Nathan Bowles Trio

Nathan Bowles Trio

Vaughn Aed, Big Bend

Mon, May 20, 2019

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Pinhook

Durham, NC

$10.00

This event is all ages

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Nathan Bowles Trio
Nathan Bowles Trio
Nathan Bowles is a multi-instrumentalist musician and teacher living in Durham, North Carolina. His work, both as an accomplished solo artist and as a sought-after ensemble player, explores the rugged country between the poles of Appalachian old-time traditions and ecstatic, minimalist drone. Although his recent solo recordings prominently feature his virtuosic banjo, Bowles is also widely recognized as a masterful and versatile drummer, and he considers himself first and foremost a percussionist, with banjo as a natural extension of his percussive practice.

He and his bandmates in the popular and critically acclaimed old-time group the Black Twig Pickers steep themselves in local traditions of Appalachian folk music and dance, very much a vital part of cultural life in their region of Virginia. As a member of the long-running improvisational drone outfit Pelt, Bowles focuses on the various sonic possibilities inherent in struck and bowed percussion—metal, wood, skin, or otherwise. When playing by his lonesome under his birthname, he prefers either minimal and hyper-nuanced percussive drone or tranced-out solo clawhammer banjo. Bowles has also recorded, collaborated, and performed with Steve Gunn, Jack Rose, Hiss Golden Messenger, Jake Xerxes Fussell, Rosali, Black Dirt Oak, Scott Verrastro, Pigeons, Spiral Joy Band, and others.

The seven songs on his second solo album Nansemond deploy banjo, percussion, piano, tapes, and—for the first time—his robust voice, moving effortlessly between composed sections, improvised passages, and field recordings. The Nansemond suite demonstrates the elasticity of Appalachian and Piedmont stringband music and the inherent connections, when those forms are distended, dilated, and dissected—as in the “Sleepy Lake” pieces, “Chuckatuck,” or “Golden Floaters/Hog Jank”—to contemporary improvised and post-minimalist avant-garde music. Bowles’ inventive playing on the album somehow finds common ground between tradition-bearing masters like Dock Boggs, Dink Roberts, and Etta Baker and the outré compositional experiments and extended techniques of Paul Metzger and Clive Palmer. But these two strains always feel purposefully and organically integrated, not distinct or hierarchical, and that elegant and novel elision is perhaps the most notable accomplishment of these hypnotic recordings: they respectfully refuse to accept the porous boundaries between Southern vernacular music and modernism.

On his exquisite third solo album, Bowles again augments his mesmeric clawhammer banjo pieces with piano, percussion, and vocals. Instead of the programmatic place-based narratives of its predecessor, Whole & Cloven offers a stoic meditation on absence, loss, and fragmentation, populating those experiential gaps—the weighty interstices and places in-between—with stillness and wonder. Straddling Appalachian string band music and avant-garde composition but beholden to neither idiom, Nathan proves himself heir to deconstructivist tradition-bearers like Henry Flynt and Jack Rose.

On his playfully subversive fourth solo album Plainly Mistaken, Bowles extends his acclaimed banjo and percussion practice into the full-band realm for the first time, showcasing both delicate solo meditations and smoldering, swinging ensemble explorations featuring Casey Toll (Jake Xerxes Fussell, Mt. Moriah) on double bass and Rex McMurry (CAVE) on drums. As he considers the cycles of deceit and self-deception that shape both our personal and political lives, a mixed mood of melancholy and merriment permeates Bowles’s own compositions as well as the interpretive material, which draws from traditional Appalachian repertoires and the diverse songbooks of Julie Tippetts, Cousin Emmy, and Silver Apples.
Vaughn Aed
Vaughn Aed
Liminal spaces or thresholds of flux and disruption form the roots of the dynamic spirit and sound of Vaughn Aed. Since 2005, lead vocalist, Rook Grubbs, has been writing and playing music both on their own and with a rotating carousel of musicians. Music drenched in a rural Appalachian upbringing and raised on the diy music scene in the triangle. The line-up is currently their sister, Elizabeth Grubbs, and members of the On Pop of the World Studios collective based in Greensboro, NC. Their sophomore album, Shy Winter, is out on June 16th.
Venue Information:
The Pinhook
117 W. Main St.
Durham, NC, 27701
http://thepinhook.com/