NOW YOU SEE THEM
At 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7
The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
Dulci, Shane, and Jason (no last names necessary) play quirky, uptempo and vibrantly harmonious pop songs on guitars, mandolins, ukes and an assortment of other handily-wielded instruments. It's happy and often funny stuff ("super-fun acoustic folk/pop" is the official branding) and miles away from the doom-and-gloom navel-gazing of so many other acoustic acts.
Now You See Them took the long road: They're based in Asheville, but actually met in Manhattan (turns out they were all born in western Pennsylvania) and lived and played in Hawaii for a spell. Then it was off to Australia, where they became the toast of Sydney before the Aussie government discovered they had no work visas, and summarily deported them. See nowyouseethem.net
Grant Peeples, headlining the Savannah Folk Music Society’s first First Friday concert of 2011 (that’s a real pair of firsts, eh?) is a Florida–born singer/songwriter with the lyrical wit and deceptively simple complexity of John Prine (watch out for those words), a voice like Johnny Horton crossed with Leonard Cohen, and an album (Pawnshop) that had Americana critics scrambling to find new superlatives. His new one, Okra and Ecclesiastes, comes out this month. Peeples shares the Jan. 7 bill (at First Presbyterian Church, the regular First Friday venue) with South Carolina “folk/funk” performer Jacob Johnson.
Also more than just your garden–variety acoustic balladeer is Todd Murray, a recent arrival in the Hostess City from the midwest. Performing as Sincerely, Iris (yes, that’s his stage name) Murray – at Tantra Lounge Jan. 10 – isn’t just a G–chord strummer. He writes thoughtful, interesting and melodic songs using open tunings and visionary fingerings. If you must, think of Jeff Buckley melancholia, Cat Power simplicity and the oblique dark–sky musings of mid–period Joni Mitchell. The Sincerely, Iris CD Headlight Sonata features Murray on 90 percent of the instruments. This is an artist to watch.
Lady Lazarus (Melissa Ann Sweat), whose minimalist musical approach was feted in these very pages a few weeks ago, had to cancel a recent Lulu’s date because of a Christmas cold. But you can catch her at the Wormhole Jan. 5, with the Milwaukee trio Snakes Swallow Tails, plus Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band ...