It takes a brave busker to face the chilly winds and slow foot traffic of downtown Asheville on an early February evening. While the city absolutely throbs with street music during the warm months, it’s largely a ghost town from the start of the new year until the weather finally thaws around mid-March. Undaunted, singer-songwriter Hannah Rebekah took up her guitar and portable amp, facing the challenge head on.
In many ways, the fall of 2010 was the defining year for the busking scene in downtown Asheville. While street performers were hardly unknown in the city, a number of factors combined during that season to put Asheville on the map for traveling musicians that year. One of those factors was the first Asheville MoogFest, which brought a wealth of national-level electronic musicians to an already music-crazed city during Halloween weekend. Where there’s people and foot traffic, there will be buskers.
That’s not to say that Ben Wilton planned his arrival in town around what would become one of the region’s major music festivals for the next few years. If anything, he seemed a little overwhelmed at just how many people were out on the streets on that chilly October night. Originally from New Jersey, Wilton had been “rambling” around the East Coast with his guitar for the previous three weeks, and was only planning on being in town for a few days. Continue reading Ben Wilton performs “Big Bad World”
In this archive recording from 2010, Ashton and Rama Cheromaya perform their original duet “Mayan Queen” in front of Malaprop’s cafe and bookstore in downtown Asheville. If you like powerful female voices in the acoustic folk genre, this will be well worth listening to. The duo was also known for a time (and may still be known, actually) as Sweet Water Revolver, and there are many additional recordings of them floating around the internet if you like what you hear.
What’s up with that video, though? WLike many of the very early Busk Break recordings, there is no original video to accompany the audio, and I’ve once again paid a visit to the public-domain Prelinger archive content at Archive.org to make some thing suitable for sharing. In this case, I’ve edited down a 1954 educational film called “Habit Patterns” to be more in fitting with the audio. The original is largely about the terror that comes from having lazy habits, and tells the story of a girl who no one likes because she wore a stained top to school one day.
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.
“This is called ‘Looking For Some Time.’ It’s my ode to North Carolina,” he said, followed by an almost embarrassed laugh.
I met Alex Williamson on a cool afternoon in late October 2010. It was just before the start of MoogFest, and the city was swarming with world-class musicians and their crews, all frantically trying to settle in before the madness of that Halloween-fueled festival. He was playing on the corner of Battery Park and Page Avenue in downtown Asheville, a good block from two of the best-established busking hotspots, and I assumed he was from out of town. But he wasn’t. He was a local guy who either hadn’t done enough busking to know where the money spots were. Continue reading Alex Williamson is just “Looking For Some Time”
Last week, we featured a song by then-local singer-songwriter PJ Bond from the pre-video days of Busk Break. This week, we’re adding the second tune from that recording in July of 2010, as Bond was joined in front of Kim’s Wigs by his friend Lauren Baker.
Baker is probably best known as the musical saw player from local “absurdist, gypsy, folk, funk, punk” band Sirius.B. (To be fair, like most members of that band, she’s a multi-instrumentalist, but the musical saw thing tends to stick out.) Continue reading PJ Bond and Lauren Baker
On a warm July night in 2010, singer-songwriter PJ Bond stood in front of a wig store and played his heart out. This was in the early days of the Busk Break project, and it set the tone for the rest the performances that summer.
Bond had only been living in town for a year or so, but his brother, Pancho Romero Bond, was already established as the frontman of local “absurdist, gypsy, folk, funk, punk” band Sirius.B. Although not nearly the same level of showman as his brother, I’d argue that PJ Bond is clearly the better songwriter. But PJ never really found his niche in novelty-act living Asheville, and his time as a busker didn’t last long. Continue reading PJ Bond performs “You Know The Drill”