One To Attend – Houndmouth – Orange Peel – Saturday March 5, 2016

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Houndmouth: Zak Appleby, Katie Toupin, Matt Myers & Shane Cody

“Kentuckiana” quartet Houndmouth, who are set to play the Orange Peel this Saturday March 5th, have achieved quite a bit of buzz and stardom over what most would consider a short period of time as the band technically only became active back n 2011.

Despite the fact that Houndmouth are now regulars on the summer music festival circuit, are Rough Trade label mates with other rising stars such as Alabama Shakes and are capable of selling out shows as headliners themselves, it wasn’t all that long ago when the band were still regularly playing to 30 and 40 people at any given live show.

So what exactly was the catalyst that helped launch this roots, rock, pop, folk, alt-country, Americana, etc. foursome into stardom?   If you’ve ever listened to either of Houndmouth’s studio efforts, 2013’s From the Hills Below the City or last year’s Little Neon Limelight the shortest answer is talent.

Although this may be a gross simplification regarding Houndmouth’s ascendancy the fact remains Matt Myers (vocals/guitar), Katie Toupin (keyboards/vocals), Zak Appelby (bass/vocals) and Shane Cody are all superlative musicians, vocalists and song writers that effortlessly weave sonic tales of heartache, alcohol and drug abuse, love and loss that binds the listener to their music instantly.

That’s not to say the band doesn’t have a sense of humor as even though most of Houndmouth’s music tends to play to darker themes they have a light hearted side that they’re not afraid to display both on record as well as on the lighted stage.

I had the fortune of seeing Houndmouth perform live for the first time toward the beginning of their touring career when by chance I caught the band opening up for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals in February of 2013 at the Rams Head in Baltimore Maryland.

By the end of their performance, which concluded with a cover of The Band’s “I Shall Be Released” which saw all four band members switching instruments, I was immediately convinced they were going to move onto to do great things.

It’s interesting that Houndmouth chose to cover a Band song because right or wrong it’s the band they are most often and somewhat unfairly compared to. Don’t get me wrong there are some similarities regarding the two outfits’ music particularly as it pertains to their four-part harmonies.

However, I think it would be a grievous miscalculation to pigeon hole Houndmouth as sounding like any one particular band or playing within any specific genre because the reality is Houndmouth’s sound encompasses a multitude of genres and their musical palate traverses across a wide variety of soundscapes.

Following my initial indoctrination into the Houndmouth universe I decided to make it a point to see the perform in seven different states and once even up in Canada throughout the course of 2013 and 2014.

Whether it was at IOTA in Arlington, VA, Signal Kitchen in Burlington, VT, the Sons of Herman Hall in Dallas, Texas or the Port City Music Hall in Portland, Maine Houndmouth always impressed with the force of their live performance, how genuine they came across on stage and their ability to immediately connect with a crowd of strangers.

Another big takeaway from every live Houndmouth show I’ve ever barred witness to was just how much damn fun the band was having whether there was one person in the audience or two hundred.  This feeling of joy always managed to bleed itself into whatever size audience the band was playing to making each and every performance feel unique and warmly intimate.

Back in 2013 I was speaking with Cody after one of the band’s performances and I mentioned to him that I was in town for business but that when I saw that they were playing in the city I spent two-hundred dollars to change my flight back home to catch their show.  Upon hearing this Cody turned to me and said, “man that’s the coolest thing anyone has ever said to me about our band.”

A lot has changed for Houndmouth since then as much hipper things than talking to me in a dimly light club at two in the morning have come the band’s way including their being mentioned on nearly every buzz worthy music list you can shake a stick at, guest appearances on Letterman and Conan as well as their playing the likes of both Bonnaroo and Forecastle.   I’m okay with this because I’ve never really been all that cool anyway and that fact is Houndmouth has earned this type of praise and success.

Come see and hear for yourself as Houndmouth along with Justin Paul Lewis take to the Orange Peel’s stage this Saturday March 5th starting at 9:00 PM.

Who:           Houmdmouth plus Justin Paul Lewis

When:        Saturday March 5, 2015 / 9:00 PM

Where:      The Orange Peel / 101 Biltmore Avenue Asheville, NC

Cost:          $18 advance / $20 day of show

Links:

http://houndmouth.com

https://www.facebook.com/Houndmouth/

https://www.youtube.com/user/Houndmouth

One for the Road – Breaking Benjamin – Harrah’s Cherokee Casino – February 26, 2016

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Breaking Benjamin – Harrah’s Cherokee Casino – February 26, 2016

Breaking Benjamin have been a touring whirlwind since the release of their fifth studio album Dark Before Dawn back in June of 2015.  Recently the band finished up another string of acoustic dates which were then followed up by the fan interactive Axes and Anchors cruise.

