Jeff & vida
This heartbreakingly sincere and immensely talented acoustic duo honed their own personal take on bluegrass, alt.country, old-time and Tin Pan Alley-style songwriting in the Big Easy before relocating to Nashvegas and finally starting to get noticed by major press outlets like the New York Times. Folks in the know around Savannah’s roots-music scene have been hep to them for years thanks to regular stops (sometimes with additional backing musicians in tow) on a neverending tour that takes them across North America and into the U.K.
Every time they pass through, it’s legitimate cause for celebration, as their infectious energy, spit-shined originals (which rest comfortably alongside time-honored traditionals and standards) and unpretentious attitude towards music-making and life on the road is about as perfect a combination as you’re likely to find. Now that they’ve signed with an established booking agency, their profile seems to be steadily increasing, which is long overdue. For anyone who appreciates sawdust and chrome vocal harmonies, wicked-fast mandolin rave-ups and evocative, ‘50s-era rock and roll lyricism that’s as bittersweet as it is blithe, this two-night stand warrants my highest recommendation. Listen & Learn: jeffandvida.com. Sat. - Sun., 7 pm, North Beach Grill (Tybee) - ALL-AGES.
The Martha Bassett Quartet
Recently named Best Local Band in Winston-Salem, this combo from N.C.’s Triad area hangs out at the nexus where cocktail jazz, tearjerker C & W and classic torch-songs spoon up against cooler-than-cool Western swing. Vocalist Bassett plays the role of sultry ingenue to the proverbial “t”, and her come hither stare, vintage ribbon-style microphone and slinky duds have noir temptress written all over them. With instrumentation that includes lap steel guitar, upright bass and trap drums played with steel brushes, this is a group that knows how to draw the listener in with sparse arrangements and plenty of negative space. That austere approach may be a bit of a liability in a chatty room such as this, but something tells me this front woman, whose sound has been rather accurately described as Hank Williams meets Peggy Lee meets kd lang (now there’s a dinner party!) can handle it with aplomb. That devil-may-care attitude likely served her well when she recently had the daunting honor of opening for the one and only Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. Listen & Learn: marthabassett.com. Sat., 9 pm, Jazz’d Tapas Bar.
First Friday for Folk Music
This installment of the Savannah Folk Music Society’s monthly coffeehouse-style talent showcase features Boston scene veteran Bill Staines (who’s gigged since the ‘60s, appeared on NPR’s Mountain Stage and A Prairie Home Companion, plus seen his tunes covered by everyone from Nanci Griffith and Jerry Jeff Walker to Grandpa Jones and The Highwaymen). He tops a bill which includes Jacksonville songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rebecca Zapen and the eclectic Statesboro trio Midlife Crisis. $2 suggested donation to the SFMS gets you in, with homemade desserts available. Fri., 7:30 pm, Wesley Mon. United Methodist Church - ALL-AGES.
Just a few months after Savannah hosted the national debut of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Ballet, this group of professional a capella singers from the same Russian city’s famed Conservatory bring their repertoire of Russian folk songs and sacred music from the Russian Orthodox Church to our area for a recital. The Washington Post hailed their mix of religious and secular tunes and found their vocal quality “overwhelming”. Best yet, this show is free for ALL-AGES. Fri., 7 pm, Redeemer Lutheran Church (Wilmington Island).
Kort McCumber & McCumberland Gap
This classically-trained pianist and cellist from Boulder, Co. also plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, piano, bouzouki and bass. His latest indie CD features Vince Gill as a special guest (!), and is a rollicking mix of comfortably familiar, road-worn folk, country, blues and bluegrass that’s head and shoulders above most in the same bag. Tybee’s own earnest, roots-centric pop-rock siblings Kurtis & Kody open the show. Listen & Learn: kortmusic.com, myspace.com/kurtisandkody. Fri., 9 pm, Live Wire Music Hall.