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The Laura Blackley Band

This dynamic and eclectic roots-rock quartet has played in our area several times, and those who’ve caught them live attest to their infectious enthusiasm and lyricism.

Now they’re one of the first bands of the warm weather season to play Café Loco, and their reverence for old-school blues, classic country and Appalachian gospel – they’re from Asheville, N.C., after all – should fit in nicely with the catchall Americana vibe of the place.

A few months back the band and seasoned artist and producer Michelle Malone holed up in Atlanta with engineer (and former Coolies guitarist) Rob Gal in my own personal favorite recording studio/barn combo, The Snack ‘n’ Shack. In June, the fruits of their labors (entitled Liquid Courage) will be released on Malone’s SBS record label.

Will this be the one to break these guys nationally? See them and judge for yourself. Fri., 9 pm, Café Loco (Tybee).

DJ Irene

Often billed as “America’s #1 female DJ,” Irene Gutierrez prefers to be known as a “Diva DJ,” and her reputation for wild antics and star status precedes her.

To date, she’s released 12 different mix CDs that combined, have sold close to 300,000 copies worldwide. That’s an impressive number for any artist, but in the world of house, breakbeat, drum & bass, and trance music – where burning CDs rather than buying them is the norm – it’s a phenomenal success story.

Irene got into the club scene as a DJ in 1978, so she’s seen her share of fads and styles come and go. Now, after 26 years, she flies around the world every weekend, spinning all night long at private parties and swanky nightspots.

Her latest accomplishment? A Number 1 Billboard Dance Hit a while back under the name Pusaka ("You're the Worst Thing for Me"). Sat., Aprés Nightclub (above Il Pasticcio).

Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love

Most folks know this group as perhaps the premier chi-chi party band in the area, but have never seen them actually play live. That’s because with 13 members (including a full horn section), there aren’t any nightclubs that can either hold them, or afford them. If you don’t snag an invitation to one of the corporate gigs or exclusive engagements they’re hired for, you’re pretty much out of luck.

In an effort to give their friends and families – not to mention perfect strangers – an opportunity to see them do their thing, they rented out the newly-restored ballroom of American Legion Post #135 (on the south end of Forsyth Park), and threw a party. Suffice it to say it was a stone sellout that let a small number of prospective audience members hanging without a ticket.

Now they’re back to try two nights in a row, and selling 300 tickets each night may be a tall order, but there’s no doubt each gig will be well-attended, and according to the band, they know enough material to play both nights, all night long and never repeat a song.

FrontmanTim Love’s vocal approach conjures up memories of a young Alex Chilton or Joe Cocker without the shakes – and bassist Phil McDonald holds down the fort with a thunderous tone that oozes Detroit soul.

Truth be told, to a man, this group can tote the mail. If you’re at least 21, and you appreciate the thick, fat, greasy sounds of The Funk Brothers, Al Green’s Hi Studios backing band, Tower of Power, MFSB, or James Brown circa 1976, do yourself a favor– pick up a ticket. Fri. - Sat., 8 pm, American Legion Post #135 (1108 Bull St.) - $10 in advance or $14 day of show.

Divine Maggees

The duo of guitarist Danielle Tibedo and violinist Cregan Montague first met in a bar in Boston, and discovered they both played music, wrote lyrics, and – bizarrely enough – owned cats named Maggee. Something clicked and before long they were a celebrated act on the New England and Canadian neo-folk scenes.

They’ve recently relocated to Athens to be in a more central location for touring, and so far, they’re continuing to rack up rave reviews wherever they go.

With eerie “shadow harmonies” and a strange pulse which drives their melancholy songs of longing and enlightenment, one is immediately drawn to them. Perhaps that’s because they leave so much open space in their songs that the listener can mentally fill in the blanks with their own instrumentation, which emotionally invests them in the material.

Regardless – if you enjoy the husky, vaguely spiritual approach of middle period Linda Thompson (i.e., One Clear Moment), or very early Loudon Wainwright III, Divine Maggees may be what you’ve been waiting for.

Fri., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean.