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Brett Barest on Upstate Music: Jazz, Spoons, & A Banjo Highlight The Weekend Ahead


When I look at the iOnGreenville music calendar, I am looking for a couple of different things. For familiarity, I am looking for names I recognize and support so I can tell you things like “Go see Brother Oliver at the Peace Center tonight” – and, yes, they are actually playing there. I am also looking for bands I am unfamiliar with but fall instantly in love with, like last week’s Quiet Hollers show which I did indeed attend instead of driving to Asheville for Andrew Bird. Missing an Andrew Bird show did indeed suck (as did eating the tickets we bought) but not spending a ton of money, being home at a decent hour, and still seeing quality live music all softened the blow.

Lastly, I look for things that you just do not see every day. These are the outlier shows like the Greenville Jazz Collective’s gig at the Greenville County Museum of Art last Sunday – the ones that just sound like a cool experience on top of being good music. Most week’s I am happy to see just one of these but, this weekend, you can get a little weird Thursday through Saturday. 

Thursday

When you talk about grass roots movements on the music scene, it is hard to beat what emerged out of a little shared artist space in the Village of West Greenville. The Wheel on Pendleton St. hosted everything from music lessons to recovery meetings and all things in between. Once a month, the room would host “The Wheel Sessions” where jazz artists would perform in the most intimate of settings. The series became so popular within the local community that “The Wheel Sessions” carried on even after the building was leased to a single permanent tenant.

This Thursday evening “The Wheel Sessions” will host the Jorge Garcia Trio at Greenville’s Unitarian  Universalist Fellowship Church on State Park Rd. Garcia is a Cuban jazz guitarist who serves up a mix of Classic Rock and Jazz for a totally unique listening experience. Garcia will be joined by bassist Shannon Hoover and drummer Kevin Korschgen in the non-traditional but incredibly intimate space of the church’s fellowship hall. Also, less-than traditional? The show is BYOB, something one would least expect in a place of worship. Tickets are $15 at the door (cash only, please) for this 7:30 show.

Friday

Okay, so this one has been on my radar for a minute but I have to be honest when I tell you that I was a bit surprised to see Abby the Spoon Lady performing at The Firmament this Friday evening. Her story is the definition of unexpected in every sense of the word and it is the stuff biographies and documentaries are made of. A former hobo literally travelling the country by freight train, Abby the Spoon Lady ended up in Asheville by accident where she remained and built a stellar reputation through the busking scene. She has parlayed that success into life as an advocate for the busking community and has appeared in both horror film and documentary as a result. 

As for the music, well, if you have never seen someone throw down on some spoons before, your life is about to change. Chris Rodrigues lays down some filthy blues guitar and lyrics while Abby’s spoons take over the room. The pairing is simple and nothing short of magical as you will never look at your kitchen utensils the same way again. 

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of show. The first 200 tickets purchased will get guaranteed seating up front with standing general admission in the back of the venue. 

Saturday

I love Horizon Records as a record store but I love it even more as a venue for in-store performances. In other news, I thought I knew what a banjo sounded like until I heard one played by Nathan Bowles. I tell you this because Bowles will be leading the Nathan Bowles Trio for an in-store performance at Horizon this Saturday afternoon at 3pm.

Bowles mastery of the banjo is such that as I listen to his solo performances, it sounds like there are more than just the one instrument at play. It is meticulous, haunting, and unlike anything I have ever heard from such a timeless instrument. Bowles will be stopping in to share some tunes from his latest album Plainly Mistaken and I assure you it is not something you want to miss.

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