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 edition wraps up the fourth year of “30 Days Out,” taking a look at a beloved local act; a highly regarded regional musician; an alt-country troubadour who got his start in Western North Carolina; and one of pop culture’s most outspoken, iconoclastic and articulate spokespeople. All have local dates that make it worthwhile to brave the cold. Happy holidays; see you in 2018.
Artist: Boo Ray
Venue: Highland Brewing Company
Date: Friday, Jan. 5, 7 p.m.
Plenty of artists make country rock. And far too many of them draw from the most insipid and predictable elements of both forms, making music best suited for one of those radio stations that uses “Kiss country” branding. The few who create enduring work draw, instead, from the inspiration of seminal alt-country acts like Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco and the outlaw country scene. Boo Ray is cut from that cloth. Born in Western North Carolina but, these days, working out of Nashville, Ray has crafted a wonderful album with his latest, Sea of Lights. It takes whatever the country version of chutzpah is to title a song “A Melody, Some Guitars & a Rhyme.” But he does, and it’s a gem.
Artist: Kat Williams with the Richard Shulman Trio
Venue: Isis Music Hall
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 20, 8:30 p.m.
Both vocalist Kat Williams and keyboardist Richard Shulman are treasured by Asheville audiences. For this show, Williams teams up with Shulman and his band for an evening of holiday-themed music, spanning several musical idioms: jazz, rhythm and blues, and even some sacred songs. This evening, in the warm confines of Isis,’ main stage will strike just the right notes as the height of the season approaches.
Artist: Shane Pruitt Band
Venue: Jack of the Wood
Date: Saturday, Dec. 30, 9 p.m.
Guitarist Shane Pruitt is a sensation in his hometown of Spartanburg, S.C., where he’s been named “instrumentalist of the year” seven years in a row. Pruitt’s style is based in Southern rock, blues and the improvisational jam-band aesthetic. His latest album, State of Grace, was released seven years ago; these days Pruitt seems to be focusing more on live performance than studio work. He and his band mates — bassist/keyboardist Jim Peterman and drummer Bill Fletcher — stay quite busy playing live dates in WNC and the upstate.
Artist: Henry Rollins
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m.
Rollins first gained notoriety as vocalist for hardcore punk outfit Black Flag; these days his tenure in that band is but one bullet point on an extensive résumé. He’s an author, publisher, actor and (until the paper’s recent sale under murky circumstances) a regular columnist in LA Weekly. But Rollins is perhaps best known as a speaker. What he does certainly doesn’t qualify as a lecture, and it’s definitely not stand-up comedy. What it is, usually, is a few hours of nonstop monologue without the benefit of notes, a chair, or so much as a sip of water. Whatever he chooses to speak about, it’s guaranteed to be fascinating. “You gotta drill them into their seats,” he told me in 2010. “You must be compelling. You must be concise.” And he is. This tour is billed as the “Henry Rollins Travel Slideshow.”
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