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Photo by Lewis Tezak Jr.

If there is one thing you can say about bass player, Jay Sanders, it is that he has never stopped following the path his heart leads him through music. With over twenty years in the saddle, he is still touring and recording with folk rock band, Acoustic Syndicate. He played four years with Americana roots rock legends Donna The Buffalo. Jay was one of the original members of the Snake Oil Medicine Show, CX-1, and one of the primary forces behind AVAS (The Acoustic Vibration Appreciation Society). He also currently leads the jazz band, The E.Normus Trio.

As a bass player, what characterizes Jay’s music is an overwhelming sense of space, time and genre. His compositions tend towards the melodic and sublime while improvisations can go from the most peaceful melody to full-scale free jazz and noise music. His attention to styles and versatility are the hallmark of his playing. Sanders can either be the “rock,” holding the steady rhythmic heartbeat of a song, or take you down a sensitive melodic road of adventurous organic experimentation. The element of creativity that he admires most is collective collaboration with keen awareness.

This spring, Sanders commenced the weekly “Mindtonic Music Series” on Tuesday evenings at the Rocket Club in Asheville; he brings together various collaborative players including Andy Pond and Billy Seawell from Snake Oil Medicine show, Billy Cardine (Biscuit Burners), Mark Van Allen (Blueground Undergrass), Vic Stafford (Donna the Buffalo), Jeff Sipe, Cyril Lance, Jason Krekel (Mad Tea Party), Jason Flournoy (Larry Keel and Natural Bridge), Aaron Woody Wood and David Gans amonst many others. Each week’s collaboration results in a completely different sound than the week before, always keeping a dynamic edge. Groups are assembled in order to bridge various music scenes and to showcase the co-creations that form when unlikely musical companions of contrasting styles are set free in an open environment.

Throughout his career Sanders has had the opportunity to play with many of his heroes including Ornette Coleman, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat, Bernie Worrel, Kirk Joseph, Vassar Clements, Jim Lauderdale, Tim O’Brien, Larry Keel, Hank Roberts and many more. He has studied with Reggie Wooten, E. Michael Harrington, Jerry Coker and countless inspiring individual talents over the years.

Over the years, Jay Sanders has become a sought after bass player for his versatility and attentiveness. “Anyone can play the bass, but it takes keen intuition and a good ear to become a great bass player,” he says. With so many projects in the works, it will be exciting to see what shape his next musical adventure will take.

Find out more at mindtonic.net

Mindtonic Music Series April Schedule:

April 6 – The Sufi Brothers

Jay Sanders, Woody Wood, Jason Krekel, and Mike Rhodes

The combination of Jason Krekel, Mike Rhodes and Aaron Woody Wood is a powerful force.  The Sufi Brothers used to play in Boone and Asheville years ago – leading to many legendary performances and bar dances.  This band contains the kind of chemistry that Oppenheimer couldn’t have dreamed of.

April 13 –  The Dog Talkers

Jay Sanders, Jeff Sipe, Dave McCrackin, and Cyril Lance, with special guest Ben Hovey

What can you say about the living legend that is Jeff Sipe? Long a hero with the Aquarium Rescue Unit and Leftover Salmon, it is a true honor to play with the dynamic typhoon of rhythmic drive. Whenever Jeff plays the drums, the music transcends time and space into a beautiful cosmic reality of groove. Cyril Lance is an amazing songwriter and guitarist from the Chapel Hill area who has been known for spectacular performances. What you may not know is that he is an expert in the Earth’s magnetic field, designed the new Moog Taurus pedals and can talk to dogs. David McCracken is a rare and singular musical presence, his prowess with his organ is know far and wide. These days you can find him projecting light with Donna The Buffalo when not cruising the parkway in his vintage VW bus Madame Norbert. Joining the band as a special guest is trumpeter and keyboardist Ben Hovey. Ben has been making waves with Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band and the Vertigo Jazz Project funkin’ it up in Asheville for a couple years now.

April 20 –

Jay Sanders, Sean Mason, and others tba

Sean Mason is the rhythmic mastermind behind the Vertigo Jazz Project.  He is also part of the glue that has been holding the Wednseday night jazz explorations at MoDaddy’s.  They will be joined by several surprise guests.  Fear not if you leave with a dizzying feeling of motion when one is stationary, it might not just be the stools.

April 27 – David Gans & Friends

Jay Sanders, David Gans, Bobby Miller, Billy Cardine, and more tba

You know him as the world’s most listened to Deadhead as the host of the Grateful Dead Hour, but did you know that David Gans is also an incredible tunesmith?  David will be supported by Virginia Dare Devils’ maestro Bobby Miller on Mandolin and handstands.  Billy Cardine will also be joining the group on the dobro.  More musicians will be announced as the day gets closer.

