Sunday, June 14, 2015

Underhill Rose in full bloom

It's been a while since I've posted anything about Underhill Rose, that wonderful female Americana trio from Asheville whose trademark harmonies and skillful musicianship can sometimes take your breath away.

I hesitate because I don't want to keep repeating myself. But some things simply bear repeating.

Kim and I have seen them perform maybe 20 times or so in the past three years that we've known them, and I look forward to each of their shows with the unbridled enthusiasm of a child at Christmas.

It was no different Saturday night at High Rock Outfitters when guitarist Molly Rose Reed, banjoist Eleanor Underhill and upright bassist Salley Williamson took the stage for the next two hours, musically taking us places we've either been to before, or directing us down different avenues in their ever expanding (and original) catalog.

The venue was nearly full on this steamy June night where friends gathered to be entertained. Make no mistake: High Rock Outfitters is where friends gather. It's intimate, comfortable and cordial. Consequently, even the performers become your friends, even while they're performing. Even while you're listening.

I keep waiting for the girls to reach an inevitable plateau, but thankfully, that hasn't happened. The harmonies were as crisp as ever and dead on. The pathos was sincere. The ethos was genuine.

Plus, there seemed to be a little magic in the room last night. They tell us Lexington is one of their favorite tour stops, and I believe it. We've seen them play in Roanoke, Greensboro, Charleston, Asheville, Salisbury and Charlotte, in bars and dives and in festivals, playing for 20 people or 200. So even in my perception, they seem to feel at home at High Rock Outfitters. It's a place where they can raise the bar — literally, and on several different levels.

Which brings us to last night. Tunes I've heard them sing 20 times previously seemed fresh and alive and beckoning. You can't wait to hear them. One song — Salley's "They Got My Back" — includes an extended instrumental bridge that features Eleanor's clawhammer banjo picking. She nearly brought the house down.

Molly's "Little House" features her own powerful instrument: her unequivocal voice. You really need to hear her sing.

The girls are about to release a new CD, "The Great Tomorrow," and Lexington was lucky enough to get a serious preview in advance of the album's official release on June 30.

I'm ready to give it a good listening. I sense there's a groundswell of support building around them as they point themselves to the next level.

These girls are great. But there I go repeating myself again.

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