New Music Monday – 1/16/17

It’s another week and another New Music Monday. This week, Tom and I are listening to:

  • Pile
  • Pissed Jeans
  • Chavez
  • Dope KNife
  • Rhiannon Giddens

Boston, MA
“Texas” from A Hairshirt Of Purpose, out March 31 via Exploding In Sound.

Oh, man, am I excited for new Pile output. Tangled melodies, strange vocal delivery, intertwining guitars, it’s all there, classic mathy, complex Pile elements. It will take some repeated listening, but I honestly can’t imagine that this won’t dig deep into my brain this year. There’s not too many current rock bands writing stuff this challenging and rewarding. – Tom

Pissed Jeans
“Ignorecam” off of the upcoming Why Love Now, available February 24th on Sub Pop

Do you like your rock safe, and want it to leave you with a fuzzy feeling? Umm, I’d pass on this if I were you. Grimy and nasty ala the late era Black Flag variety, Pissed Jeans is both confrontational and absurd, in the best possible way. – Tom

New York
“The Bully Boys” from the Cockfighters 12″ e.p. out now on Matador

Chavez was underrated, even in their mid 90’s heyday. They never really broke up, but the members went on to success in other bands and fields, reuniting occasionally for a show or two and then flickering out again. Well the embers have been stoked again, resulting in a 3 song e.p. of classic alt guitar rock. They’re not breaking new ground here, but it still sounds pretty damn good to me. – Tom

Dope KNife
“Nothing To Lose” off NineteenEightyFour, due Jan. 27 on Strange Famous Records

There’s a lot to love in this new track from Savannah’s Dope KNife — the confident but sometimes subdued vocals, the heavy bass juxtaposed with keys, the references to his own complex childhood. We’ll have more about the record soon. – bill

Rhiannon Giddens
Greensboro, N.C.
“At the Purchaser’s Option” from the forthcoming Freedom Highway

Well this seems like the right artist, the right album, and the right time. Giddens has a stellar reputation among critics and fans already, but the forthcoming Freedom Highway seems likely to vault her to the next level (whatever that is exactly). Giddens based this penetrating song on a line from an 1830s ad announcing the sale of a young woman: “She has with her a 9-month old baby, who is at the purchaser’s option.” – bill

Holy Trinity: Dare Dukes, Thursday Night Opry, and YOU

The Thursday Night Opry kicks off a new season of acoustic-themed performances at Trinity United Methodist Church, Thursday, January 19. For three years local music aficionados Jared Hall and Jon Waits have been consistently curating a listening-focused space for artists and audiences to share and experience original music.

Dare Dukes, Savannah’s very own heavy hitter of quirk-alt-Americana, performs along with locals Coy Campbell, Sarah Poole, Kurtis Schumm, and Rachel Shaner. Touring artists Justin Hylton, Blake Rainey, and Jason Waller round out the bill for an evening packed with seasoned writers and players.

Recently, hissing lawns caught up with pensive troubadour, Dare Dukes. Dukes also directs Deep Center, a youth organization that mentors local junior high and high school students in transforming their personal experiences into written stories of growth and healing. “It’s like a 60, maybe 70 hour a week position,” says Dukes, explaining his current under the radar music profile. “But I’m surrounded by stories, stories and characters, that’s what songwriting is, isn’t?” he asks earnestly.

Propped against the dining room table is Dukes’ vintage Gibson. His workhorse. “I’m writing, working on a new one…” his voice trails.

Dare Dukes grew up in Northern California, went to grad school in Minnesota, then landed a series of writer-ly jobs in New York City. His passion for writing led to finishing a novel of his own. And then another. They were good. An agent liked his work and took on Dukes as a client, but despite their sustained diligence, the novels didn’t publish. He then turned to music where his love of storytelling fit naturally with songwriting. And then Dare Dukes wrote songs. Song after song, honing and refining his craft in the crucible of New York City.

“Most of the songs on Thugs and China Dolls came from that time after the novel,” continues Dukes. Which makes sense. The lyrics are tight, idiosyncratic at times, specific and seemingly calculated both by syllable and sound. It’s writer-ly.

