Jason Isbell with Anderson East at the Lucas – review + photos

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit played an extraordinary and compelling show on Saturday night at the gorgeous Lucas Theatre here in Savannah. The show was made all the better by the thrilling opener Anderson East, but more on him and his band in a minute.

With his two recent albums Southeastern and Something More Than Free, Isbell has placed himself at the forefront of the Americana and country scenes. Among those of us who follow the club scene and emerging acts, it’s automatically suspicious that Something More Than Free vaulted to the top of the country charts, a spot too often occupied by trite, uninventive and just plain lame music.

But Isbell’s work is all about sentiment, not sentimentality. When he sings about small town life, about difficult relationships, about the perils of booze and drugs, you feel it in your bones.


Consider a song like “Speed Trap Town”:

The doctor said Daddy wouldn’t make it a year
But the holidays are over and he’s still here
How long can they keep you in the ICU?
Veins through the skin like a faded tattoo

My own father spent two months in the ICU before passing away in March, so I get it. We have duties to perform, and sometimes it seems like every option is a bad one.

Or how about the randomness that can suddenly transform even the most meticulously managed life? From “24 Frames”:

You thought God was an architect, now you know
He’s something like a pipe bomb ready to blow
And everything you built that’s all for show goes up in flames
In 24 frames

Not all the songs are so emotionally taxing, thank God, and even the hardest lines are tempered by simply beautiful instrumentation. Isbell isn’t a flashy performer, but it’s mesmerizing to watch him let loose on guitar, and when he lets his voice loose too, there’s nowhere else you’d rather be.

The production was also visually gorgeous, and The 400 Unit — Jimbo Hart (bass, vocals); Sadler Vaden (guitar, vocals); Derry deBorja (keys); Chad Gamble (drums) — is incredibly talented. (Bonus points to any Savannahians who remember Vaden from the Charleston-based band Leslie, which called it quits in 2011.)

I’m an imperfect notetaker and not so good with song titles, but the setlist looked something like this:

  • “Stockholm”
  • “Palmetto Rose”
  • “Decoration Day”
  • “How to Forget”
  • “24 Frames”
  • “Dress Blues”
  • “Alabama Pines”
  • “Different Days”
  • “Seven-Mile Island”
  • “Outfit” (a Drive-By Truckers song)
  • “Speed Trap Town”
  • “Never Gonna Change” (another Truckers song)
  • “Cover Me Up”, which was followed by a spontaneous standing ovation from the sellout crowd
  • “If It Takes a Lifetime”
  • “The Life You Chose”
  • “Traveling Alone”
  • “Flying Over Water”
  • “Children of Children”


  • “Elephant”
  • “Something More Than Free”
  • “Codeine”

Isbell and the band played at the Ships of the Sea at the 2014 Savannah Music Festival (my kind-of-a-review), but still at one point on Saturday, Isbell — who has logged years on the road with the Drive-By Truckers and on his own — expressed his sheer joy at having enough fans that he didn’t have to play a room in Savannah with televisions on the wall: “Goddammit, I got tired of playing in front of people watching ballgames and people eating hot wings.”

Did Isbell know just how ironic his words were? I doubt it, but Isbell and The 400 Unit played at the downtown Locos in 2007 on the infamous lemon pepper chicken wings night — the night that alderman Van Johnson objected to the entirely legal business model at the restaurant with live music that attracted latenight all ages crowds. Such models began flourishing — as observers like me predicted at the time — after the city of Savannah’s decision the previous year to ban 18- to 20-year-olds from downtown bars with live music. Van Johnson’s experience prompted the nightmarish bureaucracy of the “hybrid” licenses, which city officials now want to end, but the new alcohol ordinance has still not been implemented after nearly three years of work. The current bureaucracy has of course fueled Savannah’s vibrant and completely unregulated DIY house show scene, which we love but can’t write about on a public platform like this. For some background, check out this 2007 interview just before that show by Jim Reed in Connect and
this Savannah Morning News article about Locos getting screwed.


