30 Days Out, November 2021 #2: John “Papa” Gros, Mike Zito, Hiss Golden Messenger, Steve Gunn, Jeff Parker

The new normal, yeah. Heck, even I am going to shows again. But I wear a mask, I’m vaccinated, and I’m getting the booster soon. Because let’s display at least a modicum of care for our fellow humans, shall we?

Some great music is making its way to Asheville in the coming 30 days. Even with the holidays upon us, touring musicians are on the road. Name a genre and you can find an artist of quality who’s coming to Western N.C. to play it. Here are four of particular note.

Artist: John “Papa” Gros
Venue: Isis Music Hall
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 17, 8:30 p.m.
Door: $15 advance / $20 day of show
When you think of New Orleans blues/jazz/funk/soul/r&b pianists, it’s likely that Mac “Dr. John” Rebbenack, Professor Longhair and James Booker are among the names that leap to mind. If John “Papa” Gros isn’t among that list for you, he should be. Partly because unlike those other names, Gros is among the living, but also because he’s an exceptional musician. By the way, the venue’s practice of requiring significant additional expenditure on top of ticket purchase doesn’t apply for this show. Maybe it’s gone altogether; let’s hope so.

Artist: Mike Zito
Venue: Salvage Station
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 8, 8 p.m.
Door: $18 advance / $22 day of show
One of the foremost blues guitar slingers working today, Mike Zito consistently demonstrates his love and understanding of the full landscape of American musical forms. His Chuck Berry tribute album was quite well done, as was 2018’s First Class Life and 2019’s Blue Room. I’ve reviewed all three.

Artist: Hiss Golden Messenger
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Thursday, Dec. 9, 9 p.m.
Door: $23
MC Taylor is Hiss Golden Messenger. His music starts with the folk idiom and expands from there. A highly regarded singer-songwriter, Taylor writes music that connects emotionally with the listener. I haven’t interviewed him just yet, but I did pen a short essay about him for New City in 2019. Excellent local act Roots and Dore opens.

Artist: Steve Gunn and Jeff Parker
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Friday, Dec. 10, 9 p.m.
Door: $17 advance / $20 day of show
I first saw Steve Gunn at the Transfigurations II Festival, and then again at the illustrious Big Ears Festival in Knoxville. He’s a supremely talented and wide-ranging artist. He’s a guitarist but not one who fits (or stays) neatly into a specific genre. He’s equally comfortable engaging in exploratory experimentalism as he is crafting catchy tunes. He’ll be appearing at the Grey Eagle co-billed with Jeff Parker. I interviewed Gunn in 2018.

Support live music! Because you can.