Thugs and China Dolls comes up as country and folk in itunes. The album is sort of country in its instrumentation — banjo, accordion, piano — but the stories and musical arrangements are far from big truck drivin’, broken hearted-tear-in-your-beer top forty or anything folk for that matter. Imagine, instead, what it would sound like if Michael Stipe, They Might Be Giants, Sufjan Stevens, and the Pixies hosted a poetry reading in the live oaks of Sonoma County in the middle of July at midnight. Dare Dukes’ music could be that kind of country.

Dukes reaches for his guitar, “I read this story, or maybe I heard it on Radio Lab, about a guy with a parrot as a service animal,” he continues, “He was bipolar and this parrot learned how to speak to him and soothe him before he had a break. I liked this story.”

And with that introduction, Dares Dukes launches into “Jim Eggers’ Parrot” a track from Thugs and China Dolls.

Dare Dukes
photo Josephine Johnson

The Vitals

What: Thursday Night Opry Singer/Songwriter Edition

When: 7:30-10 p.m. Jan. 19

Where: Trinity United Methodist Church, 225 W. President St.

How much: $10 donation

Larry Jack’s Magical Music Tour – 1/13/17 – 1/17/17

Hey guys,

It looks like there are several good shows this week. If you take a look around the list, I am sure you will find something you like. See you around somewhere soon.

Friday – 1/13
City HotelRoasting Room (8p)
Eric SommerSentient Bean (8p)
Silversel, MetalunaSavannah’s Music City Bar and Grill
B13ssed presented by the House of GuntJinx
High Divers, Roe JomaBarrelhouse South
Jacob & The Good PeopleCongress Street Social Club

Saturday – 1/14
Savannah Soundings Community Radio: Tunes and Brews Party (Sunglow, Lotion in the Basket, Clouds and Satellites and the Anders Thomsen Band)Service Brewing (7-10p, $22)
Lyn Avenue, Wood & SteelTybee Post Theater (8p)
HextonesSavannah’s Music City Bar and Grill
Marytree, My Maiden Name, Broken GlowEl-Rocko
Groove Town Assault, Little StrangerBarrelhouse South
Harbor PilotsMolly MacPherson’s
Mothership, Gunpowder GrayJinx
Train WrecksCongress Street Social Club

Sunday 1/15
Ben Tucker Tribute Jam SessionHotel Indigo (5p, $20)
Voodoo SoupCongress Street Social Club

Monday 1/16
Pussy Launcher, Too Much, Bird Person El-Rocko
Mad Existence, Schiavi, Cray Bags, Roger Watkins of Resource GroupJinx ($7)

Tuesday 1/17
Ben Keiser BandBay Street Blues
Eric Culberson Open JamBayou Cafe

Catching Up with Isaac Smith

At the end of December, Isaac Smith played an acoustic set at The Roasting Room in Bluffton, South Carolina. Smith’s clean, pop-y, pitch-perfect vocals immediately got my attention — his knack for songwriting commanded my ear. Heartfelt without being too precious, Smith’s songs are fresh without pretense and draw from a range of influences. Part folk, contemporary country, and modern rock woven into a colorful sonic tapestry, he’s familiar, yet unique. Accessible. Authentic.

At the end of that show, Smith invited me to a triple bill at The Jinx with his band, plus The High Divers and Pony League.

Smith and Co. opened, and like before, his vocals rang true as a bell, but this time soaring above the added kick of a really tight band. I had listened to his online recordings, which were fine but nothing compared to the magic he and the ensemble now harness and bring on after four years of steady gigging. At points in their set, I heard a little Kings of Leon, some Tom Petty swagger, a bit bro-country—a powerful mix of Americana-alt-rock-country-folk.

The nexus are Smith, guitarist Evan Stewart, and drummer Robert Saunders, at this show joined by bassist Eric Dunn and keys player Phillip Price. Smith, Stewart, and Saunders met in Savannah roughly six years ago and soon after committed seriously to the music. “All three of us had instant chemistry,” recalls Smith, “and this December marks two years playing originals with the boys.”

Isaac Smith and his band are set to tour the east coast from Georgia to New York beginning March 2017 with no Savannah shows until after their return. 2017 is Isaac Smith’s year—to take his band, his sound, and soul to new places. Check out Smith’s website for shows and tour updates.

