At five-foot-four and 100 pounds, Atlanta singer/songwriter Sonia Leigh most definitely falls into the "little girl with a big voice" category. But she's no featherweight.
Leigh, who'll play the Live Wire Saturday, makes rootsy, country-tinged Americana music that's both poetic and feisty - and she's a formidable guitarist who can sing like a hurricane. Lucinda Williams might be a long-lost relative.
Among her influences, the Florida-born Leigh says, were Willie Nelson's seminal Red Headed Stranger album, and Melissa Etheridge's groundbreaking Yes I Am.
"It really influenced my playing a lot," Leigh says about Etheridge, who subsequently became something of a role model. "I know a lot of girl musicians are influenced by Melissa Etheridge, but when you dig deeper into her material - amazing. She's just a great writer."
Leigh's father and grandfather were both songwriters - in fact, legend says Hank Williams once cut a tune penned by her granddad, Roy Leigh. "I left home at 17 to do music," she says, "and my father didn't want me to do that. We kind of lost our bond there for a little bit. And he e-mailed me one day and was like ‘I'm sorry.' I couldn't even respond, so I went home and wrote a song called ‘Meeting of the Minds.' And it really built a bridge between me and my father. I'm real proud of that song. It just goes to show that music heals, you know?"
"Meeting of the Minds," from Leigh's Run or Surrender album, features a winsome, waltz-time blend of dobro, acoustic guitar and violin:
Blood is thicker than any words we could ever say
Blood is thicker than anyone who stands in the way.
We all make mistakes every day.
If you'd like to stop by, it's OK.
Saturday's show will also feature a set by Dacula, Ga. singer/songwriter Levi Lowrey, who's kind of a less-bitter Steve Earle. Both Lowrey and Leigh are part of Grammy-nominated Georgia bandleader Zac Brown's orbit - they're on his Southern Ground record label. Listen & learn: www.sonialeigh.com, www.levilowrey.com.
At 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30 at Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St. $8 advance, $10 day of show.
USAF RESERVE CONCERT BAND
The 43-member Air Force Reserve Concert Band, playing Sousa marches and patriotic tunes, classical bits ‘n' pieces and some Broadway stuff, consists of professional musicians who tour the country incessantly, promoting goodwill - and the U.S. military. As always, admission to this show is free, and the concerts are usually pretty well-attended. Listen & learn: www.usafreserveband.af.mil.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28 at the GSU Performing Arts Center, Statesboro. Free.
The electro-wizardo guitarist from Perpetual Groove, a Savannah native, is one busy guy. The Athens-based P-Groove is in demand all over the country, but Butler returns to his hometown every chance he gets. This will be his second Savannah show in less than a month. It's a CD release party for Lately Here Though, his second solo release, which has heretofore only been available as a download through "Reverend" Butler's Web site. Produced by David Barbe (Drive-by-Truckers, Cracker) at Athens' Chase Park Transduction in Athens, Lately Here Through features contributions from P-Groove's Albert Suttle, and Karolyn Troupe and Daniel Lawson of Venice is Sinking. Listen & learn: www.therevbutler.com.
At 10 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28 at Loco's Grill & Pub, 301 W. Broughton St. $6.
Charlotte's psychobilly king gets as much attention for his persona and looks - sort of Conway Twitty meets Lurch from The Addams Family - as for his music, which is your standard-issue hard twang rockabilly with canyons of echo on the vocals and liberal doses of surf-punk Tremelo guitar. Song titles include "Undead Blues," "Torture Town" and "Alkyholl Withdrawal." From what I can tell, his live shows are the stuff, more exciting by a long stretch than his recordings, which sound to these ears like knock-off hillbilly novelty tunes. Ah, well. To each his own. Listen & learn: www.unknownhinson.com.
At 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30 at the Jinx, 127 W. Congress St. Admission not specified.