New Year' Eve roundup 

Okay, okay.

So this time around you’ve decided you’d prefer to spend your New Year’s Eve out and about, rather than cooped up at home watching Ryan Seacrest or some other pre-fab nimrod blathering on about whichever “hot” new band his network took a wad of moolah from this season.

The again, perhaps you have one or more private parties to attend, and you’re looking for someplace fun and festive to either start the evening, or to wind up at when the clock strikes twelve. (Be advised, anecdotal evidence suggests fewer than 30 percent of those who bar-or-party hop on New Year’s actually wind up standing where they planned to when the peach drops. Or even awake at all, for that matter.)

Well, once more, we here at Connect have done our best to compile a fairly exhaustive list of all the noteworthy (there’s that word again — see how clever branding can be?) events taking place that night within our circulation area which feature some form of live musical entertainment.

Now, before you realize that your fave hang is not represented herein and furrow your brow, please understand that this is by no means a definitive list of options. I fully assume there are at least a dozen additional shows and/or public gatherings that warrant mention. However, we can only publicize what we know about in advance.

So, if you’re a club owner, restaurateur or promoter and you don’t see your celebration listed here, it probably means we didn’t hear from you in time to meet our printing deadlines. If you realize in hindsight how important free publicity of this sort can be, by all means, drop me a line at jim.r@connectsavannah.com at least 10 days before your next live entertainment event, so we can start including your activities in the paper.

Hopefully there’s a little something here for everyone. Reservations are recommended (if not required) for most of these shows and/or dinners, so the sooner you pursue the one that speaks the most to you, the better your chance of scoring entry.

Please remember — even if you choose not to imbibe this year, be careful. If you do drink, make sure you give your keys to someone sober, or better yet, call a cab. That’s what they’re there for, and as someone who raps with cabbies on a fairly regular basis, I know for a fact that this is an abysmally slow season and every taxi driver in the area could use your business.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s dive into the multitude of partying options available in the greater Savannah area:

Our area has more great live jazz options than ever before, and this New Year’s Eve finds plenty of impressive, improvisationally-oriented talent ringing in 2008.

The swanky Mansion on Forsyth Park features Brenda Morie & The 4th St. Band playing “light jazz and hot rhythm & blues” in their Viennese Ballroom. Morie is an extremely talented flutist and vocalist who made her name in Canada and now resides in Savannah. Her vocal style has been likened to that of Dusty Springfield, and her playing shows the influence of both Herbie Mann and Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.

She’s worked with scores of A-list musicians and composers, and is currently finishing up a new CD. She tours frequently, and will lead a quintet of experienced musicians on standards and her own tunes.

Savannah’s newest jazz club, Kokopelli’s on Broughton St. is now back open after a month or so of inactivity and welcomes the swinging nine-piece group The Jazz Conceptions Orchestra, led by young trumpet prodigy Alex Nguyen, whose name will be familiar to many in our area.

As Alex relocated to continue his musical education, this will be a rare hometown appearance for the standout player. His group also welcomes guest vocalist Annie Sellick. This limited-seating show starts at 8 pm, and includes a full dinner.

Across the river, the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa has booked legendary, award-winning jazz bassist (and longtime Savannah celebrity) Ben Tucker to helm a small combo which will play straight-ahead jazz from 9 pm till 1 am, while folks enjoy a four-course meal.

Jazz’d Tapas Bar welcomes the double whammy of local soul-jazz quartet Eat Mo’ Music (known for their funky, danceable arrangements of jazz classics and modern pop and rock hits) and Sinatra tribute artist Trae Gurley, whose soaring vocals will surely add another dimension entirely to the proceedings.

And, if you’re up for a drive, the chic Hilton head supper club The Jazz Corner welcomes back one of their favorite acts, The Noel Friedline Quintet for two seatings, at 5 pm, and again at 9 pm. This buzzworthy Fla.-based pianist’s latest release, the 2-CD set Four Nights at the Slammer, spent ten weeks in the national jazz radio Top 50. His group has played everywhere from the Las Vegas Bellagio, to the Montreux Jazz Festival to Julia Roberts’ surprise 35th birthday party.

