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)”
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.
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.
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.
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
In this third tune from our 2012 session with guitarist/singer Jimbo Lockhart and percussionist Abby The Spoon Lady, we hear a spirited version of “Polly Wolly Doodle.” For a tune that’s been around since at least 1880, it doesn’t sound too shabby at all.
In this video, Busk Break favorites Abby The Spoon Lady and Jimbo Lockhart perform that staple of old-time gatherings across the globe, “Cluck Old Hen.”
This tune was recorded in 2012 as part of a three-song session in downtown Asheville, but was overlooked in that week’s updates. Only recently unearthed in the archives, this video has never before been seen!
Vocalist/guitarist Mark Conti and bassist Christian Ferri — both members of the Asheville Waits Band (a Tom Waits cover band) — perform “Singapore” from the album Rain Dogs in front of the Iron sculpture.
This video was originally recorded on a very windy day in early January, 2012.