It’s an important decision, this issue of where to spend New Year’s Eve. Cold Play didn’t coin the phrase “start as you mean to go on,” but the band made it famous-ish. And if there’s any truth to the concept, do you really want to begin 2011 watching the ball drop from the solo, Snuggie-draped comfort of your own couch? (If yes, no judgment, but you don’t need to read further.) If, on the other hand, your idea of going out/in with a bang involves wearing something sparkly, drinking something bubbly, dancing to something infectious (preferably with someone fabulous), you might want to peruse the options below. All events are in Asheville unless otherwise noted.
New Year's for free
• Have yourself an absurdist/Gypsy/folk/funk/punk New Year's Eve with Sirius.B and Bloodroot Orchestarr. Both bands take the back stage of The LAB (39 N. Lexington Ave., 252-0212). 9 p.m. to close, no cover. lexavebrew.com.
• "Looking for a cool place to spend New Year's Eve?" asks OneFIFTYone Boutique Bar & Kitchen, located in the Hotel Indigo (151 Haywood St., 239-0239). Following a three-course prix fixe dinner, the bar opens up for revelers with $2 glasses of champagne, free light hors d'oeuvres and music by Ben Hovey (trumpet player who's self-described sound is "jazz/funk/soul/dub/latin/electro/house"). 10 p.m., no cover. boutiquehotel-asheville.com.
• "Do you remember what happened last year?" asks swanky/jazzy/soulful group The Secret B-Sides. Actually, yes. They played a fantastic (and free!) New Year's Eve show at Barley's (42 Biltmore Ave., 255-0504). Don't remember/didn't make it? Good news: The Secret B-Sides do it all over again. 10 p.m., no cover. thesecretb-sides.com/secret.
In the clubs
• With songs like "Funky Sexy" and "Slow Thunder," Milwaukee-based R&B group The Charles Walker Band is sure to set a swanky tone at Tressa's annual New Year's Eve Bash (28 Broadway St., 254-7072). As usual, the ticket price includes a soul food buffet (in the upstairs lounge) and complimentary champagne for the midnight toast and balloon drop. Doors at 7:30 p.m., buffet at 8 p.m., entertainment at 10 p.m. tressasdowntownjazzandblues.com.
• It’s the third annual Hope Food Jam at Stella Blue (31 Patton Ave., 236-2424), featuring Ralph Roddenbery & the Jones with special guest Ted Norton, local Grateful Dead tribute band Phuncle Sam and local folk musician Jaimee Tomas. “The Hope Food Drive has helped raise thousands of dollars and collected hundreds of pounds of food,” says Roddenbery’s website. “We do this to help local food banks and local families in need during the holiday season.” $10 pre-sale (at The Circle in West Asheville or brownpapertickets.com/event/141169), $12 at the door (discount with a canned food donation). 8 p.m., myspace.com/stellabluelive.
• It's kind of like two parties in one at the White Horse (105C Montreat Road, Black Mountain, 669-0816). The Swayback Sisters (songwriter trio Nikki Talley, Laura Blackley and Lindsay Wojcik) open at 8:30, then it's the John Lennon Tribute Party featuring local cover band John Leo & the Eggman performing "the best of John Lennon and the Beatles.” 8:30 p.m. $20. whitehorseblackmountain.com.
• Maryland-based rockers Clutch (together for 20 years!) play the Orange Peel (101 Biltmore Ave., 225-5851) with Kylesa and Righteous Fool. 9 p.m., $29.50 advance/$35 doors. theorangepeel.net.
• The Grey Eagle (185 Clingman Ave., 232-5800) presents New Year's Eve with Reigning Sound! That's their exclamation point, and rightly so — the Greg Cartwright-led garage/punk/retro/soul outfit hits just the right celebratory note. DJ sets from Greg Cartwright and Whitney Shroyer. 9 p.m. $12 advance/$15 day of show. thegreyeagle.com.
