WNC’s New Year’s Eve celebrations usher in the ’20s

MAKE THE LEAP: One festivity-filled evening separates the old year from the new one. Ring in 2020 with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, pictured, at U.S. Cellular Center, among many other offerings. Photo courtesy of the band

As one year wraps and a new one begins, the passing of the torch takes place in a number of ways and at an array of venues. From dance parties and symphonic masterpieces to contemplative chanting and righteous reggae vibes, there’s a celebration for every taste. And, because this is the start of the Roaring 20s, 2.0, it deserves all the sparkle, flare, shimmer and shine we party people can muster.

So where will you welcome in the next decade? Check out the list below and visit Calendar and Clubland for more New Year’s Eve ideas.

• As we collectively reach the ’20s, at least one party asks us to recall the other ’20s — last century’s era of elegance, excess, jazz and high style. “Usher in the next decade by stepping back a century,” reads an invite to the Grove Arcade-presented New Year’s Eve Roaring Twenties extravaganza. The evening includes music from Red Echo Lab and Justice Mann of Shabidukah, a Prohibition-reminiscent cocktail curated by Jonny Burritt of The Chemist, hors d’oeuvres and “speakeasy-style entertainment” all within the art deco environs of the Grove Arcade. Flapper servers and a photo booth will be part of the celebration. 1 Page Ave. 7-10 p.m. $40. nye.grovearcade.com

• “This is a chance to hear the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club [Band] album backed by a live orchestra, as it was originally recorded in the studio,” said David Whitehill, Asheville Symphony Orchestra executive director, in a statement about the group’s New Year’s Eve concert. For Tuesday, Dec. 31, Asheville Symphony teams up with the Classical Mystery Tour band (including cast members from Broadway’s Beatlemania) for a pop-meets-classical collaboration of the famed album and other Beatles hits. “Hear ‘Penny Lane’ with a live trumpet section, listen to ‘Yesterday’ with a string quartet and enjoy ‘I Am the Walrus’ blended with a full orchestra,” says a press release. Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 87 Haywood St. 8 p.m. $42-$85. ashevillesymphony.org

NEW YEAR, CLASSIC TUNES: The Asheville Symphony Orchestra, pictured, teams up with the Classical Mystery Tour band (including cast members from Broadway’s ‘Beatlemania’) for a pop-meets-classical collaboration. Photo courtesy of Asheville Symphony

• If your New Year’s Eve isn’t complete without a good murder ballad (one could argue the appropriateness, considering the outgoing year is being laid to rest), the Dec. 31 show by Ellis Dyson & the Shambles might be just the ticket. The Chapel Hill-based purveyors of “whiskey-soaked, foot-stompin’ songs that bring party music of departed eras,” as the band’s bio puts it, will perform early New Orleans jazz and the aforementioned Piedmont murder ballads at Isis Music Hall, 743 Haywood Road, starting at 9 p.m. $20. (A New Year’s Eve dinner menu is available starting at 5 p.m.) isisasheville.com

• Those familiar with Tom Wolfe’s 1968 work of new journalism, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test — an account of Ken Kesey’s cross-country, LSD-fueled adventures with his followers the Merry Pranksters — might see an immediate connection to Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Presents: The Electric Kool-Aid Asheville Test, A Psychedelic New Year’s Eve Celebration slated for U.S. Cellular Center, 87 Haywood St. But even without the painted school bus and dosing, the Baltimore-derived funk/jam band does promise, “We pour every ounce of ourselves into every note when we perform live” and that its “very existence is rooted in the unyielding quest for joy and positive energy,” according to show notes. Rock quartet Tauk opens. 8 p.m. $32.50 plus fees. ticketmaster.com

• Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels & Rope have long taken cool to new levels. They hang out with John Paul White of The Civil Wars. They curate a music festival (High Water Festival in North Charleston, S.C.). They’ve written a children’s book and they recently released a concert film. The latter was originally intended as live footage from two nights at The Orange Peel but grew to include a narrative. The drum and guitar duo will return to that stage, with support from Indianola, for a New Year’s Eve show. 101 Biltmore Ave. 9 p.m. $37-$40. theorangepeel.net

