This time 'round, I'll cover two local acts and two nationally touring ones. While perhaps none are a household name, they all bend their chosen genres toward making music that is distinctly their own, even when they're presenting the works of others.
Artist: Greg Cartwright
Venue: The Double Crown
Date: Friday, Jan. 31, 10 p.m.
Door: (that whole NC "members only" liquor law thing)
The multifarious Cartwright is involved in music in many ways: formerly the owner of Memphis' legendary Goner Records, he relocated to Asheville some years ago. His band (or, to paraphrase David Sedaris, "one of his bands") Reigning Sound captures the garage vibe of the '60s in a deeply knowing way. And every Friday, he holds forth at the intimate Double Crown, spinning obscure vinyl from his personal collection. With an emphasis on garage and soul, his selections may not always be familiar, but they'll always be good.
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 9:30 p.m.
Door: $10 advance / $12
A lot of critics pigeonehole this London-based band as shoegaze. But that epithet sells the group short: its jangly, hook-filled approach owes as much to Teenage Fanclub and The La's as it does to, say, My Bloody Valentine. The departure of original lead singer Daniel Blumenthal led the band to move toward a more tuneful approach for Glow & Behold, its sophomore full-length. And while the album features keyboards and horns along with the guitar/bass/drum lineup, onstage the group aims for a more stripped-down sound. My Musoscribe blog will feature an in-depth interview with leader Max Bloom sometime between now and the show.
Artist: Marco Benevento
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Tuesday, February 11, 9:00 p.m.
Door: $12 advance / $15
For those whose tastes travel both inside and outside rock-related genres, you'll have to make a tough choice this night, as pianist Benevento is playing at the same time as Yuck (see above), a mere two miles apart. Though he's nominally a jazz (or, as his press kit describes him, "rock/post-jazz") artist, Benevento makes music that is truly -- and intentionally -- unclassifiable. The music on his latest solo release (2012's TigerFace) folds in elements of pop and blues, and is certainly more concise (read: less "jammy") than the sounds he creates with his funky, groovy Garage a Trois and his other projects. Expect a song-centric performance for this outing.
Artist: Asheville Jazz Orchestra
Venue: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
Date: Sunday, Feb. 16, 8 p.m.
These cats are the real deal. And it's stunning to witness just how much local jazz talent exists here in Asheville, much of it gathered on one stage. When I last saw them (at Isis, as it happens, though they play regularly at White Horse Black Mountain as well), they did their first set in the tradition of early jazz, with no onstage amplification. After a break, they came back and did a set of more modern material, with vocals and some amplification. Their sets are warm and intimate yet upbeat and lively, and bridge the gap between jazz history lesson and all-out entertainment.
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