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Kudos for Kota Mundi; a new Butcher band
Savannah’s Kota Mundi: Making exceptional music and appearing May 17 at Barrelhouse South.’’

This week, I've been listening to an advance of the upcoming EP from Kota Mundi, one of a handful of Savannah bands that truly deserves more attention than it gets.

With Robbie Coggins and Bob Calevich on guitar, Jason Cox on bass and recently-acquired drummer Paxton Willis, Kota Mundi makes music rooted in reggae and ska, with rock and psychedelic overtones and flourishes.

The songs are nevertheless tight and concise, with nice use of two- and three-part harmony, octave singing and twin lead guitars. Jon Profitt, Willis’ predecessor, plays wicked sinewy drums on the five songs I was given.

The band has an amazing track in the can called “Skabadit,” which starts like Rush and spins itself a hypnotic froth of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Less Than Jake, early Police and Umphrey’s McGee. And an otherworldly organ overdub that sounds like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is just around the corner.

Ultimately, it’s pure Kota Mundi. The guys are shooting for a July drop date, but in the meantime you can catch them Saturday, May 17, At Barrelhouse South (you know, the former Retro on Congress, also known as the former Mercury Lounge) across from Ellis Square. They start at 9 p.m.

The Butcher boy

I can’t say for sure, because I didn’t live in Savannah at the time, but it’s pretty bloody likely that the uber-talented British singer/songwriter Matt Butcher passed through town in the mid 2000s with his Orlando-based bands The Heathens and/or The Revolvers. He looks like a young Keith Richards, wears Carnaby Street polka dots and paisleys, and plays a ‘60s-inspired form of uncluttered rock ‘n’ roll. If you saw his show, you’d remember him.

Butcher and his new band will appear at the Jinx Saturday, May 17.

What he does isn’t exactly retro, however. Butcher plugs into the past to create wholly original songs that evoke rather than imitate.

Released just a week ago, The Kids Are Gone is the first album by Matt Butcher and the Schoolyard Band. Butcher met drummer Pete Pulkrabek and bassist Cullen Tierney in Nashville two years ago. “I was planning on moving back to England,” Butcher said. “I thought we’d just get together and bash out a few covers.”

Instead, they clicked, wrote some tunes, and got a record deal (in that order). Recorded on vintage analog equipment, The Kids Are Gone swings and rocks (the title track has some killer, rockabilly-style lead guitar work) and includes a couple of Butcher’s catchy Petty-esque ballads.

News & other stuff

• Tickets go on sale Friday, May 16 for a Nov. 7 show from John Prine at the Johnny Mercer Theatre. As if that weren’t cool enough, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit will open. Isbell’s spring show at the Ships of the Sea Museum, part of the Savannah Music Festival, was something special. And it’s really great to see the legendary Prine, who’s been in ill health lately, back on the road. Tickets are $59.50-$39.50 through

• This week, Randy Wood Guitars is the locale for the area debut of a relatively new acoustic band out of Nashville. Besides having one of the coolest names of the year, Helen Highwater (stick the word “between” in front and you’ll get it) includes four exceptionally fine pickers. To wit: Fiddler Shad Cobb, bassist Missy Raines (seven-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bass Player of the Year award, and a frequent performer at Randy Wood’s place, with her various other projects ), the jaw-dropping flattop guitar player David Grier (a three-time IBMA winner) and internationally recognized bluegrass mandolinist Mike Compton, who might be best known for his collaborative works with David Grier, and with the late John Hartford. Anyway, you can see these four masters at work (and play) at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 17. Tickets are $25. Adkins and Loudermilk, another ultra-fine bluegrass group, with family ties to the great Charlie and Ira Louvin, is next on the Pickin’ Parlor roster. They’ll be on Randy’s stage May 30.