Brett Barest: Don’t Let the Holidays Get in the Way of Some Great Upstate Shows

  • By cvbizz
  • December 23, 2019
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Upstate Live Music

Christmas is just five days away which means, for a guy like me at least, that I should probably start thinking about what I am going to give to the ones I love. I realize, however, that many of you have your lives together and are fully prepared and simply waiting for the big day to arrive. That means that some of you are free and clear to take in a show this weekend with no last minute planning to worry about, while some of us have to wait for the holiday dust to settle before we can relax and go see some live music. Fortunately for all of us, there are plenty of great live music options to go around.

Pre-Christmas Shenanigans

Here is the good news – Susto is coming to The Radio Room for a solo performance which guarantees to be a good time. The bad news, however, is that the show will probably be sold out by the time you read this. I mean, it is worth double checking right this minute (go ahead, I’ll wait) but if I was a betting man, I would lay $20 on that ship having already sailed. All is not lost, however as my buddy Vilai Harrington will be over at 8th State Brewing along with indie rockers Either/Or. Besides some great music in the company of great brews, this is the perfect opportunity to give the gift of beer or some of the incredibly unique artwork hanging on the walls of the tasting room. I could actually call that “Christmas shopping” and not feel the least bit bad about heading out for a show.

Over in Greer, The Spinning Jenny has a couple of options for you this weekend. Friday sees alternative country artists Dirty Grass Soul take the stage with a country twang, rock & roll attitude, and banjo and fiddle for days. Saturday, Shoot to Thrill headlines and evening with… wait for it… an all-female tribute to AC/DC. Now, I am generally not one for tribute shows but I wore out some AC/DC cassettes on my walkman in my younger years and this has me intrigued. Considering that AC/DC is now led by Axl Rose, I might actually rather see this ensemble over the current real one.

When the Dust Settles

When the last piece of wrapping paper finds its way to the dumpster and the last relative’s taillights disappear off into the distance, it is time to unwind and the weekend after Christmas offers plenty of opportunity to do just that.

Friday night at the Firmament sees Asheville’s The Jon Stickley Trio return to the Upstate with their own brand of bluegrass infused with every other genre you could possibly think of. I love artists that leave me scratching my head trying to figure out exactly what it is I am listening to and Jon Stickley nails that vibe every time he takes the stage. This is no doubt going to be a great show to kick off the weekend in Greenville.

Just south of Greenville, there is another can’t-miss show in Anderson, with the 19th Annual Clay Ross & Friends Christmas Jam at Earle St. Kitchen & Bar. Clay Ross is a Grammy nominated guitarist and South Carolina native who returns to the Upstate every year for a very special performance during the holidays. He will be joined by the likes of Shannon Hoover (bassist and co-founder of the Greenville Jazz Collective), Ocie Davis (drummer and founder of Jazz Arts Charlotte), and Duncan Wickel (fiddle) who currently tours with the likes of Molly Tuttle, Rising Appalachia, and other renowned artists (as well as solo performances). It is rare to see such a talented ensemble of musicians come together on any stage and I am happy to see Earle St. Kitchen & Bar carry on this annual tradition.

Saturday sees another pair of great shows come through town with The Queers at Radio Room and the Holiday Hangover event at Zen. The Queers are a legendary and hilariously controversial punk rock band that has been touring since the early 1980’s and will be joined by Florida’s Switchblade Villain, The Hanging Judge, and CHUNX for a fantastic evening of punk rock the way it ought to be played. Over at Zen, you will find a slightly different evening with Darby Wilcox, Vilai Harrington, Mourning Dove, The Parlor Pinks, Shyland Flowers, and Jackson Wise (Apricot Blush) all taking turns on stage for an evening dedicated to raising money for The Homeless Period Project. This is a great lineup of local artists coming together for a noble local non-profit so what’s not to love about that?

Whatever your plans for the holidays, I hope you can find an evening or two to get out and enjoy a show. Beyond that, eat too much, spend more time than money on the ones you love, don’t talk politics at the dinner table, and stay safe out there. Happy holidays!

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