For several years now, this Savannah native has been working at a feverish pace, juggling two distinctly different, yet related gigs. He plays often as a solo act. Those shows find him acting as a one-man-band of the most bare-bones kind (he’s rigged up a small kick drum, a set of high-hat cymbals and assorted percussion instruments which he can play with his feet while simultaneously singing and accompanying himself on the guitar.
When there’s enough room (and enough pay), this format expands to become a full band. Backed by the rock-solid and experienced rhythm section of jazz-trained drummer Billy Hoffman and bassist Mike Perry, plus saxman James Moody, the group is able to add much more depth to Jeff’s affable approach to boogie-woogie-based R & B nuggets (think Fats Domino), early rock and roll hits (think Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly), and Beasley’s own original blues and rock tunes, which are steeped in similar cadences and grooves.
While he released a live CD a couple of years back, Jeff tells me he’s never felt that record truly represented what his shows are all about. According to the songwriter, his soon-to-be-released “studio” disc is the closest he’s yet come to getting across his own personal vision down on tape (funny how we still call it tape, huh?). He hopes that record will help to reposition him as at least as much of a concert act as a well-liked bar and party entertainer. Sat., 9 pm, Jazz’d Tapas Bar.
Ever since the Coastal Jazz Association’s Teddy Adams made it his business to bring back the long-abandoned Savannah tradition of a Christmas Day jazz concert, it’s been one of the non-profit organization’s biggest fund-raisers and most eagerly anticipated annual events. This year marks the 32nd anniversary of its resumption, and as always, the show —featuring Teddy’s All-Stars and vocalist Gina Rene— will be followed as it was back in the day: with a head-cutting contest (now more of a jam session with some friendly nudging) featuring both professional and amateur players from all around.
It was this tradition of allowing newbies to sit in and work to hold their own with local heavyweights that played a great role in inspiring the young Teddy to pursue jazz as seriously as he has. Who knows, perhaps there will be another young musician for whom this year’s jam proves to be a defining moment as well?
Proceeds benefit the CJA’s Student Scholarship Education Fund, which has helped send many promising local high schoolers to conservatories and universities to continue their musical training. $15 tickets available at Annie’s Guitars and Drums, Portman’s Music, Rody’s Music and the venue itself. More info at www.coastal-jazz.org, or call 675-5419. Tues., 5 pm, The Four Points Sheraton Historic Savannah (520 W. Bryan St.) - ALL-AGES.
With an almost completely new lineup, and a revamped setlist that I’m told by one members is much more focused on low-down, straight-up electric blues, this regional group —which has never attained as a high a profile as some of the other, more well-known area blues combos— is said to sound better than ever before. Check ‘em out in person and decide for yourself. Sat., 8 pm, The Warehouse.
Still Savannah’s only combo specializing in soul-jazz, EMM lays down danceable instrumental grooves that range from their own interpretations of standards to jazzy treatments of rock, soul and pop hits. The group boasts a number of moonlighting music educators — including trumpeter John Tisbert, electric guitarist Bart Zipperer (formerly of Shut Up & Drive and The Six Million Dollar Band) and bassist Doug Povie (formerly of Spluff KatÜnga), all of whom teach scores of school kids each year.
So, what is soul-jazz? Well, it’s groove-based, improvisational music with a heavy backbeat and a strong foundation in jazz, R & B, and even some types of rock and roll. Great for dancing, as well as nodding out, as practiced by this four-piece, it’s a joyous, spunky and social fusion that crosses all sorts of genre lines to offer a lot of entertainment to a wide variety of listeners. If you like to rock out, plan to stay late, as it seems they get a little edgier as the night goes along. Fri., 9 pm, Tantra Lounge.
This group seems to play rather infrequently, which probably has something to do with the fact that their members are split between Savannah and Athens. With a handle straight off of Highway 61 Revisited, and a loose and caterwauling way with Cosmic American covers like Neil Young’s “Cowgirl In The Sand”, Townes Van Zandt’s “Waitin’ Around To Die”, and Uncle Tupelo’s “Give Me Back The Key To My Heart”, it’s no wonder the rip-snortin’ combo anchored by Stewart & Winfield’s Stewart Marshall and his younger brother Jim (of Backwoods) describes their setlist as “Used, abused, rhinestone-infused tunes.”