Isaac Smith Band, The Jinx, Savannah, GA, 01/07/17

Isaac Smith Band

Isaac Smith Band
l to r: Ethan Stewart, Robert Saunders, Isaac Smith, Eric Dunn

Isaac Smith, Eric Dunn

New Music Monday – 1/9/17

A short New Music Monday post this week, but plenty of provocation. Enjoy!

Rhiannon Giddens
Greensboro, NC
“Freedom Highway”

Giddens covers the Staple Singers’ classic and injects it with both musical and political urgency. “Freedom Highway” is the title track off Giddens’ upcoming album, which drops on 2/24. On her Facebook page, Giddens says that the new songs “are based on slave narratives from the 1800s, African American experiences of the last century, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and headlines from streets of Ferguson and Baltimore today. Voices demanding to be heard, to impart the hard-earned wisdom of a tangled, difficult, complicated history; we just try to open the door and let them through.” – bill


A fascinating experiment by a talented group of young musicians who wrote, produced, recorded, and uploaded a 5-song EP in 24 hours. I don’t know if we’ll hear anymore from 24HREP as a group, but challenges like this can point artists in new directions. – bill

Mac McCaughan
Durham, NC
“Happy New Year (Prince Can’t Die Again)”

Superchunk frontman and Merge Records head honcho Mac sums up a lot of thoughts about our last trip around the sun, and a bit about the one we’re starting. This one’s got to be better, right? RIGHT? – Tom

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Melbourne, Australia
“Nuclear Fusion” from Flying Microtonal Banana, out February 24, 2017

Hyper prolific Australian psych band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are said to be planning to release 5 studio albums in 2017!! They’re a small font band at Coachella!! There’s a sitar on this song!! I think they might smoke weed!! Seriously, though, I dig this song. – Tom

The Flaming Lips
Oklahoma City, OK
“We A Fambly” off of upcoming full length Oczy Mlody due out Jan. 13.

Have you ever been to a Flaming Lips show?? Man, they are some weirdos. Singular, endearing weirdos who happen to write some catchy, offbeat psych pop and put on amazing, sensory overload shows, but definitely weirdos. This song is…wait…is that Miley Cyrus singing now? It is? Huh, okay. Let’s be honest, at this point you either like The Flaming Lips or you don’t like The Flaming Lips. Here’s their new song. – Tom

Murder By Death + Laura Stevenson at The Grey Eagle in Asheville – photos

On my way into the Murder By Death/Laura Stevenson show at The Grey Eagle in Asheville a number of weeks ago, I chatted with a guy from Knoxville who had seen MBD the night before in Nashville. I had of course driven up to Asheville that afternoon from down here in Savannah, about 300 miles away.

But what’s a few hours and a few hundred miles when Murder By Death is somewhere vaguely nearby?

As they’ve been doing routinely, Murder By Death played songs from albums spanning their career — these are dream sets for their longtime fans — and displayed their usual command of the stage. It’s hard to know what to say about a band that makes excellence so routine. I’ve run out of superlatives.

I’ve loosely followed Laura Stevenson’s diverse, eclectic career for a long time, and I was thrilled to see her live for the first time. So it was a super night of music.

The Grey Eagle is an impressive venue — excellent sound, nice size, good flow, a pleasant outdoor area, quick bar service, an inviting food menu. The slightly yellow and purple lighting wasn’t especially interesting visually, so I desaturated some of them. I’ll also note that Stevenson hit the stage not long after the scheduled 9 p.m. start time, and MBD wrapped up their lengthy set before 11:30 — in Savannah, the headliner often wouldn’t be on stage at 11:30. It can be done: advertise the real show time, stick to the schedule, and the audience will get there!

Also, Asheville. Why don’t I go up there more often? I have a friend/relative who has a great house and amazing dog, and the city has some rich offerings. Before the MBD show, I caught a special screening at the Fine Arts Theatre of the compelling documentary Last Men Standing, about long-term AIDS survivors in San Francisco.

A few photos here, with more after the jump:

What were they talking about?

Larry Jack’s Magical Music Tour – 1/6/17 – 1/10/17

Hey guys,
It looks like a pretty good weekend for music this weekend, at least music-wise.  It looks like there will be some pretty brutal weather coming up though, so dress warm.  There are plenty of choices of choices on both Friday and Saturday, I’m sure you can find something to see.

