30 Days Out, September 2020 #1: Alien Music Club, Hard Rocket, Firecracker Jazz Band, Modern Strangers

For this edition of “30 Days Out,” it’s all local acts from here in Asheville. And two of the four shows are (socially-distanced) in-person shows. As in, live in real time without the use of a computer or smartphone. What a concept! There’s an admission fee for those, which is only fair. For the other two “virtual” performances – streamed in real time – please do consider tipping the band.

Of these four, two are rock, two are jazz. But each has its own identity. All are recommended.

Artist: Alien Music Club
Venue: Isis Music Hall (patio show)
Date: Thursday, Sep. 3, 6:30 p.m.
Door: $15
This long-running jazz quartet (Jonathan Pearlman – guitar, Taylor Pierson – piano, Zack Page – bass, Ben Bjorlie – drums) breathes new life into standards. The unspoken communication that’s so much a baed-in component of jazz is exemplified by this crew, who have been playing at Barley’s Taproom downtown for nearly ten years.

Artist: Hard Rocket
Venue: The Orange Peel/IamAVL (live stream show)
Date: Saturday, Sep. 5, 7 p.m.
Door: free
These guys rock, pure and simple. Catchy songs, superb musicianship and intense performances are the hallmarks of this four-piece. Hard Rocket released an EP in 2018 and while I don’t have any inside info, I expect more recordings from them in the near future. That said, experiencing them live is the best way to go.

Artist: Firecracker Jazz Band
Venue: The Grey Eagle (patio show)
Date: Monday, Sep. 7, 7 p.m.
Door: $12
As authentic a pre-war jazz band as you’re likely to find outside of New Orleans, the Firecracker Jazz Band is a longtime favorite of Asheville audiences. I interviewed guitarist and banjo player Jason Krekel about the group and its latest release, Return to the Twenties, back in March right as everything was shutting down.

Artist: Modern Strangers
Venue: The Orange Peel/IamAVL (live stream show)
Date: Saturday, Sep. 26, 7pm
Door: free
Even though they’re based here in Asheville, my first exposure to this excellent power pop (my term, not theirs) band was when they opened for Gin Blossoms a few years back. I was so impressed that I sent a note backstage asking them to get in touch if they ever needed a keyboard player. (They didn’t, and they don’t need one.) My interview with the band will be in Mountain Xpress later this month, ahead of this album release show.

Support live music when you can, and wear a mask when you leave home.