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Something familiar at Congress Street Social

One of Savannah's favorite Americana bands, the New Familiars, is welcomed back this week - the guys are playing Friday, Jan. 18 at Congress Street Social Club.

Although lead singer and guitarist John Daniel's bushy beard suggests some relationship between the North Carolina-based NewFams and classic Band - indeed, lots of people have made the comparison over the years - the truth is that the New Familiars are a rock ‘n' roll band that uses acoustic instruments, somewhere between early ‘70s Rolling Stones and Johnny-come-latelys like the late and lamented Whiskeytown. See Band of Horses, Avett Brothers, etc etc.

The icing on the cake is Justin Fedor, who wields a mandolin the way Keith Richards wields his Stratocaster. It adds an Appalachian edge to the band's sometimes hard-driving, harmony rich rock ‘n' roll.

Patrick Maholland slaps the standup bass; the guy behind the drum kit is Daniel Flynn.

Not that they don't get what power the acoustic instruments can have.

"Growing up in North Carolina," Fedor told Spinner, "it's sort of a natural thing to grow up with Appalachian music, whether it be out camping with some friends or at some of the great festivals that are held in the Carolinas.

"It's always easy for us to sit around the living room and pull out the acoustic instruments and have an opportunity to play, and that translates to our stage as well. We like to have the amplifiers, but we also like the intimacy of what an acoustic, living room setting is like."

No Bear Fight

A last-minute change of plans meant the guys in Bear Fight had to scrub their planned Friday show at the Jinx. The band has a new album, Survival, all but ready to drop, and the Jinx gig will surely be rescheduled.

Florida's Set and Setting, originally scheduled to open for Bear Fight, is now the headliner. According to BF guitarist Matt Collett, the Florida band is "similar to Explosions In The Sky, Red Sparrows, and Isis. They have two drummers and are all instrumental. They are great."

The opening slot will be filled by Savannah's Crazy Bag Lady and Hot Plate.

At the Jazz Corner

A potentially sparkling new jazz trio debuts at the Jazz Corner in Hilton Head Jan. 25 and 26. Heartmony 3 features Florida vibraphonist Christian Tamburr (one of this writer's favorite jazz players), Bulgarian modern jazz guitarist/composer Hristo Vitchev and Brazilian piano sensation and Latin Grammy Nominee Weber Iago.

The performance is a salute to both the music of Brazil and The Great American Songbook.

Now based in San Francisco, Vitchev has written more than 270 original compositions and a book on chordal theory and construction called Between the Voicings: A New Approach to Chord Building for Guitarists. The Hristo Vitchev Quartet's 2009 Song for Messambria was selected as one of the six best jazz albums of the year by E-Jazz News.

Looking a bit farther down the road, Savannah jazz guitar virtuoso Howard Paul has another set of shows with legendary pianist and composer Bob James at the Jazz Corner, Feb. 1 and 2.

For details, ticket and anything else, see

Cusses win!

As if there was any doubt, Cusses’ “Don’t Give In” video was the runaway winner in’s “Freshman” fan-voting competition. The site reports more than 100,000 votes combined for all the videos, and our hometown trio took the lion’s share. “Don’t Give In” is now in rotation. Cusses return to the Jinx Jan. 25, with Whaleboat and Can’t Kids.