David Earl – Asheville’s Swamp Gospel King Goes Romantic

David Earl

Photos and writing courtesy of AskAsheville Music Correspondent Robert Forte.

David Earl sat down with AskAsheville.com to discuss his personal Asheville story, the many faces of his band the Plowshares as well his soon-to-be-released solo acoustic EP, Worth The Trouble.

David Earl is in some ways exactly what you would expect in terms of being an Asheville based musician; unassuming, amiable, astute and beyond incredibly talented.

Yet what struck me more about Earl was his honesty regarding his musical past and present, his unending gratitude and respect for the musicians he’s shared the stage with and his sheer merriment at being able to record and play live music in Asheville.

Like many current denizens of the city Earl, originally hailing from Indianapolis, was called by the siren that is Asheville over twenty years ago.

“I was drawn by the beauty of the mountains, how wonderful the people were and of course the music scene,” explained Earl.

“When I got to Asheville everyone was making music. Whereas where I was from and the other places that I’ve lived you’d go out for drinks but you’d never sing a song with anyone or pass the time creatively with others.”

Earl quickly embraced all things Asheville, including the arts as he’s a self taught metal worker, furniture designer and fabricator who owns and operates locally based Dynamic Metalwork.

The fusing of arts and music is common theme in this region of Western North Carolina and Earl readily admitted, “I don’t know if I would be in a band and doing metal work if I didn’t move to and choose to live in Asheville.”

Earl’s musical odyssey in Asheville first began as his being the token white guy singing gospel in the David and Kuumba Band.

Cracking a grin Earl provided some insight into this period time, “I took pride in being the only white guy in all black spiritual soul band that rocked the house and I had some transcendental moments with that band.”

Eventually the David and Kuumba Band gave way to the Plowshares which in their first incarnation consisted of Earl himself, parade drummer Imhotep and cornucopia of local musicians that rotated consistently in and out of the band.

In 2008 David Earl and The Plowshares released the very well received self-proclaimed swamp gospel EP, Local Anesthesia. 

Despite the positive reception it wouldn’t be long after the EP’s release that David Earl and the Plowshares would go into hibernation.

Earl explained, “When Local Anesthesia came out Imohtep and I had been playing together for a long time and I had a tremendous amount of respect for him.”

“I was writing original songs and I was beginning to feel a bit chained in. What really ended up happening though is I had a baby, which turned out to be the beginning of the new beginning.”

When the Plowshares reemerged from their slumber Earl found himself now backed by three of Asheville’s most well respected and accomplished musicians in bassist Matthew Lane, drummer Christopher Chappell Pyle and lead guitar player Silas Durocher.

“Chris is probably the cat I’ve played with the most. I actually met him through doing my metal work. You pretty much have to assume he was born playing the drums out of the womb.”

For those not in the know Chappell Pyle is the son of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Earl calls bassist Matthew Lane The Plowshares secret weapon.  With a look in his eyes similar to that of a proud father Earl goes on to state, “Matt brings so much to the table and it’s a beautiful thing to have a guy like him that has so much to contribute and that just loves to play music.”

Although Durocher plays on the nine-song album that has yet to be mixed and mastered and that was recorded at the Eagle Room in Weaverville, he has since left the band to start groove based rock and funk outfit, The Get Right Band.

Thus when playing out live these days The Plowshares enlist a variety of locally based lead guitarists that regularly includes the crowd pleasing and bombastic talents of Andrew Scotchie of Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats fame.

This upcoming Saturday August 15th Earl will be celebrating his birthday along with the release of his first solo acoustic EP, Worth The Trouble.

Being a solo effort I assumed that the songs and the sound of the EP would likely be somewhat divergent from anything the Plowshares have turned out to date.

When asked about the songs on the forthcoming EP Earl paused for a moment, collected his thoughts and while trying to clearly hold back from laughing answered, “The songwriting for Worth The Trouble is more sophisticated and more romantic but don’t tell anyone I said that.”

“These are songs that I felt maybe weren’t right for the Plowshares but they were still great songs that just needed a different approach.”

“I guess the songs are really a bit more balladry, thought provoking, intellectual and ultimately more lyric driven.”

Earl, who is the only performer on the album, recorded the EP at his home where he enlisted the talents of local song writer, singer, producer, engineer, keys player and all around musical guru, Lenny Pettinelli.

David Earl continues to invigorate Asheville with his unique brand of art while also inspiring throngs of locals and tourists alike to get their asses out their chairs and to join him on the dance floor to celebrate life, music and the pursuit of happiness.

Come be a part of the jubilation at the Millroom at the Asheville Brewing Company this Saturday August 15th at 9:00 PM for the Worth The Trouble CD Release party.

  • David Earl will be doing a solo acoustic performance that will include tracks of the five-song EP. The Plowshares will be joined by special guests Lenny Pettinelli (keys) and Andrew Scotchie of the River Rats (guitar) who will also be performing a solo set at the event.

Slice of the Peel: Slayer Review

Slayer strips the sold-out Orange Peel to its core with thrash metal performance for the ages

Slayer at the Orange Peel

Photos and writing courtesy of AskAsheville Music Correspondent Robert Forte.

