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Spotlighted gigs and recommended shows 

Leslie, StoneRider ***

Here’s a killer double-bill that’s about as ROCK as things get in Savannah these days without crossing into metal. Charleston power-trio Leslie makes one hell of a joyous ruckus. One part Humble Pie, one part MC5, one part Stooges (the first incarnation, but with their shit together), and one part Nazareth, these lanky, flared-jeans-wearin’ longhairs write soulful songs that truly sound like they came off a pockmarked collection of great lost ‘70s pre-punk Nuggets.

They’re every bit as skull-crushingly tight as one could hope for, which has no doubt helped frontman/guitarist Sadler Vaden nab several peachy side gigs, such as playing live with big-time garage rock revivalists The Mooney Suzuki and co-writing with Kings of Leon producer/Svengali Angelo Patraglia.

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Here's a fan-shot video of Leslie opening for The Donnas in Pittsburch this past March:

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Atlanta’s StoneRider is cut from the same basic wall hanging, but throws more of a chicken-fried, bong-hit vibe into their equally memorable retro riffage. They’re earning tremendous buzz right now from major mags like Rolling Stone, and the totality of this match-up seems destined to feel like much more than the sum of its parts.

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Here's the official music video for StoneRider's latest single, which sounds an awful lot like a cross between vintage G'N'R and The Four Horsemen:

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Listen & Learn: myspace.com/leslierock, myspace.com/stoneriderband. Fri., 11 pm, The Jinx.


Col. Bruce Hampton & The Quark Alliance, Outformation

Hampton is a figurehead of the Southern jam scene that ultimately birthed Widespread Panic, Allgood and other standout improv-heavy rock acts (he formed and led the pioneering Aquarium Rescue Unit in the late ‘80s). But there was always much more to him than met the eye, no matter how long one stared. Though his days as a freak-rock demi-god are long gone (he burst on the scene in the early ‘70s with a double-LP on Columbia that smelled like Beefheart on chitlins and earned the dubious distinction of being one of the worst-selling albums in that company’s storied history), subsequent stints with The CodeTalkers, The Fiji Mariners and now this combo have allowed him to flex his impressively off-kilter lyrical sensibilities and knack for turning the blues, jazz and funk idioms in on themselves — and he maintains a solid cult following nationwide.

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Here's a fan-shot video of a prototypical Col. Bruce guitar solo with The Quark Alliance, shot in Charleston early this year:

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Kindred spirits Outformation prominently feature guitarist (and former Widespread associate Sam Holt), who learned a thing or two during his years as Panic’s late guitarist Michael Houser’s personal tech. They’ve subsequently become one of the more solid and reliable Southern rock bands to draw on both the country leanings of vintage Marshall Tucker and the exploratory vibe that has become the hallmark of this scene.

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Here's an interview and acoustic song from a couple key members of Outformation, shot in Boulder, CO a while back:

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Listen & Learn: bratoganibe.com, foryouroutformation.com. $12 adv. (shorelineballroom.com) or $16 at door. Sat., 9:30 pm, Shoreline Ballroom (Hilton Head).


The Del McCoury Band ***

Bluegrass simply doesn’t get any more authentic and downright real than Del and his family-based band that’s been on the road now for decades. One of the most famous and respected practitioners of traditional bluegrass and Southern gospel, he studied at the feet of the original master of the genre, singing lead and playing guitar with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys in the 1960s. Almost 70, he still maintains a rigorous touring schedule, and his backing group is widely viewed as one of the most technically precise and dazzling in the business. Anyone who even halfway digs bluegrass but has never seen Del live should jump at the chance before he gives up the road for good. No Strings Attached (an All-Star group of Raleigh, N.C. pickers) opens.

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Here's the Del McCoury Band at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium in 2002:

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Listen & Learn: delmccouryband.com. $15 adv. (shorelineballroom.com) or $20 at door. Fri., 9:15 pm, Shoreline Ballroom (Hilton Head).


Taylor Swift

At only 18, this country/pop sensation has already topped the charts and —in 2007— become the youngest person ever named Songwriter of The Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association. Currently touring behind her latest CD Fearless, this hotly anticipated show is virtually sold out, but I’m told there is a slight chance that some unused promotional tickets may be released to the public on the night of the show, so it may be worth showing up in hopes of nabbing a good seat. Love & Theft, a rising male trio of contemporary country songwriters opens the show.

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Here's Taylor serenading some of her biggest fans on her tour bus about a year ago:

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Listen & Learn: taylorswift.com, myspace.com/loveandtheftmusic. $39.75 - $49.75 adv. tix at savannahcivic.com or 651-6556. Fri., 8 pm, Savannah Civic Center.

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