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.
Two locally based acts and two artists who came to fame providing musical support for others are the focus of this edition’s roundup.
Artist: Blinddog Smokin’
Venue: The Altamont Theatre
Date: Saturday, July 18, 7 p.m.
Door: $15 advance / $20 day of show
It’s not without precedent for a backing band to step out on its own: UK star Cliff Richard‘s band The Shadows became a big sensation (and influenced The Beatles) with its own material. Stax Records house band Booker T & the MG’s scored a long line of hits. Graham Parker‘s band The Rumour forged a critically acclaimed career of its own. And of course The Band got its big break backing Bob Dylan. When Bobby Rush earned a 2015 Grammy nomination for Decisions, his collaboration with Dr. John, the funky players backing up the duo were Blinddog Smokin’. With vocalist Carl Gustafson out front, the band plays their own high-energy funk/soul/blues on the new High Steppin’, their 11th album.
Artist: Leigh Glass Band
Venue: Homegrown in Pritchard
Date: Friday, June 26, 6 p.m.
Leigh Glass is a long-established part of the Asheville music scene and beyond. These days she fronts two aggregations: the long-running Hazards (aka The Leigh Glass Band) and the trio Devils and Dust. While traveling the region regularly, Glass never forgets her roots (she was born in Haywood County) and makes sure that hometown dates are always on her calendar. A string of local gigs culminates with a headlining spot on the Homegrown in Pritchard concert series. The triangular park — formerly a bus terminal, now home to the famous weekly drum circle — hosts the series organized by the Asheville Downtown Association, with free weekly shows through the end of August.
Artist: The Volt Per Octaves
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Friday, July 17, 9 p.m.
Door: $10 advance / $12 day of show
In the age of EDM, where all the sounds can be preprogrammed and then “performed” by someone who walks onstage, hits a button on a laptop and then walks off, The Volt Per Octaves are a breath of fresh — yet still electronic — air. The Montoya trio (dad Nick, mom Anna and daughter Eva) play locally built (read: Moog) analog synthesizers and perform their original music, hypnotic tunes that fall between dark and upbeat pop. This show will celebrate the release of Joining the Circuits, their fourth album (not counting a star-studded 2008 compilation of VPO remixes). The new album features guest appearances by Nathan Marino, Asheville’s own Jason Daniello and the Montoyas’ longtime friend and mentor Bernie Worrell of Parliament/Funkadelic and Talking Heads. Worrell will join the VPOs onstage, and Tin Foil Hat and Shop Talk open.
Artist: Leon Russell
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Thursday, July 16, 8 p.m.
Door: $25 advance / $27 day of show (standing), $30 advance / $32 day of show (seated)
One has to be careful about throwing around the term “living legend.” But where musician and bandleader Leon Russell is concerned, it’s beyond dispute. Russell’s early days in the music business found him as part of the backing band that appeared in The T.A.M.I. Show film; he led The Shindogs, the “house band” for the popular 1960s TV show Shindig (a hipper answer to American Bandstand). Alongside producer Snuff Garrett, he led the sessions that backed pop hit-maker Gary Lewis. He put together the Mad Dogs and Englishmen-era band for Joe Cocker, and he was a key figure in George Harrison‘s monumental Concert for Bangladesh. That’s him on piano on Badfinger‘s “Day After Day.” He’s written hits for many other artists, and along the way he found the time to release solo albums of his own, scoring a major hit with 1974’s “Lady Blue.” And he hasn’t slowed down: The Union, his 2010 collaborative album with Elton John, topped the charts in the USA and Canada.
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