30 Days Out: a look at upcoming concerts

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD: Strutter -- the premier KISS tribute act -- is bringing its pyrotechnic rock'n'roll show to Highland Brewing Co. Saturday, Feb. 20. (photo courtesy the artists)

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 go-round previews two bands paying tribute to acts that enjoyed their heydays in the 1970s, and two original Southern acts that have promising careers still ahead of them.

Artist: Strutter
Venue: Highland Brewing Co.
Date: Saturday, Feb. 20, 10 p.m.
Door: $10
If you’re the kind of person who wants to rock ‘n’ roll all nite (and part of every day), then Strutter might just be the band for you. The KISS tribute act formed in the late 1980s, a period during which the subject of their tribute wasn’t faring so well. KISS was in the midst of its no-makeup phase, and with the concurrent rise of countless L.A. “hair bands,” an unmasked (and middle-aged) KISS seemed downright ordinary. And after all, it was the spectacle that made KISS a success; their dumbed-down rock ‘n’ roll rarely won awards for subtlety, nuance or (for that matter) musicianship. The musicians eventually brought back the kabuki greasepaint, but their golden era had passed. Yet during those lean years and, for nearly 30 years now, Strutter has been bringing that which really made KISS special into markets that reality-TV star Gene Simmons and his pals wouldn’t bother with. This show should be a rollicking good time.


Artist: Bully
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Sunday, Jan. 24, 9:30 p.m.
Door: $10 advance / $12 day of show
With an indie sound that seems to draw from R.E.M., Hole, Hüsker Dü and other acclaimed and influential artists, this Nashville-based group impressed critics with its 2015 full-length debut Feels Like (a 2013 cassette single and a 2014 EP preceded it). The foursome is fronted by vocalist/guitarist Alicia Bognanno, and includes a drummer named Stewart Copeland (no, not that one). See them now and beat the inevitable buzz when they play three big festivals — Sasquatch, Bonnaroo and Forecastle — later this spring. Palehound (read Kat McReynolds’ Mountain Xpress Smart Bets feature on them) opens. Photo credit: Maclay Heriot


Artist: Legendary Shack Shakers
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 10, 9 p.m.
Door: $12 advance / $15 day of show
Country punk doesn’t come much stronger than this. Music historians have often made the connection between country and rock ‘n’ roll, especially as embodied in outlaw personalities like the inimitable Jerry Lee Lewis. This Kentucky foursome doesn’t sound much like The Killer, but they’re a 21st century embodiment of that spirit. Tastemakers including Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) and former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant count themselves among fans of the group. Openers include The Howlin’ Brothers and The Wildtones.


Artist: Dark Star Orchestra
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Thursday, Feb. 18, 9 p.m.
Door: $26 advance / $28 day of show
Say what you will about newer, younger musical acts; there are countless superb ones working today. But the phenomenal success of tribute bands says something about the public-at-large’s interest in new music. At their best, tribute acts capture the zeitgeist of a bygone era, and their appeal is undeniable. Because no matter how doggedly the surviving members of The Grateful Dead persist in their post-Jerry Garcia permutations, the magic is gone. So it’s left to expert musicians in aggregations like Dark Star Orchestra to recreate the sound and ambiance of a vintage-era Dead show. Without the LSD, of course. Expect this one to sell out, and — as if you needed to be told — expect the show to go long. Deadheads wouldn’t have it any other way.

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.

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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