I feel so fortunate to live in this amazing place with such a vibrant music scene, and I love writing the Profiler. Besides writing my traditional Profiles, this year I experimented with fictional “Musical Missed Connections,” personality and music trivia quizzes and the Profiler Pitch. I love what I do, and I’m always excited about what’s next!
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (Orange Peel): Transported me to New Orleans in a good way.
Josh Ritter & Royal City Band (Orange Peel): the sweetest performer, a geek who can give you goosebumps.
Fitz & The Tantrums (Orange Peel): Short shows can be awesome when you feel like the performers gave you everything they had, and these guys did, with old school Motown awesomeness.
Elvis Costello (Thomas Wolfe Auditorium): At times watching middle-age people peer pressured into cage dancing was a little painful, but wow, did any other performer with such an amazing body of work come to Asheville this year?
Childish Gambino (Moogfest, Animoog Playground): After a weekend of Mooging I really did just want someone to jump around and put on a performance, and he did … can’t wait to see him again in March at the Peel.
Fleet Foxes (Thomas Wolfe Auditorium): It’s no studio trick — these guys played and harmonized so beautifully and the song writing is so strong, great material, great musicians.
Destroyer with War on Drugs (Grey Eagle): My 2011 wish to see The New Pornographers went unfilled, but I did get to see Destroyer play almost every song from one of my favorite albums of the year.
Kinda disappointing shows
The Jayhawks (Orange Peel) … When I saw the Jayhawks at Be Here Now in 2000, Marc Olsen had already left the group, but it was a wonderful show…maybe my hopes were too high for seeing the gang united, but as my friend Jose said, “Good show, but no magic.”
The Avett Brothers no-show: An Asheville NYE without the Avetts? The BiLo Center? Ouch.
Lauryn Hill (Orange Peel): She didn’t make us wait until midnight to get started as she did in some cities, but once I got over being star-struck, the show didn’t have much punch.
Adele no-show times two: Nevermind, I’ll find someone else like you; I wish nothing but the best for you, too.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy (Marshall High Studios): I love the Harvest Record guys, the venue was super cool and I mostly love BPB, but it didn’t all come together for me.
Chris Isaak: His disco ball tuxedo and mugging for the audience led my partner to leave after just 3 songs (Quote: “He’s just so…old.”) but I loved his amazing voice and his renditions of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison songs reminded me of my father’s record collection.
Brett Dennen: As fun as ever, 50 pounds lighter, a ginger Nina Simone who slips around the stage like a spaghetti noodle.
Lissie: A great young performer with a super voice, singing songs that aren’t drippy.
Girls: Not just a surprise, but easily one of my favorite shows of the year. Real rock ‘n roll and comparisons to Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds on the mark. Best lyrics: “I’ve been messing with so many girls who could give a damn about who I am. They don’t like my boney body; they don’t like my dirty hair or the stuff that I say or the stuff that I’m on.”
Best Music Moments:
Moby (Echo Mountain Studios): On the first rainy Friday afternoon of Moogfest, I watched him record six songs for a Daytrotter podcast that ended with his acoustic version of “Ring of Fire.” [listen to Alli Marshall’s podcast with the artist.]
Elvis Costello (Thomas Wolfe Auditorium): He invited the crowd to come on down, and my friend Pennell and I were able to lean on the stage and watch him jam with T-Bone Burnett for a few country-tinged tunes.
Flaming Lips (Moogfest, Animoog Playground): Watching the band walk down a slide out of a giant screen image of a cartoon vagina is not something that I’ll never forget.
How Did I Miss That?
Wanda Jackson (Orange Peel): What does it say about me that I was too tired to go see a 74-year-old woman perform?
The Whigs (Bele Chere): I was out of town.
Thao & Mirah (Grey Eagle): I really just dropped the ball on seeing Thao from the Get Down Stay Down and Mirah Zeitlyn promoting their critically praised joint-album venture.
The Civl Wars (Grey Eagle): These guys are really starting to blow up, and I know I’m not the only person in Asheville with regrets.
Favorite Records of 2011:
Bon Iver/Bon Iver
Charles Bradley, Menahan Street Band/No Time For Dreaming (Re-Issue)
Gary Clark Jr./The Bright Lights EP
Foster the People/Torches
Fleet Foxes/Helplessness Blues
Girls/Father, Son, Holy Ghost