Over four years ago, Anderson East came to The Sentient Bean on a solo tour. I hadn’t launched this blog at that point, but I previewed the show for my other site Savannah Unplugged. Anderson started before the coffeeshop staff had even pulled the curtains on the front windows, but the summer light streaming inside actually heightened the effect of the rich vocals and guitar work. I was expecting a sort of quirky singer-songwriter thing, but it was quickly apparent that Anderson could play just about any roots style — that skill coupled with his charisma and good looks suggested great, great promise. Sometimes when you think “that guy could be a star,” it turns out that you’re right.

So I was among the small percentage of the Lucas audience who had already heard all of Anderson’s released work and who wasn’t surprised by the stellar opening performance.

I didn’t know, however, that Anderson was traveling with a six-piece band behind him. I’m sure some numbers guy explained to him how much more money he could make with a smaller ensemble, but the horns and keys took the show to the next level.

Anderson East’s set included originals like “Satisfy Me” and smartly chosen covers like “Tupelo Honey”. The crowd loved it — hard to imagine a better response to an opener who was unknown to so many in the audience.

I didn’t ask for a press pass, but I did snag tickets at the beginning of the pre-sale, and I brought along my Fuji x100t, so I got some pretty good shots from up front. Click on through for more:


Amythyst Kiah & Her Chest of Glass, Nightingale News, and Parker Gispert at The Jinx – photos

Well I’ve been slow getting this post together, but what a good show from MusicFile Productions a couple of weeks ago at The Jinx with Amythyst Kiah & Her Chest of Glass, Nightingale News, and Parker Gispert (from The Whigs).

Amythyst Kiah is a charismatic performer by herself, but she’s even better surrounded by such an energetic, talented band — they’re all members of this mountain.

And the project has one more week to go on a Kickstarter, so take a look and lend your support:


I love the moodiness of Nightingale News, which is fronted by Coy Campbell. I thought the set at The Jinx was exceptionally strong, especially when the band really let loose.


I’m a sucker for a singer-songwriter with an electric guitar, but that’s not the only reason I was so, so impressed by Parker Gispert’s solo set, which opened the night and which more of you slackers should have attended. Gispert is better on his own than I anticipated — it was a true pleasure to hear some older work but even better to hear a new song that references Kenny Stabler and a Star Trek episode. (I think I heard that right.)


new Niche album “Heading East” released on Retro Futurist Records

Those of us who attended a Niche show at The Jinx in July got the first chance to enjoy the band’s new record Heading East, but now the 6-song collection has been released by Retro Futurist Records, the label managed by core members of Kylesa. Heading East is available on CD or digital download for just $8. Check it out:

Niche will play a show supporting the new release on Dec. 11 at The Jinx, where they’ll be joined by Caustic Casanova (you don’t want to miss them) and the new Savannah band Wax Ligature.

Niche’s new record channels some of the best elements of 1970s rock — you can hear the sweeping guitars, the rich vocals, the organ, the psychedelic edge, but the overall effect is of an emotional, almost spiritual quest.

A few shots from that July show:





Larry Jack’s Magical Music Tour – 11/19/15 – 11/22/15

Hey guys,
There are plenty of choices of music this weekend. Depends on what you are looking for on Thursday, I would recommend the Sulfur Studio show if you are looking for headbanging punk, the Trinity show if you are in the music for sitting and listening. Either way, you should still have time to catch Bottles & Cans at the Bayou afterwards. On Friday, you have a chance to see Georgia Mountain String Band at Moon River early. Tough choices for the later part of the evening, but I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the listed shows. If you have never seen Megan Jean and the KFB, you should make an effort to catch them at Abe’s on Saturday. If you are not sure if you have seen them, you probably haven’t, cause if you had, you would remember. There are also a few more good shows that night within walking distance, so you should be able to have a full night of music.  By the way (for anyone who actually reads this), I have noticed that Barrelhouse South seems to start music around 9:30 or earlier since they have started having two bands, good for all of us that complain about late start times.