Switching gears and plugging their instruments back in on land Breaking Benjamin brought their brand of straight forward hard rock anthem sing-a-longs to a sold-out Harrah’s Cherokee Casino this past weekend.

Dark Before Dawn and the subsequent tour is the first featuring an entirely new band lineup minus the group’s namesake and lead vocalist Benjamin Burnley.   Six years between releasing new music and doing so with an entirely new group of musicians isn’t necessarily a recipe for future success.

Breaking Benjamin though appear to be unaffected by the lapse in time between new releases nor the reconstruction of the band’s guts as Dark Before Dawn debuted at number one on Billboard’s top 200 chart and the supporting tour has largely been playing to standing room only crowds.

Starset, a band that has been opening for Breaking Benjamin quite frequently on the Dark Before Dawn tour, was listed on the evening’s bill on Ticketmaster, however, shortly before 9:00 PM it was Breaking Benjamin themselves that took to the stage.

Breaking Benjamin’s new lineup does offer fans something different in terms of live performance.  Aaron Bruch (bass/vocals) along with Keith Wallen (rhythm guitar / vocals), Jasen Rauch (lead guitar) and Shaun Foist (drums) deliver a much broader and diverse sound in a live setting versus previous incarnations of the band.

Wallen and Bruch both took turns on the evening singing lead vocals with Bruch manning the mic for “Simple Design” and “Believe”, while Wallen showcased his vocal talents on “Sooner or Later” while also contributing a few lead verses on “Until the End”.

Breaking Benjamin plays to their audience and the set list largely reflected this sentiment as it played out closely to a greatest hits kind of format including the aforementioned “Until the End” along with other fan favorites such as “So Cold”, “Follow”, “Blow Me Away”, “Breath”, “I Will Not Bow” and show closer “The Diary of Jane”.

Not necessarily known for their elaborate light shows, intricate visual imagery or even for varying their set lists all too much when it comes to their live performance Breaking Benjamin’s show at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino proved to be no different.  Probably the biggest takeaway on the evening was how much more layered and frankly more complete their music came off with the injection of the new musicians into the band.

Breaking Benjamin ultimately executed an extremely tight two-hour performance in Cherokee, North Carolina that had the crowd engaged from first note to last and really as a fan of any band can you really ask for anything more than that?

Set List:

So Cold, Follow, Sooner or Later, Angels Fall, Unknown Soldier, Simple Design, Ashes of Eden, Blow Me Away, Failure, Breath, Imperial March / Schism / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Walk Melody, Home, Give Me a Sign, Polyamorous, Believe, Bury Me Alive, Until The End, I Will Not Bow,The Diary of Jane

Slice of the Peel / Ty Segall and The Mugggers / February 24, 2016

 

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Ty Segall & The Muggers – The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC – February 24, 2015

Ty Segall’s music is eclectic, thought provoking and quite frankly beyond weird at times.

Segall doesn’t seem to be making records with the intent of achieving rock star status, to please any particular fan base nor to reap a huge financial windfall.

I’m fairly certain Segall’s only mission may be to amuse himself and the fact that a segment of music fans around the globe happen to enjoy his musings is probably more or less collateral damage than any actual intended outcome.

Throw a rock in Asheville and you’re likely to hit numerous playing jam rock, bluegrass, Americana, folk, funk and even jazz.  Most nights you’d need a boulder and be able to heave it fifty to two-hundred miles to hit anything close to a straight forward rock and roll show in the city.  Enter Segall who brought his current touring outfit the Muggers along with him to the Orange Peel this past week.

Having never attended a live performance by Segall I wasn’t too sure as to what to expect as his recorded music is literally a cornucopia of soundscapes with each of his eight solo releases differing from one another, sometimes acutely while at other times drastically.

What I ended up witnessing on the evening was a wave of musical ferocity delivered with a sledgehammer albeit with a touch of farce that allowed the show to be much more easily accessible to Segall newbies such as myself.

Segall eschewed playing any instrument himself instead choosing to serve as more or less the ring leader to his on stage troupe The Muggers most of the night.

Choosing to take the form of his most recent alter ego Sloppo, defined by the menacing and somewhat disturbing rubber baby mask Segall dawns to complete the transformation, the front man was beyond engaging throughout the nearly two-hour performance.

It’s difficult to define the show in any singular context as at times the vibe felt aggressive and cantankerous while also delivering moments of humor and warmth albeit in a very abstract and playfully aberrant kind of way.

The first half of the show featured the band nearly playing Segall’s latest release Emotional Mugger in it’s entirety.  Normally when an act chooses to play a large chunk of new music at a live show, let alone nearly a whole album of it, fans often don’t respond too well as they simply aren’t connected to the songs being performed on stage.

