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 to the show.
At first blush, it might seem that there are fewer opportunities to catch live music during these, the early days of 2015. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that there’s plenty going on, much of it worth venturing out to brave the cold weather.IN this go-round, all four spotlighted acts are local or regional. Taken together, they cover a lot of musical ground.
Artist: Posh Hammer
Venue: Grey Eagle
Date: Saturday, Jan. 31, 8 p.m.
Don’t be fooled by the relatively young ages of the members of this Asheville-based rock band. Clearly drawing inspiration from the arena-rock heroes of the 1970s and beyond, Posh Hammer don’t ape the sounds of their influences (David Bowie, Roxy Music and newer acts like The Killers); instead they synthesize the sounds and sensibilities of those acts into their own songs. Yes, they’re shamelessly derivative. But y’know what? So was Oasis, and that band left behind some worthwhile music. If these kiddos make it through the difficult years, they may well have a bright career ahead of them. See them now so you can say you knew them before they got famous. The Dr. Van opens this all-ages show.
Artist: The Fat Sparrows
Venue: Town Pump
Date: Friday, Jan. 23, 9 p.m.
You can’t swing a banjo in WNC without hitting a group claiming to play alt-Americana or somesuch. Here in the mountains, it’s just what people do. But as is always the case, some do it better than others. This quartet from nearby Shelby does it better. In part, that might be thanks to the influences that inform its all-original music. In addition to the usual suspect (the inescapable Avett Brothers), The Fat Sparrows claim inspiration from Ben Folds Five and The Decemberists; those acts’ focus on well-though-out story-songs and top-notch musicianship informs the group’s musical approach. I hear echoes of the prototypical rock-Americana hybrid group The Long Ryders in The Fat Sparrows’ often-rocking, always-melodic songs.
Artist: Ciggy Pop
Venue: White Horse Black Mountain
Date: Thursday, Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m.
Door: $8 advance/$10 day of show
Not to overgeneralize, but White Horse Black Mountain has a bit of reputation for booking acts that appeal primarily to what one might call “the NPR Crowd.” That’s certainly not a bad thing by any measure, but neither does it connote much in the way of, shall we say, musical edginess. So it was with mild surprise that I learned that Ciggy Pop will play at the tony Black Mountain listening room. Ciggy Pop mixes breakbeats, loops and spoken/rap vocals to create a heady brew, a sort of experimental hip-hop that nonetheless has a strong foundation in melody (but with plenty of bass bombs). The songs owe more to Atmosphere than, say, N.W.A.; it will be fascinating to see how Ciggy Pop goes over in this venue. Asheville people, it should be worth the drive.
Artist: Abbey Road Live!
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Saturday, Jan. 31, 4 and 8 p.m.
Door: $12 adult/$8 child (matinee), $16 advance/$19 day of show (evening show)
As musical tributes go, The Beatles are just about the best subject a group of musicians can choose. Their popularity is near universal, and their material is endlessly varied (from simple to quite challenging). And because the brief of a tribute (as opposed to “cover”) band is to recreate the musical aesthetic in a faithful manner, it’s fun for audiences, and especially rewarding to those who didn’t see or hear The Beatles when they were around (they broke up in 1969). This Athens-based collective has The Orange Peel on its annual tour list, and always draws a good crowd. This time, in addition to an evening performance, Abbey Road Live! will be doing a matinee show aimed more at a younger set, focusing on kid-friendly tunes from The Beatles’ songbook (so no “Revolution 9,” I’d guess).
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