• The super-popular folk/punk (and, recently, less-beardy) Avett Brothers finish out a two-night stand at the Asheville Civic Center Arena. David Mayfield Parade opens. 9 p.m., sold out.
• The Grove House (11 Grove St., 505-1612) New Year's Eve party is a not-to-be-missed extravaganza. Seriously, extravaganza. The entire complex is open (Eleven on Grove, Scandals and the Boiler Room), which means three three balloon drops and a three-story midnight champagne toast. There's also over $1000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, plus hors d'oeuvres and party favors. Entertainment includes “a night of Electronic and Video Production with breakbeats/tech house/trance/techno brought to you by A/V Club producers Nicodemus & VJ Loopy Jenkins and Tech tRIBE producers Yorgo Simou, J-Hecht & Luis Armando” at Club Eleven; DJ Stratos (club house/tech house/top-40) at Scandals; DJ Acolyte spinning; and drag performers every 30 minutes at the Boiler Room. 9 p.m.-3 a.m., $15/$20, ages 18 and up. thegrovehouse.com.
• Atlanta's blues-rockers Delta Moon ring in the new year at Fairview Tavern (831 Old Fairview Road., 505-7236). 9 p.m., all ages show. deltamoon.com.
• The Garage at Biltmore (101 Fairview Road, 505-2663) sets the stage for Touch Full Boom New Year's Eve. Does that name sound almost familiar? It's actually the combined efforts of three crews: TOUCH Samadhi, Asheville Full Moon and Wondrous Temple of Boom. Performers include Psyonic, Goadream, Rasa, Lady C vs. DJ Tonell, Quetzatl, GalaxC Girl, Pericles, Selector Cleofus, D:Raf and Xist. 9 p.m., $15. thegarageatbiltmore.com.
• MoDaddy's (77 Biltmore Ave., 258-1550 ) calls The Shane Pruitt Band "one of the most explosive blues acts coming out of the Southeast today" — an enticing description for the club's New Year's Eve act. 9 p.m., $15. modaddysbar.com.
• TallGary's (4 College St., 232-0809) rocks out with Unit 50 who, says the pub's owner, are "our most popular band … really great rock 'n roll." 9 p.m., $5. tallgarys.com.
• ”It’s a NYE family tradition at Jack of the Wood, so ring in 2011 with Ralph Lewis and his astoundingly talented sons and friends,” says Jack of the Wood (95 Patton Ave., 252-5445). Of course, the club is talking about Sons of Ralph (voted Best Bluegrass Band in WNC in 2010 by Xpress readers). 9:30 p.m. jackofthewood.com.
• At Westville Pub (777 Haywood Rd., 225-9782) it’s a New Year’s Eve Dance with midnight champagne! Cisco Playboys provides the soundtrack. 10 p.m.-2 a.m. westvillepub.com.
• Colorful costumes, a six-piece line-up, “triumphant horns, laid-back grooves, and heavy backbeats”: must be funk/party outfit Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, ringing (perhaps trumpeting?) in the New Year at The Emerald Lounge (112 N. Lexington Ave., 232-4372). 10 p.m., emeraldlounge.com.
• Head over to 44 S. Market St. for NYE Freakout: A Night of Filthy Hot Jams. Two floors of music with performances by Megahurtz, Plucky Walker, The Dispersants, Crow’s Foot, Abu Disarray, Doctor Awesome and Blood Summer. $5, 10 p.m.
• The Market Place Restaurant (20 Wall St., 252-4162) will hold a "Bubbles. Bites. Boogie." bash. The downtown Asheville restaurant will feature a special menu, followed by champagne, hors d'oeuvres and dancing to a DJ. Special menu items include a dry-aged bone-in ribeye, lobster "mac & cheese" and Kumamoto oysters on the half-shell. Guests receive a complimentary amuse bouche from Chef William Dissen. $20. marketplace-restaurant.com.
