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.
In this issue, I take a look at some truly remarkable artists coming to town, in styles ranging from rock to avant-garde (but accessible) minimalism, from R&B/soul to a hybrid of jazz and trance/jam.
Artist: Jaga Jazzist
Venue: New Mountain Asheville
Date: Tuesday, June 23, 8 p.m.
Door: $18 advance / $20 day of show
Most people — when they hear or read the term “experimental jazz” — head for the nearest exit. It’s undeniable that a lot of the music that falls into that category is difficult listening, more cerebral and complicated than hypnotic and alluring. But although the label fits Norwegian group Jaga Jazzist, the musician’s sound incorporates elements of electronica, trip-hop and post-rock. Shades of downtempo heroes Zero 7 and Swedish folk/jazz/rock/progressive outfit Dungen can be heard in Jaga Jazzist’s music; it’s very accessible, highly tuneful instrumental stuff that strikes a perfect balance between mellow and adventurous. If Ozric Tentacles had twice as many members and more of a jazz/classical bent, they might sound a bit like Jaga Jazzist.
Artist: Charles “Wigg” Walker
Venue: Altamont Theatre
Date: Saturday, May 30, 8 p.m.
Door: $15 advance / $20 day of show
I first heard the name Charles “Wigg” Walker when I interviewed The New Mastersounds’ Eddie Roberts back in spring 2010. Knowing the British guitarist’s impeccable taste and abiding interest in American soul, that was enough to sell me on the virtues of Nashville-born Walker. His long career began with 1959’s “Slave to Love,” and he went on to become a mainstay of New York City’s soul scene; for a time he was also a staff songwriter at Motown. Returning to his hometown in the early 1990s, Walker stayed very busy with live dates. These days he tours with his own smaller band, turning out authentic soul and R&B. High local demands keep Walker and his group booked close to home most nights, but Asheville’s lovers of rhythm, blues and soul can catch him on his one-night-only engagement in the intimate setting of The Altamont Theatre.
Artist: David Torn
Venue: Streamside Concerts
Date: Saturday, June 6, 6:30 p.m.
Door: Officially free; suggested donation $25
In music, minimalism is the art of doing much with very little. Oftentimes minimalism eschews melody in favor of tone and texture; as such, the evocative qualities of minimalist music lend themselves to use in film soundtracks. In addition to his sixteen-plus albums, experimental guitarist David Torn has, in fact, lent his talents to a dizzying array of film projects, including The Big Lebowski, Traffic, and No Country for Old Men. Yet unlike some of his contemporaries (Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Brian Eno, Glenn Branca), Torn’s works are often deeply rooted in melody. Working with electric and acoustic guitars, effects and loops, Torn’s one-man instrumental performances display a wide palette of emotions. All of his talents are on full display on his latest ECM album, only sky. The informal setting of Streamside offers a unique up-close-and-personal opportunity to experience Torn and his music. The evening includes a potluck dinner (b.y.o.b). My interview with Torn will run on the Musoscribe blog in advance of the show.
Artist: The Baseball Project
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Friday, June 15, 9 p.m.
Though it’s often applied incorrectly, in its proper usage, the word supergroup actually means something. A supergroup is a musical project involving personnel who have earned reputations on their own or at the very least with other groups. And by that definition, The Baseball Project certainly meets the criteria. Guitarist Steve Wynn has an impressive body of work under his own name, as a member of Gutterball and as leader of The Dream Syndicate. Scott McCaughey leads The Young Fresh Fellows and is a member of another supergroup, The Minus 5. Former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck plays in Minus 5 as well, in addition to his role in The Baseball Project. Even though he’s busy leading the amazing Big Star tribute shows, ex-R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills is part of the “team roster” as well. Rounding out the lineup, drummer Linda Pitmon is both Wynn’s spouse and a member of The Miracle 3 with Wynn. The sound of the group is an amalgam of all its members’ other projects, and the lyrics are — you guessed it — about baseball.
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