Blake Abyss and Amy Alvey’s improv jam on Hang and violin

BlakeAbyss and Amy Alvey
BlakeAbyss and Amy Alvey
Watching this video of violinist Amy Alvey and Hang drum player Blake “Blake Abyss” Larson perform together, you’d probably expect to hear that the duo had been busking together for weeks, if not years. As unusual at the pairing of the instruments is, the whole thing comes together in a way that implies the comfort and ease of players who know each other very well.

And, as you’ve already guessed, that’s not the case at all.

In fact, Blake and Amy met for the first time mere moments before this video was filmed. I was on one of my “busk hunts” when I encountered them finishing up a tentative jam in front of the Iron sculpture. They seemed so natural together that I assumed they were touring band, or at least regular buskers.

But that wasn’t the case. After they ended that tune, it became clear that they didn’t even know each other’s names. What’s more, neither were really buskers, and Blake had only been playing the Hang drum for a few months. As a document of the phenomenal talent that passes through Asheville, and the wonderful moments that take place on its streets, this is a gem of a video.

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Steve Shanafelt

Steve Shanafelt used to think he was a writer. Lots of other people thought he was a very good one, and they paid him to write everything from news articles to erotic comic books. Then, a few years ago, he started to realize that writing was just one very tiny piece of the puzzle. He started recording podcasts, producing field recordings of busking musicians, making short video series and learning how to make websites. Along the way, he learned lots of ways not to manage businesses and how to promote those businesses online. Now, people pay him surprisingly large sums of money to show them some of the things he's picked up.