At 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13
Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St.
Still cruising at high altitudes on the considerable strengths of 2009's Everyone on Everynight, Savannah's melody-rich reggae/dub emissaries continue to tour the country's swankier rock clubs and jam-band festivals. In fact, they just wrapped up their first go-round on the Vans Warped Tour.
Although the band members technically still live in Savannah, they're rarely home; according to singer/guitarist Ted Bowne, so far in 2010 they've already played more than 150 shows. "Touring," says Bowne, "is the best way to keep the buzz about the band going. What keeps it fun and exciting is the people we meet and places we get to see. We are in a new city every day so there's always something to go see or do. If we didn't tour constantly, we wouldn't be doing as well as we are. That's a fact."
Bowne and his bandmates started Passafire in 2003. They were all SCAD students at the time.
"We started out as a jam band, I guess you could say. We played a lot of different stuff and started getting a following around town.
"Ziggy Marley and Michael Franti were doing a show in town; we could only see the opening act because we had to be down at Loco's to play. So we handed Michael Franti a flyer on the stage - just went up to the front of the stage and handed it to him - and he announced our show, and then later on came down and rapped with us.
"We started playing South Carolina and Florida, and it was kind of a rolling stone gathering moss after that."
They sharpened their game after an encounter with the band John Brown's Body, now a frequent touring partner. Turing on to JJB was "a total life-changing experience," Bowne says. "We saw them live and we just melted. We were like, ‘This is exactly what we need to try and do.' So we came home and started focusing on writing really tasteful reggae tunes with a little bit of rock influence."
Listen & learn: www.passafiretheband.com.
At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12
Johnny Mercer Theatre, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave.
The Virginia-born R&B crooner with the silky falsetto has landed a few hits ("Say Aah," "I Invented Sex," "Can't Help But Wait," "Neighbors Know My Name") in the Billboard Top 20 and R&B charts, and has collaborated with top hip hop artists including Ludacris (he appears on the rapper's current Top Ten hit "Sex Room"), Drake and Fat Joe, and singers Toni Braxton and Mary J. Blige. Here's something I bet you didn't know: For a while, you could buy a pair of "Diamond VIP" tickets to this show for $688. This included a meet ‘n' greet, photo op with Songz, a pre-release CD of his new record Passion, Pain and Pleasure (coming in September), membership in the Trey Songz Fan Club, and commemorative, keepsake tickets (for good seats). Those were discontinued - although some were, in fact, sold - but the $55 and $45 tickets are still available. No commentary here - just the facts, ma'am. Vocalist Monica opens.
Listen & learn: www.treysongz.com.
DUDE, CHECK IT OUT
Pianist Kevin Bales and his trio are playing "A Tribute to Duke Ellington" Aug. 13 and 14 at the Jazz Corner in Hilton Head. Bales was the winner of the 1994 American Pianist Associations Jazz Piano Competition ... The Cockabilly Records Roadshow finally arrives in Savannah Aug. 13. This touring tightrope of taste features the rockabilly band Jason and the Punknecks, plus burlesque acts (that means strippers, folks), daredevils and freaks. The gang'll be at the Jinx, starting at 10 p.m. Cover is $13 (it is Friday the 13th, after all) ...