Even that was had to come by Tuesday night at The Orange Peel. Melissa Mathes aka Luella apologized to the crowd for not having any of the band’s singles on hand for sale. A new batch is coming soon, she promised as she pitched the band’s merch.
There’s reason for the hype, and it was on glorious display as Mathes and her band – stellar Nashville veterans John Radford, Joe McMahan, Adam Bednarik – cranked out their genre-defying mix of jungle-ly, gospel-ly blues, as it has been described by others. Luella and the Sun really is hard to pin. Mathes, with her high-pitched wail, sings like a banshee. There’s a little surf guitar, a little Black Keys reverb, a little dark-tinged funk.
But it all works, especially when Mathes slows things down a little and takes listeners for a ride through her songs’ changes. When she let herself be taken by her songs of death and trains, Mathes entranced. At other points, Mathes seemed a little self-conscious, and frivolous adornments like tinsel on the mic stand didn’t add to the mood.
It’s all about getting lost in the music, and Luella and the Sun are well on their way.
The rising sun aside, Tuesday night’s show brought several other highlights. The singer-songwriter Gary Jules, who lives in Asheville, took the stage with a group of other musicians, to open for the opener, Luella and the Sun. Jules wowed the crowd with a smooth rendition of his big hit, “Mad World.” Another highlight was “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” spotlighted by two buskers, identified only as Shawn (sp?) and Hannah, that the crew said they met Monday night while jamming at the Bywater.
The crowd was primed for Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers when they hit the stage. With a masterful set of great classics like “The Letter” and some of The Wallflowers biggest hits – “One Headlight” – Dylan ruled the stage. Confident and in control, Dylan gave full voice to a great run of music that was a mid-1990s soundtrack, a sound that still stands up.
Photo by David Simchock of Asheville. Photo gallery here.
The Wallflowers filled out the bill? It was their show. Highlights were the covers, “Don’t Do It”, “The Letter” and “Heroes”
the Wallflowers also stopped by open mic night at The Bywater the other evening …