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Asheville’s own cosmic Willy Wonka of music and more, multi media wonder, Jenny “Juice” Greer has brewed up The Big Brown Bag Songwriters Competition to keep up warm at MoDaddy’s on Monday nights this fall. The series takes place at MoDaddy’s on Biltmore Ave in Ashevillle and began on October 5th and the last weekly round is Monday Dec 7th with the Finals on Friday December 11th. Also, big Thanks to the Wedge Brewery for sponsoring the beer for judges and musicians! Also sponsoring are Henco Reprographics for event printing needs, local music ambassador Rhoni Sampson with Gorilla Marketing, and Dreamspider Publicity.

The rules to enter each week: Each act is limited to three people on stage, no amplifiers, and two songs per act. Each week there is a rotating cast of celebrity judges consisting of local seasoned musicians and music industry professionals. This is in the spirit of fostering relationships amongst the different sectors in the music industry here in Asheville. The four judging criteria are lyrics (words, poetry, content), vocal performance, musical composition/ instrument playing, and stage presence (which includes crowd response).

For the Big Brown Bag Series Finals on Friday, December 11th, each weeks winners will be showcased. Three finalists will be chosen to perform a second round that evening from which the Big Brown Bag winner will be chosen by the celebrity judges: international touring musician David Wilcox, Rebecca Sulock (A&E Editor at the Mountain Xpress), Bad Ash (Radio host at 105.9 the Mountain and 98.1 the River), Brian Landrum booking for the Grey Eagle and producer Robert George.

The audience will also be voting on the winner of the Audience Choice Award.

Live Video Streaming on the internet of this Big Brown Bag Series Final is provided by David Conner Jones at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/big-brown-bag-songwriting-competition-finals.

What do the finalists win ? Other than the Brown Bag, past winners of the final have played at LAAFF 2007 and the Mountain Sports Fest 2008. This year, Jenny Juice has been collaborating with local restaurant/ bar Jack of the Wood to book some of the weekly winners in the pub throughout the winter and spring. The three finalists of the shootout that come back to play one song each. These three performers will go on WNCW’s Local Color with Laura Blackley within in the next month so be on the lookout. Hillcreek Studios will host  a party featuring BIG brown bag final winner the as well as the runners up.

Weekly Winners So Far (and who you should expect to see at the Finals):
Valorie Miller
Ten Cent Poetry FINALS WINNER!
Lyric Jones
Taylor Martin
Shane Connerty FINALS RUNNER UP!
Dulci Ellenberger
Kate McNally AUDIENCE CHOICE WINNER!
Lyndsy Wojcik
Mike Willis SECOND RUNNER UP!
Julian from Baby Cowboy

You can also read more about The Brown Bag Series in the recent Mountain Xpress Article.

The idea for hosting the Big Brown Bag Series here in Asheville came to Jenny Juice about three years ago. It stemmed from similar songwriting competitions that take place at Eddies Attic (which one of Asheville finals just recently won the Finals!) in Atlanta and the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. The idea of the Brown Bag is that everyone who performs puts a few dollars into the bag upon entry. This brown bag is also passed around the audience to throw in a bit of cash and it is then awarded to the winner at the end. For the Finals, the brown bag will be filled by only the people that come and partake in the crowd and not the performers. Then, at the end of the night, the one lucky winner keeps the brown bag with the cash.

Jenny is quick to point out that this is not about the money, though. This series is here to support original songs and songwriters through a listening room experience and to provide a network for the musicians to get to know one another. People are asked to keep their talking to a minimum during each performance so that everyone can really hear each person songs. 2009 Performers thus far have included many longtime Ashevillians, newcomers to the area, and everything in between across multiple genres of music and style.

Prizes for the winner include: $500, hand-made trophies by Dreamspider Publicity, one free 1/4 ad in Mountain Xpress, treasured spot on Laura Blackley’s Local Color wncw.org, poster printing from Henco, and Gorilla Marketing from Rhoni Sampson via Orange Peel and Anythings Possible Productions.
If you’d like to support the lucky winner with a prize please email jen@jenandthejuice.com

If any of you witnessed this event in the past, you can testify, it was a beautiful thing. Last time it was held at the Root Bar the finals looked like a Walmart parking lot on black Friday! 😉  Everyone that comes out should hope to hear some cool songs, be inspired, and support the the Asheville music scene.

Details at a Glance:
Big Brown Bag Songwriting Competition Finals
MoDaddy’s
Friday, December 11th
Brown Bag cash prize for winner!

Tix $6

Jenny “Juice” Greer
www.jenandthejuice.com

77-B Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 828-258-1550
www.myspace.com/modaddysbar

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