At 10 p.m. Saturday, April 16
Wormhole Bar, 2307 Bull St. $12 advance, $14 at the door
With an impossibly tender voice, dreamlike melodies and complex, whispered lyrics, William Fitzsimmons - on first listen - brings to mind Sufjan Stevens, the undisputed master of the emo-acoustic genre (what my friend Gabriel calls "sad bastard music").
Fitzsimmons, while his arrangements can be similarly quirky, doesn't feel the need to throw in the odd banjo or mariachi horn section. Acoustic guitar - with a ghostly electric in the background - bass, piano, drums, a little tinkly synth, and childlike girl-voices in the background. That's the minimalist picture he so vividly paints.
He's playing this show with a full band.
His songs are linear in the way that's Sufy's most definitely are not - they tell stories, they have beginnings, and they have endings. His newest album, the just-out Gold in the Shadow, is a thing of spectral beauty - easy to listen to, intriguing and so haunting that it imprints itself somewhere inside the very first time you hear it.
The Pennsylvania-born singer/songwriter is not a happy camper, as a review of his lyrics makes clear. His parents were both blind, which made for an unorthodox childhood; he wrote an entire album, The Sparrow and the Crow, about the painful end of his 10-year marriage.
"I still don't know if it's really wise or not, but I've made the choice for now to be as vulnerable in the writing as I can be," he has said. "With the subject matters I'm generally dealing with, I think they deserve no less than that."
From the new album's "Wounded Head": "How this feels like a floating/For the physical form you crave/And the gentle reminders/Hovering still the same/For the curative portion/The dysthymic of bold and blue/You are softened and hollow/Reflecting this winter hue."
Fitzsimmons has declared that this new record is "a real and long-coming confrontation with personal demons, past mistakes, and the specter of mental illness that has hovered over me for the great majority of my life." With a Master's in counseling from Geneva College, he once worked as a mental health therapist,
Famously, Fitzsimmons also said: "I'll make an effort to write with more joy. Hopeful and uplifting songs. But sanguine and melancholic, that's just my outlook. Even on the best day you might stub your toe."
Well, Van Gogh was a tortured artist, and we're all still glad to have him around. See williamfitzsimmons.com
CHECK IT OUT
The show from Charleston's high-energy The Shaniqua Brown - featuring smoking cool singer Rachel Kate Gillon - was one of the many, many highlights of the Savannah Stopover Festival last month. The band is back - at Hang Fire April 16. And our own Cusses are opening! Don't say we didn't tell you ...Didn't get enough bluegrass at the Savannah Music Festival? May we recommend Little Roy Lewis and Lizzie Long, returning to Randy Wood Guitars April 16. This is a top-notch bluegrass act (she's a championship fiddler, he's a great banjo player who was part of the now-retired Lewis Family) and the band is packed with top-drawer pickers. And hey, when the gang first played Randy's, in 2010, Earl Scruggs himself showed up and took the stage ... Ina Williams' Real Music concert series picks up Saturday at Muse Arts Warehouse, with performances (at 9 p.m.) from RJ Temple, Jess Godwin and Ms. Ina herself ...