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First Friday for Folk Music

Each month, The Savannah Folk Music Society puts on a coffeehouse-style acoustic concert featuring both local and national artists. For close to a decade it’s been the only regularly scheduled showcase in town for both traditional folk and blues music as well as original folk-based songwriting.

This month’s installment (the 97th so far!) shines a spotlight on locally-based artists who craft their own material. Each of the featured singers are all local favorites who have played this series many time in the past.

Chris Desa plays both 6 and 12-stringed guitars, and his repertoire ranges from familiar tunes from the American Folk Revival of the 1960s to obscure nuggets from modern-day composers. He also throws in a number of his own compositions as well.

Michael Amburgey (a fine fingerstyle picker perhaps best known as one half of the “goodtime” blues duo Amburgey & Hanson) makes his second solo appearance at First Friday, playing a wide variety of covers and originals.

And finally, Kathy Waters returns to this stage with a selection of inspirational and humorous tunes of her own creation. She’ll be accompanied by a guest musician for this show.

The smoke and alcohol-free show is family oriented, and admission is free (with a suggested donation of $2 for the artists). Soft drinks and baked goods will be available. Fri., 7:30 pm, Wesley Monumental United Methodist (429 Abercorn on Calhoun Square).

Vermillion X

With a polished, eclectic style reminiscent of the dreamy alterna-pop made by such ‘80s college rock sensations as The Church, Romeo Void and Concrete Blonde, the female-fronted Vermillion X is currently one of the most unique original bands in Savannah.

Cerebral and densely-layered music like the type they make is much less in vogue in the year 2004. However, all things New Wave seeming to be coming back into style, and they may just be primed to ride a wave of retro nostalgia with their slick and commercial debut CD.

If you came of age in the late 1980s and early 1990s and have given up on the local music scene’s propensity for Grape-Nuts™ and kidney stone-core, consider giving this professional and determined group a try. Sat., JJ Cagney’s.

Curtis & Ricky Burch & Friends

Famed luthier (and longtime bluegrass enthusiast) Randy Wood has done it again. By that I mean he’s used his contacts in the music business to bring in some more A-list artists to play at his 100-seat Concert Hall in Bloomingdale.

This time around, it’s the brotherly duo of Curtis and Ricky Burch, accompanied by some seasoned buddies.

The Burches are extremely well-known. Ricky plays mandolin and fiddle, while Curtis plays the resophonic guitar (or dobro). Raised in Georgia and Alabama, the two now reside in Kentucky (big surprise), and between them, they’ve played with many top names in their field.

Ricky’s been playing since the age of 11, and has done time with The Southern Gentlemen, The Cross Family, and Jerry “Son!” Reed. Curtis, on the other hand, was a co-founding member of the legendary New Grass Revival, the band that is often credited with helping to resurrect the art form from stagnation in the 1970s.

New Grass spawned an entire movement centered around taking the rigid formula of traditional bluegrass and adding in elements of country, jazz and even rock music, and Curtis played a mighty big role in all of that.

He won a grammy for his role in Sugar Hill Records’ timeless album The Great Dobro Sessions, and has recently released a CD called Burchland, which finds him joined by The Bowling Green Chamber Orchestra. That record is being hailed as one of the finest ever meshings of traditional and classical music.

It’s also worth noting that Curtis and the great Norman Blake can be heard playing “You Are My Sunshine” on the best-selling O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Advance tickets are $10 plus tax. Call Randy Wood Guitars at 748-1930 for more info. Sat., 8 pm, Randy Wood’s Concert Hall (Bloomingdale).

Maximo Medeiros

The local debut of this Brazilian-born guitarist (not counting his numerous appearances at area Open Mic nights) is being billed as a concert of “BossaBluesBop.” Maximo plans to showcase songs from his native Rio, as well as American blues, bebop (including Bird and ‘Trane), as well as works in the styles of rock, straight jazz and R & B. he’ll do this through hand and flat picking a 12-stringed guitar.

An intensely spiritual and poetic gentleman, with outspoken views on art and its importance in society, Medeiros says he aspires to be, “extrovertly musical, prolific, respectful of the inner child, of the wise old man, of new life. Always a teacher in what he can shed light on and a student of what is still under shadows."

Free with a suggested $5 donation. Fri., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean.