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Absylom Rising

Gabe Rikard, lead guitarist for this rising Southern groove and funk band once told a journalist that he wound up making significantly more money playing music than he ever did from his day job as a teacher.

“Which should surprise no one,” he quipped with a discernible smirk.

The fact that driving in a van from one college town to the next, setting up and tearing down gear just to play a few hours’ worth of rock and blues covers alongside your own extended jams could be more lucrative than feeding the starving minds of today’s youth with knowledge says an awful lot about the mess we’re in these days.

But hey, that’s a topic for another time.

What’s germane to the here and now is that this Oxford, Mississippi quartet is slowly becoming a familiar attraction at this River Street eatery, where they have played several times in the past year.

This Tuesday night gig is the first of a four-night stand, and since improvisation makes up a large chunk of Absylom Rising’s œuvre, there’s a decent chance no two gigs will sound the same.

The group had its humble beginnings years ago in Florence, Alabama, where Rikard and rhythm guitarist Heath Mahan collaborated during high school. Years later, things took a more serious turn, after they found bassist Jonathan Williams and drummer John Ashley.

Now they play upwards of two hundred dates a year, plying an original – but marketably familiar – blend of bluegrass, rock, jazz, funk and soul that owes a great debt to The Grateful Dead and Widespread Panic (acts they cite as key influences).

By all accounts, things are going rather swimmingly for them, as they recently played a set at the massive Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tennessee – an annual showcase frequented by both The Dead and Panic.

Fiddler’s is slowly becoming more of a regular venue for acoustic solo acts and easygoing rock bands, and this four-night run by a touring band (something of a rarity in this area) bodes well for future shows. Tues., Fiddler’s Crab House.

Monkey Man - A Tribute To The Rolling Stones

Tribute bands are nothing new to Savannah. Touring acts occasionally route through town (like the KISS ARMY a few weeks ago), and from time to time, local musicians band together for one-off celebrations of their musical heroes (such as the Elvis revue 2000 Prescriptions). However, this may be the first time there has been a Savannah group whose setlist focuses on a single, established group.

Monkey Man brings together a number of veteran players, including rhythm guitarist Stewart Marshall (as either Brian Jones, Mick Taylor or Ron Wood – you choose), guitarist Scotty Rahn as the debauched Keith Richards, Jeff Beasley as bassist Bill Wyman, and “Jukebox Journeys” drummer Mark Cordray as the metronomic and debonair timekeeper Charlie Watts.

But as anyone familiar with The Stones could easily imagine, it’s the frontman that either makes or breaks a group like this.

Now, Stewart’s brother Joe Marshall is way, way, way into Mick Jagger.

I caught an impromptu one-song performance by this cat several months ago, and it was hard for me to decide whether his note-for-note recreation of Sir Mick’s vocal ticks and aristocratically fey stage mannerisms was disturbingly impressive, or merely disturbing.

Regardless, he’s obviously spent a lot of time and effort nicking The Jag’s shtick, and while I’m fairly sure these guys don’t dress up like their idols – with the larger-than-life stage presence offered by Joe, the rest of the group could be wearing surgical scrubs or Unabomber hoodies and it would probably still fly. Thurs., 10 pm, O’Connell’s Irish Pub.

Harry O’Donoghue

Since 1988, this Celtic balladeer has released eight solo albums – three of which captured him as he is best-known: in front of a live audience.

Known for mixing both traditional Irish folks tunes with more contemporary material, the native of the Town of Drogheda, in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland, accompanies himself on both the guitar and the bodhrãn, and between his impressive knowledge of the art form, his innate musical talent, and his sharp wit, he’s adept at capturing (and holding) the attention of virtually any audience, young or old.

While he regularly plays this legendary River Street pub, since 1992, he’s also hosted and produced The Green Island, a weekly show on Celtic music, for Georgia Public Radio. He’s also been named Best Acoustic Musician by our readers for the past four years. If you have yet to catch him in his element, there’s no time like the present. Wed. - Sun., Kevin Barry’s.