Six great concerts coming to Asheville this spring

Punch Brothers, photo:

Punch Brothers will be at Pisgah Brewing Compnay. Photo:

Though it’s been hard to believe these past couple of frigid weeks, warmer days are in sight and they are bringing some great music to the mountains. Here are eight shows to consider dropping a few dollars on as we near the halfway point of the semester, in the order of their occurrence.

  1. Houndmouth @ The Orange Peel – March 5

            Houndmouth is a young band with a vintage sound. Having formed in 2012, they have already seen success thanks to appearances on Letterman, Conan, and Carson Daly. Their single “Sedona” from their 2015 sophomore album has a presence on many of Spotify’s indie/rock/folk playlists and over 10 million plays. In July, they were featured in USA Today as an artist “On The Verge.” They will be stopping in Asheville as part of their tour to support Little Neon Limelight, their 2015 release. They remind me of a gritty Fleetwood Mac; catchy harmonies over rugged electric guitars are totally timeless.


  1. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down @ The Grey Eagle – April 5

            Usually when a band has more than three words for their name, I assume that they are likely too weird or pretentious for me and I tend to ignore their existence. That’s not to say there are not exceptions. I first heard Thao & The Get Down Stay Down when they opened for The Head And The Heart (another exception to my three-word name rule) at The Orange Peel a couple of years ago. They identify as “folk rock,” and I definitely would place them closer to the “rock” end of that spectrum. They have a grounded, yet fun sound and much of their lyrics are delightfully abstract. They’ll be at The Grey Eagle exactly one moth after the release of their fourth album, A Man Alive.


  1. Sean Watkins @ The Grey Eagle – April 6

            If you haven’t heard of Sean Watkins, maybe you’ve heard of one of his copious projects. Like Nickel Creek, the Grammy-winning band he is a part of with his sister, Sara, and friend Chris Thile. Or Fiction Family, the duo in which he and Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman sort of meet in the middle of their respective folk and alternative rock genres. Along with all of these endeavors that he is simply one part of, he has released four solo albums, and will release his fifth, titled What to Fear, on March 18. Sean is a crazy good guitarist and uses lyrics to tell stories often. The first single, also the title track of What to Fear, is a slightly satirical song, supposed to be from the point of view of a news reporter, Sean told Rolling Stone. With election season upon us and suffocating all news outlets, I expect his new album to hold great truth and relevance, even through his sensitive singer-songwriter way.


  1. Quiet Life @ Pisgah Brewing Company – April 9

            I believe Quiet Life is one of those bands who have unjustly and simply fallen through the cracks. They have a modest following, but their break-through hit is ahead of them still. “Americana” is the genre they identify with, and the sound of steel guitars and garage-y drums fill their toe-tapping songs. They have two full-length albums and two EP-length albums on their repertoire, and have posted on social media that they’re working on a new one. It’s reasonable to expect to hear some new stuff at their April 9 show which is a part of a U.S. tour. The outdoor setting of Pisgah Brewing is perfect for a band like Quiet Life.


  1. The Oh Hellos @ The Orange Peel – April 15

            Vocally-driven, The Oh Hellos have a gentle presence and truly human resonance. The band centers around siblings Tyler and Maggie Heath, who are equally responsible for the sweet, hopeful vocals. They have been known to perform acoustically, but they tour with an ever-changing cast of back-up musicians. They are a real independent outfit and have self-released all of their material, rising to 59,000 Facebook likes by word of mouth and the music site Bandcamp. This show at The Orange Peel is in support of their second full-length album, Dear Wormwood. Tyler Heath recently told Paste Magazine that this album was largely inspired by the classic book, The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis.


  1. Punch Brothers @Pisgah Brewing Company – May 6

It’s a happy accident that Punch Brothers is last on this list because if I were saving the best for last instead of going in chronological order, Punch Brothers would still be here. This band is so crazy talented. They turn classical music into progressive bluegrass like it’s as natural as turning oxygen into carbon dioxide. (That’s breathing, for the arts majors.) The Phosphorescent Blues is the band’s fourth studio-length release and it was nominated this year at the Grammys for best Americana album. The single “Julep” from the album was nominated for best American roots song. These guys don’t play around. Like Sean Watkins, frontman Chris Thile is another third of Nickel Creek and has been involved with many projects, but Punch Brothers is the most successful. Seriously, if you’re into folk, Americana, bluegrass, newgrass, classical, Punch Brothers is one of those bands you absolutely have to see. This show is the Friday of exam week. I can already smell the freedom of an outdoor concert having freshly finished a mountain-sized stack of projects and papers.


These are six concerts I’m excited about until the end of the semester. What shows are you looking forward to this spring?