It takes a brave busker to face the chilly winds and slow foot traffic of downtown Asheville on an early February evening. While the city absolutely throbs with street music during the warm months, it’s largely a ghost town from the start of the new year until the weather finally thaws around mid-March. Undaunted, singer-songwriter Hannah Rebekah took up her guitar and portable amp, facing the challenge head on.
In this unexpected collaboration, country musician Roger Clark and not-so-easy-to-categorize band Deep Chatham (Jeff Loops on bass and Julian Sikes providing the occasional backing vocal) perform an impromptu cover of Hank Williams’ classic tune “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”
Clark had encountered the duo in passing as they busked in front of the Iron Sculpture in downtown Asheville in 2011. A casual conversation about old-time country had turned into an off-the-cuff jam session between three musicians separated by nearly two generations. Clark only played a few songs with Deep Chatham, and this was a truly fortunate thing to happen across. Continue reading Roger Clark and Deep Chatham cover “Your Cheatin’ Heart”
Listening to how neatly the members of The Leather Britches fit together as performers, you’d be hard-pressed to guess that the group had only been playing together under that name for the better part of an afternoon.
Composed of four friends who came to Asheville for, as they sheepishly put it, “this fiddle gathering … like a convention.” Of course, anyone who follows the Asheville music community would instantly know what they were talking about: The Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College.
The quartet wouldn’t exactly characterize themselves as a band, although Nick DiSebastian (guitar) and Charles Muench (bass) were both members of the Lancaster, PA, group River Wheel. Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (fiddle) and Jen Starsinic (fiddle) also had a musical project together, and three of the four lived in the same town and attended the same school, and had played together under various names over the years. On this day, they had decided to call themselves The Leather Britches.
The moment I rounded the corner from Battery Park to Haywood, I knew I’d hit the jackpot. In the recessed alcove of Kim’s Wigs were three young women playing to a clutch of captivated passersby. Not just any young women, either. They were obviously talented players, and knew the idiom of traditional and old-time American folk tunes well. For the purposes of video, however, the jackpot was that they were all attractive in that tangible, earthy way folk musicians should be.
It was Busk Break gold, right from the start.
It’s safe to say that the three were still getting used to the attention of that afternoon as I approached. It was the July 4th weekend of 2011, and a great time to be a busker in downtown Asheville. The air was warm, but not yet oppressively hot. They were huge crowds of three-day-weekenders pumping through the city’s veins, happy to part with coins and small bills for a moment’s entertainment. By the time I approached, camera-in-hand, they were already receiving waves of compliments from strangers. Continue reading A Trio Of Tunes From Locust Honey
As I mentioned in the last post about Deep Chatham, it was obvious after just a few seconds that guitarist Julian Sikes and bassist Jeff Loops were immensely talented performers. The performance that sold me on the duo was “Hard To Find,” a rollicking, upbeat, gritty, sarcastic, ironic and otherwise difficult-to-categorize tune. For whatever reason, “Hard To Find” doesn’t appear on their outstanding Words From The Well album, making it, well … hard to find.
It’s easy to get a little spoiled by the busking scene in Asheville. Often it seems like there’s outstanding musical talent waiting to be seen around every corner. On this sunny day in June of 2011, I turned a corner and ran into guitarist Julian Sikes and upright bassist Jeff Loops, better known as Deep Chatham. And they were unavoidably fantastic.
In the three years since this recording, Deep Chatham has made quite a name for themselves, releasing a fantastic full-length album (Words From The Well) and touring several times around the East Coast. Along the way, they’ve picked up two key members in fiddle player Matt Heckler and pianist/accordionist Trevor Grassi, who longtime followers of Busk Break may know better as Balkan Death Grip. Continue reading Deep Chatham perform “The Cursed (Medley)”