• While event details are sparse for New Year’s Eve at Salvage Station, little needs to be said beyond Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band and Empire Strikes Brass. Either of the local, funk-infused bands is enough to guarantee a crowded dance floor and party in full effect. The pairing is likely to blow the roof off (and yes, the all-ages show will be on the indoor stage). 8 p.m. $25. 466 Riverside Drive. salvagestation.com

• And now for the math fans: Say you ring in 2020 at the 38th annual Epic NYE Bash at The Grove House, 11 Grove St., in the historic 1924 YMCA building. The soiree includes three dance floors, three DJs, three balloon drops, six bar stations, eight themed areas (Old School Christmas, Winter Wonderland and Santa Saloon, among them) and more than $1,000 offered in cash and prizes. So, how many parties will you be attending? Don’t worry, we lost count, too. But a single ticket covers all of that, plus party favors (tiaras!), hors d’oeuvres and desserts. 8 p.m. $25 advance/$30 at the door. avl.mx/6qv

• The Vintage New Year’s Eve Celebration is an audience participation event in that concertgoers bring the retro attire. “Throw on your favorite vintage look and ring in the new decade with face-melting soul-rock, surprise music collaborations and a complimentary Champagne toast provided by the bands at midnight,” says the website for Ambrose West, 312 Haywood Road, which hosts the happening. The Broadcast and DownTown Abby & The Echoes perform. (Honeypot Vintage, 86 N. Lexington Ave., offers 10% off New Year’s Eve apparel and sells tickets, too). 9 p.m. $18 advance/$30 day of show. ambrosewest.com

• The Odditorium, 1045 Haywood Road, turns up the volume for the Blue Mountain Mischief-presented New Year’s Eve Massacre. Local and regional metal and punk acts (Bleedseason, Fractured Frames, Bound by the Crown, Stand Defiant, Forsaken Profits and Some Kind of Nightmare) take the stage for an all-ages show. 9 p.m. $10. avl.mx/6qy

HIGHER VIBRATIONS: ReggaeInfinity, pictured, returns to The BLOCK off Biltmore for a thoughtful New Year’s Eve commemoration. Another more reverent approach is a kirtan and sound meditation at Weaverville Yoga. Photo courtesy of the band

• Travel back in time a quarter-century for the Party Like It’s 1995! NYE Bash at White Labs Kitchen & Tap, 172 S. Charlotte St. The date isn’t arbitrary: The New Year’s Eve celebration also kicks off White Labs’ 25th anniversary (the yeast and fermentation company launched in California in 1995). “Don’t forget to wear your best ’90s outfit (denim and scrunchies highly recommended!) to compete for gift cards and other prizes,” says an invite. The party starts at 8 p.m. with ’90s trivia at 10 p.m. and DJed music all night. Free. avl.mx/6qz

• Searching for a more thoughtful observation of the year’s end? Weaverville Yoga, 7 Florida Ave., Weaverville, opens for a New Year’s Eve Candlelight Kirtan and Sound Meditation. “We will chant sounds of the chakras and healing mantras before relaxing back in a luxurious sound healing restorative meditation,” explains the event page. Vocalist Linda Go will be accompanied by Celtic harp, acoustic guitar, Tibetan bowls and Native American flutes. 7:30 p.m. $15 advance online registration/$20.20 at the door. avl.mx/6r1

• Also soulful will be the annual ReggaeInfinity performance at The BLOCK off Biltmore, 39 S. Market St. The Columbia, S.C.-based roots music collective boasts members from throughout the Caribbean. Bandleader Ras B writes and arranges most of the group’s songs. 8 p.m. avl.mx/6r2

• Fans of DJ Marley Carroll’s popular Lose Yourself to Dance series can wrap up the year at an especially celebratory installment of the event. The dance floor awaits at One Stop, 55 College St. 10 p.m. $5. avl.mx/6r3

• Make a list and check it twice (if it’s good enough for Santa, it’s good enough for Baby New Year): balloon drop, countdown, drink specials and The Kavalactones featuring Aaron Woody Wood. The local guitar hero et al. play at Noble Kava, 268 Biltmore Ave., starting at 9 p.m. avl.mx/6r4

