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Spotlighted Gigs & Recommended Shows

Joe Buck

There’s a demon in Joe Buck’s head and it wants you dead. Formerly of Th’ Legendary Shackshakers and perhaps best known as the upright bassist in Hank III’s band, this disturbed (and disturbing) hell-billy reprobate has now hit the road as a one-man banned (sic) playing distorted guitar and a stripped-down drum kit while caterwauling Cramps-style about drugs, violence and country debauchery. It’s nasty, whiskey-fueled punk from Jason Voorhees’ iPod. Throw Rag’s Captain Sean Doe (who just completed a one-off album with Buck) opens. Listen & Learn: Sat., 11 pm, The Jinx.

David Lugo & Latin Jazz Motion

As with most local jazz combos, this Afro-Cuban project maintains something of a rotating lineup. While there are several key players usually on hand, the exact instrumentation and sound of the group can change from night to night depending on who’s making the gig. The constant is veteran percussionist Lugo, who leads the group and sets the tone. Raised in East Harlem and taken under the wing of famed percussionist José Mangual at an early age, over the past 30 years, the locally-based Lugo has worked with a number of salsa and jazz greats, including Ray Barretto, Tito Puenté, Dizzy Gillespie, Ruben Blades, Jaco Pastorious, Willie Colon and Xavier Cugat’s Orchestra. This particular restaurant gig finds he, pianist Norm Gagne and bassist Ray Williams offering a distinctly rhythmic take on jazz standards. Listen & Learn: Fri., 8:30 pm, Isaac’s on Drayton.


One of the biggest names in the progressive rock and jam scene, this adventurous, improvisatory quintet from Buffalo, N.Y. is closing in on two decades of existence. During that time, they’ve played such major music events as Woodstock ‘99, Bonnaroo, Vegoose, New Orleans’ Jazz & Heritage Fest and more.

They’ve also headlined recent New Year’s Eve shows at NYC’s famed Radio City Music Hall. Contemporaries of Phish, whose music incorporates everything from jazz-influenced pop and hard guitar rock to meticulously-crafted, ‘70s-style melodic grooves (a la Steely Dan), their reputation for taking musical risks onstage has formed a strong bond between the group and their followers.

This show marks the Grand Opening night of a brand-new live entertainment venue unlike anything our region has seen to date. Just 40 miles from Forsyth Park, this 12,000 sq. ft. complex (located 300 yards from the ocean at the entrance to the Hilton Head Beach & Tennis Resort) reportedly boasts the largest art deco-style bar in the Southeast. It also holds audiences of up to 1,600 for standing shows and 500 for seated events, and aims to regularly book major national music and comedy acts as well as regional and local artists.

Despite the fact that one can usually drive from here to there in about an hour, the winding, speed trap-filled route to Hilton Head has long deterred Savannahians in search of nighttime frivolity.

Strangely enough, I know many folks who are actually more likely to make a road trip to Charleston, Jacksonville or Atlanta (which can often demand an overnight stay) than simply pop over to the island and immediately return after a show.

Now there’s a brand-new facility relatively nearby with the potential to host the sort of impressive artists which routinely avoid Savannah due to its lack of large venues combining standing and seated areas.

Even more appealing and refreshing: unlike Savannah (where some depressingly puritanical City leaders seems hellbent on devising new ways to ban young people from business which offer both alcohol and live entertainment), Hilton Head allows folks under 21 to enter and enjoy the shows, provided they’re clearly marked and prevented from obtaining adult beverages.

The folks who run this venue have made it clear to me that their business plan depends in no small part on drawing SCAD students as well as older music lovers from our side of the Talmadge Bridge to their events — so folks, the ball’s in your court. Will you deal with a two-hour round trip drive for a chance to see concerts by major names? I —for one— hope so. Listen & Learn: $20 advance tickets for 18+ online at Thurs., 7 pm doors/9 pm show, Shoreline Ballroom (40 Folly Field Rd., Hilton Head).

Brenda Morie

Fresh off an East Coast tour, this singing, Savannah-based jazz guitarist/flutist is working on a new album with bassist Ben Tucker and composing for films, but takes a break to play a low-key free show at this tony, second-story hotel lounge. Her spry technique on the flute owes a lot to the late, great Herbie Mann. Listen & Learn: Sat., 9 pm, Mansion on Forsyth Park.

Port City Music

One of the more unique local indie-rock bands, PCM is led by singer/songwriter Philip Palmer, who spent time on the Athens, Ga. underground music scene. With a chiming, multi-layered sound that’s heavily influenced by both the dreamy ‘80s psych-folk revival typified by The Church, and the minor-key jangle-pop of L.A.’s Paisley Underground movement, Palmer and company sound quite unlike any other established Savannah band. That anachronistic approach has earned them a small batch of fans who appreciate the fact that the group (featuring former members of the equally sidelined Vermillion X) is unconcerned with jumping on any bandwagons, but it’s also made it difficult for them to grow a larger following or play out often. This show reportedly finds them debuting some new material. Josh Bond, a “backwoods Americana” singer/songwriter who recently moved here from Alabama opens the show. Listen & Learn:, Sat., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean - ALL-PAGES.

Arum Rae & Two Days

This local combo pairs a singing, slide guitar playing female Berklee Grad known for minimalist, garagey, blues-inspired (Arum Rae Valkonen) with backing musicians from long-standing punk noisemakers Two Days of Freedom. Rae is a beguiling artist whose confessional brand of vocal delivery veers from whimsical to vicious. Though now based in Savannah, she gigs as far off as the trendy NYC venue Pete’s Candy Store. This is ballsy roots-rock with a twang and a sneer, and it’s recommended for folks who wouldn’t hesitate to include Holly Golightly, Rickie Lee Jones and The Black Keys on the same mix-tape. Listen & Learn: Fri., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean - ALL-AGES.

Martin Sexton

One of the most talked-about and critically heralded singer/songwriters of the past decade and a half, this Syracuse, N.Y. native has released seven albums over the past 17 years, but has only in recent years become something of a mainstream name. Praised by critics from all corners for his disarmingly expressive and powerfully dynamic vocal prowess (which can go from a husky baritone to falsetto on a whim and is often described as “sensual”) as well as his knack for penning memorable tunes that eschew trite banalities and instead embrace touching, inspirational sentiments and poetic flights of lyrical fancy, he’s routinely described as an inspiring performer. His onstage charisma —coupled with the subject matter of many of his songs, and the intensity with which he imparts them— captivate and mesmerizes his audiences. George Stanford will be Sexton’s special guest, and regional keyboardist/Angie Aparo sideman Martin Lesch opens. $20 advance tix for 18+ at Fri., 7 pm doors/8 pm show, Shoreline Ballroom (40 Folly Field Rd., Hilton Head).

Old-Time Country Dance

Beginners are welcome at this regularly scheduled event held by the Savannah Folk Music Society, and there’s a short, introductory “walk-through” lesson for novices before the whole thing gets under way. It all takes place in a downtown venue near the Bull Street Public Library that’s billed as having the largest wooden dance floor in the area. Live music and calling will be provided by The Ogeechee River Steamboat Society Remnants, otherwise known as locals Jean-Paul and Dominique Carton with Davis Posner. $7 cover, or $5 for SFMS members and students. Sat., 8 pm (lessons at 7:45 pm), Notre Dame Academy Gymnasium (1709 Bull St.) - ALL-AGES.