Godfathers to virtually every relevant metal band to come into existence after 1984, southern California legendary thrash icons Slayer mercilessly delivered a bombastic musical sermon to throngs of head banging disciples at the sold out Orange Peel this past Tuesday.

Slayer arrived in the mountains of North Carolina for an intimate club performance on a day off from their current outdoor amphitheater gig headlining the Rockstar Mayhem Festival.

While Mayhem has suffered from numerous issues that Slayer co-founder and lead guitarist Kerry King has been vocal about in the press of late, none of these bad vibes were remotely evident as the band took to the stage with the instrumental track, “Delusions of Saviour” serving as the backdrop.

Opening up the night with “Replentless”, the title track from their forthcoming eleventh studio release of the same name, the band immediately whipped the crowd into a frenzy of sweat, moshing and fist clenching that lasted from first note to last.

Despite their advancing age and the fact that the band is down to half of its original lineup, Slayer delivered a performance more reminiscent of their early 90’s heyday than that of an outfit whose founding members are north of 50 years old.

Exodus lead guitar player Gary Holt shredded with a ferocity the late Jeff Hanneman most assuredly would have approved of. Holt was clearly having a blast as he flashed smiles and engaged with individual crowd members numerous times throughout the evening.

Drummer Paul Bostaph, who recently returned to the band for a third stint behind the kit, put on a display that more than cemented the fact he is but one of a handful of humans on this planet capable of sitting on the throne of departed original drummer Dave Lombardo.

The first half of Tuesday night’s set leaned more heavily on a selection of current generation Slayer favorites such as “Hate World Wide”, “Disciple” and “Jihad”.

Conversely the second half of Slayer’s set list played more to long time fans as the band ripped through old school classics such as “Die By the Sword” and “Necrophiliac” while also closing with the four-headed monster of “Hell Awaits”, “South of Heaven”, “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death”

Fifty-one-year-old ball of hate Kerry King showed no signs of decline as he masterfully blistered through his many trademark solos while also bouncing from stage end to stage end throughout the duration of the night.

Not to be outdone front man and bassist Tom Araya more than delivered both musically and vocally, sounding as if his long chronicled history of medical aliments were albeit distant memories.

Per usual Araya’s interaction with the audience was limited however he still took the time to lead the crowd in a few intro sing-a-longs to “Die By The Sword” and “Dead Skin Mask”, while also pausing towards the end of their set to thank the crowd one last time.

Slayer appears to be firing on all cylinders right now. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact they are on the eve of releasing their first record in over six years or maybe it’s tied to the energy that Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt have clearly breathed back into the band.

Regardless, if Tuesday’s night performance at The Orange Peel in Asheville should be harbinger of things to come, I’d have to surmise fans of Slayer can look forward to thrashing, crashing and banging into each other in the mosh pit for years to come.

Concert Slideshow: 

  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel
  • Slayer at the Orange Peel

Slayer’s setlist:

Intro (Delusions of Saviour)

Replentless

Hate Worldwide

Jihad

Disciple

War Ensemble

When The Stillness Comes

Implode

Mandatory Suicide

Chemical Warfare

Ghosts of War

Die by the Sword

Postmortem

Necrophiliac

Seasons of the Abyss

Dead Skin Mask

Hell Awaits

South of Heaven

Raining Blood

Angel of Death

Five Great Local Asheville Bands

Photos and writing courtesy of AskAsheville Music Correspondent Robert Forte.

From buskers to bluegrass, classical to country, or jazz to jam bands, one cannot escape nor ignore the vibrant musical collective that is continuously bursting out from under Asheville’s many street corners, sidewalk cafes and music halls.

Because of this, some avid music lovers of our AskAsheville team have dedicated themselves to providing traditional forms of coverage regarding Asheville’s vast musical landscape.  Our mission is to uniquely support and promote the business; musicians as well as the legion of often unsung individuals behind the scenes that have allowed Asheville to become one of the premier musical destinations in America today.

We are beyond excited to begin this journey alongside Asheville’s eclectic artistic community and we relish the opportunity to become even a small part of city’s burgeoning musical fraternity. In order to build Asheville’s music community, our aim is to promote the artists themselves by sharing weekly band profiles. Below is a list of five great local bands who we will be sharing with you in the coming weeks.

1. Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats
Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats
Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats have evolved from a one-man street corner busker project, to a standard three-piece rock outfit, to the present-day incarnation that consists of five members, including a horns section, that have become locally known for their energetic and over the top live performances.
2. The Broadcast
The Broadcast
Led by bombastic female lead singer Caitlin Krisko, The Broadcast delivers 70’s era eight-track classic sound mixed with a dash of modern day radio rock and topped with a playful soul driven edge.
 
