Welcome to A&E

Some of you will be Jamming. Some will not. But whether you Jam or don’t, you might learn something interesting from this week’s A&E section. It’s the 20th anniversary of what’s arguably Western North Carolina’s largest benefit, and this year it’s grown into a two-day phenomenon: music all day and all night, and even some comedians thrown in.

Hip hip hooray: Ra Ra Riot brings its indie pop to the Grey Eagle this week.

But the Jam’s not the only gig in town this week, tho’ it might seem so. Because we only have so much space, and there’s so much Jam, some great events won’t get big play in print. For instance, up-and-coming band Ra Ra Riot hits The Grey Eagle on Sunday, Dec. 14. The band intrigued our lead arts writer Alli Marshall, ‘cause they’re from Syracuse (she grew up nearby). “It’s not where you think of young hip indie rockers coming from,” Marshall mused. Plus, she notes, they’re sweet. “It’s indie pop with a cello, how cute is that?”

Up to my ears in Jam, I got a call from one of The Brothels. He politely wondered if Xpress had planned coverage of his hobo junk rock band (their description), which plays Fred’s Speakeasy on Dec. 12. “I know, it’s the second night of the Jam,” he sighed. Who he was, I can’t be sure—Dirty Steve the Sledge, the bass player? Or Eddie Spagnetti, master of banjo, guitar, trumpet and saw? Or maybe it was mandolin/guitar/banjo player Jasper James the Stain. Or guitarist Schlycat. Or harps player Sterile Darryl, who also plays chest armor (?). Or Jerry Dripper the percussionist. Other monikers they toss around are The Greenlife Stalker, Bry Bread, Homie-O-Stasis and Sledge. At any rate, he said the music is sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes a pirate ballad.

Then there’s the terrifically entertaining Two Man Gentleman Band, coming Saturday to MoDaddy’s. There’s Danny Ellis giving his powerful “800 Voices—My Childhood in an Irish Orphanage” concert at the Blue Ridge Performing Arts Center on Saturday. There’s folk-pop troubadour Patty Larkin at The Grey Eagle on Thursday. Oh, and more.

It’s not hard to be a music lover in Asheville, that’s for sure. Enjoy.

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