30 Days Out: a look at upcoming concerts

OUT OF THE WILDERNESS: Vancouver's Black Mountain return to Asheville's Grey Eagle June 23, touring in support of IV, their first album since 2010's Wilderness Heart.

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 time I’ll take a quick look at music from all over: Stockholm, Sweden; Vancouver, British Columbia; Scotland (by way of Tryon) and some homegrown sounds that are nonetheless otherworldly.

Artist: Black Mountain
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Thursday, June 23, 9 p.m.
Door: $15 advance / $18 day of show
This group from Western Canada may share the heaviness of some of its fellow darkly named groups (Black Sabbath, Black Angels), but Black Mountain balances tribal-psych with tunes that are more conventionally “hooky” than those other acts. The twin-lead, male-female vocals of Stephen McBean and Amber Webber give the band a sound reminiscent of early Jefferson Airplane or HP Lovecraft, but the group’s music exists somewhere between Led Zeppelin IV and the more synthy sounds of the 1980s. And yet with all those influences, Black Mountain never sounds retro. It’s been more than five years between the group’s third album (Wilderness Heart) and its latest (IV), but it’s been worth the wait. Majeure opens.


Artist: Dungen
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Thursday, June 9, 9 p.m.
Door: $15 advance / $18 day of show
From my point of view, this group, led by multi-instrumentalist Gustav Estjes, is among the most fascinating in all of current-day rock music. Drawing as much from avant-garde jazz as from acts like Traffic and Jimi Hendrix, Dungen still manages to sound fresh and new. The group’s music is completely sung in its native Swedish, but the wide appeal of Dungen’s music makes its quite accessible to Anglophone listeners. Dungen’s music veers from gentle, quiet and contemplative passages to monumental, squealing freakouts, often within the confines of a single song. It’s been some years since the group last played Asheville. If your tastes lean at all toward adventurous rock-leaning music, go to this show; you may well discover your new favorite band. New Madrid opens.


Artist: Jamie Laval
Venue: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
Date: Wednesday, June 22, 7 p.m.
Door: $18 advance / $20 day of show / $10 students
Laval is a U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion and Storyteller. In recent times, this well-traveled (not to mention highly regarded) musician from Tryon has staged performances that put the spotlight on his fellow performers and his rich storytelling. And — due to the demands of those shows — he often plays big rooms. But for this special engagement at Isis’ upstairs lounge, it will be an intimate, up-close-and-personal, all-Laval-all-the-time performance, focusing partly on his inimitable storytelling skills, but primarily on his breathtakingly soulful fiddle playing. The show is titled “Summer Solstice: an evening of ancient Celtic music from pagan times.” Seating is limited to 50 people, so get your tickets in advance.



Artist: Rational Discourse
Venue: UNC Asheville Concerts on the Quad
Date: Monday, June 27, 7 p.m.
Door: free
Too often, when rock musicians head into improvisational realms, the results can be “jammy,” or — put another way — noodlesome and insular, designed solely for the gratification of the musicians themselves. When jazz players take a similar approach, the results can be quite adventurous, yet a bit abstract and out-there for the listeners whose ears are more attuned to pop melodies. But here in Western North Carolina, we have our own exponent of a best-of-both-worlds approach: Steve Alford‘s big band project called Rational Discourse. Rooted in a rock sensibility but with jazz chops, these guys leave convention behind. The lineup includes local players Jacob Rodriguez and Justin Ray, both members of Michael Bublé‘s touring band. As the saying goes, you never quite know what you’re gonna get, but it’s never less than interesting. And this time, it’s also free.


You may also enjoy: With over 2000 entries and more than 300 interviews, my Musoscribe blog features new content — features, reviews and more — every business day. A proud tradition since 2009, now in its eighth year.


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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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