3. Goldie and the Screamers
Goldie and the Screamers
Neo-Soul and old school R&B groove machine Goldie and the Screamers are on a mission to deliver sultry originals and inspired covers that one minute are melting your heart and the next minute are getting you out of seat dancing uncontrollably.
4. David Earl and the Plowshares
David Earl and the Plowshares
If you’re wondering if roots based swamp gospel rock n’ roll is alive and well, simply make it a point to get out to one of David Earl and the Plowshares live shows and you most assuredly will be easily convinced that indeed it is.
5. The Get Right Band
 The Get Right Band
Relix magazine called The Get Right Band “an ass shaking good time” and with good reason.  They seamlessly combine rock, funk and reggae into a unique groove based sound that is forged by exceptional musicianship and astute song composition.

Q&A: Eleanor Underhill of Asheville Americana Band Underhill Rose

Underhill Rose Asheville Music

AskAsheville caught up with Eleanor Underhill, vocalist banjo and harmonica player for Underhill Rose, prior to her solo performance at 5 Walnut Wine Bar to discuss the band’s new record The Great Tomorrow, the struggles tied to the band doing it themselves and what the band would ultimately define as success.

AskAsheville: For someone that has never heard one note of your music could you describe your sound and what genre or genres of music Underhill Rose is attempting to play to?

Eleanor Underhill: We’ve pretty much settled on Americana as Americana is blues, rock, folk, country and R&B. All those are American styles of music and I think we bring all of that into what we do as musicians. We are folky, we are a little bit of bluegrass, a little bit county and a little bit soul. I listen to pop music, I love Motown but we don’t feel limited or try to tie ourselves into a single genre.

Ask: Underhill Rose has received critical acclaim locally, regionally nationally and even internationally. With that kind of recognition in your stable have any music labels approached the band?

Underhill: We’ve never had any serious conversations with a record label. When Molly {Rose Reed} and I started Underhill Rose in 2009 the music industry was changing as was the landscape of how music was being created and paid for and we found that we could just do it ourselves. So our record label is our fans and it’s a beautiful thing because we feel directly connected, inspired and supported to create something awesome for them. It’s incredibly difficult, stressful and it takes a lot of work and you have to shamelessly ask people for money and to trust that you are going to create something great but it’s been worthwhile and we’re very grateful.

Ask: Cruz Contreras, front man for Black Lillies, produced your second album Something Real and was brought in again to produce The Great Tomorrow. Could you talk to me a little about his involvement in the recording process and why the band chose to work with him a second time?

Underhill: Cruz’s mark was very clear on what we did with the last album and even more so on this new record. We wanted this record to have more of an arc, more of a fluid theme and we ended up working a lot longer in pre-production. When we brought in the musicians on this album to record Cruz really wanted it to be lively, so he pretty much let them go with their instincts and I think that created something spirited. It would be an entirely different album if Cruz weren’t a part of it.

Ask: Can you describe the evolution of your sound from your self-titled debut to The Great Tomorrow? How different musically or sonically?

Underhill: {Laughs. } I think this album is moodier, thicker, has more spirit and is dreamier than the last record. The lyrics are a little bit darker, more jaded but there is a thread of optimism throughout because that’s what we wanted to say and that’s the type of music we want to make.

Ask: Is Underhill Rose’s song writing a collaborative effort or are one or more of you the primary song writer(s) for the band?

Underhill: We have three songwriters in the band and I think that’s what makes us unique and allows us to be less genre specific, because the three of us all have different writing styles. So pretty much all of us will bring a song to the group and just figure out what needs to be done with it. The songs can come to the group 50% written or 120% written and together we’ll just make it a complete song.

Ask: You’ve already spoken a bit about some of your more well known influences, songwriters such as Bonnie Rait and Joni Mitchell. Could you share with me your thoughts on any local Asheville musicians or bands that inspire the group as well?

Underhill: Some of my favorite songwriters in Asheville are Pierce Edens, David Earle and Amanda Platt. They make me want to write and that’s a beautiful thing. My number one goal is to inspire others and there’s nothing more beautiful than that.

Ask: How would the band define success?

Underhill: Individually as band members we probably all feel differently about what success would mean. I don’t have any regrets. We put everything we have into these records and at least I can say I’ve done everything I could and we’ve made an awesome record that the world will hopefully like.

Ask: Could you give me any insight into your other band members Molly Rose Reed and Salley Williamson? Any pet peeves or quirks that make you scratch your head or laugh at?

Underhill: {Laughs.} How can I answer this without getting in trouble. Do not stick chewed gum on the dashboard of Salley’s car. Molly also has this habit of slapping her hands on her knees {Eleanor simulates it.} {Laughs.}

Ask: You and Molly founded Underhill Rose in 2009 two years before Salley (Williamson) came into the band. Any thoughts on changing on the name to the Williamson Underhill Rose Project or Underhill Rose Will?

Underhill: {Laughs}. The band name is a powerful thing but it never was specifically meant to just mean Molly and Eleanor but it is a brand. We felt the words that came from our names had good imagery. Salley is easy going and I think she understands it’s nothing personal. I like to think of “Salley” being like a silent “S” in the band’s name. Underhill Rose’s is Molly Rose Reed (vocals/guitar), Salley Williamson (upright base/vocals) and Eleanor Underhill (banjo/harmonica/vocals).

The Great Tomorrow CD Release party with the Tyler Nail Trio is set for this Saturday June 27th at the Grey Eagle in Asheville North Carolina.