" and "Sanctified Woman" may be attracting the most attention at rock radio, but these rough-and-ready versions of originals "Scare The Devil" and "Muscadine" and the standard "Freeborn Man" may better capture the essence of Blackberry Smoke.

"We recorded those during the motorcycle rally in Sturgis [South Dakota], at The Full Throttle Saloon," Charlie informs. "We took an RV, parked it behind the stage and just lived there for a week. We opened for everyone who came through. It's outdoors and the weather was beautiful. There's no charge to get in and lots of booze flowing. What that audience sounded like - we couldn't have asked for better live recordings. Technically, there are some warts, but the energy was so high that we didn't care. We aren't brain surgeons - it ain't pretty sometimes, but it sure does feel good."

Even when Charlie's singing about hard times, there is joy in the music. You can't help thinking that he, Paul, Richard and Brit were born to play together.

The road to Blackberry Smoke winds through Lanett, Alabama, where Charlie was raised, LaGrange, Georgia, where he met Paul, and Atlanta, longtime stomping grounds to brothers Richard and Brit. Growing up in Lanett, a textile mill town ringed by fields of corn, peas and butterbeans, Charlie began his training as a singer before he could talk. His mother's uncle is Bluegrass Hall Of Famer Buford Abner, lead singer for the aforementioned Swanee River Boys; great uncle Merle Abner sang bass.

"My dad has played guitar and sung bluegrass my whole life," Charlie adds. "I spent a lot of years going to bluegrass festivals. Every weekend we'd drive to Virginia or Kentucky. It was a fun thing to do. When I got to be a teenager, I said, ŒI don't want to play this kind of music; I want to play "Smoke On The Water."' But after a while, I think you always come back to whatever sparked your interest in music in the first place."

He vividly remembers his mother singing along to the radio, with The Rolling Stones, The Faces, The Beatles and Bob Dylan among her favorites. He notes that his own idols range more toward Hank Williams - of whom he says, "I don't think a better songwriter has ever walked the earth" - and Steve Earle, but the Bad Luck Ain't No Crime track "Normaltown" is indisputably reminiscent of the Beatles' psychedelic awakening.

Charlie recollects: "When I was growing up, we'd all sit around the piano singing, and I'd grab my dad's guitar every time someone put it down. About the time I turned six, I guess he figured he'd better get me one before I broke his."

The boy learned how to play on his own after a few lessons from Dad. He graduated to the electric guitar in his teen years. By then Charlie was getting into the Allmans, Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot and 38 Special, whose material he calls "a little more pop, riding-around-in-your-Camaro stuff."

He naturally gravitated toward other rock musicians. "Paul and I have been buddies for a long time," he says. "He's always been a great guitar player. We'd go down to Atlanta to see bands. There's a couple of late-night watering holes where musicians would convene after concerts, and that's where we got to know Brit and Richard. We kept saying we should all jam and when we finally did, there it was; the band just kind of fell together."

Blackberry Smoke's creative approach remains a collaborative one. "Sometimes I'll come in with a basic idea, just play some chords and a melody on an acoustic and a song will grow from that," Charlie explains. "But most of the time I'll write with Paul - we live within 15 minutes of each other - or we'll be in rehearsal and just start jamming on something and magic will happen."

The band members have a similarly easygoing, give-and-take personal rapport. Charlie says he knows it's a cliché, but he nonetheless attests: "We're like a little family, like four brothers. We all just get along really well. We've all been in cover bands, and in every cover band there's somebody ya hate. There's nobody in this band like that Š unless I'm the guy and they haven't told me! We could never stay on the road for 40 days if we weren't laughing and having a good time. All our dads were in the service and they taught us respect for other people. Hell, Brit and Richard's dad is a retired Air Force colonel; they really walked the line."

During their travels, the Blackberry Smoke boys have headlined all over the U.S. and opened for a slew of rock acts. They've toured with Jackyl - Jackyl's Jesse James Dupree produced Bad Luck Ain't No Crime - and have even shared the stage with Blackfoot, 38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd, at Dallas' Smirnoff Music Centre (capacity: 20,000). The band got their name from another likeminded artist, former Black Crowes singer-songwriter Chris Robinson.

The name has a bittersweet quality, as do many of Charlie's lyrics. Sometimes there's only room for the bitter, like in "Scare The Devil Outta You": "Keep yourself on your side/ And I'll keep me on mine/ Keep yourself to yourself/ And we'll get along just fine/ You say the devil made you do it with a smile/ Raising hell and howling at the moon/ Well I'm gonna put your ass back in line/ I'm gonna scare the devil outta you"; and sometimes it's just plain sweet, as on "Muscadine": "Muscadine, my girl's sweeter than a muscadine/ Muscadine, sweetest berry hangin' on the vine."

