By Gina Malone
A number of notable female performers in the genres of folk, country and Soulgrass take the stage at Isis Restaurant and Music Hall this month.
It’s An Evening with Seth Walker on Sunday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m. Walker, the son of classically trained musicians, grew up on a commune in rural North Carolina. His music was born out of the blues, but is all-inclusive, blending gospel, pop, R&B, rock and country. Tickets/$15.
Folk singer Amy Speace, appearing Wednesday, June 7, at 7 p.m., was an actress with The National Shakespeare Company before moving to Nashville in 2009. Her influences are “all the great folkies—Judy, Joni, Bob, Leonard, Joan and Woody” as well as many great songwriters. “I love a simple story that tells a universal truth by illuminating a human moment backed by a singable melody that honestly paints the emotional landscape.” She has taught performance and songwriting at the Swannanoa Gathering for the past four years. Tickets/$15.
CMA and Grammy award-winning country music singer Suzy Bogguss comes to town on Friday, June 9, at 9 p.m. With 2011’s American Folk Songbook, Bogguss recorded many classic folk songs in an attempt to keep the music alive for younger generations. She has been a frequent guest on A Prairie Home Companion. Tickets/$30 advance/$32 day of show.
On Thursday, June 15, at 8:30 p.m., The Fretless brings their new approach to folk music back to Isis. The band is Trent Freeman, Ben Plotnick and Karrnnel Sawitsky on fiddle and viola, and Eric Wright on cello. “We are folk/ traditional string players first and foremost,” says Sawitsky, “in the formation of a string quartet that plays various genres of folk music—and that order is very important to our sound.” The band considers it “a unique experience to break those preconceived notions of what a quartet can sound like.” Tickets/$15.
On Friday, June 16, at 8:30 p.m., Isis hosts RESCUE ME! A Cause for Paws CD Release and Benefit Concert. Proceeds benefit Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. Tickets/$18 advance/$20 day of show. The Paula Boggs Band makes their Asheville debut on Thursday, June 22, at 8:30 p.m. “We came up with ‘Seattle-Brewed Soulgrass’ as a way to capture the vibe and diversity of where we come from (geographically and musically) and what we do,” Boggs says. Folk, rock, bluegrass, jazz, blues and gospel influence the band’s mostly original music. “We are also a soulful and spiritual bunch. Two of us are Hawaiian, there’s a Buddhist among us and we pretty much look like the UN.”
Boggs’ fascinating resume includes careers as an Army Airborne officer, Starbucks executive vice-president and lawyer. She played guitar and wrote music from the age of ten, but says she drifted away from her own music for years. “It took a family tragedy, where creating and playing music became a way to grieve, for me to begin walking the path I’m still on.” She predicts that the band’s sound “should find a welcoming home amidst the innovative roots and other music Asheville is known for.” Tickets/$15 advance/$18 day of show.
The Eric Gales Band with Jeff Sipe and Cody Wright Duo will play on Friday, June 23, at 9 p.m. Blues icon Joe Bonamassa called Gales “one of the best, if not the best guitar player in the world.” Tickets/$15 advance/$18 day of show.
Isis Restaurant and Music Hall is located at 743 Haywood Road in West Asheville. For ticket information and reservations, call 828.575.2737 or visit isisasheville.com. Dinner reservations by phone are recommended.