One of the best parts about updating the Busk Break archive is discovering recordings I’d completely forgotten about. A good example of this is my recording of Andrew Jones. Until just a few hours ago, I would have summed up my encounter with him something like this: He played the harp, he looked kind of like a young Art Garfunkel, and he was living in Black Mountain. I only recorded a single song, I recalled, probably I got the impression that he didn’t want to be recorded.
As you’re probably guessing, I found something that proves I’m actually remembering it wrong. And that’s exactly the case. I’m way, way off on this one.
While the original video is lost to the ether, I did manage to find the original audio. It tells a totally different story, and one filled with detail. It turns out that I did a passable interview with Jones in our brief encounter.
Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” isn’t a very complicated tune. It’s so simple, in fact, that the melody and charm of the song can easily fit in almost any genre of American music. It’s considered a country tune largely because Miller was considered a country artist, but even a quick glance at YouTube shows just how flexible the song structure is. The lyrics are purely functional and entirely literal: It’s a song about a vagabond who has mastered the art of getting by. There are a few idioms and metaphors in the lyrics, but overall it’s a tricky song to read subtext into. Perhaps it’s that very simplicity that makes it so catchy and memorable.
Even without lyrics, Miller’s 1964 hit is still instantly recognizable. In this 2011 recording, Asheville-based sax-playing busker Ashby Gale covers the tune in the doorway of a futon store on the corner of Walnut and Broadway. The recording happened to take place in October during the annual Superhero 5K race, and if you watch the background you can even see a few costumed runners wandering around. Continue reading Ashby Gale covers “King Of The Road”
In this archive recording from 2010, Ashton and Rama Cheromaya perform their original duet “Mayan Queen” in front of Malaprop’s cafe and bookstore in downtown Asheville. If you like powerful female voices in the acoustic folk genre, this will be well worth listening to. The duo was also known for a time (and may still be known, actually) as Sweet Water Revolver, and there are many additional recordings of them floating around the internet if you like what you hear.
What’s up with that video, though? WLike many of the very early Busk Break recordings, there is no original video to accompany the audio, and I’ve once again paid a visit to the public-domain Prelinger archive content at Archive.org to make some thing suitable for sharing. In this case, I’ve edited down a 1954 educational film called “Habit Patterns” to be more in fitting with the audio. The original is largely about the terror that comes from having lazy habits, and tells the story of a girl who no one likes because she wore a stained top to school one day.
Here’s another hidden gem from the Busk Break vaults! In 2011, I recorded two tunes by new-to-Asheville singer/songwriter Andrew Constantino. It was a busy era, however, and I already had a few dozen other busking videos in the pipeline. As a result, I only created a video for the first tune in that session, “The Sun & The Moon,” and moved on to the other waiting videos.
When I met Andrew Constantino on a breezy June day in 2011, he struck me as painfully shy. Although clearly a skilled performer and capable singer, even from a dozen paces away, it was hard to make out what he was playing. After I got him talking, however, the context became more clear. Having only arrived in Asheville a few weeks earlier from upstate New York, he was completely new to the local busking scene. In fact, this particular performance was only his third experience busking downtown.
He seemed flattered when I asked him to do an original song, but he stopped dead in his tracks for a few seconds when I asked what the title of it was.