Saturday, September 7, 2013

Parking with Underhill Rose

OK, OK, I know what you're thinking: Not another blog about Underhill Rose.

Sorry. But yes.

Kim and I made the trek to Greensboro last night because Underhill Rose, a trio of talented women from Asheville who perform mostly original Americana backed by a guitar, banjo and upright bass, were on hand at Center City Park for the last First Friday (of the month) event of the summer.

I don't know if it was the venue, the sound system, the perfect weather, or what, but Kim and I both thought the group sounded better than ever. This was the fourth time we've seen them, which might officially make us groupies by now. I don't know how Underhill Rose feels about silver hairs as their groupies, but I guess they're stuck with us.

The last time we saw them was about four months ago, when they appeared at High Rock Outfitters at the Square on Main Street. We thought they were great then, but I think they've gotten even better now.

They've just come off a "western" tour where they drove (they drive to all their gigs) to Montana (where bassist and South Carolina native Salley Williamson has connections) to bring their brand of mountain music to the prairie dogs, buffaloes and other citizens of the Great Plains.

We found seats right up front and Kim and I wondered if Eleanor Underhill, Molly Rose Reed and Salley would recognize us. We shared kind of a personal moment with them back in June at HRO when we got there way too early and it was just the five of us. Then, during their performance, they surprised and humbled me by singing Bob Dylan's Wagon Wheel, which I had sheepishly requested in a Facebook email.

Aw, shucks y'all.

But that was four months and thousands of miles ago.

Anyway, halfway through last night's 75-minute set, Molly made mention of how great it was to be back in the South, and especially North Carolina, and playing for their fans in places like Greensboro and Lexington. Kim and I took that to be a clue they'd seen us. Together, we raised our arms and shook our fists like Arsenio Hall when she mentioned Lexington. Woo hoo.

It got even better.

After their performance, while Eleanor and Salley packed up their equipment, we met Molly at the souvenir tent. She recognized us right off and we had a great 10-minute chat with her. Yes, they drive to all their tour dates; yes, sometimes they sing together while traveling in their vehicle; yes, they feel like their vocal harmonies are getting tighter and tighter; yes, their confidence is building, and it's a very subtle thing that's happening but they're aware of it.

Then, to seal the deal, Molly said they pondered whether or not to sing Wagon Wheel last night. They never did, but if they had, I probably would have had to run to the men's room and missed everything.

I never got to talk with Eleanor, although I think Kim did. For all I know, Eleanor might think we're just a couple of stray cats who show up every now and then for a saucer of milk. Maybe we are.

A few minutes later I bumped into Salley, and she said "Hi, Bruce, how are you doing?" OK, now I'm officially floored. She remembered my name. With all the traveling, all the performances, all the people they meet, how does that happen?

I know, I know. I sound like I'm star struck, although I'm not sure I'm willing to admit to that just yet. I feel like we're just good acquaintances right now and I'm really pulling for them to make it big.

Guess what? They're scheduled to return to High Rock Outfitters on Nov. 9 — a cozy place where they say they really like to perform. Guess what? It's a good bet that I'm going to write a blog about it.

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