Saturday, Sept. 28
River Whyless, w/ The Dead Tongues
110 Poinsett Hwy., Greenville
$15 adv., $20 dos.
Last year, Asheville’s River Whyless quartet put out an album called Kindness, A Rebel. It was a crystallization of their “baroque folk” approach, a dazzling collection of intricate acoustic-electric music, miles-wide production and shimmering vocal harmonies. So far this year, they’ve put out two singles that stand in stark contrast to that album’s multi-layered instrumental approach; an original called “The Pool” and a startling cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe.” Both songs use a bare-bones acoustic guitar-and-voice approach. “I think that they were both songs that we’d been playing for a while and we were really excited about,” says River Whyless singer/guitarist Ryan O’Keefe. “But they didn’t fit on the record. We always knew they were good songs that should be recorded and put out, and by not having them on the album and putting them out on their own, we were able to let them breathe. It just felt like the right moment to release them.”
One of the most interesting things about the Bob Dylan cover is that, because of the sweeping, passionate vocal harmonies on the track, “It Ain’t Me, Babe” doesn’t come off like a cynical dismissal, as it did in the original version. “I can see it both ways when we’re singing it,” O’Keefe says. “I feel like it’s somewhat jaded in the way that Dylan sings it. It’s a little harsher, I suppose, but just adding the harmonies to it changes the emotion. It makes it seem like more like a yearning to be somebody else that you will never be.”
Friday, Sept. 27
The Grateful Brothers
200 Eisenhower Dr., Greenville
When you hear about the concept behind the Upstate band The Grateful Brothers, it makes you wonder why someone hasn’t thought of it before: Take a sextet comprised of some of the most talented players in the area, and turn them loose on the improv-heavy catalogs of both The Allman Brothers Band and The Grateful Dead. It’s a formula that’s paid massive dividends for the band, formed by singer/guitarists Zach Thigpen and Brad Crowe after a discussion about their favorite groups.
The Grateful Brothers have been drawing huge crowds everywhere from Gottrocks to Fall for Greenville over the past few years, and when you consider that both the Dead and the Allmans left plenty of room for jamming in their songs, the Grateful Brothers can improvise to their hearts’ content. The song titles might sound familiar, but the playing has the space to be fresh and exciting, and no two Grateful Brothers shows are the same.
Friday, Sept. 27
TPP Events presents Mourning Dove and Jillian Sprague
Eighth State Brewing Company,
400 Augusta St., Greenville
Jillian Sprague’s music is largely solo acoustic in the style of late ‘60s-early ‘70s singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell or James Taylor. There’s a little country music thrown in there, as well, which Sprague says is “a natural part of living in the South for so long.”
Sprague also pulls from the confessional singer/songwriter genre in that her songs are almost always personal and related to something that’s happened to her. “It’s definitely all based on experience, both good and bad,” she says. “I’ll get a feeling about something that I can’t vocalize, and it comes out in song lyrics more easily. It helps me process my feelings about it and move on.” Sprague also incorporates a variety of covers into her set, including somewhat unconventional choices by the Avett Brothers’ “Yardsdale” or the Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty tune “Stop Dragging My Heart Around.” “I try not to play covers of songs I don’t like,” she says, “because it’s not going to come across. It needs to be something I heard and thought I could make my own a little bit.”