This go-round features an unusually eclectic lot: modern sunny psychedelia, locally-sourced Britpop, a marriage of acoustic and high-tech and a jazz/funk legend. An evening with any of these is bound to be something special.
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Monday, Feb. 24, 9:30 p.m.
It took a bit of digging to sort out the nature of this Memphis band's "feat. Flaming Lips member" claim; in 2013 keyboardist Jake Ingalls joined the Oklahoma legends as a member of their touring lineup. It's certainly true that Spaceface and the "Flips" are kindred spirits with similar musical interests and influences. Spaceface collaborated with its heroes on a pair of tribute records honoring/interpreting the work of King Crimson and The Stone Roses. Onstage, Spaceface employs soundscapes and a light show, wrapping all of that around catchy original songs that are firmly rooted in the rock/pop idiom. Formed in 2012, the group hasn't yet released a debut album of its own. For now, the only way to hear more than a little bit of the band is to check out this Asheville date, scheduled right in the middle of an 11-date swing through the Southeast. Like-minded and local Asheville bands Analog Moon and Giant Giants open.
Artist: The Cheeksters
Venue: The Emerald Lounge
Date: Saturday, March 1, 8:30 p.m.
It's been quite awhile since the Britpop-meets-Memphis Cheeksters, led by transplanted Ashevillians Mark and Shannon Casson, released a new record. Their last full-length, The Golden Birds, came out nearly three years ago. And these days Mark is quite busy with his alter-ego project, fronting The Wham Bam Bowie Band. But new Cheeksters music is reportedly in the mixdown stage, and since the group schedules relatively few live dates — in Asheville or anywhere else — fans of their chiming, hooky pop won't want to miss the opportunity to catch them onstage, enjoying their classic "The Neighbourhood Kids" (once upon a time, the soundtrack for an Ananda Hair Salon TV commercial) and maybe even some of the new tunes. Two other acts (Camp David and Fishing for Tigers) open.
Artist: Steve Rothery, Paul Vo et. al.
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Sunday, March 2, 8 p.m.
Door: $10 advance / $12
Relatively unknown in the USA, Steve Rothery is the founding guitarist (and sole original member) of Marillion, a still-active band from the late progressive era that enjoyed a brief Top 40 hit with 1985's "Kayleigh." Traveling from his home in the UK, Rothery is coming to Asheville to take delivery of a does-that-really-exist piece of musical equipment, the Vo-96 Farida acoustic synthesizer guitar. Developed by Asheville's Paul Vo (who'll be sharing the stage this evening with Rothery and local notables Billy Cardine, Jake Wolf and Jeff Sipe), the Vo-96 is the latest in musical innovations from the man who was key in development of the Moog Guitar and Moog Lap Steel. The marriage of technology with the acoustic instrument should result in something that — in the right hands — has the ability to transcend genres. This promises to be a fascinating evening of music.
Artist: Dr. Lonnie Smith
Venue: Isis Music Hall
Date: Friday, March 21, 9 p.m.
Door: $25 advance / $30
His image might be a bit confusing: the "Doctor" is a title he conferred upon himself, and the turban is reportedly a fashion statement and nothing more. But there's no denying the importance of this master of the Hammond B-3 organ. In an era where seemingly everything musical has been sampled, digitized and/or downsized, Dr. Smith travels and performs with an actual B-3. His tasty soul-jazz licks have been on display on a series of albums that kicked off in 1966 (Finger-lickin' Good) and continues to this day (2012's live set, The Healer, and two collections of reinterpretations of his early material titled In the Beginning Volumes 1 & 2). An early associate of guitarist George Benson and sax legend Lou Donaldson, Smith carved out his own funky musical territory long ago. Expect this one to sell out. I'll be interviewing him pre-show; look for a full feature soon thereafter on my Musoscribe blog (link below).
You may also enjoy: With over 1250 entries, my Musoscribe blog features new content — interviews, reviews and more — every business day.