When I met Sara Lengel, she wasn’t actually busking. It didn’t take much convincing to get her to play something, however, and when she did, it was wonderful. “I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy” was first made famous by now semi-obscure Souther soul singer O.V. Wright, but many folks today know the song because of covers by groups like The Derek Trucks Band. It’s that modern, jam-band infused version Lengel performs here.
Lengel had just arrived in town from Florida, and was sitting alone on a bench in Pritchard Park in the bright mid-August sun, her guitar cased sitting closed next to her. I’d been out on one of my “busk hunts,” prowling around downtown Asheville looking for performers, with my Zoom H4n field recorder and Kodak zi8 camera in a handmade rig, and pickings had been slim. So, working on the assumption that everyone who carries around a guitar case in the summer sun is, at a minimum, looking for an excuse to play, I approached her and asked “Do you actually play that thing?”
The gauntlet thrown, she said “I sure do,” and didn’t even hesitate to take it out to answer my challenge. As she prepped, I told her about the Busk Break project and the kind of songs I generally prefer to record. She didn’t have an original that she really wanted to play, but she did feel like playing “this old blues song” she’d picked up. Clearly, she really likes the song.
After the interview, I asked her thoughts on the so-called “Asheville Curse,” the trend where interesting talented people who are just passing through (as Lengel was) tend to find reasons to stick around for years, if not forever. “I’m already looking for a place,” she told me with a smile. Over the course of that summer and fall, Lengel was around quite a lot, although, as I write this in 2012, I’m not sure if she’s still in town, or has since moved on.
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