Blockhead, Gift Of Gab (Blackalicious)

Tony Simon, a/k/a Blockhead, has been making and releasing utterly distinctive, funky and emotive music for the last two decades. 

Blockhead grew up in downtown New York City. As the son of an artist, surrounded by visual culture, he early on found that his passion was for music, for the sonic. A fan of a whole range of sounds, especially hip-hop, Blockhead steadily built a tremendous collection of tapes and later CDs from innumerable artists, a quiet accumulation of knowledge and know-how. 

After a brief stint as a rapper, he realized his calling was behind the boards and not on the mic – and from there he began to produce beats. Since making that decision, he's kept pretty busy: carving a niche as a sought-after underground beatmaker that people call when they want something special. 

Blockhead produced nine tracks on Aesop Rock's critically acclaimed album “Labor Days.” Additionally he produced half the tracks on Aesop's follow up EP, “Daylight.” He has also worked with other indie giants Atmosphere, Murs, Mike Ladd and Illogic. In between, he found time to complete a break beat album entitled “Blockhead's Broke Beats,” with ten hard-hitting instrumental tracks, which was released on Mush Records, the US home of cLOUDDEAD.

To understand Blockhead’s Stateside presence and gravitas – look no further than the fact that he has also contributed three tracks (including the first single) for Cage’s “Hell’s Winter” on Def Jux. The other producers on the project are DJ Shadow, El-P and RJD2. 

All this occurred simultaneously to his debut album on Ninja Tune, “Music By Cavelight,” described as “one of the most fantastically good albums you’re going to hear this year” (Sunday Telegraph) and “a beautiful record” (Metro), with Blockhead himself tipped as “definitely one to watch” (Touch.) 
Blockhead returned in 2005 with “Downtime Science,” another set of deep, emotional instrumental hip hop tracks, this time dedicated to the downtown area of Manhattan where he grew up and has lived his entire life, encompassing all the attitude, anger and edginess of the neighborhood. This expansive album also features some melancholy reflections upon failed relationships and the promise of future loves.

"The Music Scene," was released in 2009 to both critical acclaim and commercial success – launching Blockhead on a global string of headlining dates ranging from Pittsburgh to Poland – where he participated in the world famous Zubroffka festival, providing a live score for some of Charlie Chaplin’s earliest films. Blockhead followed this album with “Interludes After Midnight,” further showcasing his development as a solo artist with a unique voice.

This brings us to the present, and 2014 is the year of “Bells and Whistles,” the latest release from Blockhead and a bold artistic statement unlike his previous work. According to Blockhead – the naming of the album speaks to emerging trends in music he is seeking to address: “The whole idea behind the album is that music has gotten so far away from just being music. I think that whole way of thinking, relating to music and art in general, is bullshit. I don't want to use those tactics to distract people or create a buzz that's separate from my album. I want to be judged purely on the music itself – just well constructed songs with no frills...thus ‘Bells and Whistles.’”

The album unfurls to the listener deliberately, unspooling twisted melodies and building emotions through many of the delicate tricks Blockhead has loaded into his arsenal over the years. From the artist: “Some of my favorite moments are the more minimal ones. Like on "Sacrificial Santa,” the ominous beginning really gets a mood across. On "FTW,” the way it builds is exactly how I saw it before making the song. I think, in general, this album shows my slow but steady progression. I'm never going to veer off and start making trap music or dub step but I feel as though, with my last few albums, I've created my own lane, as far as sample based instrumental hip hop.”

As 2015 gears up, and Blockhead charges on, keep your eyes online as he updates his fans daily through all means of Social Media – whether on his blog www.phatfriend.com, or Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. This aspect of his career has become more and more important – and isn’t something Blockhead takes lightly: “I don't have that thing in me where I feel I'm above just shooting the shit with people. With things like Twitter and Facebook, I'll respond to most questions. I'd like to think it makes the fans form more of a connection and recognize you as a normal person, as opposed to a foreign being who makes music they like.”

Gift Of Gab (Blackalicious)

Gift of Gab made his name as the technically adept MC in the vaunted underground rap duo Blackalicious, in partnership with producer/DJ Chief Xcel. Born Tim Parker, he grew up mostly in Pacoima, part of L.A.'s San Fernando Valley region, but attended high school in Sacramento. There he first met Chief Xcel (born Xavier Mosley) in 1987.

Parker, then calling himself Tiny T or Gabby T, was already developing keen skills as a battle MC, and he and Mosley teamed up the following year. After graduating, Parker returned to Los Angeles, but he and Mosley kept up their partnership by phone. While attending UC-Davis, Mosley fell in with a group of hip-hop eccentrics who became the SoleSides collective, and Parker moved up to the Bay Area to join him in 1991, now having settled on Gift of Gab as his hip-hop alter ego. Blackalicious issued their debut single, "Swan Lake," on SoleSides in 1994, and several more followed, establishing their underground reputation and leading to a tour of Europe. They began work on a full-length album, during which time SoleSides shut down and reconfigured itself as Quannum; however, the process was long and laborious, as Gift of Gab struggled with an alcohol problem that took several years to overcome. Finally, in 1999, Blackalicious re-emerged with the A2G EP, whose "Alphabet Aerobics" electrified the underground and marked Gift of Gab as a prodigious new talent. That talent was confirmed by Blackalicious' first two full-lengths, 2000's NIA and 2002's Blazing Arrow, which elevated him to the status of perhaps the most under-appreciated elite MC in hip-hop.

