It took one of the year’s biggest outdoor events to bring back a local favorite.
Ménage, a duo/trio that had regional and national success in the mid-to-late-2000s, will perform for the first time since 2010 at the upcoming LEAF Festival.
The group’s two original members, Sara Roberts and Mary Ellen Davis, will team up with another local singer, Melissa Hyman (of The Moon And You), to perform at the 50th anniversary of the festival, an event the group played numerous times over the years.
“Mary Ellen called me several months ago and told me that the folks at LEAF were brainstorming about who to have for their big 50th LEAF celebration,” Roberts said in an email interview. “Someone said wouldn’t it be cool if we could get Ménage back? So, they reached out to her to see if we’d play. When she asked me I was shocked and excited. I recall saying yes without much hesitation.”
The 50th-anniversary LEAF Festival takes place Oct. 20-23 at Lake Eden in Black Mountain. There’s a large number of performers on the bill, including Rising Appalachia, Donna the Buffalo, and five-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo. For the complete list of performers, check out the festival’s website (www.theleaf.org).
Ménage will play from 9-10:30 pm Oct. 20 on the Eden Hall stage.
To prepare for this reunion, the group has practiced weekly and worked through the group’s four albums on their own, Roberts said.
“It’s amazing how much of it came right back to me. I haven’t played those songs in so many years,” she said. “We’ve also been working on a few new covers to add to the set, but those will be a surprise. We originally thought we’d just do the oldest songs and keep it really old school, but as we worked through the set we realized that we had to bring back many favorites that we used to perform with the full band.”
During its heyday, Ménage opened for The Avett Brothers and Chris Isaak, along with others, and toured regionally and nationally. The band’s song, “Tomatoes,” was selected and used in a national commercial campaign for Hunt’s canned tomatoes.
The band got its start at Westville Pub in 2002, when, as Roberts said, “a waitress, a cook, and a bartender would take off their aprons for a song or two during open mic night.”
“Ménage was everything to me. It was my dream,” Roberts said. “I met and played with so many amazing musicians and did lots of backing vocals on other albums, including a couple Avett Brothers albums. I went from playing little coffee shops as a solo artist to traveling the US and playing to huge festival crowds. Moving forward, Mary Ellen and I have continued to play out and with others when we can. We both have other projects and busy lives. But this will be the first time Mary Ellen and I have performed together since 2010.”
Special Consensus plays Isis
Isis Music Hall will welcome a distinguished guest on Oct. 22.
At 8:30 on that night, the bluegrass band Special Consensus will perform. The group includes banjo player Greg Cahill, who won the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2011.
The group, which also includes Greg Blake (guitar), Dan Eubanks (bass), and Michael Prewitt (mandolin), has earned six awards from the IBMA and two Grammy nominations in its decades of performing.
Special Consensus celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2020 with the release of “Chicago Barn Dance.”
2 outdoor shows by STS9
Instrumental dance music creators Sound Tribe Sector 9, also known as STS9, will perform on back-to-back nights at Salvage Station.
The group will play at 6 pm on Oct. 21, with Daily Bread opening, and on Oct. 22, with Maddy O’Neal opening. Both shows will be on the venue’s outdoor stage and two-night passes are available.
The five-piece band, which is comprised of Hunter Brown (guitar/keys), Jeffree Lerner (percussion), David Phipps (keyboards), Zach Velmer (drums), and Alana Rocklin (bass), has released 12 albums over the past 20 years and performed across the country. STS9, which is a member of the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, uses both electric instruments and acoustic sounds to make its songs danceable to a large audience.