Ben Lovett’s Black Curtain

Last May I was in part of a music video for Asheville/L.A./Atlanta musi­cian Ben Lovett. I’ve known him for a cou­ple years, and he caught me play­ing my mobile piano rig in town a cou­ple times and asked me if I would play piano in his music video. Play­ing music in a video is sort of like play­ing cha­rades for the blind — there’s not a sin­gle micro­phone at the entire shoot. You sit and lis­ten to the same song, at dif­fer­ent speeds, for about 10 hours in a row and you’re cov­ered in make­up applied like peanut but­ter. It’s mis­er­able and it’s not even musi­cal. What counts though is the results and the peo­ple you get to work with. And Ben Lovett con­sis­tent­ly pro­duces stuff with more pol­ish than almost any­body in Asheville. He’s a great guy to work with and a great guy to work for.

I’m very hap­py with how it turned out. I have a very small part in it. Look for me at the piano, duh. Here’s the video.

The still pho­tog­ra­phy on set was done by Dorn­Broth­ers Pho­tog­ra­phy. You should like them.

My Thoughts on Lexington Avenue

Photo by Derek Olson.
Lex­ing­ton Ave. and Col­lege St. Pho­to by Derek Olson, via

This is a Let­ter to the Edi­tor style post in response to two arti­cles in the Moun­tain Xpress. The first was pub­lished in the print edi­tion Decem­ber 5: No easy answers: Lex­ing­ton Avenue’s uncer­tain future by David Forbes. The sec­ond was pub­lished online Decem­ber 12: Mer­chants protest Dec. 5 Lex­ing­ton Avenue sto­ry by Caitlin Byrd.

I used to work in the pro­duc­tion depart­ment for a dai­ly, inde­pen­dent­ly owned and pub­lished news­pa­per. We fre­quent­ly heard the kinds of con­cerns expressed in Ms. Byard’s arti­cle and we had to tread care­ful­ly. I lis­tened care­ful­ly to the in-house edi­to­r­i­al dis­cus­sions about what to do when adver­tis­ers expressed con­cerns about pub­lic­i­ty they per­ceived as neg­a­tive.

First and fore­most, a news­pa­per has to be hon­est to its read­ers, oth­er­wise read­ers will feel cheat­ed and look else­where, which ulti­mate­ly hurts the newspaper’s bot­tom line and dimin­ish­es the sense of com­mu­ni­ty that a qual­i­ty news­pa­per pro­vides. A read­er who is less like­ly to trust the edi­to­r­i­al con­tent is also less like­ly to trust the adver­tise­ments in such a news­pa­per. For an extreme exam­ple: Ask your­self how much you trust the adver­tise­ments in the tabloids in the check­out line. About as much as their exposé sto­ry of ‘Bat Boy’? A news­pa­per with integri­ty is a bet­ter place for con­sumers to make choic­es about where to spend their dol­lars. Pulling adver­tis­ing because of a ‘neg­a­tive’ sto­ry hurts the adver­tis­er and the con­sumer more than than the news­pa­per.

Can an arti­cle on increased crime lead to less crime in the future? Because of the respect that the XPress has in our com­mu­ni­ty and it’s con­tin­ued abil­i­ty to start con­struc­tive dia­log (such as this one), I think so. A neg­a­tive sto­ry can increase and main­tain the integri­ty of a news­pa­per, lead­ing to pos­i­tive change for the entire com­mu­ni­ty. The Xpress has that legit­i­ma­cy because it doesn’t look the oth­er way when con­front­ed with an ugli­er face of real­i­ty than we would all like to see. I put a high val­ue on that.

Con­tin­ue read­ing →

The Roaring Lions EP

A lit­tle over a year ago, my friend Hen­ry and I were invit­ed by Je Widen­house to sit in on his week­ly gig at 5 Wal­nut Wine Bar here in down­town Asheville. Je and Hen­ry are cur­rent mem­bers of the Squir­rel Nut Zip­pers and Je and I are cur­rent mem­bers of Fire­crack­er Jazz Band and Hen­ry is the for­mer tuba play­er, so we had a large song­book in com­mon. We had a lot of fun that night, made some good music and got a great response. So we slapped a name on our trio, start­ed up a Face­book account, print­ed up some busi­ness cards and called it a band. As far as I can tell from my research, we are the world’s first and only tuba-trum­pet-piano trio in exis­tence. If you know of anoth­er, tell me.

We are The Roaring Lions.

We have just released our first recordings.

You can buy our record on Band­camp, or from us in per­son when you see us per­form for $5. Also, you can Book­face love us. Our CD release will take place this Sun­day Octo­ber 14, at 5 Wal­nut Wine Bar at 7pm.