Mojo Bone, the latest project from former Deep Blue 3 guitarist and frontman Josh Maul plays the Mercury Lounge at 10 pm. Their set will likely be made up of standards and contemporary numbers covering the Delta, Chicago and Texas strains of electric blues.

Isaac’s on Drayton, located in the old Churchill’s Pub location around the corner from Outback Steakhouse near Bay St. has yet to finalize their live entertainment, but expect to have a solo act or band offering a variety of blues, jazz and perhaps even rock tunes from 9 pm till 1:30 am.

Kasey’s Gourmet Grille on Waters Ave. just North of Derenne features the “acoustic alternatives” of Rich & Dan, a singing guitar duo also known as Two Originals. Both former members of local band Watered Down, they offer a wide variety of blues and folk standards, plus rock, covers by jam acts like The Grateful Dead, as well as their own tunes. Show starts at 8 pm.

Similarly, banjo and acoustic guitar duo Keith & Ross bring their crowd-pleasing setlist of classic rock, modern folk, bluegrass and country tunes to Robin’s Nest in Pooler beginning at 8:30 pm.

Led by the idiosyncratic, Texas-born frontman Jason Bible, hopped-up local twang-a-billy quartet The Train Wrecks offer Dylan, Petty, Springsteen and Cash covers, along with material from their impressive debut CD at one of their favorite haunts, The Warehouse on River Street, starting at 8 pm.

Versatile roadhouse cover band High Velocity tears up the Southern and classic rock hits as well as modern country favorites and their own hell-raisin’ originals at Gilly’s in Hinesville, starting at 9 pm.

Liquid Ginger, an extremely well-liked regional modern rock and pop band with a hard edge and a female vocalist, are the featured act at the Hyatt Regency hotel this year. Expect contemporary and classic rock hits, plus polished material of their own from the group’s two indie CDs.

WormsLoew, on the other hand, is just about to release their first professional CD, but since being taken under the wing of Jupiter Coyote’s Matt Mayes, these rising stars on the Southeastern “Y’allternative” scene are travelling far and wide and playing their asses off. With a sound that’s one part Drive-By Truckers and one part Train, they appeal to a wide variety of listeners. Their set at Fiddler’s Crab House on River St. starts around 9:30 pm.

Lulu’s Chocolate Bar —a small, lush and mod dessert bar on MLK Jr., Blvd. between Broughton and Congress Sts. not known for live entertainment— presents an old-fashioned, “Retro Glam New Year’s Eve Party” with live music by eclectic local power trio The Magic Rocks. This band is known for an oddball setlist mixing 80s rock, 50s boogie-woogie, vintage soul and Golden Age C & W, and includes members of Superhorse, GAM and The 8-Tracks. This will be their debut in a stripped-down, acoustic format. No cover starting at 8 pm. Live music begins at 9:30 pm.

On the funk tip, sultry R & B vocalist Leslie Gadson and her Nickel Bag of Funk crew play plenty of choice old-school hits —and loose-limbed new jams— at Broughton St.’s Tantra Lounge — a restaurant and bar that is geared for dancing.

If you’re looking for straight-forward and accomplished acoustic music, Celtic troubadour Carroll Brown will be at Kevin Barry’s on River St. with his guitar and sequencer, and an almost endless supply of both trad and contemporary Irish tunes, pop material and “Coastal Country”.

The Wild Wing Café in City Market appears to have cornered the market on reggae and dub this holiday, by snagging a rare show from Passafire. This reggae-rock hybrid formed in Savannah, and though still based here, play much more on the road to an ever-growing fanbase.

They recently completed a 40-date North American tour supporting genre heroes Pepper, and are no pushing a brand-new, internationally-released CD. There’s no cover to get in for this eagerly anticipated gig.

If squiring your partner around a large wooden dance floor is more your bag, this semi-formal evening of dancing in the Ballroom of American Legion Post 135 on Forsyth Park may be just the ticket. It’s unclear as to whether a real band will be on hand, but even if folks are jitterbugging to a DJ, there may be more “live energy” in that room than anywhere else in town.


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Jim Reed

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