Whether writing and recording his own charming and mildly wicked piano-based “punk for sissies”, or producing and arranging 2004’s almost sickeningly great William Shatner comeback LP Has Been, this irrepressible singer/songwriter has cut a fairly singular figure in today’s music biz.
First drawing widespread acclaim with his snarkily-named trio the Ben Folds Five, he’s worked as a solo artist for almost a decade now, steadily turning out albums full of clever, dry-witted, adult pop music with a melancholy edge that draw deserved comparisons to some of the work of Elton John and Jackson Browne. His unpredictable solo shows are famed for the rapport Folds maintains with his fans, and the last time he played Savannah the show sold out quickly. I’m told there are still plenty of good seats left for this return engagement, but they’re going fast, so grab one quickly if you appreciate singular talent with a flair for working a crowd. Listen & Learn: www.benfolds.com. Tickets are $35 at www.lucastheatre.com (or call 525-5050). Fri., 8 pm, Lucas Theatre.
Whether you term their music modern psychedelia or agrarian Americana, they’ve attracted the attention of bigger acts like My Morning Jacket, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Raconteurs — all of which have taken them on tour as a support act to help spread the word. They’re truly one of the most buzzworthy indie bands in the U.S. today (and one of the only ones that regularly draws comparisons to both The Band and The Beach Boys!). Hot on the heels of both an appearance on the Conan O’Brien show and the release of a limited-edition 7-inch single featuring a remix by none other than Beck, they’re stopping here on their way to Fl.’s Langerado Fest.
This Philly-based octet is the sort of group that should be playing our market more often, but doesn’t (you can thank an independent, L.A. based promoter for routing them our way, rather than a local booker) — so if you lament Savannah’s relative lack of shows by well-known alt.rock groups that don’t lean toward either punk, metal or trail mix, you may want to come out and support this refreshing gig.
AA Bondy (formerly of the little-known, but highly respected Al. alt.pop act Verbena) opens with some introspective, minimalist songwriting. Listen & Learn: www.drdogmusic.com. Thurs., 9 pm (supposedly, but call first, as this venue’s shows usually start late), The Jinx.
‘The Fresh Aire Music of Mannheim Steamroller’
Before composer/producer Chip Davis created this pioneering New Age orchestral rock group in 1975, he also played a pivotal role in creating fictional country singer C.W. McCall who scored big with the novelty tune “Convoy”, among others. Now, it seems Davis has fallen back on that M.O., by hiring a bunch of anonymous session musicians to hit the road and recreate the look and sound of Mannheim Steamroller — without him actually having to leave the house.
Known for their anthemic, swirling melange of bombastic, classical-based instrumental rock and pop, the actual group (which has released eight smash albums, as well as eight equally successful Christmas-themed discs and 14 other full-length efforts) has sold close to 30 million records in this country alone (!), and the multi-generational appeal of their sound has inspired such similar acts as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This show will probably be quite entertaining for M.S. fans, but make no mistake, the exact title gives it away: this is a meticulously honed tribute to Mannheim Steamroller’s music — albeit one that is owned, cast and managed by the band’s founder himself. Kind of like Gallagher II. Reserved seats are $50 - $25 at www.savannahcivic.com or by calling 651-6556. Fri., 8 pm, Civic Center.
Hot Pink Interior, The Coathangers
When it comes to original indie-rock, HPI is one of Savannah’s best-kept secrets. They write slightly grungey (and insidiously catchy) sing-along guitar pop that nods to both the Riot Grrrl scene as well as the glory days of power-pop and early ‘90s acts like Madder Rose or the first incarnation of Liz Phair. However, their seeming disinterest in moving beyond the occasional low-profile local show have kept them under the radar of most in town who would actually dig them. If you’re looking for an energetic stage show, you’ll likely come away disappointed, but if you appreciate great, hooky alt.rock with edgy female vocals, you’ll make this show. Atlanta’s all-girl up-and-comers The Coathangers open with a screechy set of bratty, minimalist combo organ and guitar-based new-wave garage rock tunes about cheating boyfriends, Tonya Harding and staying the hell outta their way. Listen & Learn: www.thecoathangers.com. Sat., 11 pm, The Jinx.