Paper Tiger

Paper Tiger is the meeting of two alter-egos who relish in the space where inhibitions die and art is made. They are inspired by sounds, instruments, vinyl records and ideas that otherwise may never connect. Beautiful Asheville NC, is their home. They love the city, they love nature, they draw inspiration from both. They recycle. This is a short version of their story.

In the beginning, there was a jazz singer who met a DJ/producer. They shared a mutual love of Radiohead and collaborated on their own cover version of “Fake Plastic Trees”. Although both MINGLE (one half of a duo) and RubySlippers (one third of a trio) were working with other projects, they felt a spark in their new creation and began to write and record their own material.

Paper Tiger has hit a stride in creating original lounge/trip hop, quickly establishing themselves as both a production duo and a dynamic live band in the Asheville music scene and the Southeast. With the studio project consisting of producer Isaac Gottfried (MINGLE) and producer, singer, dj, songwriter Molly Kummerle (RubySlippers, Molly Parti), they craft moody, original downtempo music that Shuffle Magazine calls, “An eclectic blend of trip-hop, Shirley Bassey/Bond theme and lounge jazz ... late-night mood music for the louche and lovelorn alike.” Their debut album Me Have Fun was met with rave reviews and props from both regional and national media, as well as voted into the top 20 Regional releases on WNCW. They’ve opened for the likes of King Britt, NOMO, Bonobo, Mark Farina, and Brooklyn electronic musician Eliot Lipp. They were featured in POPAsheville 2008 & 2009 as well as LAAFF (the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival) 2008, 2010 & 2011, and Bele Chere. Their is featured on Lunch Video Magazine #16, as well as videos released by the Mountain XPress, and HATCHfest Asheville. In 2008, RubySlippers & MINGLE (Paper Tiger early moniker) won the electronic category in the Earth Day Asheville Contest. They’ve played the first Asheville MoogFest Halloween 2010, as well as a string of shows in Knoxville, Charlotte and Nashville. In the collaborative spirit of the project, Molly has also collaborated and performed with Mindelixir in Charlotte, and has an original collaboration with Emancipator, performing with them at MoogFest and Camp Bisco. Coming out of a sold out show with Bonobo at Asheville’s Orange Peel, Paper Tiger is working on new material for the live show, and the next studio album, which they hope to release late summer.

Their debut LP hit streets January 18, 2011.

Molly Kummerle is RubySlippers and Molly Parti, and is a well-known personality in the Asheville performance arts scene. She has performed at the Asheville Area Arts Council’s Blue, Pink, Green, Red and White balls, was casted in the stage production of the Rocky Horror Show, sang choir for Terpsicorps presents The Scarlet Letter, and played lead in the Asheville Ballet’s production of Porgy & Bess. She has performed Cabaret with members of Stephanie’s id, JUMP Little Children, The Goodies, Bill Carson, The Rebelles and Terpsicorps Theater of Dance. Molly has played shows at the Grey Eagle, Stella Blue, the Orange Peel, IdFest and BeleChere and toured regionally with her trio project. On a ZOOM 8 track digital recorder and a Yamaha synthesizer, Molly began to write, record and produce her own material. One of those songs can now be heard re-mixed by Dave Hamilton on the MOOGED OUT ASHEVILLE compilation CD released through the MOOG Foundation. She has collaborated with Mindelixir, Scoundrel, dep, and Emancipator, all of which she has performed live at venues like The Orange Peel, MoogFest, Camp Bisco, the Neighborhood Theater and The Filmore.

Isaac Gottfried is MINGLE. He has played the H.A.T.C.H opening party, performed with Faust and Shortee, Flowchart, King Britt, DJ Le Spam, and Drums and Tuba. He has remixed songs by Goapele, Amarie and Beyoncé feat. Shakira. His previous albums feature RubySlippers, Stephanie’s id, Rene Treece, Valarie Harper and Liz Morrison.

The live band features Dave Mathes (Sonmi, Madlock) on drums, ramping up the energy and intesity of the live show. Michael McBride (Sonmi, Peripheral) on keys, electronics and synth, and samples. Combining elements of serene melody, moving textures, and deep rhythm, Peripheral has been regarded by many as one of Asheville’s best up and coming Producers.

Ben Mason (neb.Cinema) performs live visuals.

“An eclectic blend of trip-hop, Shirley Bassey/Bond theme and lounge jazz, the Asheville duo makes late-night mood music for the louche and lovelorn alike. The duo blend synth textures, samples and processed beats with just enough organic elements — ringing guitar notes, double-tracked vocals, shuffling percussion — to tilt toward soulful intimacy rather than, say, Portishead’s creeping existentialism or Beth Orton’s summery trip-folk. The duo link longer songs with instrumental or vocal snippets, creating an album-long dream-scape of cocktail cool.”
- John Schacht, Shuffle Magazine (Mar 17, 2011)

$12.00 - $15.00

Tickets Available at the Door

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Blockhead, Gift Of Gab (Blackalicious) with Paper Tiger

Saturday, June 8 · Doors 9:00 PM / Show 10:00 PM at Terminal West

Tickets Available at the Door