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.
This edition of 30 Days Out proudly marks the two-year anniversary of the column. As we settle into winter, custom holds that things sometimes tend to slow down a bit on the local music scene. But the current musical calendar flies in the face of that preconception: there’s plenty of great (and reasonably-priced) live music to be found locally. So bundle up and go support those musicians.
Artist: Sons of Ralph
Venue: Jack of the Wood
Date: Saturday, Jan. 16, 9 p.m.
A Western North Carolina institution, Sons of Ralph are such household names in the musical community that it’s easy to take them for granted, to just sort of assume they’ll always be there. Still musically vital, leader Ralph Lewis is closing in on his 87th birthday. Their set mixes originals and classics, and is informed not only by Appalachian music, but by Cajun, and — thanks to the influence of Ralph’s sons and their band mates — good old rock ‘n’ roll.
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Sunday, Jan. 17, 9 p.m.
The members of this Chicago duo — singer-songwriters Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart — aim to set themselves apart from their city’s hip-hop and other musical movements. One listen to their music as showcased on their new self-titled EP makes that distinction clear: They have more in common with The Roches and (believe it or not) Nirvana. The duo’s deft vocal work is acrobatic in its execution, but alluring and quite tuneful in its presentation. Their music is a study in contrasts, with those careful harmonies set against an often jagged instrumental backdrop. The Few opens.
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Saturday, Jan. 30, 9 p.m.
Door: $17 advance/$20 day of show
Though the band rose from the ashes of Scandinavian doom/stoner-rock bands, Sweden’s Graveyard has moved its music in a much more appealing direction; today they musicians are riff-rockers in the grand tradition. The catchy riffs and banshee-wailing vocals of their tunes may evoke memories of 1970s heavy metal groups like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, and Thin Lizzy. Graveyard is classic-minded but not derivative; this is hard rocking, fist-pumping music for the 21st century. Be sure to bring your air guitar along. Spiders open.
Artist: Vanessa Carlton
Venue: New Mountain
Date: Saturday, Feb. 6, 8 p.m.
It’s not difficult to draw a line from the music of Carole King to Billy Joel to Alanis Morissette to Vanessa Carlton. A strong and deeply expressive pianist, she’s also possessed of a distinctive (and endlessly imitated) vocal style. The Pennsylvania native isn’t especially prolific: She’s released but five albums since Be Not Nobody, her debut 14 years ago. Carlton has earned multiple Teen Choice and Grammy nominations. Her latest album, 2015’s Liberman, has gotten enthusiastic reviews. Joshua Hyslop is the opening act.
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.