WILLIE HEATH NEAL
Native Georgian Willie Heath Neal specializes in raucous, rabble-rousing honky tonk music. Sure, these days there are a lot of guys playing that stuff – we are in the South, after all – but Heath, all of 38, has got the goods. He sounds (and looks) like he was just let out of prison, where he’d stored up a whole lot of energy while waiting to walk the streets again.
There’s a lot of punk ferocity in Neal’s chicken-wire blasting caps, maybe because he used to play in punk bands, or maybe because the two independent record labels he’s been signed to are both known for trashy, thrashy punk-style rock ‘n’ roll.
But you can bet your snakeskins he’s a country music guy, through and through. Country, Neal once said, has “always been in my life … I knew the words to ‘Hey, Good Lookin’’ before I knew the words to any nursery rhyme.”
In fact, Neal’s early days are just as fascinating as his lyrics. Born to a 25-year-old mother and a 17-year-old father, he came into this world in the back seat of a Woodstock, Ga. police cruiser.
“My dad said it was the worst storm he’d seen in 20 years,” Neal said. “He ran off the road, and a cop came along to assist, ’cause my dad was speeding, of course. And he’s like, ‘My wife’s pregnant, she’s going into labor!’ so the cop stayed in the back with my mother, and my dad drove the patrol car to the hospital. It was like something on Hee-Haw, right? I was supposedly born in the parking lot of the hospital.” Listen & learn: www.willieheathneal.com. At 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14 at the Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.
Tri-Polar, the third studio album from this heavy-duty hardcore trio from Australia, was released in mid-July. It entered the Billboard Top 200 at No. 31, the band’s best-ever showing, which might be an indication that the darlings of video-game and WWE anthems are moving into the mainstream. The band, which is now based in El Lay, is featured in the upcoming documentary film Rock Prophecies. Listen & learn: www.sickpuppies.net. At 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16 at Shoreline Ballroom, 40 Folly Field Road, Hilton Head Island. $15 advance, $17 day of show.
BOTTLES & CANS
For five years, Savannah’s best-kept-bar-band-secret has been injecting life into the downtown clubs with a fast and furious hurricane of Chicago-style electric blues. If you like your beer cold, your club dark and your blues delivered with grizzled vocals, honking harpoon and free-swinging abandon, what are you waiting for? Listen & learn: www.bottlesncans.com. At 10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13 at Mercury Lounge, 125 W. Congress St.
HEAD TRIP CONCEPTION
From the aptly-named Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. comes an industrial/electronica duo, consisting of Graham Barab and Samuel Aronoff on synths, samples and beats. And guitar. And vocals. And some really cool lights. It’s a hypnotic rave full of sinister soundscapes and somnambulist drones, acidic and trippy – and extremely engaging, if that’s your thing. With Data Recovery. Listen & learn: www.myspace.com/headtripconception. At 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17 at the Wormole, 2307 Bull St.