From a night out with belly dancers to a sad breakup and the announcement of several must-see shows, the The Tri-Cities music scene has exploded into the new year with lots of news. This week we recap some of the drama that has come to our attention and report on a colorful and promising migration of new artists that are entertaining at a number of venues each weekend.

Unfortunately, we have learned that Yukon, one of the region’s signature original bands is calling it quits. We saw them last at Coconuts in Kingsport and assumed the band was headed into the studio to complete their next project. Those close to the band say the new disc will be released and despite the breakup, the work will represent the pinnacle of their chemistry. Each of the artists in this band carries a lot of talent back into the local pool and I’m sure we’ll see new blossoms by spring.

There are a couple of great shows just around the corner. Two of the area’s most shocking bands will be lashing out at The Casbah for a Valentine’s Day Double Gonzo. This show will set the limit for punk/core rock and roll this year as Five Foot Mullet and Scull Soup are hands down one of the most entertaining acts on stage right now in the Tri-Cities. This is not a show for the tame. Anything can happen and often does, but if you like your music untethered, join your sweetheart for a walk on the wild side.

Later in the month, Ansley Roberts will bring another memorable show to the Sophisticated Otter with national recording artist Story of The Year. Opening for the show will be Blacksburg’s Running with Scissors and the Mullet will also rearrange the rafters that night, so consider this show too on February 28th.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that the Tri-Cities music scene is gaining momentum. We’re seeing lots of new bands forming and bands from Roanoke, Knoxville and Asheville looking our way. Each weekend, crowds are beginning to surge and in a few weeks Freedom Hall will welcome Kid Rock to a sold-out show.

Kid Rock played the Super Bowl this past weekend, but his performance was trumped by the halftime stunt by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. I guess any press is good press and after a weekend of hour-long commentaries about Janet’s breast, James Brown’s new mug shot and continuing features about Michael Jackson, I’m tired of the headlines. This prostitution for attention rekindles my desire to experience something fresh on the music scene and the recent hafla in Johnson City made all the difference.

Like a lot of people, I hunger for something new…often. Traci Carroll is a new client and she directs Kudzu Yoga studio and workshop in Johnson City. One day over lunch, she told me about Fabiana and her troop of belly dancers that were having a workshop in January. She explained that after the workshop they were presenting a ‘hafla’ too with live Egyptian music. At first confused, I found out later that what she was referring to was a gathering of belly dancers.

When we arrived at Kudzu Yoga the lights were low. Since we were not a part of the workshop (now there’s an image), attending only as spectators, we paid a $7.00 cover and entered to find a trio of acoustic musicians performing on the floor and standing against the backdrop of a glass storefront that faced Roan Street. The glare of the streetlights shimmered against the wet pavement outside and a hypnotic environment of eastern music was reeling on minor scales. We absorbed ourselves into a group of 50 people gathered around group of glimmering costumed dancers.

Fabiana is a professional dancer from California that now resides in Asheville. Along with her dance students, she performs regularly at the Jerusalem Garden Café and traveled to Johnson City for this workshop and performance.

It’s hard to immediately appreciate Eastern music, but when you add the dance, it’s easy to understand why this music can be charming and seductive.

The Ensemble Orientale is the name of the group that travels with Fabiana. Their wind player, Dan David is her husband and he plays with Liam on traditional Egyptian guitars and Sajjad Azaad on percussion. The guys were terrific and together they were able to entrance the dancers and the audience for a splendid performance.

I admit that the first mention of belly dancers peaked my interest for a number of reasons. After attending the hafla and experiencing the beauty and grace of the performers along with the mystical melody of the musicians, I came away with a deeper appreciation for a whole new art form and next time, I’ll take my friends.

We talk a lot about how nice it would be to develop a bohemian Asheville culture here in the Tri-Cities. After talking with the artists at the hafla it occurs to me that the opening of I-26 may have opened our backyard to a great migration of talent and diversity. We understand that Kudzu will be offering more events like this in the future and we invite you to support these great artists that visit with us here in the Tri-Cities.

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Relevant Links:

Multimedia Links: Hafla photo gallery

This week’s buzz topics…

  • Yukon Breakup…
  • Janet Jackson…

This week’s best bets for live music…

  • Friday — Travis Christian Band at Coconuts
  • Saturday — 10,000 Flames at Taps.


David Cate is new media director for the GoTriCities Network. Send tips for The Buzz or comments to