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Noteworthy shows this week
Zach Deputy
Carroll, Houlihan, Lashley & Bray

Self-proclaimed “HardFolk” artist Julia Carroll is extremely psyched about this upcoming four-way gig at one of the city’s most eclectic performance spaces.

“Recently, there’s been some serious ‘community brewing’ going on between all of us, along with several other Southern performers,” she relates. “There’s been lots of joint touring and hopefully this will be one of many showcases featuring progressive artists like us to come.”

Carroll’s an outspoken guitarist and singer who attended high school in Savannah but now divides her time between here and Atlanta, where she’s earning a following with her aggressive approach to contemporary (and at times controversial) acoustic folk-rock. She says this show is the kick-off to a weekend mini-tour of Fla., and that it’s highly likely all the musicians will wind up playing together at some point during the evening.

“I’m not sure how this will turn out, but it’s starting to sound like we’ll be ‘in-the-round.’ I also play bass with (Atlanta-based songwriter) Amy Lashley, and Corey Houlihan has been learning to play drums to my music, so there may be a full-band thing for at least some of the songs. Corey’s known as a spoken-word performer —lately she’s been getting labeled ‘homo-hop’ because her writing covers a lot of gay issues— but we recently found out she can actually sing really well, so I’m hoping she’ll bring that onstage for these shows.”

Carroll hopes this group gig will serve as an introduction to all the artists for many locals who may have yet to catch them live. “Amy’s new to the Savannah scene. She’s only played here once or twice before, and although Brennan Bray plays cello with people, she has her own solo stuff she does with a (digital) looping station, and I think she’ll bring that out.” Fri., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean – ALL-AGES.

Zach Deputy

Speaking of digital looping stations, those little gadgets have literally transformed the solo acoustic guitar scene in the span of a few short years. Initially the gizmo of choice for fringe-dwelling avant-garde composers and adventurous, non-commercial solo artists like Brian Eno and King Crimson’s Robert Fripp, thanks to the likes of sensitive, successful white singer-songwriters such as Keller Williams, Andrew Bird and Howie Day, they have now become de rigueur for modern-day ersatz funk artists who’d rather not pay (or learn to interact well with) a full band.

Now that budding singer/songwriters realize that by investing a few hundred bucks (and a few hundred hours worth of rehearsal with the way-cool, multi-featured sampling devices) they could in many ways approximate the sound of a small combo by themselves live and in “real-time,” there are literally thousands —if not millions— of loop gurus falling out of the woodwork.

Being able to make a complex and often hypnotic syncopated ruckus just by carefully timing your own simple guitar licks and manipulating their delay times and EQ has convinced most of these cats that they have the soul and/or talent of many of the cats who’ve made that style of performance popular. This is not the case.

One notable exception, however, is S.C.’s Zach Deputy, who’s obviously spent enough time with his looping station to almost become one with the unit. His loose and funky groove-rock draws as heavily on Calypso and reggae as it does R & B — which he attributes to growing up in (and paying his dues by playing) Southeastern beach communities and to his parents’ roots in Puerto Rico and St. Croix.

Now based in Bluffton, he tours constantly, playing an average of ten dates a month as a solo act and with an Afro-Cuban-style percussionist. He recently returned from a trek up the coast to Montreal, where I’m sure they appreciated a little bit of musical sun and sand, courtesy of Deputy’s enthusiastic, fun-loving vocal improvisations, lighthearted lyrical sense and hip-hop-esque human beat-boxing. Thurs., 10 pm, Locos (downtown) + Fri., 10 pm, Wild Wing Café.

American Gun

This hard-hitting Columbia, S.C. Americana band gets mucho cred points for having former Flying Burrito Brother Al Perkins play on their soon-to-be-released CD, and for hiring the legendary DB Chris Stamey to produce it as well. Describing themselves as “a rock and roll band with Southern poise,” they’re aligned with the current crop of critically-acclaimed progressive rockers from below the Mason/Dixon Line— major artists like Lucero, secret heroes like Bloodkin and fellow up-and-comers like Patty Hurst Shifter or Dodd Ferrelle & The Tinfoil Stars. Pick up on it. Sat., 11 pm, The Jinx.

