The new collection includes outstanding performances from Charles Clyde Toney II with Kris Wahl and Eris Valentine; Amy Alvey and Blake “BlakeAbyss” Larson; Brian McGee and Kevin “Krum” Rumley; Taylor Martin and Lyndsay Pruitt; Tomb Nelson and the Stillwater Hobos; Alex Travers; 37; Shane Conerty; Anna Trevor; Logan Mason; and Patrick and Cody. All proceeds go toward keeping Busk Break project alive, upgrading our equipment and tipping future buskers for their contributions. And for $1 a track or a mere $7 for the whole thing, what more could you ask for? Click the link for details.
What’s not to like about upbeat tunes played on resonator guitar and kazoo? Not much, that’s what. And given how much fun Airhorn Slim is to listen to, it’s worth giving each of these tunes a few listens.
Eagle-eyed viewers may recognize Airhorn Slim from other Busk Break videos, such as Balkan Death Grip’s “Men Trinkte Mashke” performance, as he’s a regular collaborator with other regional buskers. This 2011 session in front of the Woolworth Walk, however, was the first time I’d ever encountered Slim performing on his own.
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.
There are some songs that bypass every bit of cynicism, pretense and stylistic preference. They slip right through the portcullis bars of the psyche, and slide into the unguarded heart where nostalgia and memory live. For me, one of those songs is “Over The Rainbow.” Sure, the The Wizard of Oz plays a part in this, but an even bigger reason is Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole’s medley version of the song. Played on a tiny ukulele by giant hands, that tune is one of the reasons I first started paying attention to folk and traditional music.
Not that Adhi’s cover bears much resemblance to that version, mind you. It’s entirely his own. But I like this performance as much for the power of the song, which shines through even when given a jazzed up improv treatment. Continue reading Adhi covers “Over The Rainbow”
It may be surprising given how confidently he plays, but klezmer and old-time inspired banjo player Adam Kobetich had only been working on his busking set for a few months when I first encountered him. Although hardly new to the Asheville musical community, at this time Kobetich was still learning the ropes of street performing, and spoke with me about the trail-and-error process of discovering good tunes for busking.
Bluegrass-loving buskers Chris Lyon and Adam Witkowski performed a pair of original tunes for this 2011 session of Busk Break. Switching between mandolin and guitar, the duo each played one of their own songs with the practiced ease of friends who have been working with each other for years.
And that’s exactly the case, as they’d been involved in several projects together in Vermont. This performance near Pack Square is the only time either musician appeared on Busk Break. Continue reading Chris Lyon and Adam Witkowski
In this video, singer/songwriter Abe Leonard is joined by keyboardist Lloyd Hill and violinist (and Busk Break alum) Erica, performing a pair of then-untitled songs. Originally recorded in 2011, these never-before-seen video was recently discovered in the Busk Break archives.
Why have these never been seen before? Both are very weird songs, being deeply dissonant and also strangely performed. At the time I recorded them, I honestly didn’t think much of either. Two years later, I’m still conflicted about them. It’s time to share. Continue reading Abe, Lloyd and Erica
Way back in May of 2011, Busk Break caught a few songs from New Orleans-based buskers Natchez On Fire during their brief visit to Asheville. One of those songs, their version of the classic “Crawdad Song,” was released at the time, but this song never made it out of the archive. Now, for the first time ever, we present Natchez On Fire’s “The Yo-Yo Song”! Continue reading Natchez On Fire perform “The YoYo Song”
Recently unearthed from the Busk Break archives, Caster covers this classic “dirty blues” tune in 2011!
At the time of this recording, banjo-playing busker Caster had yet to write a song he felt comfortable playing in front of a camera. So I asked him, “Do you have a cover that you feel you really love? A song that you’ve truly made your own?”