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1st Friday for Folk Music

This family-oriented (no smoking or alcohol allowed) acoustic showcase features one set each from Atlantan Justin Beckler (see below), and Savannahians Tuck Brawner and Melanie Mirande. Brawner plays fingerstyle guitar and sings a wide variety of songs, from blues to Western ballads to Caribbean folk tunes. Mirande focuses on both traditional and contemporary songs of social change and protest. Free, with a suggested $2 donation to the Savannah Folk Music Society. Fri., 7:30 pm, Wesley monumental United Methodist Church (429 Abercorn St.). 

Arminta & Blaq Lily

Known as one of the most dynamic Celtic folk-rock groups in the USA, this female-fronted Indianapolis quintet finds inspiration in artists as disparate as Led Zeppelin and The Cranberries. They’re often compared to the Corrs, but their striking vocalist Arminta has an ethereal voice that at times recalls the great Loreena McKennit. With instrumentation that includes wooden recorders, tin whistles, Native American flutes, guitar, mandolin, bass and drums, they’re capable of pulling off even the most traditional Irish folk, but have the capability and the moxie to rock out as well. This is yet another notable booking for a venue that is almost single-handedly responsible for bringing established Celtic rock acts to town. Fri., 10 pm, Finnegan’s Wake. 

Phantom Wingo

Changing a band’s lineup can either be a disastrous maneuver or a shot in the arm that re-energizes the whole affair. This local Southern rock-tinged jam group took a calculated risk when they replaced one fiery guitarist with another, but word on the street is that even though original member Ronny Keel cut an imposing figure with his full-throttle vocals and stinging leads, Shane Baldwin’s muscular soloing skills and intense stage presence are keeping the group’s energy level up. They continue to be one of the area’s most underrated rock bands, which has more to do with their lackadaisical approach to self-promotion than their ability to craft memorable songs or to command attention in a live setting. Sat., 7 pm, North Beach Grill (Tybee).

Divided Like A Saint’s

This Atlanta-based performance art troupe/experimental rock band is mighty hard to describe, and they like it that way. Led by the husband and wife team of Maryn and Jonathan Vance, this quartet plays what they term “regressive rock,” by refusing to rely on rehearsal or strict arrangements. Their spontaneous (and seemingly ramshackle) concerts court catcalls through highfalutin pretense and faux naiveté, but those who have witnessed their shows (part of an ever-growing DIY circuit of challenging, ultra-underground art music) say that DLAS tend to keep hecklers at bay through their steely determination and palpable belief in their own self-worth. Local low-fi anti-folksters Gumshoe open. Sat., 8 pm, Metro Coffee House.  

Justin Beckler

Wow. This Atlanta-based singer/songwriter has talent, charisma and attitude to burn. The milieu he operates in teeters on the razor’s edge that separates Americana from postmodern power rock. An accomplished recording engineer and producer, his self-made albums (he’ll soon release his 3rd) defy easy categorization, and can confound the listener. They sound as though they were tracked in extreme isolation, the product of a headstrong artist as cocksure as he is yearning.

Most folks that cite Dylan as in influence (or get that comparison) do so because they in some way affect his vocal mannerisms, or play loose and fast with beat-inspired wordplay. Beckler, however, mines the creepy, apocalyptic disgust which runs through The Bard’s most difficult and non-commercial works. In this sonic and lyrical landscape, swampy slide guitar butts up against distorted vocals, Bonham-esque drum mantras and Peter Gabriel-meets-David Bowie vocal melodrama, yet nothing seems out of place. Like Karl Wallinger of World Party or The The’s Matt Johnson, he’s the real deal. Sat., 8 pm The Sentient Bean. 

The Jake Landers Band

One of a handful of distinguished old-school bluegrass players still on the road, this Alabama native has been playing guitar and singing in celebrated bands (like The Dixie Gentlemen and The Blue Ridge Mountain Boys) since the early ‘50s. What always set Landers apart from the rest of his contemporaries has been his knack for penning memorable originals — such as “Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine,” a huge hit for The Kentucky Headhunters. For advance tickets, call 748-1930. Sat., 8 pm, Randy Wood’s Concert Hall (1304 E. Hwy 80, Bloomingdale).  

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Jim Reed

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