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Choices, choices... 

While I’m assuming that most folks looking to get out of the house for New Year’s have already made plans, it’s never too late to offer a suggestion.

Now, the sheer magnitude of this holiday means that restaurants and taverns which normally offer little more than a jukebox or karaoke are scrambling to advertise “live entertainment” on the 31st. However, such vague claims are too commonplace and general to merit much serious investigation.

One thing’s for sure, though – most anywhere you go, there’ll be champagne at midnight and lots of balloons.

What follows is a completely subjective – and by no means comprehensive – roundup of what’ll likely be remembered as some of the more noteworthy area sendoffs to 2004.

For those in Sun City, or Hilton Head proper, The Jazz Corner – a tony semi-private supper club in The Village at Wexford that’s regularly voted one of the best night spots on that island – is hosting Florida’s acclaimed Noel Friedline Quintet for an evening of dancing and piano jazz.

Meanwhile, at Fiddler’s Crab House, Absylom Rising will be 4 nights into a 5-night stand on River Street. This jam-band from Mississippi offers an energetic and bewitching mélange of bluegrass, funk, soul and rock that keeps them on the road upwards of 200 dates a year.

While there seems to be some confusion over whether or not Two Blue or The Jeff Beasley Band will be keeping people on their feet at Jazz’d Tapas Bar this weekend, both groups feature the same guitarist (who also doubles as drummer), and both offer upbeat electric blues and a handful of rocking originals.

The Desoto Hilton plays it relatively safe this year by booking Liquid Ginger, one of the biggest draws in the area – and a repeat winner of our Reader’s Poll for Best Local Rock Band. They’ve self-released two impressive CDs of radio-friendly pop, and their setlist offers both crowd-pleasing covers by the likes of Fleetwood Mac and The Rolling Stones, plus originals which straddle the line between the hyper pop of No Doubt and the rootsy ballads of Sister Hazel.

After years of playing with a rotating cast of locals, songwriter Greg Williams has finally solidified a backing group that’s capable of following his sometimes unpredictable lead. He and his eponymous band will hold court at Pogy’s Bar & Grill in Richmond Hill with a setlist that includes high-octane arrangements of old Dylan, Hendrix and Stones hits, plus a liberal dose of equally memorable folk-rock originals from his handful of indie albums.

Though based in Athens, The Park Bench Trio maintains strong local ties. A familiar sight during the holidays, they can often be found plying their amped-up and gritty Gov’t Mule-influenced rock at Savannah Blues, a basement club in City Market where they’ll also spend Friday evening ringing in 2005.

Speaking of hard rock with a Southern edge, Perception settles in for a night at one of its regular haunts, the Daiquiri Depot in Pooler. This young local quartet’s repertoire leans on hits by acts like Skynyrd, Nirvana and Kid Rock, but they’re rapidly developing a cache of melodramatic originals that fit in quite nicely with their covers.

The Diana Rogers Trio entertains at Suzabelle’s, as they often do. This pianist and singer worked for years in Manhattan (including the famed Rainbow Room), and offers unique takes on standards, showtunes and pop hits.

If crafty keyboard skills are to your liking, you may also want to take in the “Rock & Roll Blowout” being held at Bay Street’s Savannah Smiles Dueling Piano Bar. This off-the-wall venue’s mix of animated piano playing, audience participation and zany antics is unique to our area, and provides a singular atmosphere that’s tailor-made for New Year’s Eve.

I’m told “The Boys,” includes members of The Denny Philips Band (among others), and it’s something of a tradition for this ad hoc combo to headline this annual show at Wilmington Island’s Oyster Bar. Expect pop, rock and soul hits from the past several decades, performed with flair by veteran musicians.

Stardust Memories is the theme for the semi-formal charity gala being thrown at American Legion Post #135 (the one by Forsyth Park). This retro-style ticketed affair boasts big band tunes and torch songs from Jacksonville’s 7-piece orchestra Sophisticated Swing, and a deluxe midnight breakfast. Proceeds benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Brett “Hitman” Bernard leads his namesake band The Hitmen through their paces at the Mercury Lounge. A wide variety of electric blues and R & B will be the order of the evening at this extremely popular Congress Street nightspot.

Meanwhile, Savannah’s best-known contemporary blues guitarist and singer Eric Culberson tears it up all night long with his band down by the river at JJ Cagney’s.

Finally, the Hyatt Regency is offering two live acts this year. The 10-piece Atlanta Sound Band, plays everything from jazz to hip-hop, everywhere from New York casinos to Mexican resorts. Also appearing – The Headliners, a South Carolina cover group.

And that, dear readers is the cream of the crop. As always, be safe, please don’t drink if you’re driving, and most of all – enjoy yourselves!

See you on the other side...
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Jim Reed

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Connect Today 12.05.2016

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