The Best of 2010
2010. For many, it was the year that came after 2009. For others, it was the year that came before 2011.
For the High Country, it was a year that brought some of the brightest and most memorable entertainment to the Blue Ridge.
The Mountain Times bids 2010 a fond farewell, and, to mark the occasion, we've selected some of our favorite highlights in music, festivals, stage and film. Look 'em over, smile, shout "I remember that," and ignore the furtive glances from those surrounding you.
Oh, and have a happy New Year.
- Frank Ruggiero, Editor
1. Mellow Mushroom Meltdown
I really can't think of a better way to send off a Boone institution. When the Mellow Mushroom on Rivers Street closed this summer, fans wouldn't let it go down without a last hurrah, and then some. Featuring stellar performances from area bands Airhorse, Galaxy Jam and The Naked Gods, revelers enjoyed a time just as flavorful as the Shroom's pizza.
2. Del McCoury Band & Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Due to its mixed audience, Farthing Auditorium's not really a dancing venue, despite some folks' best efforts. This wasn't the case when the Del McCoury Band and Preservation Hall Jazz Band teamed up for a night of harmoniously eclectic music. I never would've thought that bluegrass and New Orleans jazz could blend so well, but these skilled performers proved otherwise, and seamlessly at that. And Preservation Hall coaxing everyone to march on stage to "When the Saints Go Marching In?" Brilliant.
3. Blowing Rock Jazz Society
It's not really a best kept secret, since the Blowing Rock Jazz Society typically boasts a full house, but the group's monthly jazz concerts bring a low-key, jazz club sort of vibe to the High Country. Featuring some of the nation's leading talent, including the Noel Freidline Quintet and Lynn Roberts, the society keeps listeners begging for more.
4. Larry Keel & Adam Aijala
When flatpicking virtuoso Larry Keel teamed with Yonder Mountain String Band guitarist Adam Aijala, there was no doubt that strings would fly. The duo performed early 2010 at Boone Saloon, seeming to defy the laws of physics with their high-energy, expert picking (accompanied by plenty of grinning). Meanwhile, Keel's wife and bassist, Jenny, mingled with the crowd, making good on the Keels' grounded and friendly reputation.
Like expert musicianship and an undeniable groove? Jazz-fusion rockers Bafoodus are your men. Regulars on the King Street circuit, guitarist Andy Page, keyboardist Mike Runyon, bassist Scott Haynes and drummer Ryan Lassiter keep every show fresh and full of surprises. On the other hand, their Halloween costumes this year were simply terrifying.
1. Las Cabriolas
The band that taught the High Country to skank (the dance, not the slang) was back, and those in the audience partied like it was 2005. Frontman Johnny McMahon, now of Providence, R.I., brought that nostalgic vibe of Boone five years ago to Boone Saloon in July, and new fans came along for the ride. Insiders say they're planning a Las Cab reunion for 2011, and you know I'll be there.
2. Extraordinaires/Naked Gods
With a cartoon set (was that a pornographic magazine tacked to the microphone?) and a sense of style that was all their own, Philadelphia based rockers, jammers and (dare we say) comics the Extraordinaires pounded their way into Black Cat in October. Teaming up with local crowd-bringers The Naked Gods, it was a jam-packed evening of stand-room-only sensation.
3. Patti Lupone
With the voice that brought Argentina to tears, Evita herself (or Patti Lupone as she's billed) created one of those rare and true standing ovation moments at Farthing Auditorium. Bringing one part personality to two parts vocals, Lupone showed the High Country why she is and shall always be the queen of Broadway, giving the performance of the year. Missed it? I feel sorry for you.
4. Janis Ian
"At Seventeen" she captivated a nation. This summer, she, along with Karla Bonoff, captivated the High Country. With a show that actually brought audience members to tears as she recounted the loss of her mother, Ian brought more than music. She brought history and nostalgia, as each audience member couldn't help but think on the moment they first heard that song.
5. Rock 2 Change Benefit
Bluegrassy beats from the Drawlstrings and The Worthless Son-in-Laws brought music and a worthy cause to light in August. The scene? Galileo's. Add in the touching testimony of a cancer survivor and sound that won't quit, and you've got a standing-room jam session we won't soon forget.
The crowd was sparse but the jams were unforgettable as hiphopper and under-rated J. Timber brought his Mayer-esque vocals to the Boone Saloon. If you weren't there (and not many people were), you missed a poppy, Top 40-esque sound with an energetic live twist, and I'm sorry you missed it. Reining Hip Hoppers BPL brought in a late crowd for a fun night.
The Mumbles, Doc Aquatic and Uncle Mountain
As crowds go, this one was a winner. With Doc Aquatic and Uncle Mountain's Boone roots, they brought a nostalgic mesh of new and old Boone Salooners to an October stage ready to rock out. The Mumbles (one of my personal faves from Music on the Mountaintop), a duo with a piano-bar sound and a mesh of Manhattan and New Orleans soul, brought down the house. We just watched. And danced.