Much like their obvious touchstones Dylan, The Dead and The Stones, theirs is the province of the joyously sorrowful. Also along for the ride: guitarist Scotty Rahn, ace Bloodkin bassist Rick Williams and —at times— pedal steel guitarist A.J. Adams. This gig finds them jamming unexpectedly at one of the area’s best kept secrets, a laid-back marina restaurant with a great view of the water. Sat., 3 pm, Bonna Bella Yacht Club (2470 Livingston Ave.).
These rising stars on the local bar, restaurant and club scene no doubt still have to pepper their shows with plenty of well-known covers to keep the average patron smiling and partying, but with a little luck, that just might change over the next year or so. With a growing stash of polished, melodic, modern pop-rock tunes to their name, and an enthusiastic financial backer who’s already helped this young power trio (bass, guitar and drums) with impressive vocal harmonies make some seriously big-time studio and industry connections in Nashville, L23 just might be poised for a decent shot at national success. Then again, the best laid plans can sometimes go awry... Hopefully they’re level-headed enough to ride this car till the wheels fall of fand burn, and stable enough to deal with the unpleasantries that often arise if things don’t work out quite as planned. Sat., 9:30 pm, Fiddler’s Crab House.
I can’t tell if this former guitarist (and sometimes vocalist) for Chattanooga’s good-as-shit-good outlaw country honky-tonkers The Tennessee Rounders is calling his new backing group The Cotton Mouth Cowboys or The Awful Dreadful Snakes (!). Either way, he and his cherry-picked roots-rockin’ partners in crime are continuing down the same dusty road as his last group. Twangy, bittersweet ballads and fierce, driving barn-burners are the order of the day with this unpretentious singer-songwriter. Grab a whiskey with a beer back and settle in for some male bonding (and cryin’ time, too, but don’t tell nobody I said that). Sat., 11 pm, The Jinx.
With a new album nearing completion and a growing reputation as one of the finest purveyors of straight-up southern jam-rock for miles around, this low-key quartet of two guitars, bass and drums offers something for fans of electric blues, roots-rock, Americana and even 70s era deep-fried psychedelia.
The twin guitar attack of Shane Baldwin (who often seems to be playing one extended, blistering, balls-out solo from the start of a set till its end) and frontman/vocalist Tyler Roe (whose lead work is more delicate and meandering) is backed up ably by the beefy foundation of bassist Adam Celeste (late of the bizarro, crazy-good funk act Undermind) and drummer Josh Fallin — whose busy, technically proficient tom runs and shimmering cymbal fills are a trademark of the band’s sound. If you’re a fan of Gov’t Mule, The Allmans, Panic or even The Black Crowes (when Marc Ford was in the group), this is definitely a local band worth checking out. Fri., 9 pm, Augie’s Pub (Pooler).
A familiar face around this region’s bar, club and restaurant scene for two decades, singer-songwriter Williams’ strengths lie in his deft way with sung poetry, and the carefree swagger that can only come from being extremely comfortable with for two — his voice and his guitar.
With a range that can go from dark, low and gravelly to sweet, high and breathy at the drop of a hat, Williams often cuts a strange figure. Folks simply find it hard to believe that a man of his frame and often taciturn demeanor can compose and sing such sweet, sweet love songs. But its his deft touch on the guitar (primarily acoustic) that sets him apart from many other corner-of-the-bar entertainers in town. Not surprisingly, while he pays the bills in the same rooms as many of those who will likely never break free of the chains of that particular skyway, Williams occasionally gigs in L.A., and has seen original tunes from his many indie CDs used in film and TV projects here and abroad.
Greg worships at the altar of Petty, Dylan, Hendrix, Waters, Calder and Lanois, which is to say he offers lyrical, cryptic, evocative rock, folk and blues of the highest caliber. Wed., 7 pm, Jen’s & Friends + Fri., 9 pm, WG’s (12 Lincoln St.) + Sat., 8:30 pm, Robin’s Nest (Pooler).