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.
There’s something for most every musical taste in this roundup. All four are nationally touring artists with widespread critical acclaim.
Artist: Steve Gunn
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Wednesday, July 13, 9:30 p.m.
Door: $12 advance / $14 day of show
Read about his musical influences and you might think that guitarist Steve Gunn makes challenging and abstract music. Or at least music with a folky bent. But listen to him and you’ll discover that he’s supremely accessible, and that he places great emphasis on sturdy song construction with memorable hooks and such. And he does all that while engaging in guitar heroics that are never show for their own sake. Hotshot guitarists rarely come with such wide appeal as Gunn’s music has. He knows when to rock and when to hold back; that nuance and inherent variety is a big part of what makes him special. Spacin’ opens.
Artist: Carlene Carter
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Sunday, July 17, 7 p.m.
Door: $22 advance
Without a doubt, Carlene Carter needs less of an introduction than most of the musical acts previewed in this column. She’s true music royalty, with deep connections to both the Carter Family and Johnny Cash (not to mention singer-songwriter Nick Lowe). But none of that would matter a whole lot if she couldn’t deliver the goods via her own singing, playing and songwriting. As is so often the case, the Grammy nominee’s critical acclaim has often outpaced her commercial success, but she’s a beloved performer. Asheville audiences have the special opportunity — one afforded few other cities — to see her in the very intimate setting of The Grey Eagle. Bill and the Belles open.
Artist: Mike Dillon
Venue: The Altamont Theatre
Date: Wednesday, July 20, 8 p.m.
Door: $10 advance / $20 VIP
Punk jazz? That label might seem a bit intimidating. But don’t let it dissuade you from checking out the astonishing musical personality that is Mike Dillon. One of the busiest guys in the business, Dillon has his hand (or at least his mallets) in all manner of musical projects. Last winter he left an Asheville audience slack-jawed as he accompanied keyboard legend Don Preston: Dillon played a drum kit and vibes at the same time. At. The. Same. Time. He’s a force of nature. And don’t be put off by his invariably unsmiling publicity pics: he’s having a good time up there, and so will you, out there in the audience.
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Saturday, July 23, 9 p.m.
Door: $20 advance
Swans are among the most polarizing of musical entities. People either swoon over them or run from the room when their music comes on. Many critics fall into the former camp; I last saw them at Bonnaroo a couple of years back where they drew an impressive crowd to start with, but their punishing, relentless music scared off the majority of the audience by the end of their set. That said, if you’ve acquired — or are open to acquiring — the taste, Swans are like few other acts you’re likely to see or hear.
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