30 Days Out: a look at upcoming concerts

Synthesizer pioneer Don Preston first came to widespread fame in Frank Zappa's Mothers. Now in his 80s, he's as busy and vital as ever. Preston's Akashic Ensemble plays Mothlight Nov. 14. (photo: Bill Kopp)

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.

Great news for this issue: all four spotlighted shows take place on weekend nights. And they represent a wide variety of styles: soul, chillwave, avant-garde and, well, we don’t know what Bill Frisell might do.

Artist: Don Preston’s Akashic Ensemble
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Saturday, Nov. 14, 9:30 p.m.
Door: $10 advance/$12 day of show
Impressively active at age 83, Don Preston is a towering figure in both rock and avant-garde circles. One of the earliest innovators with modular synthesizers, Preston was a key member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers. Seeing Preston — don’t miss his legendary iPhone solos — would be reason enough to come out for this show, but the other members of his trio are icing on the musical cake: punk vibraphonist Mike Dillon is a frequent visitor to Asheville, and guitar whiz (Asheville’s own) André Cholmondeley (Project/Object, Wham Bam Bowie Band, Delicious) is always worth seeing and hearing. Individually and collectively, these three musicians push the boundaries. If your tastes run toward the ambitious, you simply don’t want to miss this performance.


Artist: Allen Stone
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Friday, Nov. 6, 8 p.m.
Door: $22 advance/$25 day of show
Look at photos of Allen Stone and read his bio, and neither will prepare you for his sound. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest in a sheltered, religious-based atmosphere, Stone somehow ended up sounding like Stevie Wonder. His gospel-oriented young days certainly informed his music, which is very much of a soulful nature. Unlike many of today’s neo-soul acts, Stone prefers “real” instruments over sampled and synthesized facsimiles. Live performance is where the difference between the former and latter becomes most apparent. His debut, Radius, was released earlier this year, and it’s done so well already that a major label (Dave Matthews‘ ATO) has scheduled a 2016 reissue (with bonus tracks). Bernhoft opens.


Artist: Keep Shelly in Athens
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Saturday, Nov. 7, 9:30 p.m.
Door: $10 advance/$12 day of show
This intriguing duo is from Athens. No, not the Athens that gave us R.E.M. and The B-52s, but the ancient city of Greece. Their chillwave textures are supremely melodic and alluring, with more than a hint of mystery. The band’s presskit reveals little beyond the two members’ names — RΠЯ and Myrtha — and one assumes that’s just the way they like it. The nearest musical touchstones for Keep Shelly in Athens’ grand sound might be Beach House and Cocteau Twins, but these Greeks put a more conventionally (and pleasingly) pop-oriented spin on things. (Note that the vocals are in English.) Different Sleep opens.


Artist: Bill Frisell Trio
Venue: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
Date: Saturday, Nov. 21, 9 p.m.
Door: $30
Plenty of artists take a dilettante approach to their music, dabbling in a bit of this, a bit of that. Just look at the career of Neil Young: Americana, screaming atonal noise, old-school c&w, synthpop; he’s done it all. But no one moves as seamlessly between genres -— effortlessly mastering each and every one — as Bill Frisell. From ambient, exploratory stuff to pop, from Americana to, oh, just about anything else you can think of, Frisell does it like he means it. Because he does. Nominally a contemporary jazz artist, the prolific guitarist continues to challenge both himself and listeners. What will he and his trio (featuring Tony Scherr and Gerald Cleaver) sound like on this tour? Who knows? Go find out.

You may also enjoy: With over 2000 entries, my new and improved Musoscribe blog features new content — interviews, reviews and more — every business day. A proud tradition since 2009.


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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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