Thursday 11/19
Muuy Biien (Athens), DIP (Athens), Trophy Wives (Sav’h punk), Raine Raine, Toxic Shock (Sav’h punk),  Lazanya Ontre, Lorton In The BasketSulfur Studios (6:30p, $5 donation)
Ramsay Midwood (TX psychadelic country blues), String Magnolia (Sav’h bluegrass), Georgia Mountain String Band (Decatur bluegrass-country stringband) – Trinity Church Thursday Night Opry (7:30, $10, all ages)
Bottles & Cans (Sav’h blues) – Bayou Cafe

Friday 11/20
Georgia Mountain String Band (Decatur bluegrass-country stringband – Moon River (6-9)
Blackfoot Gypsies (Nashville blues rock) – Congress Street Social Club
The Fritz (Ashville funk rock), The Norm (Miami pop rock) – Barrelhouse South
Triathalon Record Release (Sav’h), Crazy Bag Lady (Sav’h punk), Jeff Zagers (Sav’h), Culture Vulture (Sav’h math rock) – Hang Fire ($5)
American Hologram (Sav’h Americana goth pop ) – Molly MacPherson’s

Saturday 11/21
Dangermuffin (SC Americana), Autumn Attics (Atlanta rock) – Barrelhouse South
Megan Jean & The KFB (1927 metal duo) – Abe’s On Lincoln (9:30p)
Anders Thomsen (Damon & Shitkickers guitarist) – Jinx
Magic Rocks (Sav’h classic rock) – Molly MacPherson’s
City Hotel, Waits & Co. Sarah TollersonTybee Post Theater ($10)


Luv Child II – Thursday night

So Sulfur Studios is really turning into an asset for the Savannah music scene, a nice sized comfortable space that has hosted some great shows recently. Creepoid and The Downtown Boys shows immediately come to mind, but really the heart of our scene is the locals, and there’s a great lineup of local pop and punk Thursday night. I’m talking Luv Child II and it’s 5$ and all ages so you really don’t have a great reason not to show up.

Trophy Wives-1

The show will also be a bit bittersweet, as it’s Trophy Wives cassette release, but also their final show “for the foreseeable future”. Soooo, I guess the point is catch them while you can, which is Thursday at 9. Check out the whole schedule below.

Lazanya Ontre 8:00 – 8:10

The Toxic Shock 8:10 – 8:30

DIP 8:30 – 9:00

Trophy Wives 9:00 – 9:40

Raine Raine 9:40 -9:55

Lotion in the Basket 9:55 – 10:45

Show up. Participate. It’s more fun that way.

Robert Lee Coleman at Stopover in the Yard – photos

We’ve seen Robert Lee Coleman and the Night Owls at Bragg Jam and Revival Fest, so it was great catching them at the final Stopover in the Yard of the season — a collaboration between Savannah Stopover/MusicFile Productions and The Grey.

Beautiful day, great temperatures — it was a perfect end to a great new chapter in the Savannah music scene. Macon-based Coleman has played the blues with the likes of Percy Sledge and James Brown, and it was only fitting that Sista Rae Rae of Missionary Blues Band hopped up for a few songs.

Check out a few shots below and hit the link for the full roundup.





Punk Mess 2015 – photos

So, Dad Joke Productions’ first stab at a 2 day, well, punk mess called, ummm, Punk Mess is in the books. Featuring local bands definitely on the punk end of the rock spectrum, and some super touring bands, the inaugural festival sure felt like a success to me, or at least one hell of a start.

Each night had really different crowds. Night 1, at Dollhouse Productions, skewed much younger than the following night. Everything seemed to go off without a hitch, except for a guitar that gave up the ghost during Generation Pill’s set. Tight Genes was the highlight of the night for me.

Night 2 at The Jinx drew a little bit rowdier, little bit older crowd, and for that matter, bands. Hosted by Influenza Mueller, it was a much more beer soaked (both literally and figuratively) and, uhh, blood soaked experience. It was Friday the 13th, after all. I was a bit bummed that Shoplifters cancelled (get well!) and then even more bummed that Slugga cancelled, but hell, there was still great music in spades. Manic and The Depressives played again to help fill in, which actually worked out great because I thought they sounded much better the second time around. For me personally Golden Pelicans ruled the night, but, you know, that’s just like, my opinion, man. Bonus points to whoever yelled out “Do a burnout!” during Forced Entry‘s set. That shit was hilarious.

You know what? Just check out the photos, they paint a better picture than my wordsmithery ever could.

