William Fitzsimmons' songs live in that shadowy place between waking and dreaming, when thoughts and memories briefly tango before going their separate ways in the night. His lyrics are poetic and intimate, and they're married to music that's both ethereally elusive and structured like brittle bones.
Fitzimmons, who'll appear Saturday, July 24 at the Wormhole, is often compared to that light-touch lothario Sufjan Stevens, but I think that's just too easy: While Sufi's songs are often lyrically obtuse, even playful at times, Fitzsimmons usually seems to be aiming for the heart. He doesn't overdo the xylophones, accordions or singalong choruses, either.
They both whisper, however, as much as they sing.
But Fitzsimmons - who creates acoustic soundscapes featuring the liberal use of gentle electronica - just wants you to feel what he's feeling.
You might have heard his songs "Passion Play" and "Please Don't Go" during crucial scenes on the series Grey's Anatomy, and on other TV dramas including One Tree Hill and Brothers & Sisters.
His 2008 album The Sparrow and the Crow was written about the end of his nine-year marriage. Song titles include "Please Forgive Me," "I Don't Feel it Any More" and "You Still Hurt Me."
"I don't know that I believe in a rainbows-and-puppy-dogs love," he told an interviewer. "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."
Born in Pittsburgh to two blind parents, Fitzsimmons grew up in a home where sound - particularly music - was integral to communication. His parents had an assortment of guitars, pianos and other instruments, and introduced young William to the music of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, among others.
For many years, armed with a Master's degree in counseling from Geneva College, he worked as a mental health therapist, and only began recording his songs during graduate school breaks.
This experience, he once said, helped him immeasurably as a songwriter. "When you communicate something, the more garbage there is, the harder it is to get to the heart of it. There needs to be a precision in language."
Saturday's show will open with a set from Israel-born, New York-based singer/songwriter Rosi Golas, who had a tune on the soundtrack of the recent Nicholas Sparks weeper Dear John. Listen & learn: www.williamfitzsimmons.com, www.rosigolan.com.
At 10 p.m. Saturday, July 24 at the Wormhole Bar, 2307 Bull St. $12.
In the manner of the much-imitated GWAR, here's one of the best gross-out comedy punk bands around. It's pronounced "Green Jello," but the band got sued by Kraft Foods way back when, so the spelling was changed. Props, masks, silly costumes, theatricality and generally wacky offensiveness. This show also includes Miss Wendy, and Savannah's own "soundtrack soundscape" group, Sinister Moustache. Listen & learn: www.myspace.com/greenjelly.
At 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 21 at the Wormhole Bar, 2307 Bull St. $6 advance, $10 day of show.
BACK ROW BAPTISTS
"My tunes are about as dark as they come," says Chris Porter, who fronts this Alabama-based alt-country aggregate. "It's not all pretty and sunny down here, and my songs are going to end the way they have to end. As a songwriter I'm not scared to write about death, and as a southerner I'm not scared to speak my mind." Hot damn! This is country, gospel and punk, raucous and uncompromising, and they have a brand-new CD out called Broken Hearts and Bad Decisions. Sons of Bill open. Listen & learn: www.backrowbaptists.com.
At 11 p.m. Friday, July 23 at the Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.
CHECK IT OUT:
Bottles & Cans joins forces with the smoking hot dancers from Cairo on the Coast for "Blues & Bellydance" Saturday, July 24 at Tantra Lounge. This is the first event in the big city-wide benefit for ailing Rhythm Riot vocalist Lori Stuart - the big event is next Thursday, July 29, when well over two dozen local performers and nightclubs will raise money for Stuart's mounting medical expenses ... Singer/drummer Cody Dickinson, a charter member of North Mississippi All-Stars, will be at the Live Wire Aug. 26 with their fabulous Hill Country Revue ...