But more often than not, Charlie manages to navigate the murky but evocative waters between these two emotional territories. On "Sanctified Woman," he sings: "I went lookin' for a sanctified woman/ She's the only kind of woman I was hopin' to find." He does find her, "livin' by the highway in a pink doublewide." But in the chorus he moans, "Can't you see me go up in flames/ Can't you hear me screamin' your name/ I need some redemption today." And later, he confesses: "I don't even know/ What we're gonna do, where we're gonna go/ But we got to go somewhere Œcause we sure ain't got no home."

An ambivalence about the idea of home also surfaces in "Normaltown," where the singer reasons, "In Normaltown they say/ A man can make his life/ Find a Normal girl to make his wife/ Normaltown is home/ I guess it's just as well," but then he destroys the illusion of nostalgia, spitting, "Now you know why this is a living hell."

"Angeline" connotes a tumultuous romance. The protagonist says of his wife, whom he calls "my valentine": "She had enough money to get herself out of town/ Next thing I know she's New Orleans bound Š / I stay home and try to make ends meet/ She's turnin' tricks down on Royal Street." He laments in the song's refrain, "Oh Angeline, where have you gone?" But despite the misery she has clearly caused, he wants her back, pleading: "If you see that girl out walkin' the wrong way/ Turn her around and send her back my way."

This pervasive bittersweetness is put into context in songs like "Testify" and "Sure Was Good," the first line of which is "Bad luck ain't no crime." Charlie goes a long way toward summing up his worldview with lines like: "Wanna testify Œbout the things I've seen/ Wash my hands but they never come clean/ Testify some win some lose/ Everybody's gonna have to stand accused." Likewise, the banjo-inflected "Sure Was Good" demonstrates a philosophical acceptance of life's ups and downs: "Sometimes easy, sometimes not/ Hope I did the best with what I got/ Sure was good."

These songs, like the rest of Bad Luck Ain't No Crime, represent the burnished-by-experience, no-bullshit, hard-won wisdom of the most enduring Southern rock. "Sometimes we shake our heads about what goes on in life and think, ŒWow - look at everything we've been through and seen people do and done ourselves," says Charlie. "But we always remember that no matter how bad it gets, someone's always got it worse, and that pretty much keeps our feet on the ground."

Upcoming Events for Trey Anastasio

A founding member of the Grammy-nominated, genre-melding rock band Phish, Trey Anastasio has also released eight solo albums, A curious and constant composer, he draws inspiration from experimental jazz, classical, pop, reggae, metal and barbershop music. In 2009, Anastasio made his debut with the New York Philharmonic and Baltimore Symphony in programs that featured his concerto for electric guitar and orchestra, Time Turns Elastic, as well as original compositions.

The New York Times hailed Anastasio’s Carnegie Hall performance with the New York Philharmonic as “that rarest of rarities, a classical-rock hybrid that might please partisans from both constituencies. Set amid a generous group of popular Phish songs — gentle, string-cushioned ballads like “Brian and Robert” and “Let Me Lie,” as well as the audacious, intricate instrumentals “Guyute Orchestral” and “You Enjoy Myself” — the new piece [Time Turns Elastic] could hardly have gone wrong.”

Over the past 25 years, Anastasio has established himself as a prolific composer, masterful guitarist (named by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time) and compelling performer. In 2009, Rubber Jungle Records released Anastasio’s studio recording of Time Turns Elastic with The Northwest Sinfonia, conducted by David Sabee. He is currently working on a new musical with composer/lyricist Amanda Green entitled Hands on a Hard Body, which is based on S.R. Bindler’s 1997 documentary of the same name about a pickup-truck competition in Longview, Texas.

Upcoming Events for Gov't Mule

Gov't Mule - 'By A Thread' :: With 2 million paid song downloads through their site MuleTracks, seven critically acclaimed studio records already released, a handful of DVDs and live albums, plus an ever-expanding fanbase and sold-out coast-to-coast tours, Gov't Mule could easily rest on its laurels.

Yet when you're in one of the hardest working bands in rock history, pushing yourself to greater heights always supersedes cashing in on past successes.

For guitarist/lead vocalist Warren Haynes and his band, Gov't Mule, creating a new album is akin to walking a tightrope: Write new songs that please old fans, while hopefully garnering new ones. Develop that material in the studio rather than on the road, to prevent premature leaks via the internet. Celebrate the roots of American music, yet take sonic forays into the future. Honor the memory of the late Allen Woody, while simultaneously welcoming new bassist Jorgen Carlsson into the fold.

With By A Thread, Gov't Mule's first studio album in three years, recorded at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio in the Texas Hill Country, the band – which also features drummer Matt Abts and multi-instrumentalist Danny Louis – meets those challenges and more.

