From black light to starlight

Photo courtesy of The Grove House

There are a number of business maxims — dress for success, learn more from your failures than from your successes, reinvent yourself every day — that could be applied to a winning New Year’s Eve. But none is more apt than that old British chestnut, start as you mean to go on. Because, let’s face it, where you are and what you’re doing when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. sets the tone for your entire next year.

OK, that might not be true. But for argument’s sake, let’s say it is. Will you kick off 2014 in your PJs (no judgments, we promise), on the dance floor, or at an intention-setting ceremony? Will the coming year be more about soul? Or perhaps it’s your time to rock ’n’ roll. Whatever your preference, Xpress here rounds up some top options to launch your next circuit around the calendar.

For more New Year’s Eve ideas, check out Clubland, Calendar and

Hendersonville Little Theater plans to celebrate twice, with Rock Around The Clock: A New Year’s Eve Gala, held at both 4:30 and 8:30 p.m. The variety show is hosted by Valerie Sneade, a recent transplant to Hendersonville, who’ll perform songs from the likes of Neil Diamond, The Supremes and Elvis, along with selections from Broadway musicals. Singer/guitarist Edward Loder, vocalist Beth Norris and The Brad Curtioff Trio are also on the bill. $25 adults/$20 students/$10 kids.

Plan to wear your stretchy pants to Pack’s Tavern. The bar and restaurant kicks off its celebration with cocktails at 6 p.m., appetizers at 6:30 and a dinner buffet at 7. There’ll also be plenty of Champagne and dancing. $60 per person includes food and party from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Arrive after 8 p.m. for three floors, three bars, DJ MoTo and Sound Extreme DJs. Cover for the party only is $10.

Oskar Blues in Brevard takes up the bluegrass mantle this year. Charlottesville, Va.’s Hackensaw Boys make the trip to Western North Carolina — not too big a deal for the group, considering that they traveled to the Netherlands a while back to play the memorial for a fallen Dutch fan. They’ve also recently played Pukelpop in Belgium, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Bergenfest in Norway, Telluride in Colorado, Belfast Folk Festival in Ireland and Floyd Fest in Virginia, so the Hackensaw Boys are well-schooled in festive spirit. Packway Handle Band also performs, and there will be “food trucks and goodies.” 7 p.m., $25.

If your idea of celebration is fueled more by tea and intention-setting, less by bubbly and disco balls, join Sangita Devi’s ninth annual New Year’s Eve kirtan. The evening begins with chanting and meditation. There’ll be an altar for lighting candles to symbolize intentions for the coming year and an ecstatic dance wave led by Robert Kochka. Held at Jubilee Community Church at 7 p.m. $25 advance/$35-$50 sliding scale at the door.

New Year’s Eve is pretty much a tradition at Tressa’s. The celebration runs from 7 p.m.-3 a.m. with music from soul act Lyric with special guest Ruby Mayfield. Balloon drop, Champagne fountains, party favors and the venue’s soul food buffet on its upper level are all part of the festivities. $25 per person.

Dance the night away at the Old Farmer’s Ball. Held in Warren Wilson College’s Bryson Gym, the long-running weekly contra dance goes glitzy for the new year. Clay Bay provides the music, and Nils Fredland calls. Waltzing from 7-8 p.m., contra at 8 p.m. This year’s costume theme is Midnight in Paris. $20-$21 in advance/$25 at the door.

“A New Year's Eve party of epic proportions” is what's promised by The Grove House. The venue holds a giant fete spanning all three of its clubs   Scandals, Boiler Room and Club Eleven. Five DJs will spin, there will be a balloon drop over every dance floor, a midnight Champagne toast and more. 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. $20 members/$25 guests/$30 under 21.

It’s vintage rock night at Olive or Twist, with 3 Cool Cats headlining. The party includes Champagne toasts, hats and party favors. 8 p.m., $15 in advance.

Catch more than a dozen local musical acts, who will perform at 38 N. French Broad Ave. (the former home of The Metrosphere and Club Hairspray). Promoter/curator New Earth Asheville hosts a Masquerade Soiree with Zansa, Disc-oh!, Futexture, Kri, Medisin, Push/Pull, In Plain Sight, Brett Rock, FlyPaper, Olof, Bombassic, JWOB, Samuel Paradise, Collective One and Intrinsic. 8 p.m., $20.

Foxtrot into the New Year at the Asheville Ballroom and Dance Centre. Recharge after all those samba moves with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., $20. Reservations required.

Rootsy-jamband RailRoad Earth may not be the first group to play more than two nights in a row at The Orange Peel (Smashing Pumpkins still holds the record), but a three-night stand culminating in a New Year's Eve show is none too shabby. Plus, local orchestral indie-pop band River Whyless opens the Sunday, Dec. 29, and Monday, Dec. 30, shows. 9 p.m., $25/$28. The New Year's Eve show is also at 9 p.m. $50.

A double shot of local funk and rock meets a black-light party when Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, on the heels of new album Onward, headlines The Grey Eagle. As the album title suggests and the group's bio confirms, the Booty Band is “deeply rooted in funk and fully committed to the ongoing evolution of the genre.” Soul-driven powerhouse collective The Broadcast (who also recently released a new album, Dodge the Arrow) opens. 9 p.m., $20/$25.

