The Hellblinki Sextet
The brainchild of former Savannah resident (and Rogue’s Gallery member) Andrew Benjamin, this Augusta-based collective plays dark and addled Vaudevillian blues strongly influenced by both old-timey gypsy flair and the European cabaret tradition. Their rotating lineup employs everything from toy instruments to transistor radios and empty wine bottle-percussion, and as such, their songs aim squarely for fans of the creepy burlesque-and-sea chanty vibe of Swordfishtrombones-era Tom Waits, while also appealing to devotees of Tim Burton’s crepuscular fantasy world. Openers Monsters of Japan adore Clutch and play quirky metal while in Kabuki-inspired regalia. Sat., 10 pm, The Jinx.
H.R. w/ Dub Agents
Many readers will likely remember H.R. as the singer of Washington, D.C.’s notorious underground music pioneers Bad Brains (whose cassette-only debut, and subsequent full-length vinyl release on the influential PVC label made them instant cult heroes in the punk, reggae and hardcore scenes). Though he left that band years ago after a series of career missteps involving jail time, poor album distribution, and a couple of rather high-profile major label flops, he essentially broke with the punk movement to embrace reggae full-on. Now he’s back, fronting a new group, and headlining a nationwide tour designed to promote the “Global Rock Revolution.”
This revolution is described by the folks behind it as “a very kool (sic) uprising without any major fanfare (that’s) not only about great muzik (sic), but also a kool (sic) lifestyle where total inclusion is at the center.” This show draws on ska, dub, reggae, rock and hip-hop, and will likely be a must-see for enthusiasts of all those genres. Tickets are $15 in advance, or $20 the night of the show. Fri., 10 pm, The Jinx.
The Denny Phillips Band
There’s something about this long-running local party band that defies easy categorization. They’re not the slickest group, and their shows can sometimes be a tad shambolic. However, they enjoy a devoted following of folks who’ve enjoyed them for years, and it seems that whenever they play a public show at a club or restaurant, they always draw a sizable crowd. Vocalist Phillips is known for being more than happy to pull out all the stops on the Neil Diamond numbers (as he’s got the chops and stage presence to do them justice), and his backing band (impressively stocked with old-school area ringers) radiates a good-natured, laid-back vibe. Fri., 10 pm, Dolphin Reef Lounge (Tybee).
Much like celebrated singer/songwriter Angie Aparo, this Grammy-nominated alt.rock lyricist spent some formative time in S.C., and much like Aparo, he’s now showing up to play an intimate show at this cozy Hilton Head supper club that’s made a name for itself as the place to see the better regional jazz cats and the occasional top-shelf touring artist.
Known for 1996’s sleeper hit “Barely Breathing” (produced by none other than Rupert Hine), the 36-year-old pianist and guitarist got his start gigging with fellow modern-popper Lisa Loeb at Brown University before signing with Atlantic. Since he first came to prominence, he’s ventured away from his original sound (kind of like middle-period Matthew Sweet without all the Quine and Lloyd) into more orchestral productions —reminiscent of big budget Edwin McCain releases— but that hasn’t stopped him from rocking out on occasion. It’s extremely rare to see an artist of this magnitude play what amounts to little more than a house concert with a nice stage, so this one should be packed. For more info, call (843) 842-8620. Fri., 7:30 pm, The Jazz Corner (Hilton Head).
Michelle Branch burst on the pop scene at the tender age of 17, after only 3 years as a practicing musician, signing to Madonna’s Maverick Records label, and releasing the hit single “Everywhere.” In no short time, she was acting as a featured vocalist on one of Carlos Santana’s (abysmally-contrived) Clive Davis payoff albums, and packing theatres around the country. However, in 2004, she took a break from her burgeoning solo career, and hooked up with friend and backup singer Jessica Harp.
Dubbing their new project The Wreckers, Branch welcomed Harp’s Nashville-honed country songwriting action into her own modern, stylized pop sound. The result? A rootsy-but-slick hybrid that focuses on their shimmering vocal harmonies. The duo are enjoying the type of notoriety and success that comes from having a standout track on the soundtrack to a WB teen drama (in this case, “Good Kind” from One Tree Hill), and their latest album on Maverick made it into the Top 20. Opening for Dierks Bentley (see Music Interview). Fri., 7:30 pm, Savannah Civic Center.