Twice monthly, my 30 Days Out column 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 to the show.
Two groups that lean in a dreamy, shoegaze direction (one local, one on tour) plus a jazz singer who has recently made Western North Carolina her home and a prodigious guitar talent who’s finding fame on stage and screen: Those are the highlights of this edition.
Artist: Brandon “Taz” Niederauer
Venue: Asheville Music Hall
Date: Friday, Feb. 22, 8:45 p.m.
From the perspective of a music-focused city like Asheville, a remarkable guitarist isn’t really all that remarkable. We have plenty of those. But Brandon “Taz” Nidereauer is coming to town, and he really is something special. First off, he played the principal hotshot guitarist role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock the Musical. He was all of 12 years old at the time. Now it’s three years later, and he’s even better.
Artist: Julie McConnell Band
Venue: White Horse Black Mountain
Date: Sunday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Door: $12 advance / $15 day of show
Julie McConnell had been singing for many years — professionally for over a decade — when she turned her focus to jazz and show tunes. She released her debut album, a collection of standards titled Love is Here in 2004; her husband, bassist Bryan McConnell, did the arrangements. Since 2016, the couple has lived in the Asheville area; the performance at White Horse Black Mountain is in celebration of Julie’s second album, the just-released Senza Fine, and features not one but two bands led by the singer.
Artist: Crooked Ghost
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Monday, Feb. 18, 9 p.m.
As I wrote in my review of Crooked Ghost’s Album Skeleton House last fall, the Asheville group “makes glacially-paced music that conjures an unsettling, foreboding and deeply textured mood.” The band often seems to limit its compositions to two (OK, occasionally three) chords per song. But in doing so, the moody and mysterious Crooked Ghost proves just how much can be done with so little. Wyla and Thresher are also on the bill.
Venue: Static Age Records
Date: Friday, March 8, 9 p.m.
Based in San Francisco, Balms creates what NPR calls “dreamy bummer-pop.” Depending on your point of view, that may or may not be an appealing description. But the group’s approach — combining a thudding bottom end, hypnotic riffs and slightly malevolent shoegaze melodic sense results in something well worth hearing. Imagine Nirvana with a stronger pop sensibility and you’ll be on the right track. Also performing are Knives & Daggers and Witch Party.
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