Day 1, Dollhouse
Punk Mess-1

The Lipschitz
The Lipschitz-1

The Lipschitz-2

Generation Pill
Generation Pill-1

Savannah Stopover announces first wave of 43 bands for 2016 festival

The 6th annual Savannah Stopover is on the horizon — the 3-day fest is slated for March 10 to 12, 2016 — and today MusicFile Productions announced the first wave of 43 confirmed bands.

Ra Ra Riot, Yuck, and Futurebirds top the eclectic list of confirmed bands. The second and final wave of bands, including some Savannah-based acts, will be announced in January. Organizers are planning for 80+ bands in total, so today’s announcement represents about half the expected lineup.


Most of the acts in the lineup announced today have not played the Savannah market before, and most will be “stopping over” in Savannah on their way to SXSW Music Festival and Conference in Austin.

I’m sure there will be a great deal of buzz about Ra Ra Riot from Syracuse and Yuck from London.

Headliner Futurebirds is from Athens and has played Savannah a number of times, although this will be their first Stopover appearance. Their new album Hotel Parties is excellent.

There are a number of alums from previous Stopovers among the 43 bands announced today, including Hiss Golden Messenger, Big UPS , Christopher Paul Stelling, Blank Range, French Horn Rebellion and New Madrid.

Never heard of any of these bands? As my co-editor Tom says, “Stopover is all about discovery.” Combine the low price, the proximity of the venues, and Savannah’s to-go cup rules, and you’ve got a recipe for an incredible three days. The fact that Stopover has already established a reputation for catching talent on the rise is just an added bonus.

In a press release, festival founder Kayne Lanahan said, “We’re very excited about this initial list of confirmed bands. Whether it’s established acts like Ra Ra Riot and Yuck, both of whom have new records coming out but have never played the market, or rising stars like NoBS! Brass Band from Richmond, VA or Diet Cig from New Paltz, New York, the talent is just incredible. Some of these bands like Mass Gothic and Mothers have debut albums that won’t be out until just before the festival so Savannah gets to be among the first to really help set these music 2016 trends!”

The 2016 Savannah Stopover will also feature perhaps the best venues that the festival has ever assembled. The confirmed locations so far are Ships Of The Sea North Garden, Trinity United Methodist Church, Club One, The Jinx, and Congress Street Social Club. More venues will be confirmed when the detailed schedule is announced early next year.

Early-bird tickets for the festival go on sale at 11 a.m. on 11/17 and include 3-day advance passes at $65 (regular priced 3-day Passes will increase to $79) and VIP Passes at $125. Click here for tickets. The festival website has band bios, videos, and such.

If the embed below doesn’t work, click here for Savannah Stopover 2016 Spotify playlist.

Confirmed Bands:

FEST 14 Day 3 – photos

Dear Diary: FEST Day 3. The situation has grown dire. Feet hurt. Ear ringing constantly. Everything is sore. I’m not sure if I can drink any more PBR. Nah, just kidding (Well, not really kidding about the feet and ears.). Basically, more of the same for Day 3, and that’s a good thing.

We took our time getting downtown and caught Crusades and Radon at Cowboys. Some mid-day Sunday crowd surfing. Impressive.


Back at Lot 10, PUP sure generated a lot of energy, both themselves and the crowd, for a daytime set on the big stage. GIANT singalongs. Seems like it’s time for a new album, no?


We then set up camp at The Atlantic, where Ex Breathers ran through a good bit of their excellent new album Past Tense. Really, really digging Ex Breathers.

Ex Breathers-1

I didn’t have anything pressing on the schedule so we stuck around for La Armada, and, boy, am I glad we did. Ripping Dominican (via Chicago) hardcore that the crowd ate up and spit back at them. Hell yeah.

La Armada-1

La Armada-2

La Armada-3

La Armada-4

We had seats so we stayed at The Atlantic (Seriously, seating was at a premium all freaking weekend) and saw Coma Club and one of my favorite surprises of the weekend, Night Witch. Great, great, great. I wouldn’t hesitate to see them again.

