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Spotlighted gigs and recommended shows 

Savannah Music Festival presents: The Infamous Stringdusters

Every year around this time, the folks over at the SMF hold a big press conference. That’s when and where they announce to great fanfare the lineup for the following spring’s two-week-plus showcase of classical, jazz, blues, roots, gospel and world music. They’ve always had some small combo of accomplished musicians who play a bit before or after to get all the attendees in the mood.

Well, last year, they decided they’d up the ante a little bit by bringing in a well-known act to actually play a full show immediately following the invite-only announcement, and they’d open that show up to the general public at a low ticket price. It was a great idea, but unfortunately, the venue they chose (the ballroom of American Legion Post 135) proved problematic, as the folks who paid to see and hear a concert got an earful of hobnobbing socialites and members of the media who were already well into their networking and schmoozing groove.

click to enlarge The Infamous Stringdusters
  • The Infamous Stringdusters

This year, organizers hope to solve that problem by holding this event at the Charles Morris Center behind the Pirate’s House at Trustees’ Garden. There’s a completely separate bar area there that’s perfect for conversations, which means folks who pay to see rising bluegrass stars The Infamous Stringdusters will likely get to enjoy their impeccable acoustic musicianship, tight vocal harmonies and fairly thrilling improvisatory skills without an earful of gossip or snarky asides from bespectacled music editors.

This group’s debut on the famed Sugar Hill label was named Best Album of 2007 by the International Bluegrass Music Association (the group also walked away with the title of Emerging Artists of The Year). They’ve been likened to both the iconic NewGrass Revival and to Ricky Skaggs for mixing dedication to their craft and a love of tradition with an eye towards the future of this ever-broadening genre.

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Here's a half-hour documentary (in 4 parts) on the band:

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Only $10 at the door, with cash bars on-site for those 21+. Listen & Learn: thestringdusters.com, savannahmusicfestival.org. Wed., November 12, 8 pm, Charles Morris Center - ALL-AGES. cs


David Berkeley ***

In the year or so since this entrancing young singer/songwriter has brought his guitar and his original tunes to this easygoing venue on Forsyth Park, he relocated to a 37-person mountain village in France, released his third studio album with the help of producer Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Counting Crows, Josh Ritter, Modest Mouse) and Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins and guested on Ira Glass’ NPR series This American Life.

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Here's a fan-shot clip of David performing at a showcase venue in Va.:

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He’s toured as an opening act with everyone from Dido and Billy Bragg to Ray Lamontagne to Ben Folds and Guster, and now you can catch his 90-min. headline set at an incredibly intimate environment and funky coffeehouse. Listen & Learn: davidberkeley.com. Sun., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean - ALL-AGES.


The Howlies, Cannonball ***

I’ve heard a handful of people buzzing about local indie-rockers Cannonball for some time now, and many of them are other working players from this area — which is usually a good sign. They’ll open for Atlanta’s Howlies, who somehow got up the nerve and the dough to hire/convince the notoriously batshit bonkers visionary whack-job of underground rock, bubble-gum and glam, Kim Fowley, to produce their latest album. Reportedly, the sessions only lasted 42 hours total at a low-fi studio filled with vintage, retro analog gear, but you’d never know it from the tight, imminently listenable crack of the finished product. Obviously these “feverish” and manic power-poppers (with a strong dash of icy, early ‘80s ennui), had their act together when they blew it out with The Fowl. Seems MTV2 is considering getting on their bandwagon, so this might be a good time to see them before they either blow up real good, or wallow in 15 minutes of deserved bliss.

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Dig The Howlies' classic anthem to lost love and testosterone-fueled violence:

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Listen & Learn: myspace.com/howlies. Sat., 9 pm, LiveWire Music Hall. cs

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Jim Reed

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