Friday – 1/6
Flying Bacon Cheeseburgers House of Strut (6p)
Strangerwolf, Folk Is PeopleFoxy Loxy (7-10p)
The DimesFunky Brunch Cafe (7:30p)
Joe Mullins and the Radio RamblersRandy Wood Guitars (7:30p, $28)
Thomas Claxton, Ben Keiser BandBayou Cafe
Joe Marcinek Band ft. Tony Hall of Dumpstaphunk, Leisure ChiefBarrelhouse South
BBFXMolly MacPherson’s
Sect, Advent, Eternal Sleep, Jesus Piece, Vein, Absolute SufferingWormhole ($7)
The MustardCongress Street Social Club
Peewee Moore, AM Rodriguez, Alex CulbreathJinx ($7)
SouthpawSavannah’s Music City Bar and Grill

Saturday – 1/7
Allman/Moody GroupFunky Brunch Cafe (7:30p)
Sonic ShockwaveSavannah’s Music City Bar and Grill
Versatile – Congress Street Social Club
The Hippie & The Punk, Generation Pill, Norton Lucas, Angry JoeWormhole ($5)
High Divers, Pony League, Isaac SmithJinx ($10)
Broadcast 90: The Ultimate 90’s Rock TributeWild Wing Cafe
Jon Lee and the Apparitions Molly MacPherson’s
Liquid GingerBoomy’s

Sunday – 1/8
Voodoo SoupCongress Street Social Club

Monday – 1/9
Craig Tanner & Mr Williams Open MicAbe’s on Lincoln

Tuesday – 1/10
Gino FanelliFoxy Loxy Cafe (7p)
Eric Culberson Open JamBayou Cafe
Ben Keiser BandBay Street Blues
Craig Tanner Open MicMolly MacPherson’s

Tom’s 2016 – tl;dr

You know those publications/people who put out their “best of the year” lists in freaking October? Yeah, I don’t like them much. I’m now sure that nothing else in 2016 will blow my mind, as it is currently 2017. Anyway, I saw around 200 live sets, down a little from last year, took tons of pics, but published less for some reason (lazy? busy? lame?), and listened to lots and lots of music. My music player has 65 albums tagged as 2016, and that doesn’t count Bandcamp and various other streaming platforms or XM, which I listen to for hours each day. So, without further ado, my 2016 totally self indulgent, totally too long list of lists mixed with some photos I took…

Hank Wood and The Hammerheads at Atlanta Mess Around

Tight Genes at Punk Mess 2

Albums of the year, no particular order except #1 and #2:

1.) Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Denial. Far and away my #1, I listened to this album constantly during the last half of 2016, often several times a day. If I wrote a review of this album it would come off as a ridiculously embarrassing, head-over-heels love letter singing praises about the lyrics, the song construction, the little musical flourishes…ughh…

2.) Whores., Gold. Ironically, I discovered this band on a year end list several years ago. If you asked me last January what my favorite of 2016 was going to be, I would have guessed Atlanta trio Whores.’ full length, based on my love of the first two e.p.’s. Bulldozing, gnarly, picksliding, amp testing, riffing, punishing, fuzzed out, bruising, cathartic noise rock. This track may have the song title of the year, too.

The rest.)
Against Me!, Shape Shift with Me. Maybe one day Laura Jane Grace will write an album that I don’t like, but maybe not.
Thee Oh Sees, A Weird Exits. Not every John Dwyer release grabs me, but this one did.
Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. I’m not much of a modern country guy, and that Nirvana cover shouldn’t work, but damn.
Parquet Courts, Human Performance. Straight up indie rock, solid the whole way through.
The Powder Room, Lucky. Great Athens, GA noise/grunge/alt release.
Goblin Cock, Necronomidonkeykongimicon. Doom, math, speed metal, punk, sludge, stoner rock…man, this one is all over the place. Here’s the thing, though…it makes me smile.
The Coathangers, Nosebleed Weekend. I’ve seen some bitching that the sound’s different on this one, more SoCal, less garage. Whatever, it’s catchy as hell, and I dig it.
A Giant Dog, Pile. I don’t know a thing about this Austin punk band other than every song on this album sounds like a party, a really fun party.
Wilco, Schmilco. They handicapped themselves with that album name, and it’s really mellow, but it definitely grew on me.
Christian Fitness, This Taco Is Not Correct. Falco from McLusky doing his thing one man band style. If that sentence makes sense to you, you’ll like this. Snarky, fuzzed out, muscular post punk, maybe?
Big Ups, Before A Million Universes.Kinda forgot about this one until reviewing 2016 stuff, great album, and they killed at Stopover (again).
LVL UP, Return to Love. I was really late to the party on this one (like last week late!), but hell yeah, guitar rock done well. Almost exactly halfway between Neutral Milk Hotel and Jeff the Brotherhood.

