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Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers Back On Tap At Pisgah Brewing

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Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers Back On Tap At Pisgah Brewing

Legendary Piano Player Answer Questions On Career

Bruce Hornsby is one of the best known piano-men in pop music.

But pop isn’t his only style. Over a long career Hornsby has done a bit of everything in the music industry.

Number one hit? Yes, when “The Way It Is” hit the top spot in 1986.

Grammy victories? A couple, including Best New Artist (1987), Best Bluegrass Album (1990) and Best Pop Instrumental Performance (1994).

Played with the Grateful Dead? Yes, he was a regular touring pianist, playing more than 100 dates from 1988 until 1995.

Beat Allen Iverson in one-on-one? Yep, he’s done that, too. That’s just the way it is.

Hornsby and his band, the Noisemakers, play at 8:45 pm June 16 on the outdoor stage at Pisgah Brewing. Opening for Hornsby is Dangermuffin, which plays at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 the day of the show. There’s also a $70 Hopster VIP ticket available.

Hornsby has released 10 studio albums, four live recordings and three albums of collaboration.

Hornsby took some time earlier this week, in preparation for his date at Pisgah Brewing, to answer some questions about his career. Next time, I ask about Iverson.

the828: You’ve had an amazing career, what’s it like for you to get on the stage now? Does it still feel like it did earlier in your career?

Hornsby: I actually get more nervous now, because the music I play is far more demanding than the earlier music. Having waded into the murky, dissonant waters of modern classical music and virtuosic, rapid-tempo fields of bluegrass have made the gigs more difficult and ultimately way more fulfilling.

the828: Your music has crossed genres over the years, what style of music do you playing the most and why?

Hornsby: I don’t necessarily enjoy one style over another; our band touches on many different musical styles over the course of a concert, and hopefully that makes the shows more engaging and never boring.

the828: “The Way It Is” was a major hit for you, how did that change things for your career, and not just in terms of your solo career, but in terms of playing with other bands?

Hornsby: Very simply, the song “put me on the map”, in a way that inspired lots of interest from many musicians, songwriters, filmmakers, etc. for the next several years. The resulting multi-collaborative nature of my career has never abated, never stopped ever since. It also garnered me the freedom to explore and be adventurous for the last thirty years. A song about racism with two improvised piano solos? Very fortunate!

Credit: Megan Holmes

Credit: Megan Holmes


the828: What are three songs you wish you would have recorded and/or written?

Hornsby: “Like A Rolling Stone,” “The Long And Winding Road” and “The Lakes Of Pontchartrain.”

the828: It’s been almost two years since the Fare Thee Well shows that celebrated 50 years of the Grateful Dead, what was that experience like for you? Any lasting memories from those shows?

Hornsby: The Fare Thee Well concerts were an unforgettable experience for me. Such a great time playing with my old Dead cousins, and so much fun connecting with Trey Anastasio and Jeff Chimenti, my keyboard partner. My most lasting memories were of late-in-the-show rockers that just seemed to make the energy in the stadium blow up like a non-destructive atomic bomb of delirious joy.

the828: I know this show is with The Noisemakers, but do you still delve into songs from your other groups? If so, which songs do you play and how do the songs change because you’re playing with The Noisemakers and not The Range?

Hornsby: Yes, we cover songs from my entire career, for instance “The Dreaded Spoon” from Skaggs-Hornsby, “Questions And Answers” from the deJohnette-McBride jazz record, Spike Lee movie songs, other movie songs of mine and songs I’ve written with and/or for other artists for their records, like Don Henley’s “End Of The Innocence” and Robbie Robertson’s “Go Back To Your Woods” and more.

the828: You’ve played Pisgah Brewing here in Asheville a couple of times, what do you think of the venue and why do you like to keep coming back?

Hornsby: I like the Pisgah Brewery gig because it’s very informal — like our gig approach! And generally it feels like a big party. We’re a good band for a party.

Jason Gilmer

Jason Gilmer is a national award-winning writer living in Asheville. He spent a decade as the prep sports writer at the Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal and has written one book, "Where Champions Play: Spartanburg County Prep Football." He's been writing about the Asheville music scene for several years and contributes to magazines in North and South Carolina.

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