The more I get out on the local scene, the more I really dig (ok, love) catching acts at the Roasting Room Lounge across the bridge in Bluffton, South Carolina.
Full disclosure: I’m a musician and songwriter having but recently relocated to Savannah.
The Roasting Room is a solo/duo/trio kind of venue that pairs quality local artists with regional and national touring acts. It’s so up close and personal — a crowd of 75 packs the place — you can see every breath, emotion, bead of sweat on an artist’s brow. The sound rocks (Isaac Smith OWNS it), and the room’s badass lighting makes almost anyone a pro picture-taker.
It’s a listening room, so people are really there for the music which makes for a super-attentive audience — gold beyond measure to any musician. Magical stuff.
The February 10 show, true to form, delivered its weight in sonic gold. A.M. Rodriguez kicked it off with his guy-style confessional folk-iness. His sound, a little Dylan, Van Zandt, some growly Waits occasionally peppered in. Not always in key. Often dark and moody, sexually-charged and brooding.
Rodriguez can also hit the mark on funny. In one tune (un-named from the stage) he sang about his girl running off.
Rodriguez’s delivery, matter of fact and with a smile, made me laugh out loud—oh, the truth of it! Because musicians and our constant hustle. And Rodriguez’s subtext (!), “Come on, you left ME for him, how great a musician can HE be? He makes pizza at MY gig.”
Rodriguez recorded an album last year with Jason Bible, “Dead Dogs and Dried Up Dreams. See? Dark and moody, cut-to-the-bone emotion hinting at black truths. Click the link to listen/purchase for yourself.
Headlining was Caleb And The Gents — a three-piece iteration of Caleb Warren and the Perfect Gentlemen. Typically a six-piece band, this power-grass trio is pure Southern sound — Warren from Chattanooga, Dave Aitken (guitar) and Ian Blanton (bass) both from Atlanta.
The three of them beautifully spun country swing, country blues, a little gypsy jazz into into a new yet familiar dance. My toes were tapping. Folks around the room were definitely bobbing and swaying. Lots of smiles. Mostly, uptempo and moving.
Caleb And The Gents make you feel pretty good. Heck, even the stormier, minor chord songs couldn’t stymie people from tapping along.
A highlight of their set was a cover of “Things Have Gone To Pieces” by George Jones. The synergy among these guys was palpable as they breathed new life into this old-time country classic.
Blanton’s bass playing held the song steady, and Aitken’s leads were intricate without being overdone. The room was riveted. All eyes, ears, and minds were on that song and the players on the stage. Audience and artists together as one fantastic creature. Pure magic.
You know, Savannah needs some of that Roasting Room sparkle. Just one venue, one listening room on this side of the bridge where artists and music lovers can woo and enchant.
Until then, enjoy these glimmers of magic.