Reed Turchi has a special place in our hearts... He played one of the first concerts at South on Main and has returned multiple times. We're thrilled to welcome Reed back to the South on Main stage! Join us Thursday, February 8 at 8 pm, $10 cover. Call ahead to reserve a table for this intimate solo show.
ABOUT REED TURCHI
"Acoustic gritty blues tunes full of emotion." -- Daytrotter
What began as an obsession with Mississippi Hill Country blues has become a burgeoning blues orchestra at the vanguard of a new American roots music. Raised in the Swannanoa valley of Western North Carolina, multi-instrumentalist Reed Turchi is a producer, label head, band leader and solo artist. He's also a master of guitar driven blues that shapeshift seamlessly between acoustic slide, electric juke joint boogie, and the improvisational, groove-driven, massive sound of his Nashville based Kudzu Orkestra. His latest albums Tallahatchie, and Live At Soulshine evince his ability to play elemental blues solo, and to lead entire improvisational orchestras on the very same theme.
He's been lauded by Greg Vandy of KEXP as "a familiar reality in this time of cultural and political uncertainty" and praised by American Standard Time as "The sound of a new American music". Reed has been featured in Rolling Stone, American Songwriter, Oxford American, and Fretboard Journal.
He's been the leader out in front of southern rock three-piece Turchi, and post-everything band The Caterwauls. As founder of Devil Down Records he produced solo records by Junior Kimbrough's bassist Little Joe Ayers and RL Burnside’s longtime guitarist Kenny Brown. His work with premier Italian guitarist Adriano Viterbini resulted in the first post-Turchi, cross-Atlantic album Scrapyard. Viterbini would later contribute to his next project Reed Turchi and The Caterwauls Speaking In Shadows featuring the brilliant piano work of Heather Moulder and luminary lead guitar of Joey Fletcher. Speaking In Shadows was just one of the results of Turchi's work as label head at the famed Ardent Studios in Memphis. A virtually defunct Ardent sought reinvention and found Reed, who was working with renowned folklorist Bill Ferris as an undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill, editing Ferris’s recordings of Mississippi Fred McDowell, and releasing them on Devil Down. He eventually departed Ardent to tour nationally with The Caterwauls, but the tour ended with walls coming up all around him. The band broke up, his booking agent disappeared, he was ill personally, and worse: his grandmother was dying.
While visiting at her bedside his grandmother requested he play music, and he noticed that many of his songs just didn't lend themselves to playing solo. After her death he sought a return to his own roots. He locked himself in a room and recorded Tallahatchie over three days on a portable recorder in a house he'd "had a one-year lease on and spent twenty days at" in Murfreesboro, TN. It's a powerful record on which Reed explores the work of RL Burnside, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Charley Patton "in an attempt just to get back to music I love, without all the musical-heartbreak that was closing in on me." The result is a music imbued with the inescapable cloud of despair that causes men to turn inwards. It is the blues.
After a cathartic national solo tour, Reed settled in Nashville, where he recorded his latest album. For this largely experimental, "100% improvised" effort Reed gathered a crew of musicians to re-visit his work. Chasing the "slide and saxophone vibe" of old King Curtis / Duane Allman recordings, Live At Soulshine adds an orchestra to the songs of the hill country and plays them as they were intended –in a juke joint, without limits. When you hear Art Edmaiston's saxophone work, synth keys, and harmony vocals blending seamlessly over Reed's interpretations of hill country riffs, you hear the sound of something old becoming new again. As Reed says "the level of play is high, the energy is fresh, and the canvas is blank."
But Turchi's "Kudzu Orkestra" is more than an album. It's already been performed live dozens of times in varying configurations. The antithesis of the Nashville singer-songwriter model, it instead groups trusted players together in search of a groove; Reed's model is "No super-solos, no stepping on toes, no egos". The forward thinking, futuristic blues is an album, sure, but it's also becoming a movement to educate, inspire, and illuminate –as all of Reed's work seems to do.
Reed is as much a preservationist as he is an iconoclast. The guy who once went to Holly Springs to turn field recorders on Kenny Brown and Little Joe Ayers wound up sleeping in flooded tents, digging drainage ditches for beagle runs, and falling off of horses, but was eventually was able to sit, talk to, play with, and record with these legendary, reclusive musicians. He has now turned the field recorder on himself, and his years of participation and creation throughout the South mean that he can gather an ensemble and record an astounding album at a moments notice thanks to the spirit of the musicians around him. The future of the blues looks a lot like the past. Whether playing alone or surrounded by a band Reed finds a way to get everyone involved. Certain players still hold everyone else in their gravity, and pull everyone around them into a groove.