• Head beyond downtown Asheville for a Great Gatsby New Year’s Eve Party at The Gem at Boojum Brewing Co., 50 N. Main St., Waynesville. The 1920s-themed fête offers a Champagne toast at midnight and small bites and desserts before the ball drops. Fancy dress is suggested (because: Gatsby!) but not required. 9 p.m. $5. avl.mx/6r5

• “Bundle Up – Throw Down” is sort of a tagline for The Oskar Blues NYE Hootenanny, 342 Mountain Industrial Drive, Brevard. Described as “a Western North Carolina tradition, complete with foot-stompin’ music and Brevard-brewed beers,” the gathering takes place on the brewpub’s heated patio (hence the bundling up) with food trucks on-site and performances by Darby Wilcox + the Peep Show (7:30-8:30 p.m.), High Flying Criminals (9-10 p.m.) and Jeff Sipe’s Electric Buddha featuring Mike Barnes + Melissa Reaves (10:30 p.m.-12:15 a.m.). The fun starts at 7 p.m. Free. avl.mx/6r6

• As has already been established, New Year’s Eve is a beginning, but it’s also an end. Enter the decisively named Murder By Death, which will put the final nail in the coffin of 2019 at The Grey Eagle, 185 Clingman Ave. The Louisville, Ky.-based quintet is an innovator of early 2000s Americana (not the 1976 mystery parody film of the same name). The band is currently on its 20th anniversary tour, including its all-ages New Year’s Eve show. 9 p.m. $22 advance/$30 day of show. thegreyeagle.com

• Local musicians Mark Conti, Christian Ferri, Eric Ciborski, Edwin Mericle and Greg Norris comprise the Asheville Waits Band, a tribute to singer-songwriter and personality Tom Waits. And, because Tom Waits for no man, the group has been tasked with bringing in 2020 at Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria, 42 Biltmore Ave. 9 pm. avl.mx/6r7

• Sometimes there is truth in advertising: Florida-based festival favorite Grass Is Dead plays bluegrass versions of Grateful Dead covers. “It is not complicated or artsy; this is a straightforward hootenanny built to last,” says the band’s bio. The group plays Asheville Music Hall’s Ball in the Hall, wrapping up 2019 with help from North Carolina supergroup Songs from the Road Band (Mark Schimick, Charles Humphrey III, Sam Wharton and James Schlender, blending yet more bluegrass with Americana and jazz). 31 Patton Ave. 10 p.m.
 $20 advance/$25 day of show. avl.mx/6r8

• Ride into 2020 with Asheville on Bikes’ Bright Light Biker & New Year’s Dance Party. Meet at Catawba Brewing Co.’s South Slope location, 32 Banks Ave., No. 105, at 8 p.m. for a 3- to 5-mile group pedal through downtown Asheville (decorated bikes are encouraged). A dance party follows, with DJ Jut Rut spinning, 9:30 p.m.-midnight. avl.mx/6su

• In perhaps a surprise twist, Battery Park Book Exchange, 1 Page Ave., No. 101, turns back the clock to … 1966. The idea to throw a party based on author Truman Capote’s high society Black & White Ball at the Plaza Hotel in New York, “was a great fit for us,” says Book Exchange co-owner Donna Wright. “It paired well with our shop, which offers a fabulous mix of music, books and, of course, Champagne.” Advanced VIP tickets to BLACK & WHITE: A Party of the Century include jazz music, reserved seating, complimentary drinks, a midnight Taittinger toast and a late-night breakfast buffet. 9 p.m. $110-$200. avl.mx/6rq

• Despite its question-raising name, the Don’t Come as You Are New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball promises a “supercharged” party. Local vocalist Kat Williams “will be welcoming you and all things possible with a toast at midnight and balloon drop with special surprises,” says a press release for the gala, held at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel ballroom, 31 Woodfin St. The 1st Generation Band from Atlanta will also perform. 9 p.m. $50 single ticket/$75 pair of tickets. williamsrothentertainment.com


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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She 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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