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Larry Keel
& Natural Bridge  

This flatpicking guitar master is dedicated to both preserving and creating new standards of acoustic American mountain music. His critically-acclaimed group shows enormous respect for the strict rules of their chosen genre.  

Basing their approach on the work of iconic performers such as The Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs and Reno & Smiley, this Virginia-based trio (from the Blue Ridge Mountains, no less) of mandolin, guitar and bass enjoy an international fanbase. For advance tickets to this intimate, family-oriented (no smoking or alcohol) ALL-AGES show, call 748-1930 or go to Fri., 8 pm, Randy Wood’s Concert Hall (1304 E. Highway 80, Bloomingdale). 

Unknown Hinson

Since emerging as an extremely underground cult sensation on the basis of his bizarre N.C. public access cable show and blatantly misogynistic hoary C & W sendups, Unknown Hinson (real name: Danny Baker) has gone on to score a contract with Capitol Records, and get name checked by ace players like Tom Petty and Marty Stuart and Simpsons creator Matt Groening, all of whom find his outrageous stage persona as much of a hoot as his flashy, acrobatic electric guitar fretwork. Hinson’s parlayed this semi-obscure notoriety and hellaciously favorable word of mouth into a successful touring career as well as a side gig lending his unmistakable drawl to the animated character of Early Cuyler on the Cartoon Network’s hit series The Squidbillies. With jet-black hair, fake vampire fangs, paste-on sideburns that look like they’re made of black Astroturf and a skin tone that’s straight from the grave, he confounds his audience with multiple dichotomies much like Tortelvis did years ago in the once-great Dread Zeppelin.

That faddish novelty act was similar to Hinson’s in one major respect — they could play the hell out of those songs. Every one on stage (including his stoic, mute manservant “Gustav”) play their roles to the hilt. In fact, my only complaint with Unknown Hinson’s shows is that they’re a little too impressive for my taste. What drew me to Baker’s adopted persona was his first recordings, recorded crudely and circulated clandestinely. They sounded like the efforts of a man who aimed for much higher than he was capable of reaching. In truth, he was playing dumb, and his serious chops and domineering stage presence rat him out a bit as an old-school gunslinger who seems to have gotten tired of playing second fiddle. By constructing this hokey ruse, he can run the show, and who can blame him? Plus, when my only real criticism is that he’s a little too much of a musical bad-ass, that says a lot... Fri., 10 pm, The Jinx. 

Josh Safer’s Lazy Susan

Having recently been named President of Benedetto Guitars (and charged with helping to plan and run that legendary instrument company’s soon-to-be-opened Savannah factory), featured artist Howard Paul is no newcomer. A celebrated 6-string (and 7-string) player, he’s gigged for years on his own and alongside many of the world’s finest jazz guitarists. Drummer Safer is at the helm of this monthly showcase of regional jazz cats (sidepersons rotate with each show). The early starting time and upscale dessert bar environment of this highly-regarded Broughton Street restaurant conspire to make this an event well worth exploring. Sat., 8 pm, Gottlieb’s.

The Permanent Tourists

This regional party band has been a favorite of Hilton Head conventioneers, wedding planners and area clubgoers for years. One of the rare “show” bands that’s not too stuffy and contrived for their own good, they command a large and varied repertoire of well-known classic rock, soul, funk and R & B tunes — including tracks by everyone from The Rolling Stones to Barry White. This show finds them playing outdoors at a laid-back Caribbean restaurant that is emerging as a nice place for folks of ALL-AGES to catch local talent for free during the warm weather months. Sat., 7 pm, North Beach Grill (Tybee).

Bad Company’s
Brian Howe

A former lead vocalist for Ted Nugent, Howe replaced Paul Rodgers as Bad Company’s frontman, staying with those British classic rock superstars for a decade — and enjoying major radio hits like “Holy Water” and “No Smoke Without A Fire.” Now his own band offers new material, as well as highlights from his tenure with Bad Company and signature tunes from their earlier years with Rodgers. Young locals 7 Gates To Elsewhere (acolytes of ‘70s British rock themselves) open. Sun., 8 pm, Monkey Business (Hilton Head).  ƒç