Shows of the year, no order except #1:

1.) Hank Wood and The Hammerheads, unannounced 2 a.m. set at 529, Atlanta Mess Around. The room felt charged before the band even came on, and exploded when they played. Holy shit. Hard to describe.

Old Crow Medicine Show in Forsyth Park for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon – photos

I know, I know, it’s 2017, but I’m still catching up on 2016. Back in November, Old Crow Medicine Show put on the best Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon finale in the event’s short history. The weather was perfect, and spectators can finally get close to the stage — for the first time in my experience, there were no barriers keeping everyone out of the spray fountain area.

So, I took a jillion photos. A few here, with lots more after the jump:

A.M. Rodriguez EP Release Show with Megan Jean and the KFB, Dead Oak and Brandon Nelson McCoy – photos

A long time ago in a month far, far away (ok, November) A.M. Rodriguez got together with his damn fine band and a solid lineup of Megan Jean and the KFB, Dead Oak and Brandon Nelson McCoy to celebrate his debut e.p. release, Dead Dogs and Dried Up Dreams. Jinx Bartender Scotty J even got into the action for Rodriguez’s final song.

From our earlier post releasing the title track:

Both Connect Savannah and Do Savannah can bring you up to speed nicely on the details, but long story short, A.M. hunkered down with the Train Wrecks‘ Jason Bible and put 9 songs from his back catalog to tape, 5 of which make up the new release with the other 4 tracks slated for future use. A.M. played almost everything on the tunes, with Bible adding some slide guitar and harmonica on a couple songs. Jason also handled the recording, mixing and mastering duties.

Rodriguez has been growing as a musician with each show and recording — can’t wait to see where he goes next.

You can catch him on stage at The Jinx most Fridays for Happy Hour from 6-8, or with PeeWee Moore and Alex Culbreth on January 6.

As always, some shots below — and check out more from both Bill and me after the jump!

A.M. Rodriguez and His Damn Fine Band

Dead Oak

Megan Jean and the KFB

Brandon Nelson McCoy

A.M. Rodriguez and Scotty

Larry Jack’s Year End Posting

Hey guys,

Well, another year is behind us. Judging from my Facebook friends and their comments, 2016 was not everyone’s favorite year.  I guess a lot of bad things happened to us (Trump), but I think life kinda is full of balances. Maybe the downs were a little lower this year, but that will (hopefully) balance out with higher ups next year.

Enough of the sappy stuff, time for the music. I think that Savannah has several factors that make it such a good music city. One of these factors is, of course, our liberal to-go cup policy. It is nice to not have to chug a near-full beer because you walked in on the last song before a break. Another of the things that make us music-friendly is the small entertainment district downtown.  Congress Street Social Club, Boomy’s, Molly MacPherson’s, Jinx, Barrelhouse, and El-Rocko are all within a few short blocks of each other.  From there, it is a short walk to the Bay Street/River Street area, where there are multiple venues, including Bay Street Blues, Warehouse, Bayou Cafe, and Abe’s On Lincoln.  Walk a few blocks south to Broughton and you have a couple of larger venues, Lucas Theatre and Trustees Theater. All of these venues are close enough to easily walk between each other in 10 minutes. Another reason for our vibrant music scene is the plethora of musical talent we have downtown. As many of you know who subscribe to this blog, we have a wide range of musical styles available to be seen on almost any weekend. There is blues, Americana, garage rock, heavy metal, punk, and many more. Check out the Connect, hissing lawns (unabashed plug), The Do, or Ryan’s Musical Picks for a listing of shows for the week.

