A Guide To Upcoming Local Music

Miriam Allen

Singer-songwriter and dancer Miriam Allen offers one of the most unique shows in the upcoming weeks. Her sound combines folk and blues with traditional Spanish tunes and she sings her songs half in Spanish and half in English. She blends the music she learned growing up in South Carolina with the sounds she picked up when traveling through South America working as a street performer. Now based in Asheville, Allen has performed in Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, and Mexico.

Miriam Allen will be at the Back Room (Flat Rock Wine Shop) on April 7.

The Baker Family

Based in Asheville, The Baker Family is an indie pop group fronted by husband and wife duo Stuart and Elizabeth Baker. I generally try to avoid using the word “indie” to describe bands, since I see it as an overused and uninformative term, but, to be honest, if I was going to picture a quintessential indie pop band, The Baker Family would certainly fit the bill. Both the band members and their sugary yet edgy songs are so hip and adorable that it’s almost overwhelming. Luckily, this is a band that knows how to balance a cutesy pop song with a haunting ballad filled with broad dissonant chords, making their repertoire well-rounded and highly enjoyable.

Stuart and Elizabeth Baker started the band when they moved to Asheville shortly after their marriage. What makes their group even more remarkable is the young age of all its members. The Bakers were 19 years old when they founded the group, and the remaining members, David Barrett, Danny Resner, Mike Ackley, and Nathan Ribner, are all in their early twenties.

The Baker Family will be celebrating the release of their second CD, “Bakers Can’t Be Choosers,” at the Grey Eagle on April 9.

Brian McGee

Brian McGee is a singer-songwriter who tours the East Coast both as part of his band The Hollow Speed and as a solo performer. McGee started out in a Pennsylvania punk band called Plow United but began studying country music following his move to Asheville in 1999. As a result, his songs combine element from country and punk music to create a unique alternative country sound.

Local music critics have compared McGee’s sound to artists as diverse as Elvis, Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie and Joey Ramone but have been unified in their praise of McGee and his band’s self titled EP. For a time, McGee was a regular performer at Guadalupe Café where I work, so having both served him dinner and watched his show, I can tell you McGee is a very polite and down-to-earth person who always gives great performances.

You can catch Brian McGee performing solo as a part of “Songwriters in the Round” at the Back Room on April 11.

Grey Milk

Grey Milk is a punk influenced folk-rock band originally from Massachusetts who recently made the move to become part of the Athens, Georgia music scene. The band released their first EP “Strong Bones and Teeth” in 2006 and their second record “City Parks After Dark” in 2008. Their sound can vary from mellow “stripped-down” acoustic folk to fast paced feedback-laced punk, but always remains danceable and catchy.

On their MySpace page the band’s tagline quips “I’ll trade perfect pitch for sincerity any day.” That’s a fair statement considering how singer Jesse Houle’s vocals sometimes collapse at the height of some of the bands’ more impassioned songs. It doesn’t matter though. If you’re looking for a smooth, fully harmonized sound, Grey Milk probably isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you can dig a band that delivers a high-energy, thoroughly sincere show, imperfect pitch and all, you may just love this band.

Grey Milk is playing Guadalupe Café on April 11.

Rebecca Pronsky

Rebecca Pronsky does folk songs that have taken a turn towards alternative country since the release of her last EP, “The Best Game in Town.” She traces her influences to Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell and Patty Griffin, but her powerful voice and dark sound lead to a strong comparison with alt-country darling Neko Case.

Based in Brooklyn, Pronsky has become a favorite of the Brooklyn independent music scene, but is also gaining national acclaim. The Philadelphia City Paper picked her “Departures and Arrivals” EP as one of the top ten albums of 2008.

Pronsky will be performing at BoBo Gallery April 16.