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.
Country, blues, bluegrass and … prog-hop? The variety of live music available in Asheville never ceases to impress. In the next 30 days you can witness excellent examples of all those and more.
Artist: Natural Born Leaders
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Friday, March 22, 9 p.m.
Door: $5 advance, $8 day of show
Natural Born Leaders’ style is difficult to describe, and it resists pigeonholing. The Asheville group’s sound starts with a relatively conventional rock instrumental lineup, adding jazz and r&b textures. Meanwhile, lead vocalist (and lyricist) Mike Martinez brings folk, soul and hip-hop flavors to the mix. The band created its own genre label — “prog-hop” — and that’s as good as any. NBL is one of the Asheville music scene’s brightest lights. The Styrofoam Turtles open.
Artist: The Dillards
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Monday, March 25, 8 p.m.
Who’s responsible for the mainstreaming of bluegrass? The Byrds? The Flying Burrito Brothers? There’s a strong argument to be made that it was The Dillards, the family band that took bluegrass from a mostly regional form into something much larger, thanks to their appearances on “The Andy Griffith Show.” Today, only Rodney Dillard remains from the original lineup, but he leads his band through a crowd-pleasing set of old, older and newer tunes.
Artist: Bonnie Bishop
Venue: Ambrose West
Date: Friday, April 5, 8 p.m.
Door: $15 advance, $18 day of show
It’s one thing to be a singer-songwriter. It’s quite another to have one of your songs covered by an established artist who — in addition to being a songwriter herself — draws upon composers such as Randall Bramblett and David Gray for material. But that’s what happened in 2012 when Bonnie Raitt covered “Not Cause I Wanted To,” a song Bonnie Bishop co-wrote with former NRBQ guitarist Al Anderson. Eight albums in, the Texas singer-songwriter continues to build on her successes.
Artist: The Danielle Nicole Band
Venue: Isis Music Hall
Date: Friday, April 12, 9 p.m.
Danielle Nicole’s music sounds a bit like what might have happened had Pink Floyd decided to back a female blues vocalist. If — like me — you find that description intriguing, do check out this superb bassist-singer-songwriter. Nicole is Exhibit A for those who insist there’s lots of life remaining in this American musical form.
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