30 Days Out, November 2020 #1: JJ Grey & Mofro, Russ Wilson, Empire Strikes Brass, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

Is it November already? How did that happen? Things aren’t much better with regard to the pandemic, but we’re all continuing to find our way forward with regard to things like live music. The four artists covered below – two local to Asheville, two actually on tour – have found ways to bring live music to audiences. If you’re so inclined to venture out in and around Asheville, these are some of your best musical bets in the coming 30 days.

Artist: JJ Grey & Mofro
Venue: Le Parc (presented by Asheville Music Hall)
Date: Friday, Nov. 6, 7 p.m.
Door: $200 per car
Y’know, if one didn’t know better, they might assume that funky soul man JJ Grey and his band are Asheville locals. They play here that often. The truth is that Florida-based Grey is simply a very in-demand entertainer, especially ‘round these parts. The proof is in the performance.

Artist: Russ Wilson
Venue: Isis Music Hall (Main Stage)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m.
Door: $15
I’ve written about (and interviewed) Wilson many times over the years. And for good reason: he’s one of the hardest-working and most musically eclectic musicians in the region. Every year he throws himself a musical birthday bash, and somehow he’s figured out to do it in this, the weirdest of all years. Seating very limited; reservations strongly suggested.

Artist: Empire Strikes Brass
Venue: Salvage Station
Date: Saturday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.
Door: $20
The nine-person Empire Strikes Brass makes a joyous, energetic sound. And although ESB is rooted in second-line jazz, the Asheville ensemble ventures far beyond the confines of that style. I interviewed the band in 2017 and reviewed their Brassterpiece Theatre album right before the shutdown took effect.

Artist: Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
Venue: The Grey Eagle (lawn)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m.
Door: $20
First of all, it’s not that big. (“That’s what she said.”) The good Reverend’s band is damn fine, though. The Big Damn Band is but three: the Rev on guitar, his missus Breezy on washboard, and Max Senteney on drums. They make a glorious racket. His brand of country blues fits right in with the pandemic era’s stripped-down aesthetic. Loud and proud, his music is rip-roaring fun. The Front Porch Sessions is the RPBDB’s latest.