The incestuous nature (and I mean that in a good way) of our rock 'n' roll community has borne more fascinating fruit. Just about every musician in town knows every other musician in town, and the resulting cross-pollination keeps things on the edge (also meant in a good way).
The point of all this is the introduction of COEDS (yes, all in capital letters), a brand-new band with Anna Chandler (General O and the Panhanders, the Lovely Locks), Phillip Price (An Albatross, the Sw!ms), Jeremiah Stuard (Whaleboat, Sins of Godless Men) and Donald Moats (Sins of Godless Men, Whaleboat, Habitat Noise).
Chandler has traded in her trademark accordion for the guitar, which was her first instrument anyway. Price is a guitar and keyboard player, and the Stuard-Moats rhythm section (bass and drums, respectively) is one of the most powerful in Savannah circles. Chandler sings lead, with Price chiming in on harmonies.
"I had a bunch of songs I'd written around General O time, and Lovely Locks time, that just didn't really have a place," Chandler says. "Either poppier stuff, or covers, or rowdier stuff. Phil and I both love Buddy Holly a lot. I wanted to do something with those.
"And I always wanted to play with Jeremiah. He is my favorite performer to watch in this town. He and Donald had started playing together in Whaleboat, and the way they synch together was just awesome. So we jammed with them— 'let's just have fun' —and it sounded good."
They've cut two ridiculously cool power-pop songs, which you can hear at coeds.bandcamp.com (I'm particularly taken by "I Wanna Dance With You," which planted its hooks in my subconscious on the first listen).
COEDS makes its live debut Friday, Feb. 14 at Graveface Records. Southern Hemisphere and Rubrics will open the free 7 p.m. show.
Later than evening, Chandler will hump it over to the Jinx, where the Lovely Locks are playing along with the delightful Savannah Sweet Tease Burlesque Revue.
Look in the dictionary under "Savannah musical collaborations," and you'll see Jeremiah Stuard's photo. The high-octane bass player seems to be everywhere at once. "I can't really say that I'm a fan of one music," Stuard explains. "And I like playing with a lot of people. I think Donald and I play really well together. He plays what I want to hear, and I think vice versa. We've just gotten along so well as friends, so it just makes sense."
The COEDS project, he adds, has been gestating for about five months. Chandler called him as Whaleboat was taking a much-needed breather.
And what of Whaleboat, our favorite gauzy, shoegazy, split-infinite rock 'n' roll trio? Stuard, Moats and singer, songwriter and guitarist Brent Collins all but disappeared in the middle of 2013.
The band will return with a show March 29 at Dollhouse, to celebrate the release of a new EP.
"We worked out some personal things," says Stuard. "We all feel like we miss the Whaleboat a little bit. I guess things needed to be walked away from; nothing to do with the music, or the chemistry of the band."
Most welcome to these ears is "Cold Love Wars," the new Whaleboat single. You can hear it via the band's Facebook page.
Savannah rock of ages
A splended time was guaranteed for all at the Feb. 7 Savannah Rocks! concert and celebration at the American Legion Hall on Bull Street. Organizers Tom Kohler, Jim Reed, Colleen Heine and their crew delivered with a night of music that swerved between sweetly nostalgic and hard-charging. It was great to see old-timers (and I use the phrase affectionately) the Veraflames and the Rogues blasting through Beatles hits and other vintage material. The ad hoc group called the Bill Avila All-Stars absolutely roared through "Revolution" and other Fab tunes (particular kudos to drummer Mark Vaquer, who is a huge Beatles aficionado; he knew how to pound the skins for maximum Ringo power).
Avila, the 89-year-old "Godfather of Savannah Rock 'n' Roll" (as a '60s and '70s manager, agent and promoter) was presented onstage with a portrait by none other than Scott "Panhandle Slim" Stanton.
The earlier part of the sold-out show, with the veteran players onstage, resembled a sock-hop: The older folks danced, while the younger ones mostly stood off to the sides and watched, and smiled.
Everything changed when GAM came on. Bassist Ronny Kersey wore an old-school "Beatle wig," keyboard player Ricardo Ochoa (does this guy play with everybody?) sported a red fez, and singer Keith Kozel—Savannah's ever-spindly Mick/Iggy mongrel —threw himself around the stage.
The crowd makeup changed immediately; the oldsters backed up, and everyone else moved down front to glom on GAM. Kevin Rose is one of the city's best rock 'n' roll guitarists—I stood three feet in front of him while he absolutely shredded "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey."
I had to be on the road very early the next morning, so I missed the closing set from Cusses. At any rate, I've never seen that band put on a bad show.
So there you go.