In a town like Asheville, often saturated with “differentness,” it can be rare to find something truly unique. Soulgrass Rebellion, however, has beaten the odds by presenting a musical style that not only makes the cut for originality but by selling out shows as if it's the oldest band in town.
The band's ultimate goal is, according to guitarist Silas Durocher, “to just have a big party where everyone has fun, boogies all night and walks away thinking, ‘Damn, I live in a cool place!'” To this end, Soulgrass Rebellion fuses elements of everything from funk to two-step, uniting bluegrass and reggae as its foundation.
As frontman Oso Rey has described it, “It's where the two-step and the one-drop meet: root, reggae and soul. Soulgrass Rebellion is more than a band — it's a movement.” Durocher adds, “We want to eliminate that division between band and audience and just let loose.”
Soulgrass Rebellion is one of Asheville's youngest bands, composed of some of the area's biggest musical heavy-hitters. The lineup includes singer/songwriter/guitarist Rey, who has played with the likes of No Doubt, Sublime and Leftover Salmon, along with Durocher (Laura Reed and Deep Pocket, David Earl and the Plowshares, Silas Durocher and Everybody Knows) on electric guitar, Brian Jones (the Afromotive, Ian Thomas) on drum set and Justin Powell (the Indigo Girls, the Donna Hopkins Band, and Geoff Achison) on upright bass.
The quartet, homegrown from jam sessions at Bobo Gallery in downtown Asheville, has packed every venue they've played in town since their first performance together just last May.
“It worked to our advantage that all the musicians are fairly established in the area. We had a booking agent before we even played our first show, and it was just a matter of pulling all our resources,” Durocher said of the band's fledgling success. “Now we're just putting all our energy into keeping up the momentum and not taking anything for granted.”
The band has toured the Southeast, but Durocher is especially excited to return for the upcoming Emerald Lounge performance. “We're going to have a lot of new material for this show,” including a horn section supplied by Justin Ray and Jacob Rodriguez of the Michael Bublé band, Durocher said. “I guarantee it will be the event to be at in Asheville that night.”