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Emily White, Tyler Lyle at the Bean 

Emily White, Tyler Lyle ***

With a blue billion DIY singer/songwriters now clogging the highways, byways and java joints of the U.S., we should all be forgiven for becoming a bit jaded and less inclined to give them the time of day.

Far too many are churning out instantly forgettable (or at least unsurprising) retreads of those that came before, seemingly with no awareness or care that they’re adding precious little floor space to the glorious tower of song. Yet every once in a while someone comes across my radar/desk that does more than turn my head.

Both halves of this acoustic guitar-based double bill stand out conspicuously from the pack: Chicago’s White with her hushed, preternaturally haunting vocal delivery (and bewitching sense of indie-rock-informed melody) and Atlanta’s Lyle with his fantastically expressive, Nick Drake-ian finger-picked constructs and Southern gospel-influenced laments.

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Here's a fan-shot clip of White performing an intimate take of her original tune "Georgia" in May of 2008:

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Based on their recent recorded work, either of these rising talents have the makings of a compelling coffeehouse gig. Together, they seem a safe bet for an exceptional evening of original, deeply personal song craft. Listen & Learn: myspace.com/emilywhite, myspace.com/tylerlyle. Sat., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean - ALL-AGES.


Casper & The Cookies ***

This great, great, great Athens, Ga. indie-rock combo cite such seemingly incongruous artists as Nilsson, XTC, The Move, Stereolab, Sparks, Joe Meek and The Minutemen as key inspirations — and I'll be damned if astute listeners can't pick out the influence of these and dozens of other visionary musical iconoclasts in the group's brainy, challenging and oh-so-enjoyable constructs. Whether they're laying down angular, early-'80s British post-punk, sunshine-drenched California-sandbox compote nuggets, low-budget Sgt. Pepper's pastiches or glistening, Yellow Pills-worthy rave-ups, they have the vocabulary, drive and chops to serve as a Whitman's Sampler of The History of Power-Pop.

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Here's a clip of the band performing in Florida in June of 2007:

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Savannah's own Port City Music closes (?) this show with a set of moody, textured and —at times— droning guitar-based rock that is said to contain some brand-new material, and to be the final gig for the current lineup. Listen & Learn: myspace.com/casperthecookies, myspace.com/sauriandream. Tues., 9 pm, The Wormhole (2307 Bull St.).


Jeff Dunham's 'Spark of Insanity'

With almost three million concert DVDs sold to date (in an industry where around 50,000 is more the norm) and a series of crazy-popular YouTube videos, this celebrated standup comic and award-winning ventriloquist is currently at the top of the comedy heap. While the broad appeal of his scripted, puppet-based material have earned him an unusually wide swath of fans, Dunham's not without detractors.

Many find his use of ethnic stereotypes and racially-based humor to be at the least unseemly and at the worst, flatly offensive. In fact, South Africa actually banned commercials featuring the catchphrase of his “Achmed The Dead Terrorist” character on the grounds that it defamed Muslims, portraying them all as murderous radicals. Dunham steadfastly denies any ill will or racist tendencies, noting that he skewers virtually all demographics with equal zest.

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Here's one of his most famous bits, which has become a sensation on YouTube:

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His fanbase —many of whom have been likened to those of “Blue Collar” comic icons like Larry The Cable Guy— would seem to agree, or at least to not care particularly. Regardless, his masterful technique at throwing his voice without moving his lips is downright amazing. $40.50 in adv. at 651-6556 or savannahcivic.com. Listen & Learn: jeffdunham.com. Wed., March 11, 7:30 pm, MLK, Jr. Arena, Civic Center - ALL-AGES.


Town Mountain

Fueled by late-night jam sessions and the long, storied history of acoustic Appalachian country and bluegrass, this up-and-coming Asheville five-piece knows how to take from the greats (think The Stanleys, The Louvins or even The Possum himself) while adding their own stamp to traditionals and original material.

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Here's Town mountain, shot just a few months ago by a fan in the front row at Charleston's Pour House club:

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ade up of relatively young pickers, this high-energy outfit is a band to watch internationally. This is an intimate show in a smoke and alcohol free listening room. Charge $20 adv. tix at 748-1930. Listen & Learn: townmountain.net, randywoodguitars.com. Sat., 8 pm, Randy Wood's Concert Hall (1304 E. Hwy 80, Bloomingdale) - ALL-AGES. cs

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