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.
Heading into the holidays and winter months doesn’t mean that Asheville live music options slow down. Even now, we’re graced with top-notch nationally touring acts. Here are four — one British, three American — who represent various ends of the musical genre spectrum.
Artist: California Guitar Trio
Venue: The Altamont Theatre
Date: Monday, Dec. 19, 8 p.m.
Door: $17 advance / $20 day of show
In the late 1980s, King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp created Guitar Craft workshops, teaching a somewhat unorthodox (yet fascinatingly lyrical) guitar method. Using unusual tunings and a manner approach to the instrument (generally but not always acoustic), he influenced an entire generation of musicians. One of the most prominent exponents of that method (beyond Fripp’s own League of Crafty Guitarists) is the California Guitar Trio. Paul Richards, Bert Lams and Hideyo Moriya work almost exclusively with acoustic instruments, weaving a dense and intriguing sound that’s unlike most anything else you’ve ever heard.
Venue: New Mountain
Date: Saturday, Nov. 19, 9 p.m.
Door: $12 advance / $15 day of show
As jam-oriented bands go, New York’s TAUK leans more in the direction of musicality and ensemble playing. The group’s third and latest album, the self-released Sir Nebula, has flavors of space-rock folded into the funky mix. With jazz chops and rock sensibility, TAUK makes intelligent and melodic use of instrumentation. The group can handle complex meters and musical figures, but never does so at the expense of a concise and appealing tune. Fans of adventurous progressive acts like Ozric Tentacles will find much to enjoy in TAUK’s music. While all four members are truly impressive musicians, the focus is mostly upon keyboardist Alric Cater.
Artist: Howard Jones
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Monday, Nov. 28, 8:30 p.m.
When I interviewed Thomas Dolby in 2011, he had this to say about playing nostalgia package tours: “I wouldn’t touch something like that with a 10-foot pole. It would be an admission of ‘All my glory days are behind me; if you want to get a few drinks in you and take a walk down Memory Lane, come to our show.’” Fellow 1980s hitmaker Howard Jones (“Things Can Only Get Better,” “No One is to Blame”) isn’t one to rest on his past glories, either. While he hasn’t had a hit single or charting album since 1989, he continues to make upbeat and thoughtful music that concerns itself with “big ideas.” As an engaging live performer with a lyrical point of view that balances realism with hopefulness, he may be just right for these times.
Artist: The O’Connor Band
Venue: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
Date: Thursday, Dec. 8 and Friday, Dec. 9, 8:30 p.m.
Door: $32 advance / $38 day of show
Mark O’Connor is a highly acclaimed fiddler with two Grammy Awards to his name. He visited Asheville not long ago, hosting a workshop and concert at The Altamont Theatre along with his wife, fiddler Maggie O’Connor. In addition to that project, the couple also fronts The O’Connor Band, along with his son (mandolinist Forrest O’Connor) and daughter-in-law (Kate Lee, fiddle). The Americana/country/progressive bluegrass band has also recently added Geoff Saunders on upright bass and banjo, and flatpick guitarist Joe Smart.
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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