Night Witch-1

new Triathalon album now available (vinyl, tape, CD, digital)

Triathalon‘s new album Nothing Bothers Me is now available via Broken Circles. Check it out:

Click here for info on Triathalon’s Savannah record release show at Hang Fire with Crazy Bag Lady, Jeff Zagers, and Culture Vulture.

Larry Jack’s Magical Music Tour 11/12/15 – 11/17/15

Hey guys,
This is another big music week downtown. There are several different shows to choose from every single night this weekend. Thursday has big shows at the Dollhouse and Jinx. Friday has an exciting show at the Lucas Theater, followed by a plethora of choices around town. Saturday doesn’t have quite as many choices, but you can catch a rare show from Soap at Barrelhouse or a “goodbye for now” show from the Cusses at the Jinx. It should be good weather this weekend nad no real reason not to try to catch a show or two somewhere around town.

Thursday 11/12
Tight Genes, Manic and The Depressives, Generation Pill, Anxiety Junkies, Toxic Shock, LipscitzDollhouse Studios (8p, $7)
Call Me Bronco (KY Americana-punk), The Gumps (Sav’h punk) – Jinx ($7)
Eric Culberson Band (Sav’h blues) – Bayou Cafe
Jason Bible (Train Wrecks frontman) – Molly MacPherson’s
Steppin Stones (Charleston rock), Piano. (Stateboro rock) – Barrelhouse South

Friday 11/13
Velvet Caravan (Sav’h gypsy-jazz), Packway Handle Band (Athens Americana) – Lucas Theater ($20, 7:30)
Joe Cat (Athens singer-songwriter) – Sentient Bean
Fat Cheek Kat (NC funk), Spiritual Rez (Boston reggae) – Barrelhouse South
Hypnotics (Sav’h 60’s garage rock) – Molly MacPherson’s
Crazy Man Crazy (Sav’h rockabilly), Tied And Tasseled CabaretWormhole ($15)
Sam Burchfield Trio (Atlanta modern folk-soul) – Congress Street Social Club
Shoplifters (Sav’h punk w/ members of GAM & Superhorse), Golden Pelicans (Orlando punk), Slugga, Mold, Crazy Bag Lady (Sav’h punk), Forced Entry (Sav’h punk) – Jinx (9p sharp, $10)

Saturday 11/14
Robert Lee Coleman (Macon blues legend) – The Grey (12n, $21 includes food and (1) drink)
BBXF (Sav’h hard rock) – Molly MacPherson’s
CBDB (AL joyfunk), Soap (Sav’h funk soul) – Barrelhouse South
Cusses (Sav’h hard rock), Culture Vulture (Sav’h instrumental progressive rock) – Jinx

Monday 11/16
Jason Bible (Train Wrecks frontman) – Warehouse

Tuesday 11/17
Greg Williams Band Open MicBayou Cafe
Rosies (Sav’h acoustic rock) – Jazz’d
Ben Keiser Band (Sav’h blues rock) – Bay St Blues

CUSSES will be playing “last show for a minute” on Saturday at The Jinx

I wish I could remember precisely when I saw CUSSES for the first time, but it had to have been in 2010, when Angel, Bryan, and Brian exploded onto the local scene with kinetic live shows. I guess the first time I photographed them was in spring 2012 at their DIY venue No Control.

CUSSES will be performing Saturday night at The Jinx, which will be the trio’s “last show for a minute,” as they say on their Facebook page. For the backstory, check out the candid interview in Do Savannah by Adriana Iris Boatwright and Anna Chandler’s interview and appreciation in Connect Savannah.

There are plenty of reasons to love CUSSES beyond their thrilling live shows and take-no-prisoners rock and roll. I think I’m most appreciative of all the things that the band has done to promote the scene and nurture young bands. No Control came along at a time when we didn’t have the extensive house show network that we have today, and Angel was also a key player in the first Savannah Stopover, Graveface Fest in 2012, and many other gigs. CUSSES consistently brought talented young bands onto bills with them — acts like Triathalon (on tour right now) and Heyrocco (the Charleston-based band that seems to be touring all the time now).

So, given the circumstances, Saturday night should have an even sharper edge than most CUSSES’ shows. A few shots here, including a handful from that No Control show in 2012, plus others since then by Tom, Petee, and me.