Spotlighted Gigs & Recommended Shows 

The BlaggardsWhen a band lists their main influences as Shane MacGowan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and caffeine (and claim they sound like both Slayer and The Carpenters), you either have a great idea of what they’ll sound like, or none.With a lineup that includes drums, bass, guitar, fiddle and mandolin, these “stout Irish rockers” from Houston, Tx. hew fairly closely to what’s expected of them as far as distortion pedaled jigs and reels, but they’re far more ambitious than that. An over-the-top, borderline metal cover of The King’s “Suspicious Minds” is one thing, but when said cover unexpectedly morphs into a faux rasta reggae stomp, it’s hard not to see these guys as a tight hard-rock bar band at heart whose members legitimately boast Celtic roots, but who also know a good hook when they see one. I don’t know what Presley and Cash have to do with Irish music, but the more obvious choices in their respective back catalogs are easy for half-soused crowds to bellow along to. Make no mistake, though: The Blaggards are good at what they do. I’m just not exactly sure why they’re doing it. Listen at: www.myspace.com/blaggards. Fri., 10 pm, Murphy’s Law Irish Pub.
Boys of The Lough

How hard is it to keep a band together for 40 years? Ask the Swinging Medallions.

Just kidding. Don’t ask them anything.

Better yet, ask the members of this most esteemed Celtic group. Over the course of 70 U.S. tours (you read that right), the Boys have in many ways spearheaded an appreciation for traditional Irish and Scottish folk traditions in this country.

Though, like any band that has been in existence for eons, they’ve seen their fare share of members come and go. In addition to a few members who’ve joined over the intervening years (one as recently as 2001), the current lineup of the group features founding musicians Cathal McConnell (on vocals, flute and whistle) and Dave Richardson (on mandolin, cittern, English concertina, and button accordion) — who actually gave up on researching the field of molecular evolution to take up with this lot.

Richardson hails from Northumberland, the border country between England and Scotland, and his background is emblematic of at least part of what has helped make and keep this particular group so widely beloved over the long haul: their ability to transcend the inherent limitations of playing only one type of folk music. By mixing Scottish, Irish and Shetland-based instrumentals (and lyrical tunes), the band draws from an unusually large pool of material.

Plus, by adding some fresh blood into their lineup every once in a while (yet still maintaining hard links to their storied past) the Boys have ably overcome the stasis which can easily befall such musical institutions, no matter how beloved they are or how loyal their following may be.

To this day, the group is said to be as suited to playing small village stages in their native lands or headlining concert dates and major festivals the world over. They’ve become reliable, technically masterful ambassadors of their craft — and in turn, have become icons of a sort.

Such is their touring schedule and longevity that many contemporary Celtic pop and traditional folk groups now cite The Boys of The Lough as a prime influence. Look to this show to feature impressive musicianship (on a variety of acoustic instruments from flute to mandolin) and finely-honed good humor. Tickets are $45 - $17 at www.lucastheatre.com or by calling 525-5050. Mon., 8 pm, Lucas Theatre.

Coastal Jazz Association’s Annual Meeting & Concert

It’s rare for the CJA to get together without the sounds of live jazz in the air, so of course it’s a no-brainer that there would be a concert held in tandem with their annual organizational meeting. In addition to electing a Board of Directors for this upcoming year, The CJA All-Stars (featuring a veritable who’s who of area jazz talent) will play, along with their special out-of-town guest, the gifted pianist Kevin Bales. Anyone interested in taking a more active role in jazz promotion and education in Savannah should avail themselves of this opportunity to join (and possibly help direct) the sole local group devoted to such pursuits. The public is welcome to come enjoy the show as well. $10 cover or free to CJA members — including those that join that day! More info at www.coastaljazz.org or by calling 675-5419. Sun., 5 pm, Four Points by Sheraton (Historic Savannah).

JeWopIf you’re easily offended by politically-incorrect language, then avoid this Fla. duo of electric bass and trap drums (featuring native Savannahian Adam Safer on the low end). However, if you’re adept at discerning when someone’s got their tongue in their cheek — or you like having your face blown off by manic, near-virtuosic mayhem, these ace players with mad technical chops and stamina devote themselves to making as much furious ruckus as a full-on hardcore band. They put on breathtaking live shows that at times seem akin to watching The Minutemen with Tourette’s and a fuzzbox. Sat., 11 pm, The Jinx.
Dmitri Levkovich The last time this young and exceedingly gifted classical pianist and composer (considered by many in the know to be one of the most promising such double-threats on the scene today) performed in Savannah it was 2006, and he did so in a Chamber Music format. Now, he returns for his first local solo recital. While the exact program had yet to be confirmed as of our press time, in the past, this winner of the prestigious Hilton Head International Piano Competition (who has also played Carnegie Hall) has shown an affinity for the works of Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Rachmaninov and Chopin.“(Levkovich) communicates wonderfully with the audience in a very harmonious way,” said Judging Chairman Arie Vardi at the time of Levkovich’s Hilton Head win. This, like many other noteworthy local classical music events of the past few years, is sponsored by the Savannah Concert Association. Tickets are $35 - $12.50 and are available at www.lucastheatre.org or by calling 525-5050. Sat., 8 pm, Lucas Theatre.
Craig Morgan

This acclaimed country guitarist and singer had to wait for his major label deal to come to an end before he made real headway on the charts. Still, after leaving Atlantic Records and hooking up with the indie Broken Bow, he wound up with a string of Top Ten hits that began with 2003’s “Almost Home”, and continued with the Number One hit (and Billboard’s Top Country Single of 2005) “That’s What I Love About Sunday.” Whiskey Falls open. Tickets are $42 - $35 at www.lucastheatre.com or by calling 525-5050. Wed., Feb. 27, 7:30 pm, Lucas Theatre.

Kurt Reifler, Josh Bond

If I had a C-note for every goofball honky with a stack of Chili Peppers’ and/or John Mayer CDs and a self-professed ability to “funk out” that I’d been forced to listen to since taking this position a half-decade ago, I’d almost have enough money to pay back my student loans. And yet, every once in a while, a cat comes across my desk that simply oozes “real deal.” Kurt Reifler is one such exception to the rule. A self-taught drummer, guitarist and vocalist with a predilection towards both old-school soul of the Curtis Mayfield/Sly Stone/Stevie Wonder variety as well as newer vintage R & B a la D’angelo and Jamiroquai, plus some truly oddball influences like PJ Harvey and (for a blessed change) Tim Buckley, Reifler has cut and released a fairly stupendous indie album, and he’s touring intimate venues like coffeehouses and record shops in every state in the Continental U.S. in hopes of winning over converts the old fashioned way.

Though his album presents him as a double-badd soul brother (think a half as crass Lenny Kravitz hunkered down with John Fruscianté for some serious one-on-one time) with full electric backing, this gig will likely find him alone with an acoustic guitar — which is how he worked out that record’s material on an extended pre-production busking tour of Europe.

Opening act Josh Bond recently relocated here from Mobile, Al., and offers up what he terms “a backwoods folk Americana kind of thing.” Dig it at: www.myspace.com/kurtreifler and www.myspace.com/thejoshbond. Fri., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean - ALL-AGES.


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