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(An Evening With) Dodd Ferrelle & The Tinfoil Stars

For quite some time now, this Savannah native (and longtime Athens, Georgia resident) made O’Connell’s Irish Pub his venue of choice in town, and despite that room’s poor sight lines, it always proved a great place to see him.

Now, for the first time in what seems like a decade, he’s appearing across the street at 127 West Congress – the site of the old Velvet Elvis. This space is known more for punk and metal than the sort of brittle heartland rock The Tinfoil Stars offer, but the fact that it’s being billed as “An Evening With” the group (shades of Bruce Springsteen?) signals there’s no opening act, and Ferrelle can set the tone for the whole night.

That should please fans of gritty (and twangy) roadhouse rock that’s one part Steve Earle, one part Dylan, one part Paul Westerberg and one part Kevn Kinney.

Expect a walk through Dodd’s back catalog (including his 2001 solo debut A Carriage On The Hill and 2002’s full-band effort Always Almost There), as well as plenty of tracks from the group’s soon-to-be-released follow-up to their last underrated album. Sat., The Jinx.

Jah Creation

Few people would peg Wilmington, North Carolina as a hotbed of reggae activity, but that just goes to show the universality of this Jamaican music genre with a name coined by showman Toots Hibbert and an international fanbase shrewdly cultivated by the late rasta ambassador Bob Marley.

Wilmington is the home base for this hard-touring roots-style quartet whose members each have over a decade of professional experience playing in a number of notable indie reggae acts around the country, such as One Tribe, The Zion Band, and Crucial Movement.

The group mixes standards of the genre with their own originals, and they’ve had the pleasure of opening for a handful of superstars, like Israel Vibration, Third World, Burning Spear, and (most impressively), Marley’s own group The Wailers.

As with most of their ilk, the group is committed to spreading the message of love, respect and unity through their music. They’ve played this funky restaurant and bar at least a half dozen times in the past, and have earned great word of mouth. Since strong reggae is (sadly) hard to find in our area, their return should be welcome news to the faithful. Sat., Café Loco (Tybee).

Jake Landers & The Southern Strangers

One of a handful of distinguished old-school players still out on the road, this Alabama native was born in 1938, and has been playing guitar and singing in celebrated bluegrass bands (most notably The Dixie Gentlemen and The Blue Ridge Mountain Boys) since the early 1950s.

In 1966, toward the end of The Dixie Gentlemen’s first run, they tracked an album with fiddle and dobro superstars Vassar Clements and Tut Taylor that remains a benchmark of the genre.

While most traditional country and bluegrass groups can always be counted on to come up with their own takes on – and arrangements of – classic standards, it’s rare indeed for them to compose a tune that stands the test of time.

What has always helped set Landers apart from the rest of his contemporaries has been his knack for penning memorable originals – while staying within the rigid confines of the bluegrass sound.

As if to prove that point, in 1990, Landers received a sweet surprise when trendsetting country-rockers The Kentucky Headhunters released an updated version of his “Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine” which became one of their biggest hits and a radio staple.

Due to scheduling conflicts, Landers regular group cannot make this date, so he’ll be backed by The Southern Strangers, another highly respected Alabama bluegrass band that he’s collaborated with in the past, and one very familiar with his work and approach. Sat., 7:30 pm, Randy Wood’s Concert Hall (Bloomingdale) - for advance tickets, call 748-1930.

The Park Bench Trio

This Athens, Georgia act has played Savannah regularly since their first incarnation as The Park Bench Blues Band, in large part because some in the group hail from our town – which explains why they always show up during the holidays.

Originally more of a straight-up electric blues act (featuring a young Kristina Beaty on vocals), they shifted gears after losing a member, cranked things up a notch, and became a hard-rocking power trio in the vein of Gov’t Mule or Double Trouble – but there’s also a rootsy Americana vibe to their originals as well.

Their debut indie CD Bitch Road has been received well, and is allowing them to tour cross-country. Hometown shows like this one always carry a certain air of import – and can wind up more energetic and fun than the average club date. Fri., Savannah Blues.