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Vincent’s Ear is dead. It’s official, it’s a shame, and — barring some unforeseen act of divine intervention — I think we can finally (and I mean finally) put the club’s dead, bloated corpse into the ground.

But perhaps it’s best to instead burn the thing in the desert (like they supposedly did with Gram Parsons), then stow the ashes in an empty PBR tallboy can on Fisher Meehan‘s mantel. Regardless of the funeral, and for better or worse, we can now get on with the rest of our lives without the Ear.

Because in the end, even seemingly heavy hitters on our local landscape (such as Media Arts Project founder David McConville, who launched his own lofty defense of the venue) couldn’t alter Vincent’s demise.

You will hear no more about this broken-record issue here (at least for a good long while). Golf clap, please.

Meanwhile, New Year’s festivities in Asheville turned out nicely for a number of local bands. The entrance of 2005, on the other hand, is being marked by a couple of notable exits.

Local funk daddies Strut dropped their New Year’s disco ball at The Emerald Lounge, crowning the midnight hour with a slap-happy version of Prince’s “Kiss” with guest vocals from Asheville’s Carolyn Smith. Up the street at Stella Blue, The Goodies! returned again with their own New Year’s bag of … well, you know. Also on NYE, the Jaimee Tomas Band threw down at Barley’s, DJ Sterling and the NOLA-flavored Firecracker Jazz Band kept an Orange Peel gala rolling late, and The Grey Eagle’s bluegrass overdose, dubbed Mountain Family Circus, reportedly saw the young Biscuit Burners steal at least part of the show from the all-star cast. Jack of the Wood stuck with the eternal Sons of Ralph to ring in 2005, and The Great Slide transformed the fairly new Eagle Street restaurant Bearly Edible into a concert hall. “The jam in between the beginning of the night and the end of the night” ranked as that sprawling show’s highlight, according to the band’s own drummer, Dave Hamilton. Ian Reardon, guitarist/vocalist from MarsupiaL, relayed in an e-mail that his band’s Hendersonville stop at Hannah Flanagan’s was a rocking good time for all — complete with dancing on tables and the rodent quartet delving into J.J. Cale’s “After Midnight” to kick-start 2005. “So [many] good vibrations that I felt like a Beach Boy,” wrote Reardon, who also shared that MarsupiaL sent all of its New Year’s Eve tip-jar proceeds to a tsunami-relief organization.

Regular WNCW DJ and program director Kim Clark recently likened that sprawling disaster to an event “of truly biblical proportions” — one that, she rightly noted on the air, makes the music biz seem awfully petty right now.

Speaking of WNCW, Steve Earle (slated to play the Peel later this month) earned top honors on the radio station’s annual top-100 CDs contest — where more than 1500 listeners voted on the 2004 results.

In other local news, two noteworthy departures will be made official by the time you read this: Everybody’s favorite lanky guitar player, old Blue Rag Woody Wood, played a final show at Jack of the Wood (ha-ha) on the evening of Jan. 6. Woody’s apparently heading off to New Orleans for some sort of demented sabbatical, while Scrappy Hamilton has decided to switch coasts to L.A.

Scrappy leaves behind a loyal cotillion of followers (plus the beautiful Rebelles, with whom they collaborated successfully throughout 2004 as The Pheromones) to fend for themselves. Here’s wishing both Woody and Scrappy all the best in their travels. (There’s something pleasantly PG-13 about those two names side-by-side, don’t you think?)

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