The Archaic return to Busk Break with a trio of tunes


The Archaic perform near Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville, NC.

It’s hard not to have a hint of prejudice when you encounter a guitar-and-banjo busking duo. Almost certainly, you’ll prepare yourself to hear some nasal-pitched bluegrass tune, or maybe some gritty, jazzed-up novelty blues song. What you probably won’t expect is to hear music that owes as much to Marcus Mumford and Thom Yorke as it does to Earl Scruggs or Lawrence Marrero. That’s exactly what makes The Archaic so interesting. Continue reading

Alex Berkow, Juggler


Alex Berkow juggling a few things you could buy at Lowe’s near Pritchard Park.

He’s not entirely sure how it happened, but Alex Berkow thinks that his gimmick of juggling hardware for the crowds in downtown Asheville might have happened because he lost his regular juggling equipment and had to start over with anything that had a long handle. Far from ruining his act, his new gimmick of tossing and deftly catching wrenches, plungers and hammers through the air also brought him a fair amount of tourist coin. Continue reading

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

Sara Lengel covers “I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy”


Sara Lengel covers the song that made O.V. Wright famous.

When I met Sara Lengel, she wasn’t actually busking. It didn’t take much convincing to get her to play something, however, and when she did, it was wonderful. “I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy” was first made famous by now semi-obscure Souther soul singer O.V. Wright, but many folks today know the song because of covers by groups like The Derek Trucks Band. It’s that modern, jam-band infused version Lengel performs here. Continue reading

Balkan Death Grip perform “Men Trinkte Mashke”

Balkan Death Grip

Matt Heckler, Trevor Grassi and Jeff Loops, with unseen members of Balkan Death Grip, perform near Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville, NC.

Matt Heckler and Trevor Grassi lead this incarnation of Balkan Death Grip to hell and back. Well, maybe that’s a bit of a melodramatic way of putting it, but this is a highly melodramatic song. After all, it’s about a man who pays his way by shoveling coal in hell, who plays music that smells of gasoline and who, they say, is around “every time a ship goes down.” It’s also one of the most entertainingly over-the-top tunes ever performed in front of the Busk Break camera. Continue reading

Clarence, Antone and Alex perform “Jitterbug Rag”


Alex “Spiders Nest” Brady, Clarence Gallagher and Antone “T-Bird” Costa doing some jug-band busking in downtown Asheville, NC.

In this video, resonator guitar-player Clarence Gallagher, jug player Antone Costa and washtub bassist Alex Brady perform Blind Boy Fuller’s tune “Jitterbug Rag” near Pritchard Park. You may know Costa and Brady from Blind Boy Chocolate & The Milk Sheiks, which have expanded their range well beyond the limits of the Asheville area. The trio only performed in this line up a few times, but gave a truly memorable performance. (Even if the camera was only rolling for a small portion of it.)

How memorable? Well, you may also recognize the image of the three playing as the header image for the site. Yeah, it was good stuff. Continue reading