People are still talking about the Spin magazine story from last November, Metal in the Garden of Good and Evil, which introduced the world to "a creative hotbed, producing thunderingly heavy, reliably left-of-center artists who've begun exporting the Savannah sound to the rest of the world."
Among the bands featured in this story-heard-round-the-world was Black Tusk, which, along with Baroness and Kylesa, is a cornerstone of - sure, it sounds like an oxymoron - Hostess City metal.
"That definitely got us a lot more attention," says the power trio's long-bearded bassist, Jonathan Athon. "Someone will say ‘Hey, I saw you in Spin magazine and I thought I'd come check you out.' Then they tell somebody. If one person sees it, then they're going to tell another person if they enjoy it. Word of mouth is eternally how things get around - and it just takes a little push to get that going."
Not that Black Tusk, which recently played South By Southwest for the third consecutive year, needed a big push. The band's first full-length album on the national label Relapse, Taste The Sin, drops May 25, and expectations are high.
"It's really kind of cool to be on the same label as some of the bands that we grew up listening to," says Athon.
"We're super-happy with the album. We had done some EPs, and one full-length that we just did completely DIY, and we released Passage Through Purgatory through Hyperrrealist here in Savannah. Then we took a while touring on that and we did three split records, with three different bands on three different labels.
"That's kind of cool because you don't have to write a whole album. You write two or three songs. It gives you something fresh and it keeps things moving. And it actually helped up progress a lot quicker, I think. It maybe tightened us up more. At this point we learned how to play together, as a band, cohesively."
Taste the Sin, he says, "is going to show that a lot more than any of the other releases. We had more time to work on it. We had more resources at hand to help us work on it."
Saturday's show at the Jinx finds Black Tusk sharing the bill with the veteran American metal band Pentagram (fronted, as always, by charismatic vocalist Bobby Liebling).
Tuskers Athon, Andrew Fidler (guitar) and James May (drums) have been buddies since their middle school days. "We used to hate each other," Athon laughs.
So what about this "Savannah sound" that Spin was going on about?
"The music scene around here is almost like everyone said ‘Screw it, I'm not going to try and do what's popular, or what people are into at the moment,'" says Athon. "They're just going to play, and what they hear in their head, and what comes out through their music, always seems to be a little bit different.
"Whether it's metal, or country, or hip hop ... the music in the South is just different. And I think it's that people aren't trying to fit a stereotype. They're just kinda doing it for themselves." Listen & learn: www.blacktuskterror.com.
At 11 p.m. Saturday, May 22 at the Jinx, 127 W. Congress St. Tickets $16.66 advance, $20 day of show. With Pentagram and Dark Castle.
MATT POND PA
Singer/songwriter Matt Pond describes his band's music as "chamber pop," because the emphasis is on the melody and the harmony. The band has toured with Neko Case, Guster, Keane, Liz Phair and Nickel Creek, which should tell you that if you like well-constructed power pop and haven't heard Pond and company, you probably should. He's also covered Oasis, Richard and Linda Thompson and Neil Young. It's a hard-rocking, hard-popping band with quirky songs and pulsing energy (the "PA," by the way, is Pond's salute to Pennsylvania, his home state). British troubadour Bobby Long opens this show. Listen & learn: www.mattpondpa.com.
At 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 19 at Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St. $8.
COME ON GO WITH US
From Starkville, Miss., these five guys remind me of The Band, even though they don't have scraggly beards and dress in those old-timey Sunday suits. The music is very Band-like (if that's a word), kind of ragged and earthy Southern-style Americana with cool turns of melody, gritty guitars and polished vocal harmonies. The band's lately been in the studio with producer Matt Pence (Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit). Listen & learn: www.myspace.com/comeongowithus.
At 10 p.m. Thursday, May 20 at Rock House Tybee, 1518 Butler Ave. At 11 p.m. Friday, May 21 at the Jinx, 127 W. Congress St. Both shows with Glossary.
VALERIE SMITH & LIBERTY PIKE
A top-notch bluegrass band makes a welcome return. Bandleader Smith is a whirlwind on the mandolin, and the lineup also includes multi-instrumentalist Ernie Evans and standup bassist Rebekah Long. The secret weapon, however, is award-winning fiddler and clawhammer banjo player Becky Buller, who told us last summer that the Liberty Pike experience is much more than straight-ahead chicken ‘n' biscuits. "We're a four-piece band, so we switch instruments a lot," she said. "You're gonna get quite a variety - of bluegrass, yes, but we do from traditional to progressive bluegrass, we do bluegrass gospel and Americana. We do swing. It's a wide variety - hopefully people will come looking for a good time, and we'll do our best to satisfy." Listen & learn: www.valeriesmithonline, www.beckybuller.com.
At 10 p.m. Thursday, May 20 at Rock House Tybee, 1518 Butler Ave. At 8 p.m. Friday, May 21 at Randy Wood Guitars, 1304 E. Highway 80, Bloomingdale. $25.
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