By Beth Beasley / Times-News correspondentPosted Mar 27, 2011 at 12:01 AM
The entertainment at the Feed & Seed gets the toes tapping; clogging, clapping and general foot stomping energize this popular venue’s “listening room.”
The entertainment at the Feed & Seed gets the toes tapping; clogging, clapping and general foot stomping energize this popular venue’s “listening room.“
A slew of bluegrass acts and singer-songwriters are slated to perform throughout April at the casual, drop-in music venue in Fletcher, with music spilling over to weeknight shows.
“When you see them lining out the door, you know it’s a good band playing,” Shayna Mali says.
Mali, who lives in Asheville, likes to visit the Feed & Seed to jump in with the spontaneous group of dancers clogging to rollicking bluegrass bands.
The family-friendly venue has been offering a slice of old time Appalachian fun — with no cover charge — since 2007, offering sales of RC Cola and Moon Pies, popcorn and cups of free coffee.
“There’s a lot of great music in April besides the Saturday and Sunday shows,” says Philip Trees, pastor at the music venue/church.
Trees adds that the Feed & Seed is often called “the little Ryman in the mountains,” referring to the renowned Nashville country music concert hall that, like Feed & Seed, has good acoustics as well as church pews for seating.
Trees thinks the fact that there’s no cover charge allows a wider crowd of fans to enjoy the music at Feed & Seed.
“In these hard times, when it’s difficult to afford gas, donations [for the band] work out best — you give what you can afford,” Trees says.
Bluegrass is at the backbone of upcoming shows, with a good dose of gospel and some traditional singer-songwriter acts thrown in, such as Susan Gibson, known for writing “Wide Open Spaces,” made popular by the Dixie Chicks.
Other bands making an appearance in April include Bobby Anderson & Blue Ridge Tradition, Mark Stuart and Stacy Earle, Sista Otis, The Hurleys, and Project Johnny Cash.
A recent show featuring the Moore Brothers Band and the all-female string band Honey Holler had Mali dancing with a crowd of cloggers on a standing-room-only Saturday night.
“It’s just fun, and it’s something different,” says Jim Hutchison, a Feed & Seed regular with his wife, Jorda. “The acoustics are better here, the people are quieter.“
Padded seating in the so-called “listening room” — running the gamut from pews and chairs to theater seats bought on eBay from Dollywood — let patrons sit back, relax and soak in the tunes in an alcohol- and smoke-free environment.
“It’s fun to watch the cloggers,” Jorda Hutchison says. “Come early and pick your seat.“
Lacking anywhere else to sit, some patrons sit on low-slung display cabinets at the front of the former general store to get a better view of the Moore Brothers on stage.
The two young brothers from Hickory — ages 8 and 13 — that front the Moore Brothers Band had the Feed & Seed audience whooping and hollering with their quick picking and charismatic presence.
Isaac Moore, 8, did a great impersonation of Johnny Cash as he introduced “Folsom Prison Blues,” sung by him and his brother, Jacob, 13, playing guitar and mandolin, respectively.
The home-schooled musical prodigies have been selected for the past three years to be included in the Kids on Bluegrass program by the International Bluegrass Music Association — an honor given to only 25 children throughout the country, according to their mother Patti Moore.
“Isaac’s been on the guitar about nine months,” says Patti Moore. “He plays mandolin, but loves the guitar.”
Isaac Moore has been dabbling on the banjo for the past month, already wowing audiences and impressing his father, Jeff Moore, who plays backup on guitar for his sons, along with Richard Penland on guitar and Mark Davis on stand-up bass.
On April 3, husband-and-wife-led band The Hurleys will play the Feed & Seed, with their style of “good solid gospel music.“
Fusing gospel, bluegrass, blues and Celtic with high levels of enthusiasm, The Hurleys have a sound that’s different from most bluegrass groups.
Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart, another husband-and-wife team, will play April 5.
The duo is known for acoustic guitar interplay, autobiographical songwriting, lovely harmonies and humorous storytelling.
After years touring the folk/Americana circuit with their brand of blues, pop, country and rock styles, Earle and Stuart have a knack for reaching out to the audience in an intimate come-into-my-living-room fashion, Trees says.
On April 7, Sista Otis is ready to bring down the house with the “Gospel of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” her first performance at the Feed & Seed.
“She’s like Janis Joplin,” Trees says of Sista Otis’s magnetic on-stage energy.
The veteran Detroit singer-songwriter has been named one of the top indie artists in the U.S. by the magazine The Advocate.
As part of the Urban Folk Movement, she founded “Sista Otis and the Traveling Folk Review,” which toured the country in the late 1990s and early 2000s showcasing Detroit talent.
Susan Gibson, a songwriter honored with a Country Music Association award, will play her own brand of Texas-Americana-folk music on April 14, part of a national tour that has continued for 14 years.
A broken arm caused a setback for Gibson last year, but she returned to making and playing music within two-and-a-half months after her accident.
Her 2011 release, “Tightrope,” is both at home with and a departure from her previous albums.
Gibson and producer Gabe Rhodes are the sole musicians on Tightrope, which “manages to be beautiful in its sparseness, easily accessible yet full of sophisticated notes for those who take a careful listen.“
If the shows aren’t enough, bluegrass fans can take a bit of the Feed & Seed home with them — two volumes of music from local bands that have been recorded at the venue are available for $10 each.