This may be the hidden beauty behind Segall as his fans seem to be as bound to him personally as they are to any particular music he may play in a live setting. This condition allowed the initial portion of the concert that focused on recently released new material to be as super charged and as wildly entertaining as the back half of the show.

Throughout the concert Segall engaged with the crowd, sometimes directly through various oddball musings such as when he decided to convey how many eggs he could eat at breakfast.

At other times Segall was able to establish an almost eerie symbiotic amalgamation with the audience by just mindlessly posing and starring blankly out in the abyss of screams and hands desperately trying to reach out to him.

I’m sure many long time fans of Segall’s music were beyond thrilled that the second half of the evening’s performance focused more on the enigmatic singer’s previous releases with a few highlights being “Thank God for the Sinners”, “Spiders” and “Manipulator”.

Ty Segall’s show at the Orange Peel injected Asheville with a long overdue shot of sheer rock force that unfortunately the city’s live music scene doesn’t nearly get enough.   I’d be lying though if I didn’t confess that the performance also kind of creeped me out a bit, however, I have a feeling Segall is perfectly okay with this as creeping people out may actually be part of his master plan.

 

Umphrey’s McGee TAUK – Explore Asheville Arena – Photo Recap

AskAsheville was on hand for Umphrey’s McGee second night of the their Asheville residency over at the ExploreAsheville Arena. Your faithful AskAVL music editor shot night one for LiveMusicDaily. You can find these photos at the link below:

http://livemusicdaily.com/2016/02/22/umphreys-mcgee-live-in-asheville-nc-february-19-2016-photo-recap/

AskAsheville however is fortunate enough to have several great photographers that cover events and we’re sure glad Carol Spagnuola was at the ready to capture these great images from the second night of Umphrey’s McGee along with TAUK on February 20th, Enjoy!

You can find more of Carol’s photography at the link below as well as photos she captures at the Orange Peel that you can find on the Orange Peel’s Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/carolspagsphotography/

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Recap – The Marcus King Band – New Mountain – February 12, 2016

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The Marcus King Band – New Mountain Asheville, NC – February 12, 2016

The Marcus King Band has been steadily gaining momentum over the past eighteen months.   The band, based out of Greenville, South Carolina, have become known for regularly delivering bombastic live sets at various venues within Asheville’s city limits.

Continuing to tour on their recently re-released debut CD Soul Insight the band pulled into Asheivlle last Friday to perform at New Mountain.   Just under a year ago the MKB would typically play to 50-75 people at smaller venues around town, however, in recent months word on the street has apparently spread as MKB is now beginning to play larger venues that are either nearly sold out or sold out all together.

The band, recently signed to Warren Haynes’ label Evil Teen records, has been up in Stamford, Connecticut laying down tracks for their sophomore release with the Asheville legend serving as the record’s producer.

Plenty has been written about Marcus King’s bombastic guitar playing and soulful southern voice and rightfully so but it’s important to note that the Marcus King Band is not simply a one man show.

Jack Ryan (drums), Justin Johnson (horns), Stephen Campbell (bass), Matthew Jennings (keyboards) and the recently added Dean Mitchell on saxophone bring a high level of musical aptitude and energy to the band’s performance that help lift the Marcus King Band to levels live that go beyond well your typical jam band fare.

The band’s performance on the evening featured song MKB classics, a few newer songs that will likely appear on the band’s soon to be released sophomore effort and a couple of unique covers that included snippets of the Beatles “Dear Prudence”, Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” and an absolutely jaw dropping take on Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile”.

The band also had Asheville based bass virtuoso Cody Wright (Jonathan Scales Fourchestra) sit in for a few numbers.  All I convey about Wright’s time on stage with the MKB band is holy sh*t!!! I personally would love to see Wright combine with King and MKB band drummer Jack Ryan to form a power rock trio.  The force these three brilliant musicians could create together on record and under the lighted stage would most certainly be super charged.

The Marcus King Band has lifted off with an explosion of blues, rock, soul and psychedelia that is without question going to see their trajectory launch well beyond the southeast.  Proof of this alone is the fact that the MKB has already been booked to play in Austin at South By Southwest later this year as well as Mountain Jam later this summer where they will share the stage with such music titans as Beck, Gov’t Mule, Gary Clark Jr. Lettuce, Wilco and others.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again in these pages; I highly suggest that you get out and see the Marcus King Band at these intimate venues and for short dollars while you still can. I assure you it will not be too long before the band is regularly playing much larger venues at shows that will definitely put a much larger dent in your wallet.

A brief aside New Mountain as a venue has come a long way recently. Maybe it’s just me but it seems as though the sound is bigger and more fluid than it’s every been inside the venue’s walls.

Already known as one Asheville’s premier venues, myself and every other live music fan can only hope that these improvements are but a harbinger of greater things from the folks over at New Mountain.

Links:

http://www.marcuskingband.com

http://www.newmountainavl.com/