Twice monthly, my blog 30 Days Out spotlights upcoming music shows and events of note, shining a light into some less well-lit corners, where some fascinating artists schedule performances. I do my best to give ample advance notice so that you can adjust your budget and calendar in a way that lets you get you to the show.
This time I’m featuring two (sort of) local acts you’ve almost certainly heard of, but may not have seen in action. The other two are highly-regarded nationally touring bands that rarely find their way to Asheville.
Artist: Col. Bruce Hampton
Venue: The Bywater
Date: Saturday, Aug. 9, 9 p.m.
As founder of the too-weird for Columbia Records group The Hampton Grease Band, the good Colonel (Ret.) is largely responsible for the 1970 LP Music to Eat, a record that belongs in the oddball (but critically regarded) category that includes Captain Beefheart‘s work. An influential figure in the rise of the ’90s festival circuit, Hampton has fronted a long string of oddly named groups. These days he’s effectively a local, playing Asheville venues with alacrity. But the laid-back, up-close-and-personal environs of The Bywater may well be the ideal setting in which to enjoy whatever Hampton has in store right now.
Artist: Wham Bam Bowie Band
Venue: ISIS Music Hall
Date: Friday, Aug. 15, 10 p.m.
Door: $8 advance / $10 door
A true favorite of mine, The Wham Bam Bowie Band is that special breed that takes the “tribute” idea and runs successfully with it. Multifarious guitarist André Cholmondeley (Delicious, Project Object) and David Bowie ringer (vocally and visually) Mark Casson (The Cheeksters) front this band that delivers the early ’70s classics from the Thin White Duke, Ziggy, or whatever you care to call him. Allow me to quote an early review I wrote a couple of years ago: “If you never saw or heard prime-era Bowie — or if you did, and you miss the spectacle — then you need to make the effort to witness this band.” I stand by those remarks. Though Asheville-based, their touring schedule keeps them busy and on the road. Catch ‘em while they’re home.
Artist: The Sadies
Venue: Grey Eagle (Transfigurations II Festival)
Date: Thursday, Aug. 28, 7 p.m.
Door: $15 advance / $18 day of show
One of the most versatile and deliberately unclassifiable bands working today, Toronto-based The Sadies have released a string of excellent albums, each fundamentally different from the last. Nominally a c&w/rock band, they released a soundtrack LP in 2006 called Tales of the Rat Fink; the music was written and performed to fit with the throwback ’60s psychedelic hot rod movie of the same name. But on 2007’s New Seasons, the group charted territory closer to late-period albums by The Byrds. Brothers Dallas and Travis Good are as likely to draw inspiration from Flatt & Scruggs or Glen Campbell as they are to tip their musical hat to postpunk heroes The Mekons. The Sadies were perhaps the most exciting band on the bill at 2012’s Yep Roc 15 gala in Carrboro N.C., and their upcoming Asheville date — part of the impressive lineup for the Transfigurations II Festival — promises similar thrills. Sonny & the Sunsets and EDJ open.
Artist: Man…or Astro-Man?
Venue: Grey Eagle
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 2, 9 p.m.
Door: $15 advance / $17 day of show
The curious ongoing revival of instrumental surf’n’spy music has something quite unique about it: the prime exponents of the style are all what you might call “high concept.” Take Los Straitjackets: their high-octane guitar twang and rumble is performed by men in suits and Mexican wrestling masks. Man…or Astro Man? has a singular approach of its own: band members sport a visual aesthetic that’s equal parts DEVO and atomic-age “futuristic.” The visuals compliment the music, but never get in the way of it. The high energy music is heavy on reverb and sound effects, but the end product is much more appealing (and less retro) than mere words might suggest. The pseudonymous foursome are always an engaging live act. Two additional bands, The Pack A.D. and Wray, open.
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