OLD FRIENDS RETURN
You know 'em, you love 'em: Live Wire Music Hall's got the Ragbirds Wednesday, Jan 4; this is that eclectic Afro/Celtic/folk/reggae band from Michigan that travels in a van powered by waste vegetable oil. Fronted as always by the amazing singer, songwriter and violinist Erin Zindle, they've just this week issued their fourth full-length album, Travelin' Machine ... A couple of good ones at the Jinx this week: Our pal B.J. Barham, of American Aquarium, plays one of his rockin' solo shows Thursday, Jan 5. And Atlanta's perpetually cool Gringo Star is back again (with The Explorers Club) Saturday the 7th ... the monthly Cybereclectic Art Fair, a craft and music fest, returns to the Wormhole on Friday ....
CHRIS DESA/CLAUDIA NYGAARD
At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan 6
First Presbyterian Church, 520 Washington Ave.
Gather ‘round, friends! How about a hootenanny?
You don't hear that word a lot these days, but the folk music performance tradition is alive and well, especially in Savannah. In fact, the Savannah Folk Music Society is now 25 years old, with 250 dues-paying members who come together several times a month for formal and informal concerts, jam sessions and even old-timey dances.
They just don't call them hootenannies any more.
The organization begins 2012 with the January edition of the First Friday Concerts, a monthly series that began around 10 years ago, at the old Savannah Coffeehouse.
The Jan. 6 bill features Chris Desa, who took over as SFMS president last year following the departure of Hank Weisman, who'd been holding the reins and pulling the strings for 10 years (Weisman and family relocated to Atlanta).
Desa, a former ship's captain, owns Jonaro Technomar Services, a Savannah-based maritime transportation, consulting and auditing firm.
He's an old salt, sure, but first and foremost, Desa is a folk musician who cut his teeth on the old stuff by James Taylor, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens and Crosby, Stills & Nash. In fact, he always had his guitar with him on those long, lonely sea voyages ("Music," he says with a smile, "was my first wife").
He was born and raised in Bombay, India. "You'd be shocked at how well people know music there," Desa says. "It's like here - everyone has their own little niche. Many people don't realize how many fans Chet Atkins has in Bombay."
Desa and his (second) wife are charter members of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society, and attend its annual meetings in Nashville. Along with Atkins, his guitar heroes include Tommy Emmanuel and Mark Knopfler.
The Desas arrived in Savannah in 1992, and almost immediately, Chris made a bunch of acoustic guitar-playing friends and joined the SFMS - eventually landing on the Board of Directors.
Sharing the spotlight Jan. 6 is Nashville singer/songwriter Claudia Nygaard, whose fifth CD, Let the Storm Roll In, has been receiving glowing reviews. Said Music News Nashville: "In her throw-back-to-the-50s, rich-toned alto, the artist tells story after honest story, making listeners chuckle, choke back tears, and sometimes just nod their heads while her well-crafted pieces wash over them."
Nygaard crafts detailed story-songs that have drawn comparisons to the likes of Guy Clark and Ian Tyson.
Suggested donation is $2. See savannahfolk.org