I met Sparrow the weekend of the first MoogFest in downtown Asheville. Even on an average weekend, the city could be mistaken for a costume party that had somehow spilled out onto the streets, but add Halloween weekend and a major, national-level electronic music festival to the mix, and the experience began to border on the hallucinatory. Continue reading Sparrow performs “Walt’s Waltz”
We’ve covered Now You See Them‘s Shane Conerty before, as he’s one of the most active buskers in the Asheville music scene. He’s also one of those rare performers who is perfectly willing to give his all in every song, even if there’s no audience to speak of when he’s playing it.
Here, he performs his recently written original song “Route 29,” which he says was inspired by real-life bus-riding experiences. Continue reading Shane Conerty performs “Route 29”
In the summer of 2010, New York-based musician Jessica Dennison was passing through Asheville, and decided to give busking a try on our streets. By the time I ran across her, however, the looming clouds and drizzle made it very clear that her next song would be the last in her set. So, armed with her ukulele and charm, she performed her original tune “Grave” for the Busk Break project. Continue reading Jessica Dennison and her ukulele perform “Grave”
To point out an awkward truth about Asheville’s music scene, there simply aren’t that many black performers on the city’s cultural radar. It’s a town where even the best-known rap and hip-hop acts are mostly composed of white men, and where the most known black busker is an elderly sax player who often doesn’t even bother playing through the first chorus of the song. But there are exceptions. Leeda “Lyric” Jones, for instance, and Kevin Jerome. Continue reading Kevin Jerome performs “To the Mountain Top”
When Kevin Jerome told me that he wanted to “reclaim” the 1929 Albert E. Brumley hymn “I’ll Fly Away” for “the black man,” I was dubious. Jerome is an unquestionably talented performer, but was he really up to the task of reworking one of the most recognized gospel songs of all time? In a word, yes. Continue reading Kevin Jerome reclaims “I’ll Fly Away”
On a rainy summer day in downtown Asheville, Boone-based busker Alex Travers braved the drizzle to perform his interpretation of “Menuet 2” from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No.3 for Solo Violin in E major. This was the first of the two recordings made with Travers, and one of the few recordings of classical music ever featured on Busk Break.
Unfortunately, this is also one of the few times Travers seems to have busked in the Asheville area. Here’s hoping he makes a return visit to the downtown music scene. Or, maybe we need to arrange a busk-hunting video up the mountain in Boone? Continue reading Alex Travers busts out some Bach
Shortly before the release of his album The Taking or The Leaving, alt-country and Americana artist Brian McGee spent the the better part of a day busking song from the recording in front of the Iron sculpture in downtown Asheville, NC. He was joined midway through the set by drummer Kevin “Krum” Rumley, whose unique talents include the ability to seamlessly keep time while puffing away on a cigarette. Continue reading Brian McGee and Krum perform “First Kiss”
With their high-voltage style, musical saw and general whimsy, novelty jazz band Blind Boy Chocolate and the Milk Sheiks may be one of the most easily recognized bands in Asheville’s street music scene. Here, the group perform their version of the Mississippi Mud Steppers’ tune “Jackson Stomp.”
This video also shows the value of checking your battery before you start recording. Approximately 30 seconds into filming, my camera stopped recording due to a low charge. As a result, there isn’t a video of this memorable performance. Instead, we’re setting the separately recorded audio to a funny cartoon from yesteryear called “Accidents Don’t Just Happen,” courtesy of the public domain Prelinger Archives.
When I first met her, I was almost certain that the last thing Lyndsay Pruitt wanted was to be recorded. She was sitting on a bench near a noodle shop in downtown Asheville, and she had a distant way of talking, almost like she’d rather be anywhere other than in a conversation with a stranger. But, as I explained my project and its goals, she warily agreed to let me record her. Little did I know that this slightly awkward chance encounter would result in one of my favorite early recordings. Continue reading Taylor Martin and Lyndsay Pruitt perform “Devil’s in the Barroom”
Gillian Bourazak was one of the first half-dozen buskers I recorded for the Busk Break project, and her two videos are also one of the worst missed opportunities in the entire series. She has a solid voice and a keen songwriting sense, two things I utterly failed to capture in the one opportunity I had to record her busking. The first video makes it seem even worse, as she’s distracted mid-song by one of the biggest dickheads I’ve encountered in several years of these field recordings. Continue reading Gillian Bourazak performs two songs, deals with mega-creeper