30 Days Out: a look at upcoming concerts

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.

After the quiet and low-key post-holiday, the music calendar is again filling with touring acts. This time around, I’ll spotlight a couple acts that are household names (dpeending on your household, of course). Three of them have been playing, recording and touring for decades, and the other is a relative newcomer. That they’re all playing Asheville inside a just-over-two-week period is proof that despite its relatively small size, Asheville is a go-to destination for high-profile musical artists.

Artist: Robyn Hitchcock
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Sunday, Feb. 15, 8 p.m.
Door: $15 advance / $18 day of show
Thanks to his roles as leader/frontman in The Soft Boys, The Egyptians, The Venus 3 and as a solo artist, Cambridge England’s Robyn Hitchcock has earned an underground reputation as a modern-day Syd Barrett (or rather a well-adjusted version thereof). But as his vast catalog proves, there’s much more to this singer/songwriter/sometimes-rocker than droll wordplay and catchy melodies. While his lyrics are often impressionistic and/or inscrutable, they’re rarely less than fascinating. And he’s one of a relative few rock-based artists who can command attention with nothing more than his voice and guitar. That’s the manner in which he’ll appear at The Grey Eagle. Emma Swift opens.

Artist: Diarrhea Planet
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Thursday, Jan. 29, 9:30 p.m.
Door: $8 advance / $10 day of show
Let’s begin by agreeing that all the good band names have been taken. What other explanation for the fact that a perfectly good, non-comedy group has willingly taken on the name Diarrhea Planet? In 2015, the requirement seems to be that every band has a high concept. This Nashville outfit certainly has one: they have four – count ’em: four – guitars out front. Heck, that’s one more (one louder?) than even Lynyrd Skynyrd, making the group look like a tribute to an awards show closing jam session. Their sound, however, is closer to a modern rethink of classic rock crossed with a punk-pop sensibility, and filled with high energy and memorable hooks. Junior Astronomers and Sisterwives open.

Artist: Anvil
Venue: New Mountain
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 11, 8 p.m.
Door: $12 advance / $15 day of show
The unlikeliest of rock heroes, Canadian “hair metal” band Anvil were the subject of the 2008 documentary film, Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Even those not predisposed to enjoy (or even endure) the group’s music tended to enjoy the movie, and the hapless group members engendered a sort of affection, thanks to their dogged determination to continue in the face of Spinal Tap-worthy obstacles. And now Asheville concertgoers have their first-ever opportunity to see and hear the band. Those who don’t enjoy metal may find Anvil’s music, lyrics, videos and album titles cliché, but for fans of the genre, these guys epitomize the appeal of melodic metal. Lord Dying and Sunlord open.

Artist: Arlo Guthrie
Venue: Diana Wortham Theatre
Date: Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13 and 14, 8 p.m.
Door: $48 regular / $43 students
Poor Arlo Guthrie. The man’s a great talent who has released dozens of albums of his own material over the last nearly 50 years. But despite the quality of his work, he’s known mostly for only three things: he’s the son of legendary folk troubadour Woody Guthrie; he had a big hit with a song somebody else wrote (Steve Goodman‘s “City of New Orleans”), and he’s the guy who gave the world the immortal 18-minute Thanksgiving tradition, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” But there’s so much more to this winning and engaging performer; the intimate setting of the Diana Wortham Theatre seems tailor-made for his warm and inviting stage presence. All that said, will he sing “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”? Hint: he’s currently promoting what’s billed as The Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour.

You may also enjoy: Now with over 1500 entries, my Musoscribe blog features new content — interviews, reviews and more — every business day. A proud tradition since 2009.

About Bill Kopp
Author, music journalist, historian, collector, and musician. His first book, "Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon," published by Rowman & Littlefield, is available now. Follow me @the_musoscribe

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