Carolina Catskins at the Crow & Quill

© Copyright John Gellman

I took some friends to see the Carolina Catskins last Thursday night at the Crow & Quill in downtown Asheville. I knew the big snowstorm was on its way, and this would be the last chance to get out and around before the onslaught. I hadn’t planned on taking any pictures, but when I saw the profile in the window of the person smoking a cigarette outside on the sidewalk, I ran out to my car to get my camera. By the time I got back inside, the smoker had moved inside as well, so I asked her if she would mind smoking another cigarette, and standing just like she had before. She was happy to oblige, so I was able to get this shot after all.

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Glenn Frey can check out, but he will always be with us

© John Gellman

What a sad ten days for the music and the music fans of my generation. First we lose David Bowie, and now Glenn Frey. Bowie’s death was a surprise, but Glenn Frey’s passing came as a total shock and hit me much more personally. I have been an Eagles fan since their first album was released in 1972. I saw Glenn perform with the Eagles five or six (or seven?) times, and my friend Henry Paul introduced me to him over a drink in the lobby bar of the Riot House on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. I didn’t know Glenn, but I did get to meet him, and I photographed him a couple of times. I took the previously unpublished shot above in 1975 at New York City’s long gone Academy of Music on 14th Street. It was during an Eagles concert shortly after the release of One Of These Nights. He was one of the leaders of one of the great bands of his time. (That is to say, my time.) I will miss him.

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Why won’t the Orange Peel return their calls?

© John Gellman

The Outlaws finally made it to Asheville (well, to the Asheville area) for a hot rocking New Year’s Eve show just outside of town in Fletcher, NC. The band has wanted to play Asheville for several years, but, as frontman Henry Paul said from the stage, “The Orange Peel won’t return my calls.” If the size and enthusiasm of the crowd, and the great set performed by the band were any indication, the Orange Peel is making a mistake. Some in the crowd, who had never heard this terrific band play live, were gobsmacked at the conclusion of the show. One among them, who happens to be the lead guitarist in a local band, told me, “I had no idea such prolific face-melting would occur.”

Henry Paul and Chris Anderson are pictured above.
Scroll down to see some more pics shot during the show, and earlier during the afternoon sound check.

© John Gellman

Outlaws guitarist Steve Grisham strikes a Pete Townshend pose during the set.

© John Gellman

Keyboard wizard Dave Robbins at the sound check, the instant after he noticed me pointing the business end of my camera at him.

© John Gellman

Randy Threet between songs at the sound check.

© John Gellman

Last, but not least, is the fully caffeinated Monte Yoho during the sound check.

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Artimus Pyle before “the most fun I’ve had in a long time”

© John Gellman

It’s not every day a rock and roll hall of famer shows up to watch your sound check, as former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle did yesterday while the Outlaws were preparing for their first Asheville area show in a very long time. Artimus and his band opened for the Outlaws, and by the end of the Outlaws set, after he sat in with Monte Yoho for an extended period, both bands jammed a rocking version of Ghost Riders In the Sky. As Artimus finally left the stage, I overheard him say to his bandmates, “That was the most fun I’ve had in a long time!” I will post more pictures from the New Years Eve bash tomorrow.

 

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We’re not hanging out on Eagle Street any more

© John Gellman

I can’t take credit for the title of this post. It’s a lyric from a song I heard performed Wednesday night at Caleb’s Poetry Open Mic by songwriter, Aaron Price. There is no shortage of open mics in Asheville, but Caleb’s, which had been held at Noble Kava on Eagle Street in downtown, was one of the coolest. Unfortunately, gentrification has made it’s way to Eagle Street, and Noble Kava is no longer there. So the weekly open mic has moved a few blocks over to the Altamont Theatre on Church Street. (And Noble Kava has moved to West Asheville.)

The poetry open mic was always an eclectic affair – a mix of everything from poetry, to music, rap, magic tricks, whatever. Noble Kava was a small place with exceptional ambiance, and the crowd always spilled outside onto the sidewalk where the eclectic entertainment was usually just as good as it was inside. When I heard the open mic had moved, I was worried that the special ambiance would be lost. Happily, it has not. Although the Altamont is not as funky as Noble Kava, the sound and acoustics are much better, it is still a small comfortable place, and most importantly, Caleb and all the regulars were there. If they can funk it up just a little, it will be perfect.

There are no eagles on Eagle Street, but there is a church on Church Street, and it is directly across the street from the Altamont. The sidewalk was crowded, and the music spread across the street to the steps and the lawn of the church. As I was leaving, I noticed the three guys pictured above hanging out on the church steps.  From left to right they are Caleb, (another Caleb, not the one who hosts the open mic) Broden, and Jeremiah. How Asheville is that? Not a Billy Bob in sight.

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Blackberry Smoke at the Christmas Jam

© John Gellman

Warren Haynes presented The 27th Annual Christmas Jam, benefiting Habitat for Humanity, in Asheville on Saturday night. Blackberry Smoke made their debut Christmas Jam appearance in front of a very enthusiastic crowd at the sold out event.  My Flatiron Studio is only two blocks from the venue. In almost three weeks, The Outlaws will be playing a New Years Eve show in Asheville about ten minutes from my house. Have I landed in a great spot, or what?

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Handpan man

© John Gellman

Handpan master Seth Christman lives in Portland, OR, and passed through Asheville on this lovely day to busk and to get his instrument tuned.  Saraz Handpans are made in a metal crafting shop by Mark Garner in Black Mountain, NC. There are not very many handpan makers, and Mark is one of the very best. Now that Seth’s handpan is in perfect tune, he is headed back to Portland, where the weather will surely be nastier than it is in Asheville right now. But the music will be sweet.

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Standing really really still

© John Gellman

Not every busker is a musician. Asheville happens to be the Southeast headquarters for living statues. Wayne Lajoie is the Bronze Fisherman. He has been a fixture (no pun intended) in downtown Asheville for the better part of this year. Wayne was a pleasure to photograph because he’s really really good at standing really really still.

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