Make a night of it
• Make the drive to Laughing Waters Retreat Center at Hickory Nut Forest Eco-Community (3963 Gerton Hwy., Gerton) for the Festival of Light: New Years Eve with Sangita Devi Kirtan & Arundas. Starting at 7:30 p.m., “Join us for a warm, sacred, playful and ecstatic celebration of New Years Eve … 25 minutes from downtown Asheville.” Sangita Devi leads call and response devotional chanting, Arundas performs ecstatic world music and dance grooves and an interactive group ceremony is planned to “harmonize intention and bring in the new year with Love and Light.” $15 advance/$25 at the door. 7days1song.com/p/click-here-to-reserve-space-for-new.html.
• The Family Place of Transylvania holds an alchohol-free evening of family fun at the Transylvania County Boys and Girls Club (11 Gallimore Road, Brevard). Starting at 8 p.m., a live band, bounce house, silent auction are on the itinary; chili beans, soup, crackers, cornbread and drinks will be sold. A Rio de Janeiro countdown is scheduled for 10 p.m. for those with an earlier bedtime along with the traditional midnight countdown with a sparkling grape juice toast. Advance tickets: $4 adults/$2 children (available at Family Place in Brevard, Smart Start of Transylvania County, Boys and Girls Club of Transylvania County, OP Taylor's in Brevard and the Transylvania County Health Department). Tickets are $6/$3 at the door.
• The theme of this year’s annual Old Farmer’s Ball New Year’s Eve contra dance is Meet Me On Broadway. “Meet us on Broadway as your favorite character from your Broadway hit of choice,” says the website. “This is your chance to play dress-up in the most ridiculous of ways, so live it up, make it fun and most of all, make it danceable!” The Contrarians play; Hank Morris calls. 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m., at the Warren Wilson College Gym (701 Warren Wilson Road, Swannanoa). $15.50 advance/$20 doors. oldfarmersball.com.
• The annual Lindy Focus (Monday, Dec. 27-New Year's Eve) has been a breathlessly anticipated event for swing and jazz dancers for nine years running. Check out lindyfocus.com for the week's-worth of happenings, or just plan to Lindy Hop, Balboa and jazz dance your New Year's Eve away at the Crowne Plaza Resort (1 Resort Dr., 254-3211). "You can be taken back to the 1930s with live big band music, beginner swing dance lesson and performances by international dance champions," says press for the event. The Nouveau Passe Orchestra headlines and "the evening climaxes in a Lindy Hop Dance Show featuring the event's top talent, instructors and performers showcasing thrilling and eye-popping dance routines." 9 p.m., $45-$55.
• "Make it a Marshall New Year's Eve," suggests the Madison County Arts Council. "New Year's Eve 2010! Marshall is the place to be!" Starting at 9 p.m., the Arts Council (90 S. Main St., Marshall) hosts an evening of fun — Musical duo Mark and Aimee Bumgarner open for The Whitewater Bluegrass Company. Opening will be Mark and Aimee Bumgarner. "About 11 p.m. we will be serving a taste of good luck seasonal foods and at midnight a Champagne toast! All of this for $15." Info and tickets at 649-1301 or madisoncountyarts.com.
• Ride into the new year on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. The New Year's Eve Gala includes an evening of dining, dancing and live musical entertainment, plus party favors. The train leaves at 9 p.m. from Bryson City (arrive early for parking and a reception). $135 all-inclusive. Reservations at 800-872-4681 or gsmr.com.
• Danceland Ballroom (4020 Hendersonville Road, Suite D., Fletcher) holds a Gala New Year’s Party with refreshments, Champagne, party favors and a Belgian waffle breakfast (and, presumably, dance — the studio teaches foxtrot, rhumba, tango, cha-cha and more). 9 p.m.-1 a.m., $25. Reservations: 423-4653. dancelandballroomstudio.com.
— Know of some more events? Post ‘em at mountainx.com.