Great Googly Moogly! I was shopping at the French Broad Co-Op yesterday when I walked past the signboards outside the entrance to see what bands the posted venue calendars said were coming soon. The clubs were a non-event, but they have been very active lately, so I’m fine with that. What rocked my world was the poster for LEAF Downtown #3 on August 4-5. LEAF is run by the Lake Eden Arts Festival collective, who stage a big outdoor festival heavy on the funk and jam bands twice a hear in Asheville. Typically not my cup of meat, but I couldn’t say I would not enjoy seeing LEAF headliners like Dr. John and Bootsy Collins, but I was able to see them locally at later dates without camping out all weekend, so that worked better for me. Three years ago, they brought Bootsy back for LEAF Downtown #1, which was a free festival held in the Pack Square Park in the heart of Asheville. It was a stupendous show that didn’t cost a dime.
Their latest score was bringing back the band that blew my mind seven times to Sunday back in ’14 at the last Moogfest held in Asheville. That Escort concert was one of the best, most intense “lightning in a bottle” gigs I’ve ever experienced. Maybe it was the confluence of the band, the crowd, and the venue, but it was one of those life-changing gigs that are few and far between. The kind where I just have to tell everyone about them for a month afterward. Rarely has music been that exciting to me since I’m pretty buttoned down. Not that night. I was in the transcendent flow and loving it. Escort’s tough, streetwise take on discofunk was every inch the sort of vibe that Ze Records had aimed for back in ’80-’81 when they were on fire creatively.
It took me years to track down a copy of the first Escort album on scarce CD format, and when their sophomore album, “Animal Nature” got a release in 2015, it sure looked like it was DL only. I looked again this weekend and saw that there was a CD of album #2 though no one on Discogs was selling it. Still, I put it on my want list and will hopefully be able to buy a copy in my preferred format. Maybe, if the gods smile on me, the band might have a merch table where this bad boy will be for sale. One hope that this will be the case. During Escort’s gig at Moogfest, there was no merch table and frankly, I was too shellshocked to even think of anything but babbling praise to synth player Eugene Cho and stumble out of the club. I imagined for certain, given the obvious electricity flowing at the event palpable to all in attendance, that Escort would be back in town sooner than three years later, but better late than never, I say! I will be counting down the days to August 4th and can only say… bring them on!!
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