Ras Alan brings 25 years of Appalachian reggae to area

Special to The Black Mountain News

Appalachian reggae innovator, songwriter and performer Ras Alan chronicles the 25-year history of original recorded music, Saturday, Oct. 8 at The Salvage Station at Asheville. The free show starts at 9 p.m.

The 2016-17 Ras Alan 25 Years of Appalachian Reggae shows feature singer-songwriter performances of reggabilly hits from Ras Alan's five full-length albums, as well as new songs from the "Love the Way You Love" recording sessions. He will be debuting his new line of hand-built Childres Guitars during the anniversary shows.

As a young man, Ras Alan left his guitar shop and coffee house in the mountains of North Carolina and moved to Nashville, Tennessee to learn more about the guitars, mandolins and other stringed instruments he had played, repaired and tinkered with for years. He apprenticed with master luthiers that would later run the Fender and Guild guitar custom shops and spent many hours hanging around the repair shops of George Gruhn and Randy Wood.

With decades of designing, engineering and building wooden furniture and interiors and solar homes, as well as doing award-winning historic building restorations,  he found opportunities to apply his woodworking abilities to modern musical instruments.

Ras Alan’s original songs chart the "reggabilly" journey of a rural mountain guitar player, from an apple barn country dub party to a two-night run in summertime Las Vegas. He has played at the iconic Carter Fold in Hiltons, Virginia and on a dirt stage under the trees at the Rough House in Jamaica. He has crewed on the hand-built Gdansk, Poland-based sailboat Bagheera off the Caribbean islands of Antigua, Dominica and St. Lucia and sung songs about "dreadnecks" at theSmithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.

Peformer Ras Alan has been a featured keynote speaker at the Appalachian Research Symposium and Arts Showcase at the University of Kentucky.

Ras Alan has discussed "ital" (vital, healthy) food with Jamaican reggae legend Bunny Wailer in the North Carolina foothills and drummed with Nigerian Babatunde Olatunje by a fire.  He was featured on CMT’s "Small Town Secrets" show with Wayne Henderson and Jim Lauderdale. He has picked informally with American musical icons Doc Watson and Jethro Burns. He has sung on the porch of The Highlander Center, an Appalachian catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building for Rosa Parks,  Pete Seeger and Martin Luther King.