At 11 p.m. Saturday, July 31
The Jinx, 127 W. Congress St. With Husky Brunette.
It's been three years and change since the rootsy rockers from Columbia, S.C. first kicked off a set on a Savannah stage. The band has been back a few times since, and these days there are probably as many American Gun fans here in SCAD-land as there are up in the shadow of the University of South Carolina.
The barroom-brawling band, which proffers a twangy slice of Americana rather like Lucero, early Wilco or Jason Isbell and his 400 Unit, is touring for the very first time without founding singer/songwriter Donald Merckle - the official word is that he's on "forestry sabbatical."
So fellow Gunners Todd Mathis (vocals, electric and acoustic guitar), Drew Hoose (drums, percussion), Kevin Kimbrell (bass) and Noel Rodgers (electric guitar, vocals) have tightened the ranks. Reportedly, the show is now more electric (as in guitars) and raw alt/country.
You'll still find Merckle in the grooves of the band's six-month old fourth CD, The Devil Showed Me His Hand.
If this description of American Gun's musical prowess sounds a bit like Savannah's own Train Wrecks, that's because the bands are cut from the same hard-drinking, hard-living cloth, and they both play country-inspired rock ‘n' roll. As a matter of fact, the two groups often share the same bill in South Carolina.
The Train Wrecks, to this listener, have more of an angry punch, a take-no-prisoners attitude. But American Gun's songs are more melodic, with very strong hooks and harmonies.
That's a toss-up. But why pick one when you can have both? The ‘Wrecks are at Steamers on Sunday. Listen & learn: www.american gun.net.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, July 31
Randy Wood Guitars, 1304 E. Highway 80, Bloomingdale. $20.
"Commercial music has no appeal to me any more," folk musician Jack Williams told us last year. "I used to like some of it, in my younger days, but I've parted ways with it. And now I love to be involved in the folk community, in places where people are basically playing because they love to play, and they're writing and performing music that matters more to them than just the dollar." With more than 50 years in the biz, Williams knows what he's talking about: He's been in many, many rock and jazz bands, played trumpet and lute in beatnik combos in the old days, and in the 1970s was a regular contributor to what passed for a folk music scene in Savannah. The Arkansas-based Williams is a masterful acoustic guitarist, a great singer and storyteller, and he travels 70,000 miles a year across America - all 48 continental states - to play small, quiet concerts like this one in venues where folks come just to listen. And appreciate. Listen & learn: www.jackwilliamsmusic.com.
At 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 2
Savannah Theatre, 222 Bull St. $35.
This year's July 4 concert by the Equinox Jazz Orchestra was the band's biggest success yet, according to Jeremy Davis, the Big Band's founder (and one of its tenor saxmen). This was Equinox's first time in the Savannah Theatre, which is normally a tourist destination, but Davis reports the jammed audience seemed to be mostly made up of local Big Band and swing fans. And so, naturally, there's more to come - this Monday, Aug. 2, Equinox will be onstage again. The 20-piece band and four vocalists - Clay Johnson, Adam Jones, Trae Gurley and Huxsie Scott - perform swingin' new arrangements of those great Sinatra, Martin and American Songbook tunes. With, as Davis calls it, a Vegas-style "Rat Pack" ambiance. Listen & learn: www.equinoxjazz.com.