The Bluegrass Alliance

This latest incarnation of the celebrated acoustic string band (that’s been around in one form or another for the past three decades) has taken to nicknaming itself “Re-Alliance,” either as an up-front recognition that the current members —on board since ‘98— are not the originals. This new aggregation still takes chances with the genre, however, and under the leadership of banjoist Barry Palmer is scratching out a name for itself as a worthy successor to such a famed mantle. Expect innovative arrangements and spirited playing at this intimate, 100-seat smoke and alcohol-free show just minutes from the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum. Call 748-1930 to charge $20 adv. tix. Sat., 7:30 pm, Randy Wood’s Concert Hall (1304 E. Hwy 80, Bloomingdale) – ALL-AGES.

Eric Culberson Blues Band

Despite the fact they’ve been around for so long and have tons of name recognition, that’s no reason to slag the ECBB and assume they’re all hype. They’re arguably the finest and most incendiary electric blues act for miles around, and could hold their own with most of the established touring groups on the club, theater and festival circuit today (which they do from time to time on their regular —if short—jaunts up and down the East Coast). Frontman and gunslinger Culberson has become a true master of his vintage Casino hollow body and ‘60s-era Fender amp (suitably bruised and battered from years on the road without a protective case), while his current rhythm section is easily the most nuanced and sympathetic he’s ever held on to. Treat yourself to some top-shelf fireball funk and stinging soul grooves that would surely make the late, great Freddy King tap his massive foot. Tues. (hosts Open Jam Night) - Wed., 10 pm, Mercury Lounge + Fri. - Sat., 9:30 pm, Fiddler’s (River St.).

Ensemble Con Spirito

This group of female vocalists specializes in sacred songs, and this holiday show finds them airing out the great British composer Benjamin Britten’s famed Ceremony of Carols, which is scored for treble chorus, harp and piano. Along with the carols, they’ll intersperse traditional Advent lessons and readings given by members of the Savannah Children’s Choir. Free admission to all, courtesy of the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs! More info at: Sun., 5:30 pm, Wesley Monumental United Methodist (429 Abercorn St.).

First Friday for Folk Music

This “coffeehouse-style” (no smoke or alcohol) showcase of touring acoustic talent includes: award-winning Colombian native Marce, who’s known for romantic ballads and feminist anthems; 1993 Kerrville Folk Fest Winner Mark Elliot, a Nashvillian who’s worked with the likes of Tom Paxton and Don Henley; and the “fiddling poet” Ken Waldman, who blends Appalachian-style fiddle with performed poetry and stories of his hardscrabble, bohemian life in Alaska into a show one critic deemed “a one-man Prairie Home Companion.” Free with a suggested $2 donation to the Savannah Folk Music Society. Fri., 7:30 pm, Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church – ALL-AGES.

I Cantori’s 17th Annual Christmas Concert

Songs and carols from around the globe make up the program for these two recitals by the city’s professional chamber choir under the direction of Dr. Robert Harris (with accompaniment from organist Stephen Branyon). You’ll hear British, Irish, Slovak, Spanish, French, German and U.S. works. $15 for adults and $10 for students at the door. For info, call 925-7866. Sun., 6 pm, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (34th & Abercorn Sts.) + Sun., 7:30 pm, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (Skidaway Isl.).

The Nutcracker in Savannah

This C-Port-centric updating finds a large cast and live orchestra (directed by Mary Woodmansee Green) setting the production in Victorian-era Savannah for a unique take on a classic holiday ballet. Look for cameo appearances by local celebs (like famed fried chicken salesmen Bobby and Jamie Deen and ice cream icons Stratton and Mary Leopold). Tickets from $30 - $16 at the SCAD Box Office (ph. 525-5050) or online at Sat., 2 pm & 8 pm + Sun., 2 pm, Lucas Theatre.

Two Originals

Also known as Rich & Dan, this two-man singing acoustic guitar duo specializes in blues, classic jam-rock covers (a la The Dead) and their own tunes. Fri., 8:30 pm, Kasey’s Gourmet Grille.