“We like to just say we play loud/heavy/aggressive music that really doesn’t fit neatly into any one specific genre,” says Descender guitarist Eric Palmerlee, who creates a sonic tidal wave with his co-axeman, Angelo Pournaras. “Think Fugazi, Snapcase and Slayer in a pit fighting it out to the death.”
Based in New York City, this hardcore band has rock-solid roots in Savannah. Pournasas was a SCAD student from 1992 to ’97, and bassist Jay Morris did the same, from 1999 to 2006. All four Descenders (including drummer George Manolis) are graphic designers, which is where the moniker came from (in typographical terms, a descender is the portion of a letter in a Latin alphabet that extends below the baseline of a font).
The band’s debut EP is hot off the presses, and will be available at Saturday’s Jinx show, with Athens’ The Jack Burtons and The Dumps.
In fact Descender plays Atlanta Thursday night, and Athens the next. “The tour will be a bit of a homecoming in that we are playing cities most of us lived in at different points,” says Palmerlee, who studied graphic design at UGA. “And while the main point of this tour is to play to new audiences, we’re also looking forward to seeing old friends and family along the way.” Listen & learn: www.myspace.com/descendernyc. At 11 p.m. Saturday at the Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.
If you’ve been reading about the “new directions” in bluegrass music, but remain a touch leery of the electric innovations of bands like Blueground Undergrass (elsewhere in this issue of Connect), Mountain Heart is the group you want to investigate. This is pure, mountain-stream acoustic bluegrass (albeit with touches of jazz, blues and rock), played with youthful energy, a bit o’show and crack musicianship. Since 2007, the band has included singer, songwriter, guitarist and piano player Josh Shilling, who’s recently been recording with Tony Rice, perhaps the best flat-top picker of today’s generation. Fiddler Jim Van Cleve comes on like a wild wind out of the south. Listen & learn: www.mountainheart.com. At 8 p.m. Friday, July 31 at Randy Wood Guitars, 1304 E. Highway 80, Bloomingdale. $30.
ERIC CULBERSON BLUES BAND
Savannah’s amazing EROK boy Eric Culberson has been smokin’ the room with his electric blues for two decades; this main takes a fierce mainline hit of hardscrabble electric guitar and breathes out an intoxicating fire. Culberson’s so good that he was voted Top Blues Artist (and Best All-Around Local Musician) in our 2009 Best of Savannah poll. A new CD, recorded at Electric Basement Studios, is ready to drop. “We’ve been really, really fortunate to be able to play in our hometown for all these years, for a great crowd,” he told us a while ago. “I don’t ever want to take that for granted.” Listen & learn: www.ericculberson.com. July 30 and 31 at Fiddler’s Crab House, 131 W. River St.
Right away, you know you’re in for something different when the lead singer sits at an electric piano, and the band includes a saxophone. This is the first Savannah appearance for the Jacksonville-based brainchild of Kip Kolb – the piano guy – who writes all the songs and sings in a sort of strangled Dr. John bark. The music is 12-bar blues, funky soul, and something straddling (comfortably) the fence between between Billy Joel and Tom Waits. Listen & learn: www.myspace.com/klobsong. With Nickel Bag of Funk. At 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 28 at the Wormhole, 2307 Bull St.