Asheville Music Weekend: Natural Born Leaders at Salvage Station, new Brevard music venue, more


By Caleb Calhoun

RESIST Benefit Saturday Night ft. Natural Born Leaders and Friends

This Saturday at Salvage Station there will be a hip-hop extravaganza dedicated to raising money for the people of Puerto Rico (who are still, nine months after Hurricane Maria, working to rebuild). The show is called RESIST: A benefit to fight unnatural disasters as it recognizes that despite Hurricane Maria being unavoidable, the response to the natural disaster was mainly just people squabbling over who would be able to make the most money fixing it.

According to the press release, co-organizer Jae Slaughter states: “Natural disasters happen. Unnatural disasters shouldn’t. Floods have lasting impacts, halting access to food, water, electricity, and healthcare. While we can’t change the path of a hurricane or halt rising waters, we can fight the man-made mistakes that make disasters worse. Together, we have to resist so we make this call to end all unnatural disasters.”

Protest, resistance, and empowerment are themes that go hand-in-hand with the music of headliners Natural Born Leaders. Their tunes are all about banding together and empowering people to institute change in a lasting way. Still, despite their progressive leanings and somewhat politically motivated lyrics, they don’t see themselves, or at least lead singer Michael Martinez doesn’t see himself, as a “conscious” rap group.

“I think social justice is a big deal to me. I can’t say that it is a theme of the band, but I do write the lyrics and the lyrics are definitely a reflection of how I think,” Martinez explains. “I have a difficult time with the term ‘conscious’ in general, it’s like, you aren’t really, and I think I would fit into that category. I am aware but there are so many things I have to work on. I think Asheville specifically has a problem with saying that they are conscious and acting otherwise and I never want to do that.”

They’ll be joined by multiple other musicians, including Mook and my favorite local MC, Siyah. With a stacked line-up and music all night long, this should be one helluva time. There’s plenty of room to wander around at Salvage Station, a river to hang by and great food available all night long.

But don’t spend too much time outside and away from the stage. While they may resist being pigeonholed as “conscious,” all of these musicians have something to say, and they want you to hear it, understand it, and take it home.

Futurebirds at Pilot Cove in Brevard

Alright, I know we don’t talk about Brevard too much, but big things are happening there worth noting. Over the last couple of years, Syl Neel and crew have been developing a beautiful campground, located right beside The Hub, complete with an amazing stage and amphitheater built into the mountain.

It has been a labor of love more than a business, and every detail has been accounted for, from the perfect stone seating to the beautiful stage made of exposed, rough-hewn oak trees taken from the property. I had the opportunity to check this place out several months ago. Even unfinished, I remember thinking that some day every major bluegrass, jam, and rock band in the country was going to want to come play this stage in this location at some point.

After a few smaller shows to work out details, they’ll be kicking things off in style with Athens, Ga., indie rockers Futurebirds. I caught these cats at Loaded Up and Truckin’ a few years back and I was blown away by their set. The opportunity to see them in what has to be, hand’s down, the most picturesque setting for live music in the greater Asheville area makes this all the more worth the 45 minute drive. (I know –  Pisgah Brewing’s meadow is freaking amazing. But trust me y’all, there is no other stage like this around.)

Oh yeah, and if you don’t want to drive home, Pilot Cove has cabins available for rent. Does it get any better?

Ian Ridenhour at Ambrose West in West Asheville

If you don’t recognize the above name you are officially not in the know. Ian Ridenhour is the local wunderkind,  piano-driven song-writer who has been blowing up in this town, and the Southeast, for the last couple of years. He’s made a name for himself not only with his music, but with his penchant for collaborating with talented music video creators, which last year won him main honors at Music Video Asheville.

He will be playing with another local up-and-comer, Jordan Okrend, and if you haven’t had the chance to check one or both of these musicians out this would be a great evening to get up to date on your local scene.

Caleb Calhoun went to Baptist Bible College in Clark Summit, PA and now writes about drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll. He likes wearing dresses, using Oxford commas and then not using them just to piss you off. He has a mermaid named Gonzo and trouble keeping girlfriends. You can reach him at [email protected] 


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  1. Bill Zimmer July 6, 2018

    Ecusta Brewing Company is putting on the show at Pilot Cove – thanks for mentioning The Hub and Pisgah Brewing Company which have nothing to do with this event.

  2. Bill Zimmer July 6, 2018

    Ecusta Brewing Company is putting on the show at Pilot Cove – thanks for mentioning The Hub and Pisgah Brewing Company

    1. Jason Sandford July 6, 2018

      Thank you for the clarification, Bill.


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