Brody Douglas Hunt, Crow Quill Night Owls, Blind Boy Chocolate & The Milk Sheiks, Geoffreaux and Avian Law
Oct. 26, 2011
As I walked into the door of the Milestone, although the crowd was small, I had never seen so many crust punks and hippies ever before. It was almost like Asheville had taken over the joint. Kids that seemingly hadn't bathed or drank anything but alcohol in at least a week were at the forefront of the audience. Although they sometimes have a reputation for trouble, as I've seen several kicked out in more recent times, most seemed pretty at peace and compliant, awaiting the music that they had come to see, something that we usually don't have in Charlotte, country rag-time blues.
Blind Boy Chocolate & The Milk Sheiks hailing from Asheville, N.C. along with The Crow Quill Night Owls and Brody Douglas Hunt from Washington State were making their way through our town to bring us back to the early 1900s with good-old ragtime to get our bodies moving and our faces smiling. That was exactly what they did when we had reached our final destination in time travel after our Charlotte solo acts Avian Law and Geoffreaux warmed us up and progressed the transition to this era.
Avian Law consists of local Alea Tuttle, the girl with the golden voice and the ability to pick a banjo like she grew up in the mountains. In a more intimate setting, she blew us away with her catchy, soulful songs ranging from Tom Waits covers to feminine-empowering jams to quirky bits about the zombie apocalypse. Although her musicianship is certainly worthy of attention, he voice dominates her music to the point that it takes you away and makes you wish she could sing you to sleep every night.
Geoffreaux was up next and brought us further down the rabbit hole, time traveling to the old days of mountain music. Immaculate on every instrument he picked up — banjo, steel guitar and acoustic guitar — he brought us to the foothills of the Appalachians with songs about love and the coal mines. The tunes were slow and upbeat but all-around old country. His voice is reminiscent of the harsh tin-can recordings from the West Virginian Mountains in the 1930s, nasal and throat dominate but it's soothing nonetheless. He even throws in a few yodels here and there, showcasing the true mountain way.
Blind Boy Chocolate & The Milk Sheiks were supposed to headline but took the stage next, lulling us completely back to the days of Huckleberry Finn complete with steel guitar, tenor banjo, horn, saw and washtub bass. They joked throughout their set between foot-stomp and swing-dance inducing tunes. Claiming they were covering a punk rock standard from the 1890s their saw player/vocalist, a black guy with a rebel flag hat on, belted out, “I was in slavery when I first heard this song.” Genuine laughter radiated from them all. They then bantered about the need for alcohol over water, “Listen up brain, this is your balls talking.” And they followed suit, tipping back tallboys and keeping the jug-inspired jams going.
The floor became a mess of dancers — some swing, some two-step, some just winging it. It was almost like the 1930s with PBR and it continued as The Crow Quill Night Owls began their domination of the stage. Comprised mostly of the same instruments, their line-up changed but the sound remained similar with the addition of washboard percussion and a lovely lady voice that was almost to the tune of a hillbilly Alex Faye. All in all, they continued the knee-slapping fun and kept the vibe upbeat with Sinatra lyrics, “Wrap your troubles in dreams. Dream your troubles away.” As their jug-band vibe closed out, the night took an even more interesting turn.
As Brody Douglas Hunt's time came, all the men on tour joined him for an amalgamation of the night. Including lyrics like “I'm gonna make your pussy less tight,” followed by yodeling, you couldn't help but have a half smirk on your face as they played their self-defined, “Jazz music for white people.” The girls of The Crow Quill Night Owls danced across the floor, showing up us all with their adorable old timey moves. It became informal as more and more alcohol was consumed and in some regards it almost seemed like a practice session with an intimate setting that allowed for it to be a good old time.
If you have the opportunity to check these guys out before they make their way back home, I highly recommend you do so. It's not very often that a contemporary version of this music exists in our area so when it's there, seize it up, take a trip back into time, drink your alcohol of choice and dance it out.