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The Sidewalk Arts Festival

The Savannah College of Art & Design’s annual street party –now large enough to be held in Forsyth Park– features a variety of entertainment and exhibits, most notable of which is the square-painting competition, in which hundreds of feet of concrete walkways in the park are meticulously decorated with colorful pastels, paint, collage and sculpture by everyone from children to senior citizens.

As always, live music accompanies the festivities, and this year it comes courtesy of both songwriter Caroline Herring and the long-running multi-culti jam band Snake Oil Medicine Show.

Herring, who goes on at 11:15 am, is touring behind her sophomore LP Wellspring – the follow-up to her critically-lauded 2001 debut Twilight (which made her an instant underground hero to the folk community). Helmed by producer Rich Brotherton (who’s worked with cult fave Robert Earl Keen), it’s a snapshot of the varied talents of this Mississippi native whose recently relocated to Atlanta. If you like the sweet side of Nanci Griffith or Iris Dement as well as the edgy roots rock of Lucinda Williams or Kelly Willis, you’ll probably enjoy Caroline Herring. Sat., 11 am - 5 pm, Forsyth Park.

The Richard Leo Johnson Trio

Longtime readers of this column may be aware of my affinity for this self-taught (and envelope-pushing) fusion guitar player. However, over the past few months this Blue Note recording artist has upped the ante on his own mesmerizing one-man shows by adding two sidemen into his fold, both of whom are classically-trained, yet hold sonically challenging and avant-garde music in high regard.

Multi-instrumentalists Ricardo Ochoa and Andrew Ripley (both formerly of The Savannah Symphony and currently of local experimental music collective ARTillery Punch) bring their own unique slant to Johnson’s technically-challenging guitar workouts. The end result is a strange amalgam of polyrhythmic trance music, Albert Ayler-like skronk jazz and dreamy –yet malevolent– mood pieces.

The group is nearing completion of their debut album, and as the music this lineup makes bears little resemblance to the material on Johnson’s last two records, it will be released through the pioneering outsider label Cuneiform Records (home to similar masters of the oddball like Birdsongs of The Mesozoic).

If you’re tired of the same old things when it comes to live music in Savannah, give your ears a wake up call and attend this show. While certainly not for everyone, it’s quite possibly the most unusual and fresh sonic architecture going on around here these days. Thurs., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean Coffeeshop.


This Massachusetts metalcore act will be appearing on the upcoming Ozzfest “Oww, Me Bloody Head!” Tour, but now’s your chance to catch them at one of our most popular DIY venues.

One of the most successful indie bands in their field (even before signing with the prestigious Metal Blade Records), Unearth blends elements of both American and European metal with a work ethic straight out of the hardcore handbook. Through constant roadwork with acts like In Flames, Hatebreed, Lamb of God and Zao –plus the 2003 Headbangers Ball Tour– they’ve carved out a niche for themselves and a devoted fanbase.

Their next album drops on June 29th, so expect plenty of new material at this headlining show.

Also appearing on this crazy loud metal and metalcore bill are Baxley’s Malefactor, Jacksonville’s A Day Without Blood, Statesboro’s Version 2point0, and Savannah’s own Arcasia Red. Sun., 7 pm, Teaser’s Café - ALLAGES.

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

It must be the genes. Sarah Lee Guthrie is the youngest daughter of counterculture icon Arlo Guthrie (of “Alice’s Restaurant” fame), and granddaughter of the late Woody Guthrie. Her husband Johnny Irion’s uncle’s father (did ya follow that one?) is legendary American novelist John Steinbeck.

Known for their bittersweet vocal harmonies (his high country-ish tenor is often compared to Neil Young or Gram Parsons) and wandering spirit, they’re continuing to live the traveling minstrel dream that fueled Woody, Dylan, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and Ledbelly.

Merging Irion’s love of roots-rock (he previously fronted the early ‘90s jangle-pop band Queen Sarah Saturday) with Guthrie’s sense of folk history, they’ve come up with an enchanting act that’s earning raves nationwide.

Advance, tax-deductible tickets for this Kiss-A-Pig Benefit are $25 and available at The Crab Shack and Tybee Vacation Rentals, or 786-7009.

Sat., 7 pm, The Tybee Lighthouse.