Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Live Music: City Hotel; Randall Bramblett; Guttermouth; Ripley the Ghost

Great live music to check out this week

Posted by Sam Spence on Wed, Jul 8, 2015 at 3:50 PM

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Folk | City Hotel
w/ Caleb Warren and Whiskey Diablo
Fri. July 10
9 p.m.
$5
The Royal American

Sat. July 11
4 p.m.
Free
Palmetto Brewery

Named after a hotel in Savannah that was built in 1821, Savannah-based City Hotel offers up a new take on old-time, down-home-style tunes. Mixing bluegrass and folk, City Hotel makes music that forces its audience to at least tap a foot to the beat. The band uses a traditional bluegrass lineup (banjo, upright bass, and mandolin) to create originals, like their newest single, “Dogged Days,” a song that’s about carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Like the Avett Brothers and Andrew Bird, City Hotel has carved out its own individual sound in a sea of remarkably generic music. Before being picked up by the Handpicked Artists Presents booking agency in March, the band had spent a majority of their time playing around Savannah. But now City Hotel is preparing to leave on its first tour of the East Coast to promote their new album, Dogged Days. Band member Aaron Zimmer says the record is all about family. “The inspiration behind Dogged Days is the collective stories of my father and grandfather — how they told me about failures and triumphs experienced as younger men, and how I can increasingly relate to them,” he says. Awarded Best Acoustic Band, Best Bluegrass Band, and Best Folk Band by a reader poll in Connect Savannah, the band’s music has been recognized as timeless — and we couldn’t agree more. —Kye Toscano FRIDAY AND SATURDAY

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Roots Rock | Randall Bramblett
Sat. July 11
9:30 p.m.
$10
The Pour House
James Island

Athens, Ga.’s Randall Bramblett is equally adept on sax, keyboards, and guitar. He has a soulful, raspy growl of a voice, and he writes grown-up rock ‘n’ roll with undeniable hooks. Most of Bramblett’s songs blend gritty, roadhouse rock with an R&B feel for rhythm, and his 11-album catalog, which spans three decades, is remarkable in its consistency. Bramblett has been releasing solo albums since 1998, but he first came to prominence in the late ’70s. Allman Bros. pianist Chuck Leavell put together a side-project called Sea Level during a Bros. hiatus, and Bramblett came on board for the band’s second album, immediately flexing his musical muscles. His songs came to dominate the jazz-rock fusion group’s next two albums, as did his vocals and instrumental prowess. Bramblett’s solo career has strayed as far from jazz-fusion as one can get, however. Starting with 1998’s See Through Me, his albums have mixed bottom-end-heavy, swampy rock workouts and stripped down, thoughtful ballads. His most recent album, 2013’s The Bright Spots, added a new dimension to his sound. “It turned into kind of a big Motown-sounding album somehow, with lots of background vocals and horns,” Bramblett says. “It just kind of developed into that. For me, I don’t go in with a plan or a concept. I like to see how the songs develop, and then we kind of decide what we’re going to do. It turned into the backgrounds and horns, so we just let the album be what it wanted to be.” —Vincent Harris SATURDAY

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Punk Pop | Guttermouth
w/ Fujiwara, Hybrid Mutants and the Posers
Tues. July 14
7 p.m.
$10/adv., $12/door
The Sparrow
North Charleston

The Huntington Beach, Calif. quintet Guttermouth does the punk-pop thing better than most, probably because they’ve been doing it since 1988. Their forte is gum-on-your-shoe melodies and pure streamlined speed, and vocalist Mark Adkins has mastered the art of the sneering croon. Their lyrical viewpoint ranges from the gleefully nihilistic (“I’m destroying the world/ And I don’t really give a shit/ ’Cause it feels so goddamn cool”) to the unapologetically selfish (“Everyone’s like me/ In a perfect world”) and their precise, skintight playing allows for maximum impact — and maximum hearing damage. Guttermouth has had something of a chaotic, revolving-door lineup over their 27-year career, but through nine studio albums (including forehead-smacking titles like Shave The Planet, Eat Your Face and Teri Yakimoto), four EPs, and a live album, their sound has been remarkably consistent. You can hear echoes of Guttermouth in bands like Blink-182 and Green Day, and though they’ve recorded for dyed-in-the-wool punk labels like Epitaph and Hopeless Records, this is a group that’s perfectly comfortable mocking falsely pious punk purism. On the title track of 1999’s Musical Monkey, Adkins playfully dodges and bats back a series of banal rock-writer questions, including “Have you sold out?” and “Are you hardcore?” His answers: “How much you got?” and “No, I’m an albacore.” Then he wraps the whole package up with a withering chorus of “If it’s in my ’zine/ It must be true.” Irreverent, disrespectful, and occasionally downright disgusting, Guttermouth sounds like good punk to us. —Vincent Harris TUESDAY

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Alt-Country | Ripley the Ghost
Wed. July 15
10 p.m.
Free
The Mill

Before singer-songwriter Stephen Ripley Owermohle moved to Charleston from his home state of Virginia, he did so with an all-new moniker. “Ripley and the Ghost came about the first time I played an open mic at a bar in Virginia years ago,” he explains. “A friend of mine convinced me to sign up by my middle name and add ‘the ghost’ because I had no backing band. Ripley is also my grandfather’s name, and he was a banjo and harmonica player.” His Virginia origins would also explain the inspiration behind tracks like “Richmond Vampire,” which is based on an urban legend about a blood-covered creature with sharp teeth said to have been seen around the James River in Richmond. When Owermohle’s not busy writing dark Americana and performing as Ripley the Ghost, he plays and tours with another country act, Charleston’s Mike Martin and the White Line Cowboys. In between playing banjo and harmonica for the White Line Cowboys, he’s been working on a DIY EP of sad love songs that fans of Lucero, heartbreak, and whiskey should take a liking to. Hopefully one day he’ll record with some of his more unusual toys, like the çümbü he bought in Istanbul. “I’m self-taught on the instruments I play and have a sort of hobby of collecting weird ones from all the places I’ve been,” he says. —Kelly Rae Smith WEDNESDAY

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