Kudzu Wish comes true
*Editor’s note: There was a spelling error in the print version of this story. In the second sentence, the word “Studios” was misspelled as “Studies.” It has been updated online.
By: Katei Cranford
“For a few fleeting moments,” they say, “Kudzu Wish is back.”
Those moments will commence in a two-day affair with an official release show at the Crown in Greensboro on March 22, and an afternoon “afterparty” with Thunderlip on March 23 at On Pop of the World Studios.
Their return reads like a page from local rock lore: lost recordings were found, a new record is made. A beloved band, never thought to be seen again, arises for one last show.
“A show wasn’t planned when we got the recordings remixed,” explained guitarist Eric Mann, who found the studio files on a CD in his closet.
“The original idea was for us to make better versions for ourselves,” he said, “but we all thought they sounded fantastic, so we wanted an official release.”
“We agreed playing a reunion show felt right,” Mann added. Though, the plans didn’t stop at a show.
“We wanted to set up an all-ages spot on Saturday for people to hang with music,” Mann explained of the OPOTW party, a family-friendly shindig geared-toward folks with kids or people who don’t party late.
“Having played a few Hopscotch day parties, I’ve realized late-night shows have their drawbacks,” he said. “Sometimes day events bring unique, special experiences.”
Plus, it’s an opportunity to keep the celebrations flowing through the weekend. And a Kudzu Wish reunion is indeed cause for celebration.
Few Greensboro bands held the early ‘00s esteem of the Guilford College indie group. Elder Triad millennials swap show stories like merit badges. Kudzu Wish tattoos aren’t uncommon in College Hill circles.
The group parted amicable ways in 2005 but rejoined for a notorious ruckus show at Two Art Chicks in 2007, and a heartfelt Often Awesome celebration for bassist Tim Lafollette in 2009 as he transitioned through his journey with ALS. His passing in 2011 sent shockwaves through the Greensboro music community. The remaining members feel he would have supported the release.
The buzz around Kudzu Wish caught Mann by surprise. “I didn’t really expect this much local attention,” he said humbly. “But listening back and relearning songs we songs we wrote so many years ago, I’m pretty proud of the material we released as guys in our early 20s.” A couple kids and projects later, Mann has kept up the pace with his Hyper Enough booking project, and bands Basement Life and Toothsome, the bassist of which, Ry Eshelman, will be filling in for the release show.
As a band, Kudzu Wish is still working with the Ernest Jenning record company. They’re still in pursuit of melting faces and still exploring connections. As for the release itself: it’s a time for celebration, community and connectivity.
Openers at the release include Old Heavy Hands and Totally Slow, who arose from the ashes of Decoration Ghost, which featured members of Kudzu Wish. “We’re all connected,” Mann posted in the event.
Those connections carry into the following day with Thunderlip.
“We used to play a bunch of shows them back in the day in Wilmington,” Mann noted of the coastal rocker’s connection. “They played our final show in 2005 at Greene Street,” he added.
The Saturday show lined up some serendipitous timing. “They happened to be playing in Raleigh the same night,” Mann explained. “I messaged Chuck, their singer, and asked if they’d come jump over to Greensboro to play a set beforehand. And they were into the idea.”
OPOTW is prime for a BYOB backyard situation. Thunderlip is just the right kind of gruff to make an afternoon interesting. Tack on the kid-friendly situation, and it sounds like one special Saturday afternoon–even if Mann can’t yet comment on whatever musical surprise wishes the Kudzu Wish dudes are looking to fulfill.
Surprises or not, one thing’s for Kudzu Wish comes true for Greensboro one last time.
The release show is at the Crown (310 S Greene St.) on March 22, with an all-ages “after party” the following afternoon with Thunderlip and special guests at OPOTW Studios (1333 Grove St.) in Glenwood.
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a mixtape radio show of bands playing NC, 5-7pm on WUAG 103.1fm.