Now for my year-end stats.

My total shows seen this year was 573.

This is actually down a little for two years in a row.  I guess I am getting old and slowing down.

VENUES (each act counts, headliner and opening act counts as 2):

Jinx (140)

Barrelhouse South (84)

El Rocko (47)

Molly MacPherson’s (43)

Congress Street Social Club (39)

Bayou Cafe (20)

Jinx is a four-year winner here, no surprise to be on top again. I think they get some of the best touring acts at this location and it is definitely a goal for many local bands to play at this venue. Barrelhouse South has been creeping up the list since they opened in 2013. Some of their acts are not to my tastes (a little less white-boy reggae would help), but I do think they have one of the best sound systems and definitely the best lighting system in town. It is nice to see El=Rocko, a kind-of newcomer (Wes Daniel ran Hang Fire), this high on the list.  They have worked out most of the early problems with sound at this venue and I now enjoy seeing bands there.  And I always enjoy Wes’ unique musical choices. Molly MacPherson’s is always one of my favorite venues, one of the places you can always find someone to share a drink (or two) with. Congress Street Social Club is becoming more inviting as a venue, with the addition of drapes, but they still have a lot of DJ’s, that is why they are not higher up the list. Rounding out the list is probably my favorite dive bar in town, the Bayou Cafe. If you have a night that includes a stop at the Bayou, it was probably a good night.


City Hotel (6)
City Hotel have made the list every year, and I was happy to see them on there again. I don’t think you will see a better bluegrass band in town.

Cray Bags (6)
Cray Bags I was glad to see them back on the list. If you like old punk, you will like them.

Jeff 2-Names & The Born Agains (6)
Jeff 2-Names & The Born Agains are new to this list. Good old punk rock, Ramones style lyrics. Plus, now Eric Culberson may not be the oldest guy (besides me) on the list.

Train Wrecks (7)
Train Wrecks, another yearly-lister. You are guaranteed of a rocking show with these guys.

Ben Keiser Band (7)
Ben Keiser Band has a regular gig at Bay Street Blues on Tuesday. Check his show out, you will not be disappointed.

Matt Eckstine (8)
Matt Eckstine was a newcomer to this list, at least as a solo musician. He is, of course, the lead singer of the Accomplices.  You will always leave his shows with a smile on your face.

Eric Culberson Band (9)
Eric Culberson is one of the acts that show up on this list every year. You will probably not find a better blues player in this area.

Anders Thomsen Band (10)
The excellent Anders Thomsen Band was helped in the rankings by their weekly Happy Hour appearance at El-Rocko. It was nice to see early music on Wednesday, and I liked the format of a different guest-star each week. I would love to see that gig start back up.

Accomplices (12)
The Accomplices are one of my all-time favorite bands around town. I always enjoyed their harmonies and uplifiting music.

Hypnotics (15)
I’ve got a new champion this year, The Hypnotics.  Last year’s two-time winner, The Accomplices, were so heartbroken, they moved to Colorado.  One of the things that I notice about the Hypnotics make more people dance than any other band I see.

looking back and moving on – photos from 2016

You’ve probably read enough posts about the deaths of 2016, so I won’t belabor the losses — Prince, David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Ralph Stanley, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, George Michael, to name a few — that hit some of us aging music fans especially hard.

But death and loss give urgency to living, and nostalgia isn’t really our thing here at hissing lawns.

Yesterday, I listened yet again to Car Seat Headrest’s Teens of Denial (if this blog awarded an album of the year, that would probably be the winner) and thought of all the talent out there. I hear lots of people bemoan the state of popular music, but everywhere I turn, I see passionate and skilled musicians finding audiences. As my co-editor Tom might say: turn off the TV, go to a show, take a chance on something new.

For this year-end post, I’ve assembled some of my personal favorite photos from 2016, with the most recent at the top. (Look for full galleries of A.M. Rodriguez and Murder By Death early next week.) Several key members of the Savannah music community moved away in 2016, and I’d agree with others who have noted that it was a year of transition for the local scene, but I’m excited to see where things go from here.

A.M. Rodriguez with Scott Johansen at The Jinx

Murder By Death at The Grey Eagle in Asheville

New Breed Brass Band at the Lucas Theatre