Patrick and Cody play an untitled original

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Patrick and Cody playing in front of the Woolworth Walk on a sweltering summer day.
It was scorching hot on the streets of Asheville when I met Patrick and Cody, but you’d never know it from how chill these two were during the recording. They were hanging out in the shade in front of the Woolworth Walk, brought there by local busker Charles Clyde Toney II, and all three were performing together as I approached. Continue reading Patrick and Cody play an untitled original

Pilgrim, Elmore and Bob play “Black Eyed Suzie”

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Pilgrim, Elmore and Bob play during a rainstorm in the entrance to the Miles Building.
What’s a group of buskers to do when they’re ready and willing to play, but the weather has different plans? Hiding out in the entrance of the Miles Building during a fierce rainstorm, traveling buskers Pilgrim, Elmore and Bob had planned on busking in front of the Iron sculpture in downtown Asheville. As a result, they were instead playing tunes largely to entertain each other until the torrent passed. Continue reading Pilgrim, Elmore and Bob play “Black Eyed Suzie”

Tomb Nelson and the Stillwater Hobos perform “The Hills of Connemara”

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Tomb Nelson and the Stillwater Hobos, giving the people all the shouty, beardy, suspendery action they can handle.
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned just how excited some folks (mostly my female coworkers at the time of the recording) were about this group of five strapping young men who sing Irish folks songs. Sure, you could say that their brand of shouty, beardy, suspender-clad music is nothing new (Marcus Mumford has been doing it for years), but there’s no getting away from the fact that, on this warm spring day at least, they were causing random passersby to swoon. And even if you’re not the swooning type, there’s still plenty to like. So, just to quench that burning desire for more lads in suspenders belting out classics from the 1800s, here’s Tomb Nelson and the Stillwater Hobos performing that classic tune about Irish moonshine, “The Hills of Connemara,” near the Iron sculpture in downtown Asheville. Continue reading Tomb Nelson and the Stillwater Hobos perform “The Hills of Connemara”

Tomb Nelson and the Stillwater Hobos perform a spirited medley

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Tomb Nelson and the Stillwater Hobos in the act of stopping ladies in their tracks.
I have rarely seen any group of buskers command quite the level of instant attention that Texas-based Tomb Nelson and the Stillwater Hobos did on this sunny May afternoon. The five-member version of the band had been playing their boisterous music for the better part of an hour by the time I was able to get down to the street and record them. They were already quite warmed up, and decided to perform this ambitious medley of the traditional tines “I’ll Tell Me Ma” and “Oh, You New York Girls (Can’t You Dance the Polka?)” Continue reading Tomb Nelson and the Stillwater Hobos perform a spirited medley

Charles Clyde Toney II with Kris Wahl and Eris Valentine

Charles Clyde Toney II, Kris Wahl and Eris Valentine
Eris Valentine, Kris Wahl and Charles Clyde Toney II
Few encounters I’ve had with busking musicians have been as memorable, high-energy and fun as the night I met Charlie, Kris and Eris. Although there were many buskers and their friends hanging out on the corner that evening, it quickly became obvious that these three were people to watch. But they were far more interested in performing for each other than getting cash in their guitar cases. Continue reading Charles Clyde Toney II with Kris Wahl and Eris Valentine

Damn Girl! perform “La Policia”

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Damn Girl! perform at the Woolworth Walk.
When I first encountered Tom├ís and Derrick, the duo that would later add a few rotating members to their lineup and perform as Damn Girl!, they insisted that they were only passing through town. Perhaps a month passed, and by that point they’d become as established as any local band in the Asheville busking scene. I was hardly surprised. Even in early spring, there are plenty of tip-wielding tourists for buskers to perform to, and, as a rule of thumb, loud buskers do better than quiet ones. This is true even when the songs being played aren’t even in English.

Watching Damn Girl! perform their original tune “La Policia” in front of the Woolworth Walk, the only surprising thing was that the band was still claiming to be passing through town. Continue reading Damn Girl! perform “La Policia”

Mike Gray rocks the Go-Box on “Her Mind Is Gone”

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Mike Gray plays a virtuoso set on his one-of-a-kind Go-Box near the Grove Arcade.
If you’ve never seen Austin-based musician Mike Gray bust out some tunes on his “go-box,” you’ve missed out. Inspired by the designs of Asheville-based folk artist and performer Robert Seven, there’s really no way of explaining what he’s playing other than “It used to be a guitar, but there’s now a bunch of percussiony bits on it, and he plays it with chopsticks.” Here, he plays a version of the Professor Longhair tune “Her Mind Is Gone” near the Grove Arcade. Continue reading Mike Gray rocks the Go-Box on “Her Mind Is Gone”