30 Days Out January 2022 #2: Ben Phantom, Cory and the Wongnotes, Dogs in a Pile, The Fritz

This roundup of “30 Days Out” features two Asheville-based acts and two nationally touring ones.

Artist: Ben Phantom
Venue: Highland Brewing Downtown
Date: Saturday, Jan. 29, 6 p.m.
Door: free
Some artists incorporate the visual medium as a kind of auxiliary component, a sideline, to their main creative/artistic thrust. Ben Phantom seamlessly combines them, as evidenced by his 2020 multimedia work, “I’ll Meet You There.” It combines his music with modern dance, an approach that – even in an era of genre mashups – is daring for a singer/songwriter. I interviewed him about all this in 2020. All that said, I don’t expect much in the way of modern dance at this solo gig of his, but it’ll be great all the same.

Artist: Cory and the Wongnotes
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Thursday, Feb. 10, 8 p.m.
Door: $25
We live during an age in which pop artists can game fame via new avenues like TikTok. For those of us who’ve been around and “seen some stuff,” it’s sometimes a challenge to take these new media format – and the momentary stars they bring forth – seriously. But exceptions do exist. Cory Wong is a savvy artist and his work demonstrates a high degree of care. I do suspect that while he owes a great deal of his notability to his online presence, he’d have broken through nonetheless. Go see/hear. Sierra Hull opens.

Artist: Dogs in a Pile
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Friday, Feb. 11, 9 p.m.
Door: $10
Supremely tuneful music with a timeless vibe is the stock in trade of this group. Comparatively young, they nonetheless sounds as if they’ve fully digested the lessons of pop(ular) music’s best. I hear hints of early ‘70s acts like Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson. You may hear something else entirely, as there’s an underlying funk vibe to some of their material; it’s all good.

Artist: The Fritz
Venue: Asheville Music Hall
Date: Friday, Feb. 11, 10 p.m.
Door: $15
It’s often a challenge for a group to soldier on with any sort of success after losing a key member, especially when said member was both a focal point and musical fulcrum of the band. But that’s precisely what The Fritz is setting out to do. With songwriter Jamar Woods’ recent departure, the band could have called it a day; the individual members are superb, busy musicians who could easily find other rewarding gigs. Instead, the band has regrouped around lead vocalist Datrian Johnson, with guitarist Jamie Hendrickson taking on the role of musical director. A new (third) album is in the works, and there’s every reason to expect it will be quite good. Meanwhile, now’s the time to hear the new lineup live. Electro Lust opens the show. I interviewed Woods in 2018, and reviewed The Fritz’s Natural Mind a year earlier.

Support live music when you can!