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Bryan Clees & The Electric Cowboys

Runner-up for Best Country Artist in our 2005 Readers’ Poll, this Tampa native resides in Sylvania nowadays and has opened regionally for superstars such as Kenny Chesney, Tracy Byrd, Jo Dee Messina and more. Of late, the determined and hardworking guitarist and singer has been playing with a talented group of music industry veterans who call themselves The Electric Cowboys – and supposedly they’ll be releasing a debut album soon, which should be welcome news to his growing legion of fans. Fri., The Island Grill (Pt. Wentworth).

David Lippman/George Shrub

From his earliest days in the trenches (in 1969 he was named as an unindicted co-conspirator for singing a caustic ditty at a student rally, and in 1973 Country Joe McDonald cut one of his tunes), through the dastardly 1980s (when he debuted his “singing CIA Agent” character George Shrub and backed the late Allen Ginsberg on guitar), and straight on through to the present, this smart-aleck has remained a thorn in the side of those who prefer to pull the wool over the public’s eyes.

Singing tongue-in-cheek – but deadly serious – diatribes against such targets as WAL-MART, sport utility vehicles, and the war on drugs, or delivering somber presentations on his fexperiences living in Central American war zones and “Israeli occupied Palestine,” Lippman/Shrub comes off as an edgier Mark Russell.

He’s toured with Yippie poster boy (and Realist publisher) Paul Krassner, and MC’d Pete Seeger’s 80th Birthday Party! It doesn’t get much cooler than that. Sat., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean - ALL AGES.

The Talk, et al

Sometimes I’ll receive a demo or a CD that just knocks my socks off, and I pass along that opinion in the hopes that others will catch a great group. However, I’ll sometimes find – much to my chagrin – that in a live setting these bands simply can’t cut it.

The last time these herky-jerky power-popsters passed through, I gushed about them only to have several folks tell me that in concert, their vocalist’s preening and affected mannerisms were so off-putting that many considered throttling him onstage. Nevertheless, their 2nd (and most recent) LP, Like Magic In Reverse is an unrelenting, thirty-five-minute blast of Buzzcocks fury, Blondie melodies and jackhammering Joy Division drumbeats.

Also on this overstuffed bill are Actress, a vaguely glam Chattanooga outfit that wears their love for The Jam proudly on their stovepipes. Rumor has it they’ve signed with Sony, and I wouldn’t be surprised, as their plaintive Echo & The Bunnymen-meets-Blue Aeroplanes vibe is timely (Franz Ferdinand, anyone?).

Then you have The Fashion Brigade, whose delay-ridden guitars and swirling synths recall Brits like Icicle Works. Finaly, there’s NYC’s male/female electro-punk twosome Mommy & Daddy – a real-life couple whose antiquated drum machine, distorted bass guitar, and disaffected stares help make their noise-pop go down like soft-serve laced with grain alcohol. The Rezillos meet The B-52’s. Sat., The Jinx.

The Jeff & Vida Band

Make no bones about it: formed in New Orleans but now based in Nashville, this tremendously entertaining acoustic trio (they juggle guitar, standup bass, mandolin, fiddle and banjo) is one of the best in the USA at writing new material that sounds like it came straight out of the Appalachian mountains circa 1940, or Tin Pan Alley circa 1956.

Vida Wakeman’s beguling yelp of a voice and Jeff Burke’s flashy fretwork and high vocal harmonies make them a must-see. As if that weren’t enough, they’re so gosh-darned nice. This gig next to Forsyth Park starts right after the James Brown show, and it’s free too. Trust me when I say you cannot go wrong with this group. They’re that great... Fri., 10 pm, American Legion Post #135 (1108 Bull St.).

Rising From The Riverbed

I’m surely showing my age, but I remember seeing Beanland play Savannah several times in the mid-to-late ‘80s. At the time, the Oxford, Miss. group was helping define what would soon be known as the jam-band scene – but back then, the notion of a club circuit for improvisational rock with roots in Southern soul and jazz fusion was still a pipe dream.

Athens became the epicenter of that movement, harboring influential groups (like Allgood, The Aquarium Rescue Unit and Widespread Panic), as well as also-rans (like White Buffalo).

Well, it’s 2005, and Panic is now at the top of their class. But long before their keyboardist JoJo Hermann came on board, he tickled the ivories in Beanland. And, when cancer took founding Panic guitarist Michael Houser, they turned to Beanland’s George McConnell.

This low-budget documentary focuses on these unsung pioneers. Drawing on archival footage plus interviews with producer Jim Dickinson and other key figures, this labor of love should prove fascinating for those who never experienced those times firsthand, and for those of us who saw it from the sidelines. Up-and-coming Atlanta trio Outformation (who’re under Widespread’s wing) play live after the screening. Fri., JJ Cagney’s.