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Southern Lite

This regional bluegrass group is one of the hottest new bands on the scene. In a short period of time, they’ve earned a sizable fan base due to their unique arranging skills and top-notch vocalists.

Their debut CD Building Bridges, was produced by banjoist Sammy Shelor of The Lonesome River Band, and it finds Southern Lite taking songs from a variety of genres and making them their own.

The band started as a backing unit for the great fiddle player Vassar Clements (isn’t it interesting how many groups can somehow trace their beginnings back to this most elder of bluegrass statesmen?), and has since grown to become a solid draw at outdoor festivals and showcases from Florida to Kentucky and beyond.

The lineup includes fiddle player Tommy Slaughter, banjo player Brad Jessmer, Guitarist Randy Renshaw, bassist Irby Brown, and mandolinist Ernie Evans. For this show, the band is going to be joined by a very special guest: the highly respected guitarist Audie Blaylock.

Blaylock has been playing his instrument since he was eight years old, and has done time with such greats as Jimmy Martin, Red Allen, and The Lynn Morris Band. In 2000, he joined Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, touring the world and appearing on The Grand Ole Opry and A Prairie Home Companion.

Advance tickets to this show are $15 plus tax and can be purchased at Randy Wood Guitars. Call 748-190 for more info. Fri., 8 pm, Randy Woods’ Concert Hall (Bloomingdale).

Dropsonic

While the acoustics of the cavernous Aprés Nightclub may not be ideal for full-on rock, the vibe is definitely right, and those interested in catching one of the more impressive groups on the Southern alternative scene may want to risk a rackety mix to make this show.

Though they formed in 1996, it’s only been in the past four years that Dropsonic has really started to turn heads.

In that time, they’ve released three indie CDs, all of which received kudos. However, their most recent effort, Belle, is quietly being heralded as something of a minor turning point in the DIY-rock world.

Tracked and mixed at a former police headquarters – near popular Atlanta headbanger hangout The Masquerade – that also serves as the group’s rehearsal room, the disc packs an incredible wallop.

With thunderous, vaguely Bonham-esque drumming, charismatic, razor’s edge vocals that recall Thom Yorke of Radiohead, and a slide guitar approach that betrays an obvious Jimmy Page fixation, Dropsonic just might be Georgia’s best and most epic English rock act.

Unlike fellow Atlantans The Tender Idols (who were all American, save their British frontman), everyone in this band hails from the USA, yet the trio’s sound and temperament seem to have little in common with most every other band coming out of the South these days.

Last July, they signed with Über-producer Dallas Austin (TLC, Pink) and his Rowdy Records label. Their debut for Rowdy should bow sometime in the next few months, and many in the biz are anxious to see how this powerhouse will fare with some serious clout behind them.

Opening for Dropsonic will be local nÜ-metal outfit Top Dead Center. Thurs., 10 pm, Aprés (above Il Pasticcio).

The Doug Carn Quintet

How strange is it that this keyboardist came in second place for Best Jazz Artist in our 2004 Readers Poll, and he hasn’t even lived in Georgia for the past year, let alone performed in Savannah on anything resembling a regular basis?

Well, if you’re Doug Carn, it’s not that much of a feat. He’s still remembered fondly among locals for his tenure as co-owner and house bandleader at the now-defunct Adagio Jazz Club. He’s also remembered far outside our area as the top-selling artist on the pioneering 1970s indie record label Black Jazz.

However, while Carn’s international profile may have diminished slightly over the years, he has not remained stagnant, and in fact, the Florida resident makes regular trips to New York City and elsewhere to gig and record.

Last weekend, for instance, he took part in a three-day event at Gotham’s upscale Jazz Standard, as part of a heavyweight tribute to the late Eric Dolphy.

This weekend finds him making two stops in Savannah, where the organist will lead a special quintet made up of Willie Matthews on trumpet, Al Waters and Salah Abdul-Wahid on sax, and Paul Lentz, Jr. on drums.

Friday night’s gig is a dual birthday celebration for Carn and the owner of Creole Red. In honor of “a Florida Cancer and a Louisiana Cancer,” as Carn puts it, the two friends will throw a party, replete with special recipes from both gourmand’s cookbooks.

The next day, the same quintet will play a free show at The Telfair Museum of Art as part of its quarterly Family Day.

Even more noteworthy, however, is the Carn’s next journey. On the last day of this month, he’ll leave for Cotonou, the unofficial capital city of Benin, West Africa, where he’ll play in a massive jazz and roots music festival backing up gospel vocalist Diane Cameron.

Anyone unfamiliar with Carn’s prowess at the keys would do well to catch at least one of these shows, and since Benin is a good ways away (near the Ivory Coast no less), I’m highly recommending either Creole Red or The Telfair. Sat., 10 pm, Creole Red + Sun. 3 pm, Telfair Museum of Art.
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Jim Reed

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Connect Today 12.10.2016

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