30 Days Out: a look at upcoming concerts

GATHER NEAR TO US ONCE MORE: Asheville's "Godfather of Jazz" Russ Wilson brings a special holiday-themed show to ISIS Restaurant & Music Hall on December 18.

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.

Here in Asheville, we’re easing into our “secret season,” that time of year when the tourist hordes thin out a bit, leaving local music venues mostly to local music lovers. And it’s also a good time to put the focus on locally based musical artists; three of this edition’s four live in or near Asheville, and the other one is a regular visitor to our mountain city. Two of the shows are no-cover, and the other two are reasonably priced.

Artist: Russ Wilson’s “Have Yourself a Swinging Little Christmas”
Venue: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
Date: Sunday, Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m.
Door: $15 advance / $20 day of show
Even by his own standards, Western North Carolina’s own Russ Wilson has had a busy year. Okay, so maybe you can’t find him onstage every night of every week, but — not even counting impromptu appearances — the man plays out locally a dozen times a month or more. In addition to his regular gigs with 3 Cool Cats, his trio, and his no-mic showstoppers at 5 Walnut, Wilson’s ambitious 2016 schedule featured his ongoing musical series, Russ Wilson’s History of Jazz. The bandleader observes the big holiday with a Christmas-themed set that’s sure to get everyone in the spirit.

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Artist: Amy Black’s Muscle Shoals Revue
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Saturday, Dec. 17, 8 p.m.
Door: $12 advance / $15 day of show
Amy Black relocated from the Northeast to Nashville not long ago, and while much of her previous and original work has been in an Americana vein, she struck creative gold when she recorded an album’s worth of songs associated with the legendary Muscle Shoals Recording studio. Black first brought her Revue to Asheville about a year ago; that show featured Sarah Borges alongside the vocalist. Attendance at that first show was sparse, but word spread and the Revue has returned at least once since then. Black and her band have earned the right to make Asheville a semi-regular tour stop. Go find out why.

Photo by Cindy Kunst
Photo by Cindy Kunst

Artist: Will Ray & the Space Cooties
Venue: Asheville Guitar Bar
Date: Thursday, Dec. 22, 7 p.m.
Door: free
Master of the Telecaster Will Ray is holding down a residency at one of Asheville’s newest music haunts. The Guitar Bar is the ideal space for experiencing live music close-up and in person. Ray’s Space Cooties showcase a different side of the guitarist than you’ll hear from the band he’s most often associated with, the Hellecasters. Instead, the Space Cooties lean in a jam-band direction. The scheduling of this every-Thursday gig targets that segment of the local population wanting to take in live music but still be home by bedtime.

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Artist: Hustle Souls
Venue: Foggy Mountain Brew Pub
Date: Saturday, Dec. 31, 10 p.m.
Door: free
On the local scene since late 2014, Hustle Shoals are building a core fan base through steady gigging; they’re a regular fixture at Pisgah Brewing, among other Asheville-area nightspots. They take to the road pretty regularly as well. Hotshot guitarist Chris Everett — a master in most every musical genre — spins out endlessly creative licks, and he does so in a manner that makes it look easy. Hustle Souls are best described as “Southern soul,” and they draw from a well of inspiration that stretches from New Orleans to Memphis to Asheville and back again. This New Year’s Eve show will inevitably go late.

You may also enjoy: With well 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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