Spotlighted gigs and recommended shows 

Jimi Ray

One of the newest electric blues combos on our scene, this mightily impressive power trio is currently shopping a home-made debut album that features rock-solid performances but production which alternates between sounding intentionally unorthodox and just plain amateurishly recorded.

However, the vigorous, church-influenced drumming of Calvin Williams, funky, Hendrix-inspired guitarwork of vocalist Chris Carusos and the melodic, inventive bass lines of vocalist Doc Jay Black on that disc more than make up for any sonic limitations. Live, they mix in their own ultra-contemporary blues and rock-based pop originals with respectful and tight arrangements of songs from the Hendrix, SRV and ZZ Top back catalogs that are just flashy enough to pay tribute without wearing out their welcome. Surely a local band to watch. Listen & Learn: jimiray.net. Sat., 10 pm, John’s & Friends.

Sara Evans

Just how major is this C&W superstar? Well, at only 37 years old, the former CMA Female Vocalist of The Year (2001) has already racked up four No. 1 hits and three Platinum albums. Though recently dogged by controversy surrounding the acrimonious breakup of her marriage, the respected singer/songwriter (known for a stint on TV’s Dancing with the Stars), is touring behind a Greatest Hits compilation featuring four new tracks, one of which made it all the way to #11 on the Billboard Country Chart. Rising Southern rock artist Brantley Gilbert (who’s toured with Shooter Jennings) opens. At press time, only five rows of seats remained. $39.75 tix at savannahcivic.com or 651-6556. Listen & Learn: saraevans.musiccitynetworks.com, myspace.com/brantleygilbertmusic. Fri., 8 pm, Johnny Mercer Theater.

The Jaybirds

Bluegrass from the Great White North, you say? Poppycock! And yet, these one-time Juno and two-time Canadian Folk Music Award nominees put the lie to the assumption that traditional music must emanate from its original breeding grounds in order to sound (or to be) authentic. Led by phenomenal mandolin player John Reishman, the musical output of this group of West Coast pickers has been described as both stylish and elegant. Known for their resolutely old-time approach to showmanship and for buttressing their austere acoustic arrangements of classic standards and memorable originals with humorous storytelling, they’re a family-oriented act that’s tailor made for this alcohol and smoke free listening room. Listen & Learn: thejaybirds.com. Charge $20 tix at 748-1930. Sat., 8 pm, Randy Wood’s Concert Hall (1304 E. Hwy 80, Bloomingdale) - ALL-AGES.

Kiterunner & Friends

This triple-bill of up-and-coming indie-rock leans more toward aching than pissed. Locals Kiterunner have hovered for a while on the edges of our original music scene, playing mostly low-key, DIY-oriented venues. The melodramatic, anti-folk influenced group blends acoustic and electric instrumentation and cites Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens as influences. Austin’s Neva Geoffrey is signed to Alias Records (home to unconventional luminaries Yo La Tengo and American Music Club). She describes her music as “Healing”. It’s soothing, pastoral acoustic guitar and piano-based low-fi with layered harmony vocals (courtesy of Neva herself) reminiscent of the fleeting, dreamy moments on Big Star’s debut as well as the late-night paeans of Elliot Smith. Valdosta, Ga.’s Night Driving In Small Towns was recently named one of The Best 25 Bands on MySpace (!) by Rolling Stone. The female-fronted quintet’s instrumentation includes banjo, bass, drums, guitar, mandolin and keys. They veer from twee and breathy country-rock constructions similar to Basement Tapes-era Band and minimal, atmospheric, post-modern laments. This show is a wonderful primer for semi-acoustic DIY folk-rock of the day. Free with a suggested donation. Listen & Learn: myspace.com/kiterunnerband, myspace.com/nevageoffrey, nightdrivinginsmalltowns.com. Fri., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean -ALL-AGES.

Katt Williams

Many will recognize this flamboyant, suave, foul-mouthed standup comic from his TV appearances (among other things, he’s hosted the BET Hip-Hop Awards and Comedy Central’s Roast of Flavor Flav). Known for snide, politically incorrect takes on prostitution and drug use, the single father of eight, including seven adopted children (yes, you read that correctly), became a top-draw comedian following his brazen HBO special The Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1. This appearance, in support of his newest CD It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’ is sold out, but you may still find tix outside the venue. Listen & Learn: kattwilliams.com. Sun., 8 pm, Johnny Mercer Theater.


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