Diplomacy and drone: This week’s musical highlights

Doing his part to promote global harmony, Peyton Tochterman (second from left) took his band to Afghanistan in 2012, where he served as an official cultural ambassador.  Publicity photo Doing his part to promote global harmony, Peyton Tochterman (second from left) took his band to Afghanistan in 2012, where he served as an official cultural ambassador.  Publicity photo

Does the name Peyton Tochterman ring any bells? It’s been three years since the local musician has performed in town but he’s certainly someone you should know. Tochterman’s last Charlottesville show celebrated the release of the full-length album, A New World. Since then, he’s been busy. “I was on the road almost constantly for two years,” he reflected. “The life of a musician is tricky. You make a record, tour until things slow a bit. Then, there is downtime and, if you have been smart, you write a new record and do it all over again.”

However, for most musicians, the U.S. Department of State doesn’t play a part in this cycle. For Tochterman, the story is a little different. In 2012, he had the unique opportunity to serve as an official cultural ambassador in Afghanistan. Though the gig fell to him when a good friend and fellow musician had to back out at the last minute, Tochterman’s musical style makes him an appropriate ambassador for American culture in the rest of the world. On Saturday, Tochterman returns to the Charlottesville music scene as part of a new band, Man On A Horse.

A songwriter and musician with skills ranging from acoustic strumming to intricate fingerpicking, Tochterman credits traditional music with influencing his sound. The new band combines these talents with those of Randall Pharr on bass, Gary Green on harmonica, and Stuart Gunter on drums. According to Tochterman, “Man On A Horse is definitely an extension of my solo stuff. I would say [our music] stems heavily from the study and appreciation of American roots music. Our sound is basically what we learned from those guys and tossed into our pot and cooked it up for supper.”

Which might lead you to wonder—what kind of acoustic stew can we expect when Man On A Horse takes the stage? The performance promises to be a fun one, with enthusiastic riffs and lyrical songwriting. Binding the flavors together, these four bandmates have a strong mutual respect for their individual talents as musicians but also as friends. Green and Tochterman have played together in the past, touring together with another musician (Radoslav Lorkovic) during the Afghanistan ambassadorship. “When our trio of musicians returned home, we were reassured music really is a universal language that can unite diverse people,” said Tochterman. “I believe that music is one of the essential components to a healthy life. That and Bodo’s.”

So, maybe it’s not a stew so much as an all-American sandwich that’ll be served up by Man On A Horse during their upcoming performance. A B.L.T. on a sesame bagel, if you will. But without seeds stuck between your teeth.

Man On A Horse will perform on October 25 at The Southern Cafe and Music Hall, with Dean Fields as the opening act.

If your metaphorical Bodo’s order is more like chopped liver on a garlic bagel, don’t despair. This week also boasts a live show by three bands that are more metal than roots. On October 27, Snack Truck, Ex-Breathers, and Miami Nights will offer music that’s heavy enough to shake teacups and beer cans alike at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar.

Snack Truck is a Richmond band that’s been around for years, gaining hordes of devoted Charlottesville fans in that time as well. Onstage, band members Matthew Krofchek, Frayser Micou, Jay Moritz, and Nathaniel Rappole spew an unflinching explosion of drums, guitar, and bass—and I’ve never seen a crowd resist getting caught in this sonic vortex.

Interestingly, one of the band’s drummers, Rappole, recently returned from a musical ambassadorship of his own as he traveled to Kenya to share his other musical endeavor—a solo project known as Gull—and explore how music can build bridges between people. (You can also catch Gull as the opening act for Adrian Belew at The Southern on October 22.) As Gull, Rappole’s music is intensely rhythmic and feels almost choreographed, often comprising a lone drumkit or guitar and an amplified mask microphone. In Snack Truck, he helps create a similar base of rhythm for the band to lay heavy jams over, around, and through. The band is rumored to be taking another hiatus soon, so catch them while you can. 

Ex-Breathers will joining Snack Truck with its hardcore punk aesthetic fresh from Tallahassee, Florida by way of the CMJ music festival. Narrowly missing Charlottesville when its summer tour stopped in Richmond instead, this band is worth the second chance. Ex-B just released a new EP at the beginning of October, titled ExBx, with the 12 tracks clocking in at less than 12 minutes total. No need to double-check that math; these songs are short and driving bursts of aural angst.

Rounding out the bill is Charlottesville’s own Miami Nights, a project led by multi-talented musician Max Katz. She is a classically trained flautist and has studied the instrument since she was six years old. Since then, Katz also received a master’s degree in music and picked up a variety of other instruments including the cacophonous drone guitar of Miami Nights. Here, her sound reverberates in your ears but really finds its home in your chest, where it’s practically heart-stopping in its intensity. This is a good thing, trust me. Katz has also performed with Bobby McFerrin, but that surely doesn’t hold a candle to her Miami Nights performances.

Snack Truck, Ex-Breathers, and Miami Nights will perform at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar October 27.

What bagel order best describes your musical tastes?

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