"It feels like we're moving forward and backward at the same time," Haynes notes. "Hardcore fans tend to not want us to move too far away from where we started, but the band never wants to stay in one place for very long."

"While Jorgen brings his distinctive musical personality to the table, he also uncannily evokes some of (Allen) Woody's spirit which inspired us to revisit our past."

"I don't know if we were willing to travel that road right after Allen died," says Haynes, "but this far down the line, it seems liberating and exciting."

From the opening licks of "Broke Down On The Brazos," a hard-hitting up-tempo Texas stomp that features ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons' unmistakable fretwork, through the meditative closing ballad, "World Wake Up," it's clear that Gov't Mule is intent on plowing new ground.

"There was this groove that Matt and Jorgen were playing the first day in the studio," Haynes recalls. "We taped it, and when the occasion came up for us to start writing something new, we pulled it out, and it became the catalyst for that tune. Danny and I started attacking it, Gordie Johnson [the album's producer] got involved, and during a break I went next door and began writing the lyrics."

That organic approach is evident throughout the 11-song album, which runs the rock-and-roll gamut from barroom blues to pyschedelia (check the disintegrated chords of the ‘60s throwback "Inside Outside Woman Blues #3") to melody-driven tunes like "Frozen Fear". The band's approach was simple: Sequester themselves at the studio, located 45 minutes from Austin, to avoid any unnecessary distractions. Ignore the clock and let loose some freeform jams. Capitalize on the chemistry that was already developing between Carlsson and Abts. Write new material, as Haynes describes, "from the ground up."

"Writing in the studio was a lot of pressure, but it worked out great. For whatever reason, the time seemed right. The door was kicked open, and now we're moving full steam ahead."

Once that metaphorical door was unlocked, Gov't Mule proved unstoppable in the studio.

"Warren had some sketches of songs, and some fully finished songs, but what made this session special was that the band co-wrote four songs on the spot," Abts says. "What we were thinking 14 years ago, when the band started, doesn't necessarily apply to 2009. We've gone through some changes, but that's a good thing, like any relationship that changes over time. Jorgen has given us such a shot in the arm. I'm really excited about the new record – it's the best thing we've ever done."

The experience, says the Swedish-born Carlsson, who joined Gov't Mule last January, was better than anyone could've imagined.

"I play in a lot of high-pressure studio sessions in L.A.," he says, "but this felt so natural. It was fun. I played as good as I could, and I can't wait to see what happens next."

Louis agrees.

"As long as I've been playing music, it still feels like a little miracle when the creative spirit kicks in," he says. "‘Steppin' Lightly' came together with all four of us huddled around in a circle. I came out from behind the keyboards and played guitar, so physically, we were closer than we were before. ‘Any Open Window' was the same thing – for the first time, not only was Jorgen involved on the ground floor of the tune, but we broke it down to a two-guitar band."

As Gov't Mule picks up speed, however, the band has never lost sight of its roots.

Exhibit A: "Railroad Boy," a 100-year old folk song Haynes learned as a teenager in Asheville, N.C. and transformed into a rollicking, organ- and guitar-driven romp.

"The tradition, melody and story of that tune are so strong, that somehow, it's never left my brain," explains Haynes, also a member of the Dead and the Allman Brothers Band, and one of Rolling Stones' Top 25 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

"I thought, why don't we work up a rock-and-roll arrangement, and see what happens. It came together really quickly – when that happens, it's always a good sign. Everybody's input was spot-on. The timelessness of that song was inherent; what we add is the freshness. Gov't Mule plays a modern day version of that music – not a tribute, but a continuation."

On the next track, "Monday Mourning Meltdown," Gov't Mule downshifts into a moody, contemporary rock ballad.

"It's a personal statement for me," Haynes avows. "Sonically, it's different from anything we've ever done. We experimented with a lot of different approaches, and in some ways, this song really showcases the growth of the band and represents a new direction for us."

Now that the finishing touches have been placed on By A Thread, the musicians of Gov't Mule anxiously await its late summer release.

"These songs didn't exist until we got to Pedernales," Abts says. "No one's heard ‘em yet, which is kind of frustrating."

Haynes explains, "We want By A Thread to be a surprise, so we've made a point not to play any of them live until our fans can get the full impact of the new material."

"The studio is a kind of science lab, where you're performing experiments that you don't have to let anybody hear," Louis adds. "There's an interaction with our fanbase, but it takes time for it to happen. In a live situation, we're in that lab atmosphere, but we've added the energy of the audience, so we get instant feedback. The anticipation is just building and building. These songs are like a Thorazine shuffle, alive in my head. They have yet to get out of the barn, so to speak."

Gov't Mule will unveil By A Thread on a worldwide tour that began with two nights headlining Warren's own Mountain Jam festival in upstate New York, and included stops at Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, and two nights at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre in late September.

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