White Horse Black Mountain gears up for its annual New Year’s Eve party with BJ Leiderman and guests Eric Congdon, The Screaming Js, David Lamotte, Chuck Beattie and ZuZu Welsh. 9 p.m., $30.

Get to know the many facets of local singer-songwriter and band leader Stephanie Morgan: Two of her musical projects take the stage at Isis Restaurant and Music Hall. Hopefully, the persona and band changes also entail wardrobe changes — one of the many elements of showmanship that Morgan gets so very right. Jazz-noir act Crybaby opens the evening, followed by a headlining set from indie-pop outfit stephanies d. Mogan has been pursuing her acting career lately, so this return to music (in multiple forms) is the perfect end/beginning to the year. 9 p.m., $50 four-course dinner and show (reservations required)/$15 show only.

It’s been a big year for electronic-bluegrass fusion band Brushfire Stankgrass. “Highlights have included an appearance at the Moog factory, a Western tour, and several notable festival appearances,” the group’s website reports. Plus, “WNCW listeners voted One for the Salamanders a top-10 regional release of the year.” Hard to top all that, but they’ll still party like it’s almost 2014 at the Emerald Lounge. 9 p.m., $10.

After a three-year hiatus from local shows, garage rockers Reigning Sound pick this, the final night of the year, to resurface. So far, rumblings have been minimal. “NYE” was the whole of Reigning Sound’s Facebook post about its show at The Mothlight. But the semi-Asheville-based band (frontman/songwriter Greg Cartwright lives here; the rest of the current lineup was cribbed from New York band The Jay Vons) has big things in the works, like recording an album at Daptone Records’ studio. 9 p.m., $15.

“Start the year off right with a heart full of starlight,” say The Secret B-Sides. The band adds, in its Facebook invite, “Where will the Secret B-Sides be on New Year's Eve? Asheville's favorite watery watering hole — The Bywater — that's where! B-Sides will be accompanied by the Common Foundation Horns (aka the Co Fo Ho's) for extra fun-key funk to unlock the junk stuck in your trunk.” at 9 p.m.

Things might get loud over at The Odditorium, where the lineup includes some of Asheville’s most engaging, energetic and unpredictable acts. Slam a quadruple espresso to prep for Zombie Queen, The Tills (formerly The Critters), John Wilkes Boothe and The Black Toothe and Doomster. 9 p.m., $5.

There’s been a changing of the guard at Jack of the Wood. Used to be Sons of Ralph headlined the venue with all the tradition of “Auld Lang Syne.” But in recent years, Jack has switched things up. Floating Action performed last year; this year local absurdist Gypsy folk-funk-punk outfit Sirius.B promises its show “'Twill be a blast indeed.” 9 p.m., $15 (advance purchase recommended).

Since 2013 is about to become the dearly departed, it makes sense to see it out with an evening’s worth of Grateful Dead covers. At least that’s how local Dead-centric jam band Phuncle Sam sees it. The group, which is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary, performs its own takes on songs by Jerry Garcia, the Dead and others at Pisgah Brewing Co. 9:30 p.m., free show.

Instead of moving into next year, why not go back in time — to the era of Ziggy Stardust and other David Bowie iterations? Wham Bam Bowie Band’s members “are on a mission to not only faithfully present Bowie’s colossal classic-rock hits, but also to dig deep into the catalog and present the music that continues to influence generations and create new genres,” says the group’s bio. They’ll perform at The LAB at 10 p.m.

Sad songs say so much, especially when they’re written and performed by The Honeycutters — whose songs, by the way, are less sad than really poignant and expertly crafted. Plus, the local country/Americana band is offering up Appalachian honky-tonk for its Westville Pub show. And should any of those bittersweet notes linger, there’s a complimentary midnight Champagne toast. 10 p.m.,

There's nothing quite like the end of the year sneaking up to bring on a freakout. A New Year’s Freakout VIII, that is. The annual dance party, held at Toy Boat Community Art Space, brings DJs Abu Disarray, Harry Darnell, Ricoz and Zam Summers, and Jason Scott Furr on projectors. But it's headliner Cakes Da Killa who's likely to elevate that freakout into full-on hysteria. In the best way. The New York City-based queer rapper is known for his "outspoken and sometimes sexually charged rhymes," and appeared in Salon's story, "10 queer rappers you should be listening to instead of Eminem." Doors at 10 p.m., $5 before 11 p.m. and $8 after.

Forget ringing in the new year, how about rocking it in? And who better to get the job done than the sharply dressed men known as ZZ Top? Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard (the one, ironically, without the beard) have been honing their timeless cool blend of blues, rock and innuendo for more than 40 years. The band sees in 2014 at Harrah's Cherokee Casino. 10:30 p.m., $75-$114, limited ticket availability at press time.

Billed as the “Listen Local New Year’s Eve,” Asheville Music Hall’s lineup is packed not only with area acts, but bands that can really fill a stage. Both headliner Jahman Brahman and opener Makayan boast five members; both are known for dynamic live shows that meld various influences into musical cohesion. 10 p.m., $10 advance/$12 day of show.

— Alli Marshall can be reached at

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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