Back in November I planned on seeing WSP in Asheville but that fell through. As I was looking for my next travel adventure I saw the The New Mastersounds were playing the Orange Peel as their tour closer in Asheville and I was in. As I started doing my research on the town I was getting more excited.
For years I have been a fan of The New Mastersounds and their particular brand of funk. Many years ago I saw them at the 8×10 and later that same year at the State Theatre. At both shows I was blown away by the rhythm and soul of the band. As soon as they started playing I just couldn’t help but get up and dance, it was infections. The show at the Orange Peel was similar but also a lot different. It had been almost 8 years since I last saw them and the band has definitely evolved. I have kept up with their new albums over the years and for the most part they are all darn good.
Tonight’s show was a co-headline with Turkuaz who opened the show that night. I have heard a few of their songs on Jam On and they played this years Lockn’ Festival which I caught most of and it was pretty good. Not exactly my thing but the crowd was eating it up. Throughout The New Mastersounds set various members of Turkuaz sat in to lend a hand. They had vocalists and in particular they had members from the horn section laying down the beats. What truly blew me away was that Alan Evans from Soulive was the drummer all night. Not exactly sure what happened to the original drummer or if Alan was covering all tour but it was awesome to see him again.
This was not just a trip to see The New Mastersounds but also to see what Asheville had to offer. I have heard this town is great for hippies and is very open and welcoming. North Carolina I don’t really think of as progressive but Asheville is certainly leaps and bounds ahead of the most of the state. The whole time I was there I felt very at home and at ease. This is certainly a town where I fit in. One thing in particular that struck me was the number of breweries. I swear there must be a law but there seemed to be a brewery on every block, sometimes two. There are so many some are tucked down dead end allies.
I had already scoped out a few places to drink before coming down. When I checked in at the hotel they wanted to hand me a guide but I told her I was all prepared. I even talked beer with a very sweet old lady at a craft shop who was selling me on going to the Asheville Brewing Company for beer and pizza. Doing my research I certainly wanted to hit up the Funkatorium which specializes in sour/wild ales. I have been a fan of this style for many years so when I found they had 20+ beers on tap of nothing but sour I was excited. The brewery is run by Wicked Weed Brewing which coincidentally has their main brewery right next to the Orange Peel which was awesome in it own right.
After arriving to Asheville I walked around the city for a while and stopped by Bhramari Brewing Company as my first brewery. Like many of the breweries they have a great outdoor patio with ample seating on the inside. Here I sat down for a glass of Street Busker and Molly’s Lips. Both of which I thought were excellent. I kinda screwed myself by going directly to the bar to get my first drink so the servers avoided me like the plaque. So I skipped this place to order food and headed to find something to eat.
I stumbled across The Blackbird and their burger which was amazing. After reading the description I was excited to try it but all I could find on their menu was wine and this was a beer trip. I should have looked at the bar first but when I finally did I noticed the beer taps. The food was great, service excellent and the atmosphere was swanky which was a change of pace for me. After finishing my meal it was off to Wicked Weed for a quick beer before the show. I was surprised at how busy the place was. There were several bouncers outside and when I first passed by they had a line waiting to get into the place. You would think it was a night club but they just serve beer. The top level was busy as shit so I went down to the tap room and got my beer there, hanging outside while I people watched and enjoyed my Pillow Talker. She was so good to me that night.
The next morning I did my normal thing of finding a local coffee shop and sitting down to write some letters to friends and family about my adventure. High Five a few blocks from the hotel was the perfect spot to collect my thoughts and kill some time before the Funkatorium opened a noon. I got the Cubano which all I really got from the barista was it had a crap ton of espresso. Still with some time to kill I walked around downtown in the light rain visiting several art shops and a chocolatier I found.
Finally noon came and the Funkatorium was open. They use a special yeast to give the beer a sour flavor and it requires some aging in wooden barrels to get the flavors right. Generally 12 to 18 months of aging and as a bonus when bottle you can age them for several more years. Because of aging there is a significant investment in time and money when making sour beers. I believe this is one reason it hasn’t yet taken off in the country but the Funkatorium had some foresight and started their operations years ago to get ahead of the craze.
For me this place was a mecca. I booked a brewery tour for 1pm but arrived early to get one drink in before we got down to serious business. I have been on brewery tours before but this was the first one dedicated to the wild ale craft. I was simply blown away by our guide Jessie and his knowledge of the process. Wild ales are also know as lambics but just like champagne, they can only come from a certain area in Belgium to be called lambic. Produced in any other area they are simple sour or wild ales. When you walk into the back of the warehouse you will be shocked at the number of barrels they have aging beer. The warehouse is stacked floor to ceiling with barrels of all types. They have grown so much they are working on building a dedicated brewing facility for distribution but the Funkatorium will remain open for small batch and experimental beers.
With the finally brewery under my belt it was time to head home. The weather was still crappy but thankfully only rained a little on my way out of town, no ice this time. Asheville was a great place to visit and catch a show. The restaurants are great and if you are a beer lover, this is certainly the place. I found out it is the water that makes the beer here so good. No special processing or filtration required. Just get a connection to the city water supply and start brewing. I will definitely have to come back to do a tour of more local breweries.
The New Mastersounds
Saturday, December 17th 2016
The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
Set 1 (starts at 11:05pm)
1. Monday Meters
2. Way Out West
4. In the Middle
5. Flimsy Lewis
6. Sitting On My Knees
7. Will it Go Round in Circles#
8. I am Somebody%
9. Turn this Thing Around^
10. Jan Jan&
11. Never Did I Ever@
13. One Note Brown
Set over at 12:24am
14. On the Border*
house lights at 12:44am
Alan Evans on drums all night.
# – with horns from Turkuaz and Josh on vocals
% – with Greg from Turkuaz
^ – with Sammi and horns
& – with Michelangelo Carubba on drums and Turkuaz horns
@ – with Shira and horns
! – with both Sammi and Shira and horns
* – with Turkuaz and with bass player & drummer from Turkuaz
** – with Turkuaz and with bass player & drummer from New Mastersounds