Pato Banton at Live Wire 

Pato Banton ***

EVER SINCE his 1982 debut as guest vocalist on The Beat’s Special Beat Service LP, this London-born reggae singer —whose first name means “Wise Owl”— has been one to watch.

He nabbed another featured spot on an album by an established British group —in that case, UB40’s 1985 smash Baggariddim— before inaugurating a solo career with 1987’s full-length Never Give In. Since then, Banton has emerged as one of the most well-known contemporary (and at times, pop-oriented) reggae artists in the world.


Here's Pato's classic (and educational) tune "Do Not Sniff The Coke (Only Smoke The Sensimillia)":


Even those who don’t follow the genre may remember his 1990 remake of The Police’s “Spirits In The Material World,” which garnered tons of college radio and MTV airplay. He’d go on to collaborate with other established cult figures like Mad Professor and Steel Pulse’s David Hinds before eventually releasing the highly acclaimed CD Life Is a Miracle (which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album of 2001).

Lately, the chart-topping star has been working with the California-based band Mystic Roots, and that group is backing him on his lengthy current tour which makes a one-night-only stop at this ambitious River Street venue. In what’s being billed as a “three hour powerhouse show,” Banton and the band will also be joined by their associate DJ Diesel, to perform songs from Pato’s brand-new release Destination Paradise — as well as select tracks spanning his entire career. This is surely one of the most noteworthy reggae shows to hit Savannah in the past two decades, and at just a $5 cover! Listen & Learn: myspace.com/patobanton. Mon., 9 pm, Live Wire Music Hall.

En Vogue ***

Each year, Savannah’s Black Heritage Fest does their best to score a major headlining musical act for their Grand Festival Day (which serves as a sort of capper to the eagerly anticipated two-week celebration of African-American culture), and this time around, they’ve scored big. Recently reunited after many years of shifting lineups and public acrimony, the four original members of this platinum-selling R&B group (Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson and Terry Ellis) are back in the saddle and playing select, high-profile dates in advance of the release of their official comeback CD.


Here's a recent TV interview and performance with En Vogue's newly reunited members:


Known for such signature hits and ballads as “Hold On,” “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” and “Free Your Mind,” this modern-day girl-group of “funky divas” has sold over 20 million albums and singles across the globe and have won more MTV Video Awards than any other female group in history. They recently appeared live with superstar Alicia Keys and are said to be eyeing a TV show which would premiere in 2009 (likely in conjunction with the release of their next album).

This Savannah appearance is free and open to the public. It also features opening sets by Tres (from the popular Georgia-based R&B/jazz ensemble Five Men on a Stool), Jeanette Illidge and our own 2007 American Idol Finalist Stephanie Edwards. Listen & Learn: savannahblackheritagefestival.com. Sat., 6 pm, Civic Center - ALL-AGES.

Rev. Jeff Mosier's B-Day Extravaganza ***

Sometimes, when a venue gets the chance to book a respected or popular act on a date when their calendar is already filled, the wise move is to simply swell the bill. This six-hour musical smorgasbord is the result of a last-minute addition to an already full evening. Rev. Jeff Mosier is an inventive and risk-taking banjo player who’s well-known in the jam-band community (and especially in Savannah, where he’s maintained a devoted following after years as a repeat headliner at both


Here's a professionallly-shot clip of Blueground Undergrass playing Atanta's showcase venue Smith's Olde Bar:


Locos and the long-gone JJ Cagney’s). As the good Rev.’s innovative fusion band Blueground Undergrass is passing through town on his 50th birthday, they’re now headlining a marathon show that includes openers Milhouse (an eclectic Charleston Americana quartet citing My Morning Jacket and Jason Mraz as key influences) and local faves Turtle Folk (boogie-heavy Southern rock with elements of psychedelic jamming). Listen & Learn: bluegroundundergrass.com, turtlefolk.net, myspace.com/milhouseband. $12 adv. tix. Sat., 8 pm, Live Wire Music Hall.

80th B-Day Tribute to Charles Wadsworth ***

This special gala event serves to honor Wadsworth (founder of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and recipient of France’s Chevalier Award in the Order of Arts and Letters) as he welcomes octegenarianism. A wildly popular pianist and chamber music promoter, he curated and hosted the Spoleto Festival’s Chamber Music Series in Charleston for many years, in addition to organizing and presenting tours featuring a rotating cast of some of the finest chamber musicians in the world. Although his tours no longer stop regularly in our city, the Savannah Concert Association welcomes him back for what may be his final visit under their auspices. For this show, he’s showcasing the St. Lawrence String Quartet, an award-winning Canadian group that have been the ensemble in residence at Stanford University for the last decade.


Here's a wonderful, professionally-shot clip of the Quartet performing Dvorak:


Listen & Learn: slsq.com. $35 - $12.50 at 525-5050 or lucastheatre.com. Fri., 8 pm, Lucas Theatre.

The Rocky Horror Show

This live stage production of Brit actor/composer Richard O’Brien’s classic (rock) paean to hedonism debuted in the early ‘70s in a cabaret-style theatre in England, but quickly became a cult sensation. Combining reverent nostalgia for ‘50s sci-fi with an embrace of sexual freedom, gender-bending and general non-conformity, it soon begat a low-budget Hollywood cinematic treatment that bombed massively on initial release but ultimately generated over $150 million in tickets, soundtrack LPs and merchandise after becoming a counterculture rite of passage for adventurous, disaffected youth.

Eventually, mainstream overexposure somewhat neutered the film’s androgynous glam punch, but a resurgence of interest in the original stage version (coupled with an acceptance of the type of ribald audience participation that blossomed during the film’s exhibitionistic midnight screenings) has allowed the play to blossom once more. This marks the second time Rocky has been mounted for one night only in one of our large, historic theatres. It features Cardinal Repertory’s cast of 21 plus a full, live band, and will again be directed by Jeffrey DeVincent. Listen & Learn: rockyhorror.com. $20 - $15 at 525-5050 or lucastheatre.com. Sat., 8 pm, Lucas Theatre.

Odist, Gunslinger & Jenny Wood, Pets & Animals

This up-and-coming Athens alt.rock band (with a progressive, experimental edge) draws inspiration from the disparate moods of both Thom Yorke’s solo works and Mastodon’s punishing metal. Touring openers Gunslinger and Jenny Wood are separate Nashville acts that combine forces into a single set. Wood’s introspective female vocals provide contrast with her own group’s dark rock songs and the prog instrumentals of Gunslinger. Pets & Animals, on the other hand, is a newish local power trio of guitar, bass and drums that prides itself on being “loud and sloppy.” Listen & Learn: myspace.com/enjoyodist, myspace.com/deathofthegunslinger, myspace.com/jennywoodnashville. $5 cover. Sat., 10 pm, The Wormhole (2307 Bull St.).

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ***

This touring production of the gruesomely delightful 1979 thriller (featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) proudly advertises that it’s a unique staging which features “instrument-wielding actors.” I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it sounds like the folks on stage are actually playing music in addition to delivering their lines and singing their hearts out. While the promoters say this provides the audience with “Less Gore (and) More Musical Score,” chances are many in the crowd will secretly be hoping for more bloodletting in this Tony Award-winning tale of murderous revenge and cannibalism in 1840s London. Popularized of late among non-theater types via Tim Burton’s stylistic film adaptation (starring Johnny Depp), it’s a delightful slice of the macabre, peppered with memorable and lovely melodies. $47.50 - $25.00 at 651.6557 or savannahcivic.com. Sat., 8 pm, Johnny Mercer Theater. cs


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