A Colorful Hat, Indeed

People intrigue me; meaning people as a collective race, a species.  I love to see what makes them tick, what their passions are, what their art is.  I love to dig around, observe, and find that spark that hangs out somewhere in the right brain that makes magic.  When I popped in a c.d. soon to be released by local artist, Aaron LaFalce, I was in the mood to discover.  I wanted that hunger fed, and wanted to know what the combination of voice and instruments would say to me.  Within minutes, they spoke volumes.

I was already intrigued by the album’s title, Kairology.  The Latin-rooted word refers to divine moments, instances of revelation occurring at precise times.  I love this so much because this is how I approach my art of writing.  I wait on the “ah-ha” moment to arrive, and that’s when the energy comes to me, eluding writer’s block,, and writes on the tablet time itself has reserved for the words.  Aaron LaFalce handles his music much the same way, which accounts for the broad range of styles and subject matters heard on the album.

When I heard the first track, “Girl’s Best Friend,” I thought, o.k., this guy has a Reggae sound.  It wasn’t forced at all, like he set out to be Reggae, but instead a mood that I assumed would dominate the songs to follow.  Often times artists have a specific sound that doesn’t vary much.  However, this turned out not to be the case.

By the time I made it to “Don’t Give Up,” featuring the soft and beautifully juxtaposed voice of Shannon Whitworth, I sensed a pain of sorts.  It was a hopeful pain though, a little brighter than traditional soul, but still yearning.  I thought of the incredible band, The Civil Wars, at this point.  I heard heartache being pulled from a chest, clawing with sharp edges as it escaped.  But, I stress again, I heard an optimism that can only be a reflection of the writer himself, and it was organic…nothing coerced.

I made my way through the songs to the final track, “Whistleblower.”  I immediately heard an unchanging rhythmic movement, trucking along, conquering rails, headed for a destination.  A low voice invaded, with a tone that could sever steel.  Was I hearing Johnny Cash?  No, I was experiencing the lower range of Aaron LaFalce.  I kind of half-laughed out loud, not out of taunting, but amazement.  Was the guy with the initial Reggae influence, followed by a little soul, now channeling this authentically Southern-influenced sound?  I do believe he is.  My naturally narrowed eyes probably grew to the size cue balls.

I said aloud, “This guy sure does wear many hats.”  However, I wrong.  I actually envisioned him taking off and putting on different colored hats, representing different genres and elements, all of which I heard.  However, I realized, it wasn’t many hats.  It was one hat he wore, one he wears everyday I’m guessing.  It is a single hat made of many ingredients, sewn by varied events in many seasons.  That hat is a colorful one indeed…and it’s real.  This man didn’t set out to be a master of many kinds of music out of left field.  I dare to say it found him, latched on, and took. 

It’s clear that Aaron LaFalce has the soul of a homegrown Southerner.  His mother may not have carried him in the womb, but instead dug him up out of the Earth like a garden potato.  It’s also clear he isn’t all the way soft, because times of heartache kept it from him.  However, in the deep parts, I’d say he’s more soft than jaded, because I can smell a natural zest for life trailing out of the c.d. packaging.  He’s felt it all, and offers a chance for others to feel it with him.

I hope everyone gets the chance to experience Kairology in the way I did.  Let those moments find you, the ones that represent the ever-changing seasons that eventually build a life.  It really is an art that in retrospect tends to be beautiful.  Experience for yourself, and let Aaron LaFalce help crack that place open. 

Go to http://www.aaronlafalce.com for information on the release party on Friday, November 1, 2013!

laf

 




Confusion, Contagions, and Captivation

I was irritated Friday night.  I hadn’t been feeling the best, had just blown a detox I vowed to finish, and didn’t feel like going out.  However, I’d promised a good musician friend of mine I’d come see his band play at Wild Wing.  Really, I’d been wanting to go hear him again so I could sing his praises from the rooftops.  He’s quite talented, and Asheville will never stop seeing him celebrated in writing as far as I’m concerned.  However, this is not about him, but about the band that was setting up when I got there.

I’d called ahead to make sure I’d get a table nice and close to the stage.  I brought my husband and a couple friends along, ordered my rum and diet coke (as if the diet would somehow off-set the amount of damage I was about to do).  I started scanning the room for my friend, but didn’t see him.  Instead I spotted a guitar player I didn’t recognize suiting up on a stage I felt didn’t belong to him.  I had a bad feeling, and decided to inquire. 

I marched all 5 feet of myself up to the stage, knowing full well what an obnoxiously sassy mood I was in and asked, “Umm– where’s Justin Burrell?”

“Who?”  He countered in a tone so nice I was forced to reexamine mine.

“I’m a writer and I’m supposed to see my friend’s band tonight.”

“Oh, well, we’re the band Contagious.  I know Justin, and this is normally his spot, but the schedule got changed.  It’s my birthday.  I’m sorry.  Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”

I smiled and exchanged some sort of pleasantries, secretly livid my plan was suddenly changed.  I’m a bit “type A” and I could feel the anger sharks swimming…I started praying it wouldn’t be a screamer band who thought they were legitimate rock ‘n roll.  I didn’t realize until later how judgmental I was quickly becoming.

I went back to my table, deciding to give them the benefit of the doubt.  The lead singer walked out.  I liked the way he was dressed, noticing immediately his resemblance to Chris Daughtry.  However this guy was sporting a snap hat, and a little less stockiness than the Daughtry.  He looked the part, but I needed to check the pipes.

The man I had first accosted and learned is Chad Robinson started to run his hands across the strings while I’m secretly begging from the inside for him to make that guitar speak to me.  I noticed immediately how his face changed when he began to play, and he wasn’t gonna just smack at it.  This instrument was about to become his wife, and he knew how to play her.  I recognized the tune, and he was doing it justice.

Contagious began their rendition of The Black Crows, Hard to Handle.  The music was good, and it was time for the vocalist to make his mark.  He came in powerfully, and I noticed my head start to move a little bit.  I couldn’t wait for the chorus.  It would be the tell-all.  If he could bring the grit, maybe even growl a little bit in true Chris Robinson (not to be confused with Chad) fashion I’d be sold.  Then here it came…

“hey little thing let me light your candle, ’cause mama I’m sure hard to handle now, yes I am.”

I literally had to wipe the dirt off of me.  Marc Stump had made a believer out of me, and left me scoffing at myself for being so put off earlier.  Like he sang in the first line of the song, he’d proven to be “the man on the scene.”

Contagious went on to play covers from the last few decades, enticing everyone from baby boozers to baby boomers to hit the dance floor.  I may have even obliged myself at one point…

I learned a couple things this past Friday night.  First of all, I shouldn’t make snap judgments no matter how inconvenienced I feel, and second of all, it’s Wild Wing in Asheville.  They know what they’re doing.  There will always be a great band, playing great covers and originals alike, ready to get people off their seats.  That’s probably why when I look around I see different ages, different backgrounds, and different styles mingling together.  They are dancing on the same floor to the same beat, blonde hair or blue hair, and it’s what Asheville is all about.

I got my feel of rock n’ roll, dancing, and good time with good friends.  Thank you, Contagious.  It turns out, you made my night, and a whole lot of others too.  You represent our fine city the way it’s meant to be: a little old, a little new, and of course, with a little bit of dirt on it.

To learn more about contagious visit http://www.contagiousrocks.com

 

And…here we are 🙂

 

contagious

 

Posted by:  Lorna Hollifield